A Chat with Shaun Cornelius from HeyYou

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Gen caught up with Shaun, the CEO of Hey You: The app that lets you order ahead at your favourite cafes. Shaun previously was on the leadership team for EBAY and other tech businesses.

Watch our interview or read the transcript below: 

Gen: Hi everyone. I'm Gen George from Tamme, Like Minded Bitches, Skilld and all that jazz. But today I'm here with Shaun, the CEO of Hey You. Shaun, who the hell are you?
Shaun: Firstly, thanks so much for having me, Gen. This is really great. 
Gen: Thanks for having me.
Shaun: To be chatting to you today. Who am I? I am a guy with a funny South African accent, came to Sydney back in 2000, and having kind of moved through professional services at The Hoyts and the like, joined eBay, had a great time working at eBay for seven years, did a bunch of different things there; ...
Gen: Is that where the bromance began with Simon? 
Shaun: Something you just can't get away from, but met some great people, and learnt a lot. That was a fantastic journey to be honest. Just had a run at a lot of different businesses in the online space. All of roles where I see an opportunity, businesses that I think have got a big opportunity to grow. And I moved, been pretty fortunate actually to have run a business at lots of different categories, and now being at Hey You a couple of years running it, and loving it.
Gen: That's awesome. What was that process when the Hey You team approached you to kind of get onboard? To kind of investigate something like that for yourself, how did you make that decision? 
Shaun: You know it's interesting, so I've been following the business back even when it was Beat The Q, and what was really remarkable from kind of when I first started following the business was how engaged their customers were and how they spoke about the business. I thought wow this is kind of interesting where their customers are very emotionally engaged, feel very strongly. Say things like, Beat The Q and then Hey You has changed my life, it's something that's a little bit of secret sauce, there's a bit of magic in this business. So I was really intrigued by that, and then I got introduced through some investors, actually a lot of people involved in the business I knew and introduced me, which was great. 
Gen: So it was meant to be.
Shaun: Meant to be, yeah, fate. 
Gen: That's awesome and start from day one when you came in to where you guys are now, what have been the highlights? What's happened?
Shaun: There have been many, you know I think firstly just coming in real hard for me just every day actually is that recurring theme around how engaged and attached our customers are to the business. But hearing repeatedly from friends and people who don't even know I work at Hey You how they find Hey You important to their lives. I still find it intriguing and I think, it took me awhile to get my head around that. What I'm now understanding is Hey You's not really just a place you can order an app, you can order your coffee from. It does that functionally but what it really does and why people have that deep engagement is the time it saves people and it saves busy people. 
So I think the one kind of my realization is we're not in the ordering business, we're in the time saving business. If I can save a busy person or Hey You can save a busy person 10 minutes every time they make an order, that's 20 minutes a day for a busy professional or whatever, even a student, that does change your life actually. That's really the business we're in and that's what excites me so that's the highlight every day. 
The other highlight for me is when I pop down and get my coffee or lunch, having ordered with Hey You, and hearing the stories from our cafes or fast food venues around how important we are to their business. Guy down the road tells me every week more and more orders come through, and wow it's a big part of my business. That's a good business to be in where your customers love you and the businesses you deal with rely on you and find you important to their business. So that's the highlight, and then working with a great team, I'm sure you would agree with. It's so important to work with people that you respect, love and can learn from. I'm very fortunate to have the team we've got. [crosstalk 00:04:16]
We keep pushing through milestones every week and we have personal best little victories on our Friday meeting, which is fantastic. So big part of any [inaudible 00:04:27] businesses is fun, particularly when we've got [inaudible 00:04:31]. 
Gen: Fantastic and some of the ... Well I suppose first place we should probably start is what's your business model? 
Shaun: Yup, so we're in the business of working with venues to offer them a mobile sales channel effectively. So how our model works is we rely in terms of the more orders or sales we send the venue the more fees we make. So it's effectively a percentage of what we send them and it's got to be obviously incremental to their business. So the last part about that is customer pays us when they order, we then deposit money into our businesses accounts once a week, so for them we're a source of cash and income, which is great. Obviously we hold our fees as part of that process, but its extra value that they see from us. [crosstalk 00:05:31]
Gen: Yeah that's fantastic and [inaudible 00:05:34] so how did you a couple of years ago approach managing your supply and demand versus how you are now? What have you learnt along the way?
