A Chat with Will Davies from CarNextDoor

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Gen caught up with Will Davies, the Cofounder of Car Next Door. Will is focused on building businesses that reduce the amount of CO2 emitted by humans and help preserve the environment.  

Before co-founding Car Next Door, Will founded several successful ventures in the mortgage & real estate industries. Namely: Scope Lending, a mortgage broking business that he sold in 2008 & Keypoint Holdings, which buys houses in the US.  Will served on the Board of Directors for Halotechnics (http://www.halotechnics.com) a company that developed breakthrough materials to enable solar thermal plants to generate electricity 24 hours a day. Will also currently serves on the Board of Directors for Fishburners, a not-for-profit co-working hub that caters for tech start ups.

Watch our interview or read the transcript below:


Gen George: Hey guys, Gen George, and today I'm here with the co-founder, oh, I'm sorry. The founder and CEO of Car Next Door. Will, who the hell are you?
Will Davies: I'm actually the co-founder. 
Gen George: Oh, you are co-founder. Sorry. I always do that.
Will Davies: My other co-founder ... Well, there's two co-founders, other co-founders. Dave Trembol is our CTO. He's been with us since we started. Chloe Eylif, she started ... Well, she came on very, very early, but then after a year she had a baby. She came back for a year and then had another two babies. 
Gen George: Wow. 
Will Davies: Twins. So, we're waiting to get her back again. 
Gen George: I was about to say, how did she go from one to two suddenly. Twins. 
Will Davies: Enjoy it one to three, yeah. 
Gen George: That's insane. Crazy. 
Will Davies: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, it really knocked her out. 
Gen George: Yeah, so how'd you guys get started?
Will Davies: I had a mortgage brokering business and I had a team of 20 people. It was going really well. Mortgage broking, you can make good money, but as I was getting older, I was sort of 28, I came to the realization ... Well, I came to the realization that humans are really buggering up the planet fast and that I want to play a big part in helping reduce us buggering up the planet or helping us stop buggering up the planet. 
The biggest way that we're stuffing the place up, I think, at the moment, there's lots of different ways we're stuffing it up like rubbish and pollution, but the biggest one is carbon emissions. Basically, I couldn't work out how mortgage broking was gonna reduce carbon emissions, so went hunting around trying to work out a business I thought was gonna be a good business, but also dramatically reduce carbon emissions. 
So, I looked at importing solar panels. I looked at aquaponics, which we won't go into the details of. But, I've been a car share user, thought  it was a bit wasteful that you're walking past all these cars to rent a car. So, that's how we kind of got it all going. 
Gen George: Awesome. What did day one look like? How did you test this out before you threw everything plus the kitchen sink into it?
Will Davies: It was a real hard one to test out. I often think, I'm a big fan of The Lean Startup, I've read that probably four or five times, and trying to work out what's the minimum that you can do to get going. I guess what I did do is I surveyed anyone who'd listen to me about would they lease they car and would they ever borrow a car? 
I kind of knew that the demand was there on the borrowers side, because there was already established car sharing businesses, but what I didn't know is if people would actually rent out their car. 
Gen George: Yeah.
Will Davies: So, I surveyed a wider group of friends on that. We got an early article in the City Morning Herald that asked the question. Apparently, 30% of people said they would. So, kind of showed that there was some rough demand to share out your car, but where it didn't what we did was really ... The idea, ideally, you would spend three weeks, come up with an absolute shit website that you're embarrassed about, but does the job, then you would see if there was any interest for real. What we did was we used a third platform rather than build our own tech to start with. So, that reduced the cost substantially. 
Gen George: Yeah. You get a lot of features as well up front.
Will Davies: Yeah, exactly, but it ended up taking them like a year to integrate it, because they had to kind of make some stuff themselves.
Gen George: Right, yeah. 
Will Davies: But it did save us a fair chunk of money. What we're doing is actually fairly complicated. You need to have the GPS in the car. You need to be able to unlock the car. That GPS needs to be [inaudible 00:03:57]. We're basically doing everything that Airbnb's doing, but then you add this GPS sort of tracking layer on top, which just makes it a bit more complicated. It wasn't the easiest one to do a real minimum vol product for. We're probably too complicated. Maybe we could have done key exchange at the start. 
Gen George: Yeah, then chase people down the road when they steal the car. 
Will Davies: Yeah, or do the key exchange and then ... I mean, that's actually probably safer, because they've got to actually meet and exchange keys. 
Gen George: True. 
Will Davies: But it's just less tech heavy. We could have done that at the start. Probably, if I had my timing I would have done that at the start and then worked into the full tech solution that we've got. Whereas we went straight for the tech, which I think has had it's pros as well. 
