Re-thinking education

An interview with Jack Delosa, CEO, The Entourage

Jack Delosa

Jack Delosa is the Founder and CEO of The Entourage, Australia’s largest and most disruptive education institution for entrepreneurs and innovators. Born out of a dissatisfaction with the education available to help entrepreneurs start and scale successful businesses, The Entourage today has a community of over 300,000. Jack is also a bestselling author, high profile investor and has been a fixture on the BRW Young Rich list since 2014.

The Entourage flips the traditional education model on its head, with a heavy focus on implementation and practical commercial outcomes. It gives both entrepreneurs and anyone who wants to embed entrepreneurial thinking into bigger businesses, unprecedented amounts of knowhow from successful innovators and business leaders.

The Entourage is creating a very different approach to professional education. Tell us how it works.

The Entourage is all about advancing education. Globally, education is a 4.4 trillion dollar industry. If you look at some of the most respected education institutions in the world - take Harvard University as an example - on any given year they’ll generate well over 4 billion dollars in revenue. Yet if you ask how much it invests in making teaching better, in improving outcomes, my opinion is that it would be zero dollars. And that’s not uncommon, across the industry and across the globe. So we have this $4.4 trillion industry and very few people are looking at what’s being taught, and what’s being learnt.

From an anthropological perspective, fewer and fewer people are putting emphasis on the brand or the qualification, and more people are placing emphasis on the student experience and the tangible career and life outcomes. So while traditional education numbers are still growing (and will continue to do so into the near future) we will get to a point where the numbers of people entrusting their learning to traditional education institutions will start to decline, as the world places more emphasis on the merit of the education, rather than the brand or the qualification.

So what we do at The Entourage is utilise the best business minds in the country, to genuinely deliver good quality education to those who have started their own businesses. Entrepreneurship is a skill that can be taught and can be learnt, and there are a finite number of skills needed to be an effective business owner. Not everyone can become a Richard Branson, but not everybody wants to. We obsess about how to start and build a great company, and we provide a high level of education and support and community for early-stage entrepreneurs to do that; something very few education institutions around the world do well.

“If you can find a way to contribute to a greater degree than the existing incumbents, and make people’s lives better, easier, more efficient - then that’s disruption.” Jack Delosa

So you’re really offering a very modern alternative to a traditional business degree for those wanting to break out on their own one day.

That’s right. Smaller businesses are not small versions of big businesses. So if you go and study business at a top tier university, the value isn’t really there because you’re wanting to go and start your own business and they’re teaching you how to be a manager in a corporate. In my view it’s actually detrimental and counterproductive to being an entrepreneur. It teaches you the rules of the wrong game.

How do you see the connection between innovation and disruption?

I try not to think through the lens of disruption or innovation. I think through the lens of contribution. Which is, where can we better contribute to the lives of people, and if you can find a way to contribute to a greater degree than the existing incumbents, and make people’s lives better, easier, more efficient - then we call that disruption. And if you can find a way to make a better contribution than you did yesterday, then we call that innovation. But essentially, it’s about how do you make the world a better place, not by espousing it, but by working really hard at it.

 What holds larger organisations back from thinking like disruptors or innovators?

There are three main inhibitors to large organisations innovating effectively. One is legacy, the second is the paradigms of the past and how they’ve always operated, and the third is bureaucracy, brought about by virtue of their sheer size.

Human history is full of people we would now define as disruptors. Who do you think are the modern day disruptors making the most valuable contributions?

It’s very true - there have been people throughout history who have had radical ideas that eventually changed the course of humanity. Consider Jesus Christ, not necessarily from a religious perspective, but in a historical context - the effect his ideas and teachings have had on humanity for the past two thousand years are tremendous.

Today, I think Elon Musk and perhaps Steve Jobs have the most impact and contribution. Elon Musk has brought more disruption to space travel in the past fifteen years than the US Government, NASA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, the Chinese and the Russians have in the last seventy years. He’s also done the same to the automotive and energy industries, and previously, all of these spaces - be it space, automotive or energy - have been spaces reserved for large utility companies or governments, not private individuals driving entrepreneurial ventures trying to solve global problems. So in terms of disruption and innovation rising to meet the challenges of our age in a way that’s entrepreneurial, I think Musk has done that better than anyone, ever.