Shaun: Yeah, that's a great question actually. So you know traditionally Hey You has been focused on building app ... There we go. 
Gen: Simon Smith is here. 
Shaun: So we really acknowledge the fact that you need coverage on your café, fast food places, you need lots of great places to order from. That's the primary menu for the business, so we focus on going out there, building up that network and that's still a very important part of our business. Not just about selling but actually providing this tool and a solution, and then helping those businesses use the service that we offer. So a lot of effort in that, and traditionally the customer side, the demand, has really grown organically, which again is quite surprising and different to a lot of businesses I've been involved in the past. What it demonstrates to me is we are delivering a better customer experience, a significantly better experience than they had before, and one that is strong enough that people do refer to friends, which is rare and it's our key channel for acquisition. Then kind of organic growth off the back of it. 
Going forward that mix is changing so I think we're in a position in Australia, particularly in Sydney and in other growing markets is we feel confident, we've got a good coverage in terms of those businesses, those cafes and fast food starts. Now there's an opportunity to kind of get that word of mouth out there, it's almost been a bit of a best kept secret, Hey You, and we really want to kind of share the news and get more people to participate and enjoy what we think a better experience of ordering and a good way to experience hospitality. 
Gen: Fantastic, so obviously it speaks to lots of people, and people like [Tatty Me 00:07:29], Stacy founder, Stacy Jacobs, banned them from reporting for measuring that's actually customer built store. How do you guys kept track of your economics? Especially while making money. 
Shaun: Yeah, so I think there's two styles to it, there's kind of the business acquisition piece, you know we've obviously got a CRM and track our leads and conversion rates as you would. That's really powerful and kind of the key obviously is being structured around that approach. But generally quite easy to measure, on the consumer marketing front, which as I said is kind of you work for us because we've had the organic growth to date. We're using tools like Appsflyer and other tools around being able to attribute not just the registration but the future activity of customers so that we've got a good handle on the ROI campaign. 
So we're lucky most of businesses where we're data rich, it's all about looking at the right data and tracking the key metrics so yeah.
Gen: That's great, and what does the future hold for me? 
Shaun: So we think there's a huge opportunity, the space we play we call it everyday hospitality. So everything excluding premium buying or your pizza delivered at home, that market is massive right, and hasn't actually changed in a lot of ways. It's only now like real digital disruption, so you know when I kind of look into the future, forecast the future I really think when my son grows up he's going to think it's crazy that people ordered over the counter or even at your casual café or restaurants waiters and waitresses came up and served you. Then you had to wait for the bill to get brought to you. It really doesn't make sense, so I think there's a big wave of change that we're in the middle of and it's all about kind of getting it kind of mainstream and working with businesses and talking to the public around how this is a better way to order and pay. 
For me it's a lot like people used to, before Uber, there was a certain way to interact with taxis, and I, and I'm sure a lot of other people agree, the Uber experience is just superior in a lot of ways. Once you've experienced it you wouldn't turn back after, so I think same is happening in our space. So I think in our world it's all about more people doing what we offer today, which is around ordering a coffee and walking past your takeaway coffee, then same for your lunch, beat the queue at lunchtime as well. Then potentially in future for dinner you might be at a pub and having a beer and you think about having a burger, well you shouldn't have to go to counter and get buzzers and things like that. You should be able to order it through your mobile device as well. 
Gen: Yeah, it makes perfect sense. Obviously to achieve all this you guys have been able to create great culture and great teams to sell this business. What is your culture like and what's your top tips for hiring the right people? 
Shaun: Yeah, great. So I think we spent a lot of time as a team talking about the culture we want and who we are as people, I think you've got to stay true to that. One of the things we focus a lot on is focus, so you know we're lucky we've got heaps of opportunities for our business, which is super exciting. To me the trick to unlocking the value from all those opportunities is being clear on which ones we focus on and do a really good job. Not try and spread yourself too thin. One of our key values is focused on generating great results, so focus on the things that are going to deliver the results that you're really after and having measurable targets. I still think we could get better at that and it's a journey, but that's something we keep reminding ourselves of. You know what are the things we're doing? But also what are the things we're not doing? Staying true to that focus. 
