Australia's Driven Young Entrepreneur
By Randy Gold
From the age of eleven, Rylan Kindness set out into the world of independent business opportunities in Australia with the idea of paying for his passion for BMX racing. At seventeen, he is becoming a captain in his industry, having launched a startup and growing it into a thriving enterprise that people throughout Australia have come to depend on. Early on, Rylan realized the importance that marketing plays in success. As he said, “you can build the product, but if no one uses it, it’s pointless.“
Hello Rylan, what has it been like growing up in Brisbane?
It’s a main city, but Brisbane is kind of like a toned-down version of Sydney. It’s more relaxed. People say it’s like San Francisco. I’ve done a bit of business in Sydney and Sydney is so much more kind of cut-throat and corporate then Brisbane.
At 11, you had the idea to sell wholesale scooter parts online. What made you think that was something you even could do?
When I was eleven, I was very focused on freestyle BMX, and if you asked me back then “What do I want to do when I grow up?” I would have said, “Be a freestyle BMX rider.” However, BMX parts get really expensive and I didn’t want to make my parents pay for it, so I was like, if I could get some form of income…? I was too young to be in a normal job and I used to go to garage sales and markets with my dad and we used to buy and sell a bunch of stuff, so I’d find something super cheap and then sell it through eBay or whatnot. One day I was out there and this guy was selling all these scooter parts, and I paid this guy, I think it was like five-hundred bucks for everything, which when I was like eleven was a lot of money. I bought it all, but it was a good deal, you know, so then I just sold it to like kids at school online, and it kind of taught me how to buy and sell and that was kind of like the first thing.
So at that point you were selling on eBay?
Yeah, eBay and Australia’s version of Craigslist, gumtree. People would come to my house and I’d sell them the stuff and I pretty much got through all of it in a year. It kind of taught me about the online ways eBay and gumtree works, ‘cause I thought: Wow, that’s a great business and it actually led to my first tech ventures. It was a site called bargainbest.net and it was basically an exact copy of gumtree. I kind of thought I could compete with gumtree, which is like the number one local classifieds Craigslist versions in Australia, so I was using that site a lot and I thought I could replicate it and make millions of dollars. (laughs)
When you say that you thought you could replicate it, did you have any kind of web design…?
No. If you ask me now, I don’t know how I did it. I just had the idea. Literally I didn’t even know what a domain name was. I found some kid at school, paid him like $200 bucks. He was like in grade twelve or eleven at the time, and I was like, “Can you make a website?” and he was like, “Yeah, I can.” I told him what I wanted to do and we’d just Skype to get it done to make it what I wanted. Looking back at it now, it was still pretty good. Like we had payment systems in there where you could pay to promote your ads and stuff like that. But then, I didn’t consider marketing or anything like that. I just thought: you build it and people will come. Obviously, they didn’t, but it was a good kind of experience for me.
Did any adults look at what you were doing and give you guidance?
Not really. I think that teachers at school kind of thought it was pretty cool, and family and friends thought it was cool, but I was trying to make it as legit as possible for what I could do with it. Like I had business cards, and I’d put stickers around, all over the place, signs, pretty much everything I could think of, but the problem I was facing back then: I just didn’t have someone who was really in the experience, like with building a company and whatnot. I couldn’t see the next step of how do I actually get a hundred people a day, a thousand people a day, ten thousand people a day.
Were your parents there?
Yeah, my parents thought it was cool, but they’re not in any type of tech-space. My dad was kind of homeless when he was about the same age as me right now, seventeen, and didn’t really have anywhere to live, and so he was really bad at school and dropped out in grade ten and decided to do an apprenticeship for like building houses or whatnot or some job that he didn’t really enjoy doing. He met my mom when they were about nineteen or twenty. She was working in a bank, and they saved up a lot of money to put a deposit on a house. They lived in it for a few years and learned how to fix up and then sold it. Since I was in the crib they’ve done like fifty houses of just buy and sell, and have a few properties around the place, so I grew up with a lot of buying and selling and thinking outside the box.
Was it Public or private school for you?
I went to private school in grade five [to twelve].
The teachers you had, was science or technology something they shared with you at that point?
In Australia, curriculum in not very hi-tech what-so-ever, or at least they didn’t focus on it. They just wanted to give students the basics, but my school was kind of focused on building fine young men, I guess, to be respectful and to put values. I wasn’t a big fan of school what-so-ever ‘cause I didn’t fit the box. I was very “out-of-the-box”. I didn’t like doing tests and I wasn’t passionate about doing anything along those lines, so I took all the time to actually do something I’m passionate about, which was business.