Every innovator or pioneer stands on the shoulders of those that have come before them, including Musk. There have been so many pioneers that have helped underpin the work he is able to do today. If he is able to enable humanity to build a self-sustaining civilisation on Mars, as he’s working towards, then that will be the largest leap forward for humanity in a very long time.

Which industries do you think are ripe for disruption?

I’m not sure it’s technically an ‘industry’, but I think governments have become increasingly ineffective with each decade that passes. I think we need to disrupt and  re-think the way we do politics, the way we govern, and how we elect our leaders. Admittedly, that’s unlikely to change any time soon! But I think recent political changes across the world have been a result of people wanting to disrupt the status quo.

I’d love to see politics get out of the nineteenth century. When I think of education, I actually believe the government, despite its best intentions, is actually causing damage to generations of people because of how they do things and make decisions. I think part of it is the election cycle, and the fact there is no appetite to make bold decisions for fear of risking re-election. How is anyone able to do anything meaningful for the country within a three-year time horizon? It’s even tougher for businesses, who sometimes work to a one-year cycle for seeing results on new ideas or investments.

How do you define entrepreneurship?

I think the definition of entrepreneurship has evolved, and it’s evolved to one that perhaps today we might use colloquially to mean somebody that is creating their own path, and pursuing their own endeavours. That might even be pursuing a successful career - I don’t think we necessarily tie entrepreneurship with business ownership anymore. So I think we’ve moved to a far more inclusive definition, and one that’s more focussed on the contribution that one can make to the world, and the life they want to live.

What are the biggest challenges in teaching entrepreneurship?

You can’t teach someone to be a Steve Jobs or a Richard Branson. The biggest challenge most aspiring entrepreneurs have is empathy - they don’t understand what it is truly like to be an entrepreneur, and all the unique challenges they’ll face dealing with other people.

So the way we approach it at The Entourage is we have a twelve month, very part- time business education immersion program, where participants have access to workshops, an online library, a suite of experts that can be engaged at any time, one-on-one mentorship, so people can determine their own educational journey based on their own individual objectives. People can do what they want, when they want, for as long as they want.

We work in alignment with traditional education. If you want to be an Accountant, we’re not going to teach you that. But if you want to be an accountant that thinks entrepreneurially, or that can contribute commercially to the practice they work for, or wants to build the largest and most profitable accountancy practice in the country, then we can help teach the skills to do that.

We’re changing the paradigm around education where instead of people learning A, B, C and D within a specific time frame and you’re done, people can become the person they dream of becoming, and to build the business or career they want to build.

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Feeding diversity, sustainability, and community

Interview: Ian McKenzie, KPMG Head Chef

Since the beginning of time and the earliest of civilisations, food has brought people together. The preparation and sharing of meals – whether it be around a tribal campfire in the remote outback or a boardroom table in the heart of the city - provides a profound opportunity for people to bond and connect, share stories, debate ideas and to defuse differences.

Food service is also an opportunity to embrace wellbeing, celebrate diversity and champion sustainability, and few know this better than professional services firm KPMG. With commercial kitchen facilities at Barangaroo that would rival those of any international five-star hotel, the organisation takes meal preparation and food service very seriously indeed.

“As an organisation, we believe KPMG is a reflection of the general community itself,” says Ransdale Dinger, National Client Experience Team Leader, KPMG. “We are an international company, which means our people are incredibly diverse, as are our clients. However, we feel some things are universal – great hospitality and service, celebration of community, and the provision of nourishment, and our goal is to use thesethings to bring all people together.”