But I think other than that it's the down to earth place, very little hierarchy. I'd say we've hired, we've been very fortunate hiring some great people. A lot of the people that we bring in come from a hospitality background, which number one it's helpful because they can understand the businesses we work with. But also what we've found if you come from a hospitality background there's a certain culture from that space, so you know it's all about customer service, being helpful, being organized. Systems, processes, things like that are really important. So, that's been a good space to recruit from, it's been interesting. 
Gen: That's great, what does the future team look like? Are you hiring at the moment? 
Shaun: Yeah, so we've actually filled a bunch of positions, we're gearing up for a big year this year. I'm super excited the people we're bringing on, we've got a couple more starters next week.
Gen: Good luck. 
Shaun: On the sales front, obviously as we expand our network that's important. We've got a really great, I don't want to mention the name because [crosstalk 00:12:45] but Chief Product Officer that we've just hired from a business. 
Gen: Which we shall not name. 
Shaun: Shall not be named, I think they'll be upset with us right now. But I'm very happy so I think that's going to be amazing having someone like that on board. We've also on the development front been fortunate, I've got a great CTO, we've got a couple of people locally. We've also got a team offshore, the tenure there has been amazing. Like you hear a lot of good and bad stories about off shoring particularly on the dev side. We've been fortunate, I inherited some really great people over there and really build that team out, so that's excitable, we'll carry building our team out. 
Gen: That's great.
Shaun: I look forward to it. 
Gen: Yeah definitely, and you know dealing with people, tech, you know trying to grow a start up there are a lot of challenges that we face every day. What's been one of the hardest challenges that you've had to face?
Shaun: Yeah, you know I think I'd probably if I narrow it down, maybe not that original but finding great people. So you know [crosstalk 00:13:54] ... Its something, hiring comes in waves. But you know there's obviously always pressure you have on yourself to keep growing and execute fast. Sometimes it's pressure to hire quickly, to make sure you do that. But it's also important to hire the right people. So I think sometimes we just can't control the time and you have to be patient and get the right people. So that can be a challenge, you said you were going to have that position hired then and it might have taken a month or two. But that's important, so I think it's better to wait. 
Then just going back to the focus point, you know that's something I struggle with personally, my team struggle with. Just keep narrowing it down, we keep reminding ourselves set the priority, focus on that, but also be adaptable. I think that's the balance, I think people sometimes it can be one but not the other, but I think focus on those priorities but the priorities can change, and be open to change. That's something I've been really proud of the team, and we've always had it in our DNA being open to change. I think that's super important, the other businesses we've always done it a certain way. You can't act like that when you're in a dynamic space. 
Gen: Yeah, and you know it's funny every start up has that challenge where it's that founder or leader that's hiring the right people. But then they also feel like they're not having the same challenges at the start ups. So what's the piece of advice you wish you knew coming into the start up world?
Shaun: Oh I wish I knew. So there's a heap, I think yeah you keep getting better at focus. I think the start up world it's getting that balance between as a leader working with great people, having great focus and engaging at the right level with the team. I think what founders and leaders bring, or should bring I believe is passion and being able to get involved at a higher level but also at an executional level as well. But do it in a positive way and being able to kind of get that balance right between delegation and get the most out of their team. But also get involved at the right team. 
I think there's not a secret sauce to that, it's kind of a judgment but you know you can err on both sides. You can delegate too much and not be involved in the day to day life. You can annoy your team by getting too much, so I think that's ... I don't know if that's really an answer to your question but that's probably just something I think just being clear where you can add value and spending time in those areas and focusing on. 
Gen: That makes sense, it's interesting 'cause I catch up with founders and literally have to sit there and say, there are no right answers. It's being adaptable and being able to change when you realize it's the wrong path and then just keep moving forward. 'Cause everyone in this room is having the exact same challenges you are. Fear of what step do I next take because I will step on glass. Thinking if you just hold still. 