You’re seventeen. Did you graduate?
Yeah, I graduated last year, about four months ago.
Tell us about Parking Deals Australia. How did that come about?
The idea started when I was like… How can I make enough money to fund my freestyle BMX so my parents and sponsors didn’t have to pay for it? If I could just create something that can make enough money to fund that, that would be the ultimate goal. At that time were travelling a lot, and my Mom would be like: “Go find me the cheapest rates for airport car parking.” So after hours online I’d send her the results and I was like: There’s got to be a better way to do this. That kind of planted the seed for me with Parking Deals Australia, ‘cause there was a lot of really bad websites that would kind of dabble in parking, but there wasn’t one specific parking company that would aggregate all the different parking businesses and their offers and put them in the right place so people could find them easy. I literally started the business with just a pen and a pad. I was kind of pitching all these people, family friends and whatnot, and one of our family friends sent us this email that there was a Lord Mayor in Brisbane, and the Mayor was giving away $5,000 dollars to any new startup business. You just had to apply. So I applied and got shortlisted and then got told to come in for an interview and do this pitch. I walked in there with like a piece of paper, and there were a few people from the government plus a few business people in there. One of them was a guy called Jock Fairweather, who was the CEO of this company called Little Tokyo 2. They’re Australia’s number one business incubator. And he was like: Okay, if you didn’t get the money, would you be interested in learning more? And I’m like: I kind of want the money, but yeah, of course. I didn’t end up winning, however, I got a two day intensive course with Little Tokyo 2 with this program called “The Launch Program” where you sit down for two days with a bunch of other people and really go through the whole business of where it can go. I was like: yeah, this is cool! So I started Parking Deals Australia as a coupon site and I told myself to just put in the work and gradually just grow users. From ten users, how do I get to twelve users per day? Thirty users per day? And then fifty and whatnot, and I pretty much did that for the last two years. Now we do a couple thousand a day, from thirty to forty-five thousand per month. So, it’s pretty good now, but all I’ve done to build this business is literally to give people what they want and kind of cater to the two things that people care about when parking, which is price and location. And just provide an honest, good service that people will want to use.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in bringing that project to life?
The challenges that were tough to me was: How do I actually grow it? Obviously, having no money, or very little money to do it, it can feel like you’re just hitting up against a brick wall. That was probably the biggest thing, ‘cause you can build the product, but if no one uses it, it’s pointless. So, I really have to think long and hard about how I can do unique things that the competition aren’t doing without money. The other one is: how to actually grow this into a profitable business, because the two things that dictate how much money we make is: how many customers we have and how much inventory we have to give customers, so, how do I get in there with relationships with parking companies, get them to trust me enough, and see the value in my service and also make money off them? We didn’t have our first paying customer for like six months, but the business is profitable now. We have thirty plus partners all around Australia, so that challenge is getting a lot easier for me, because users speak and results speak.
You mentioned that the initial challenge was getting the word out and the marketing aspect. What was your breakthrough?
The breakthrough for me was probably meeting the right people in media and publishing. I obviously had a good story to tell, and it’s an inspiring story to other young kids, and they really took that and we went from like fifty users a day to five hundred users a day just from say like a news.com article or something. It gets the name out there on a grand scale.
And you’ve pretty much spread all over Australia?
Yeah, we’re in pretty well every state that has parking demands.
Usually people who do amazing things were inspired by someone or something. Who or what was it that inspired you?
When I first started the business, I was like: All’s I want in life is a Lamborghini, and that’s it. That’s what I wanted. Now the thing that motivates me is setting goals and actually achieving them and continually progressing to get bigger and better and improve myself, improve the company, and that’s like the challenge that makes me the most happy out of doing anything else. So the inspiration was just to do what most people can’t, see what I can achieve, see how far I can push myself.
When you’re not out changing the world, what are your hobbies? What do you do for fun?
I still ride BMX sometimes.
For other young people who are reading this, is there some advice you’d like to share, especially when it comes to starting their own business?
Yeah, I think that the number one thing that young kids need to understand is to find the right people to hang around, find the people that you want to be in five or ten years and hang around them and learn as much as you can, but you’re never too young to start a company or a business. Like you literally just have to start and be 100% dedicated and kind of do something that you’re passionate about.
What’s next for you?
Grow the company. I’m focused on building a really good team around the business and getting it to a really well known brand within parking and being everyone’s first step in the parking experience.