With a team of approximately 2,500 in Sydney, and just over 7,000 nationally, the KPMG community is a mirror of modern Australia, and the organisation relishes its role as a responsible corporate citizen in every aspect of its operations. One of those is in the preparation and service of meals to its teams and clients. On any given week, the kitchens within its Barangaroo office at International Towers, Tower Three, prepare an average of 500 fine-dining lunches and dinners, cater to hundreds more for breakfasts and casual meals, bake thousands of muffins, and deliver an endless supply of fruit and beverages.

“The sheer volume of food we prepare each week means we have a genuine opportunity to make a difference to not only our own community at KPMG, but the greater community too,” says Ian McKenzie, Head Chef. “We work very closely with our community of farmers and growers, not only so that we can source the very best, seasonal produce, but also to minimise waste and food miles. We adhere to a paddock-to-plate and nose-to-tail ethos, which helps us to deliver an experience that is as sustainable as possible, and that is also very much focussed on the health and nutrition of everyone we serve.”

Currently, around 80 per cent of all waste from the KPMG kitchens is recycled or repurposed. An achievement like this doesn’t happen by accident. By taking control of the supply process – for instance, sourcing sustainably grown, whole fish and preparing them in-house, using the bones to make stocks for soups and other dishes, Ian and his team have been able to dramatically reduce the amount of food waste, as well as the organisation’s environmental footprint. A Waste Management Induction process, hosted by Lendlease and International Towers management, also provided valuable insights into how the industry-leading, recycling and repurposing facilities within the Towers work, enabling all involved with food preparation at KPMG to work together toward a common mission, and introduce processes to ensure they were working as sustainably as possible. This includes a highly disciplined approach to recycling, as well as other initiatives, such as supporting National Recycling Week, promoting multiple-use coffee cups, and working with organisations such as food rescue charity OzHarvest to distribute surplus meals.

Ian, who has cooked for CEOs, dignitaries and royalty all over the world (he was once the chef on the Royal Yacht and cooked for Lady Diana), also understands his unique position to influence the wellbeing of the community he serves. “The way people eat has changed, and continues to evolve,” he says. “People are much more conscious of the role of diet in their overall health, so we try to support that – and even drive that – through our kitchen. For example, we’ve replaced many of the biscuits we used to bake as team snacks with fresh fruit and nuts; we’re serving less carbohydrates, making cold-pressed juices and we recently established a close relationship with Bell & Brio from within our Barangaroo community to make our bread, using pure ingredients and amazing, whole grains. We even adopted a cow from the dairy in the Camden Valley that supplies our milk. The milk is bottled at the farm and delivered straight to us and, on a clear day, we can even see the dairy farm from our office at International Towers. It doesn’t get more local than that.”

Community responsibility at KPMG isn’t confined to the dining table. Outside the kitchens, the organisation has a robust program of events and initiatives, and uses every opportunity to engage with its own community to support a range of causes, from distributing white ribbons to its service teams in support of ‘White Ribbon Day’; purple neck ties for ‘Wear It Purple Day’; and hoodies in support of NAIDOC Week, to even decorating the coffees they serve with icons relating to national causes and community initiatives to raise awareness and start conversations.

“It’s all about experience,” says Ransdale. “If we can improve the life of a single person through our actions, then everything we do is worthwhile. If we can improve the lives of all in our community and beyond, then we have achieved something incredibly special.”

Disrupting the market

Interview: Rosie Kennedy, CEO, OnMarket


OnMarket is a unique, crowdfunding and venture advisory business that is helping democratise finance for investors and bring new, early-stage funding to startups and small, scalable businesses. The company recently completed its 100th IPO and introduced the world’s first App for crowdfunding IPOs, and was one of the first to receive the new crowd-sourced funding licenses in January 2018.

We spoke to Rosie Kennedy about how her traditional finance background led her to help build the OnMarket business.

As a professional, and now an entrepreneur, you have a wonderful mix of experience across traditional finance, financial governance and disruptive fintech. What are the highlights?

I began my career in the money market, then ran the government bond trading desk for what is now UBS.

My next major role was heading up business development at ASX, where my focus was on trying to allow retail investors to invest in fixed interest securities, or debt securities, because Australian investors are traditionally very equity-focused.