Shaun: Yeah and I think just be authentic, you know I think you will make mistakes especially with your team and the Board. Just being authentic about those things and I think as long as people are open, got the best intentions and they adapt and learn. I don't think you have to always tell people what they want to hear but it's important to fess up. There was a decision we made recently, which I should have made the decision a month earlier and roll it out, that meant there was a slight stop start in the process. But I think being upfront with the team going, hey this is what we're doing, we should have done this a month ago, but now we're doing it now, it's not ideal. I think that kind of openness people respond well to and I think that people don't respond well when it's things are just brushed over and moved on. 
Gen: It's your community. 
Shaun: Exactly right. 
Gen: So managing Boards and trying to raise money, what's your advice to people how to handle them? 
Shaun: You know it's a challenge right, so I think ... I don't have the answer to this. I would say work with people who can help you, but I think there's a reality around raising money is very time consuming. You've just got to be realistic around how much time it is, and then what that's going to take away from other areas and what's really important. I mean ultimately if you can't raise money that's a major problem, so focus, that should be your number one focus. Then try and compact the time frame so that you can get through that, what you don't want to do is have that process drag on or have that process repeat itself every few months, 'cause that can be a huge distraction. So I think that's the one, I think the other kind of learning I've had is try and get a reality check early on in the process with fund raising. 
Gen: Assuming your business is actually there, fund raising is a fundamental problem. 
Shaun: Well there's that but I think also everyone, or a lot of people are interested in hearing your story and then kind of figure out whose a real potential investor and who's just there for the kind of story and the learnings. Spend the time with the ones who most likely going to actually ... Actually fit with your business and what you're looking for as a shareholder at the end of the day. So I think that's really important that you do. 
Gen: Yeah, that makes sense. So what tasks, books, how do you keep learning as the leader as well? 
Shaun: I mean I think everyone learns different ways, I do a little bit of reading, I'm a kind of a hands on guy. I learn by doing so I jump into the next tool and try and figure out how it works. What I've found that; ...
Gen: What's your favorite tools at the moment? 
Shaun: Well I have Sliders, and that's pretty cool. But I love data so anywhere that I can kind of get access to data that's awesome. Learning from people, like I think every time you have a meeting you learn something from somebody right? Like it's going to be good, so it may feel even when you interviewing a candidate there's an opportunity to learn from somebody every day.
Gen: Awesome, so this is a contentious question, Google Home or Alexa? 
Shaun: Wow, juries out, juries out. I won't make a call on that. I want one that's going to work, integrate best with Hey You. Looking at a few options at the minute. 
Gen: That's a very diplomatic answer, as Dan Golding from Alexa is watching right now. So, hey Dan. Then you know mental health is a big thing that doesn't necessarily get spoken about a lot in the start up scene. What are the ways that you keep your head space and make sure that you're doing the right things so that you can run a very tight ship in the business and also keep things good upstairs? Or how do you do that with your team as well to make sure they're taking care of themselves? 
Shaun: Yeah I love that question. So again basic stuff but what works for me and we talk about is exercise. Like I think that's almost ... Exercise is a chemical reaction and you feel happier and that's good for your mental well being. So you know I try exercise a couple of mornings before work during the week. That's something I really take seriously and enjoy. For me that's swimming, everyone's got a different version. I eat healthy, you know Hey You's got plenty of great salads on sale so, there's no shortage of healthy lunches. 
Gen: Coffee? 
Shaun: Yeah, my ration coffee is there as well. So I think those are the basic, get enough sleep. You've got an awful lot of work to do, I've got a family, and you try to work a lot of things but being flexible with how you work. I think you can still get a lot of work done without cutting into what your minimum sleep is, it's different for everyone. But I know what I need and I try to make sure that if a few nights were short but I can look after myself. I do think like probably as important to those, which are obvious but is the whole emotional sharing side. So I'm very lucky I've got some friends who have the similar background experienced by myself, that I can talk to about the good and the bad things. I think that's really important being able to be able to be open about things. I think everyone wants to hear about the good stuff, and often people think that they can't talk about the challenges and the problems whether it's personal or professional, or whatever it is. 