I went on to work at ASIC in the area that supervises exchanges. I also helped simplify the prospectus regime for debt issuers – again hoping to free up the debt market so retail investors had an opportunity to participate.

Then you met your co-founder at OnMarket, Ben Bucknell, who was trying to do something very similar in the equity market?

Yes. My passion came from being intimately involved in the bond market, and seeing the importance of diversification of portfolios. It was clearly apparent that retail investors were not being given the same opportunities to diversify their portfolios as institutions. Ben had the same vision in the equity market.

Initially we licensed our intellectual property to ASX, to build ASX BookBuild. This system was built within ASX’strading platform and was a tech-driven solution to improve the pricing on equity issuance by listed companies and improve participation for investors.

As this was a B2B model, we really needed some firms in the big end of town to grasp the opportunities arising out of digital disruption in financial markets. But remember, when we were launching ASX BookBuild, it was before the word ‘fintech’ was in common usage. The reality was that there were a lot of powerful, vested interests in the existing process, and it was not easy to get support for an innovative new approach.

Ironically, that lack of support drove us to develop OnMarket, which is a B2C service on desktop and in the App Store. It’s simple, and a far cry from what we were originally doing, but it seems to solve a real problem for investors (by giving them access to discounted IPOs) and companies (by providing a cost effective way of reaching investors).

What companies do you think stand out in the crowd-financing area?

We’ve had a few firsts. We closed Australia’s first equity crowdfunding offer, Revvies, in March 2018. And we’ve completed the largest crowdfunding deal in the world in terms of the number of investors. The company is called DC Power. They got 15,000 investors, and previously the largest number of investors globally was about 6,200.

One of our more interesting offers is The Cup eXchange (TCX) – which is a sustainable, coffee cup business which is solving the disposable cup conundrum. This offer opened in November 2018, and the minimum raise was covered in the first seven days.

It’s a subscription model where consumers are given two cups and they exchange those cups via scanning. Each cup has an identifier, and they scan the cups for credits. Once the coffee is finished, you pop the cup back to that particular café, or to another participating café.

That cup can be used by any participating café, and it never finds its way to landfill because if the coffee cup is ever damaged – which is unlikely because it’s made in a durable way that is very sturdy – it’s crushed down and made into another one.

It’s on trial in Sydney and Barangaroo, and in Melbourne as well. And they are the first-to-market with this product – there is no reason it can’t go global.

Does a crowdfunding raise also help with marketing and awareness of a business?

Definitely. The smaller companies can also use this process to engage their whole stakeholder chain – from employees, to the suppliers and the customers who really embrace the product and engage with the whole process – it’s a nice way of tying all the stakeholders in. For example, we completed a successful crowdraising for PT Blink – a technology company that is revolutionising the construction process. The key benefit for that group was getting referrals from customers. People saw their story whether they invested or not. As a result, large building companies got in touch with PT Blink to use the product.

You expanded your business to Tower Two at International Towers in 2018. You were previously based in Bligh St in Sydney’s CBD, what was behind the move?

We were looking to scale our business – and the tenant model at International Towers was beautifully configured for that kind of progressive growth.

Also, OnMarket is very much in the innovation business and the incredible strength of the innovation community at International Towers was a big attraction for us. We were drawn to the powerful community of enterprise and growth companies and the partnership approach International Towers takes with its tenants.

I think it’s a great benefit that we’re able to work together in such a collaborative environment, especially on our floor. As an example, with The Cup eXchange I spoke to fellow tenant partners, the Green Building Council Australia about relevant contacts in the sustainability area. They connected me with a terrific person at one of the large accounting firms, who has since put us in touch with a facilities manager, and as a result they’re about to sign a large partnership deal.

...which in an enterprise world is very fast-tracked?

Unbelievably. That all happened in 3.5 weeks. That’s a classic example of the working environment, but also of the collaborative nature of the people here. It’s certainly early days, but the camaraderie we’ve already experienced is fantastic.