Again this is maybe an example of one but I think particularly a lot of men, maybe even my age aren't great at that. So they're not good at being open and honest about what's a struggle and what's not. I feel passionate about that, about encouraging people to be vulnerable, share the good and the bad and certainly it's been really helpful for me to be able to have those conversations with friends and colleagues. 
Gen: Any start ups watching you be comfortable if they reached out to you to catch up and that kind of thing?
Shaun: Absolutely and you know anyone who is watching I really ... I think it's a sign of like strength and something I hope my son when he grows up he feels comfortable being vulnerable emotionally and supportive of others as well. I think that is something that's really, really important. 
Gen: Yeah, that's fantastic. So how can others support you guys during your journey? I mean you're trying to hire anyone at the moment? 
Shaun: Yeah well, we've hired a bunch of people [crosstalk 00:23:54] is in Alice so we're looking for someone. We've got all this data, some really interesting stuff to crunch, we could do with somebody who loves data to join our team. Across we're always looking for good people from a range of different backgrounds. But in terms of support any suggestions, any feedback we're pretty open. We pretend we've got all the answers as a user, if there's a better way to do something there's a business out there that has suggestions, love to hear them.
Gen: That's great.
Shaun: Other than that you know tell your friends. 
Gen: Download the app. 
Shaun: Download the app. Ah I've got a tip for you, use the promo Hey Shaun S.H.A.U.N and you get a free coffee if you're a new customer. We've got a competition so whoever gets the most referrals wins in our team, so you know. 
Gen: Everyone download. 
Shaun: Hey Shaun. 
Gen: This is Like Minded Bitches, this is 57,000 women.
Shaun: There you go. Very good. 
Gen: So we're sitting right now on the Sydney start up public vendors, what's been your experience coming in now that you've got so many different spaces here? What's the impact been for you guys?
Shaun: Yeah it's fantastic, there's some really interesting businesses we've got to know as a team. My team love it because we've got a nice size business but being part of something bigger and being part of the community just makes life a little bit more interesting. We can all learn from each other and it's quite energizing being part of that community. So that's been great, and you know hopefully we can give back to the community as well. It's a great space and we're very happy here yeah.
Gen: That's awesome, what do you think that impacts going to be around Sydney and then Sydney, Australia, Australia and then globally? Do you think this is going to take such a large step forward?
Shaun: Yeah, I definitely would hope so, I think there is really some amazing success stories out there, and as you know many others. I think places like this bringing the community together is fantastic. I think the various requirements of a business, funding being one, culture being another, community being another. I think all are important and I think places like this just encourage it and I think it can only be a good thing for Australia really. I think also just inspire young people, it's now cool to work at places like this, it's accessible you know. 
Gen: You're not wearing flip flops and shorts. 
Shaun: No. Tomorrow. 
Gen: It's still the dream. So I ask everyone this but if you could have a super power, what would it be?
Shaun: Super power? 
Gen: Yes.
Shaun: Wow, that's a tough one. 
Gen: Putting you on the spot yeah.
Shaun: Super power, I mean the things that are number one like a mini super power is I wouldn't have to sleep at night. I'd have more hours in the day, I'm sure that's not the most original. You know I think there's just so much to do and balancing everything is always a challenge. So obviously there are people that can do with a couple of hours of sleep, but I'm not one of them. I'd love to do with less sleep. 
Gen: It's funny every start up founder says they want more time in the day, or they want to be able to rewind time so they can catch up and do it quicker, it goes to fast.
Shaun: I'm a little kind of mantra to save time for what matters. Like I think that's important because things matter to different people but time is becoming more and more valuable commodity. It started about Hey You but personally as well, anything that can generate more time, or saving time is good to me. 
Gen: Awesome, so what that promo code one more time? So ...
Shaun: Hey Shaun, S.H.A.U.N, not Sean, S.H.A.U.N.
Gen: Well thank you so much, really appreciate your time and hope all goes well.
Shaun: Thanks Gen, great chatting to you. Thank you.
Gen: It's a very official ending.