Gen George: Yeah, that makes sense. 
Will Davies: But we're lucky because it was a good idea. The tech was a good idea. If it wasn't, then that would have just been a big waste. 
Gen George: Definitely. There's a couple of usually big turning points or stepping stones, I guess, in a startup. What's been one of the largest ones for you? Was it getting on Shark Tank or what's given you guys the visibility?
Will Davies: Well, a few major things that happened is after about three months of operating, what we did initially was we're using the same ... Have you ever used car sharing? Any car sharing? 
Gen George: Yeah.
Will Davies: We're using the same system as what most other car sharing things, with a swipe card. You put on the windscreen, it unlocks car, mobilizes the car, and then you start it. We found out that that was really bad for peer to peer car sharing, because every car's different. So, we had an auto electrician it was about 220 bucks to put it in. We're sending him mad, because every car was so weird and different. 
And then, owners want to come off probably quicker, because their circumstances change, they sell the car. It's not like you're gonna have the car on there for years. So, the owner want to come off and then you've got to uninstall it. We worked out that it just wasn't gonna work if we did that like financially. 
The first big change that we did was we worked that out, but we also worked out we're getting good usage from the burrows. So, people liked it but we just had a crap, the wrong tech solution. We sort of really did a lot of thinking about how could we do this? How could get the same result without needing to put all this stuff in the car? 
What we came up with was a plug-in GPS tracking device as well as a lockbox that hangs on the side of the car or on the owner's property that does the two jobs. It measures kilometers and it lets the person into the car, which is all the other stuff does. 
Gen George: That's all you need, yeah. 
Will Davies: It was only after we did that. That took a few months to implement, because we had this third-party system that was slow, still, for that as well. Then once we had it in implemented, that's when first started seeing things really ... The car numbers shoot up and the bookings shoot up. 
Gen George: Yeah.
Will Davies: The second sort of major turning point for us was we were on the third party system and it was just ... The iteration was so slow. It was killing us. If we wanted to get one small thing we had to sort of argue it out, try to get on their priority list, and then once we got on their priority list, then wait for them to do it. Hopefully, it was good and sometimes they didn't do what you wanted, which is fine, because it's their product ... 
Gen George: It's thinking in the right, being which one works.
Will Davies: Yeah, exactly, exactly. So, we were just like, when it's not gonna be able to grow if we don't sort this out. 
we made the decision that we're gonna build our own platform from scratch. It took us, we said a year and it took us a year. Yeah, I guess what was awesome about ... Well, the good thing about, we were in a really good position because we'd been at it for a year and a half, so we knew what features we really needed by that point, because we had a lot of experience. So, we only built things that we needed rather than if you were at the start, there's always things at the start that I had us ...
Gen George: Things you need, right.
Will Davies: I had these as critical ideas. We still haven't done them now.
Gen George: Can you give us an example.
Will Davies: I said the biggest one, the biggest example, we feel that if you're owner you're going to sometimes want to rent your car out from your house and sometimes rent it out from work. We need to create an ability to be able to rent it out from two different separate locations. Every now and again, we'll get an owner ask for that, but that's not the top of our priority list. It would be incredibly complicated to try to do it.
Gen George: Yeah, system to do that [crosstalk 00:08:34] cost makes sense.
Will Davies: Yeah, that's probably one big one that we thought was super important. That's gotta be first run, but yeah it's not.
Gen George: Didn't need it today.
Will Davies: Yeah.
Gen George: What is the kind of culture that you guys have created to be able to keep with this obviously very fast paced business.
Will Davies: Often people who join the team are pretty blown away by the level of autonomy that they've got. I mean, it's funny, I just had lunch. I catch up with each team member, I have lunch with a team member every quarter. I try to do that just to keep in touch. Just had lunch with our financial controller, who also does some of our Google ad words stuff and he was telling me about all the stuff they're doing with charge backs and debt collection and things like that. Him and two other managers are going through one of our staff members in the Philippines and working exactly what time he's got to do what and trying to get him allocated better. This is just stuff that, I don't even know it's happening. 
As he was saying that, you often hear people say, "As CEO, you just got to focus on bringing really good people into the business, because then they take care of things." There's no way. I can't be telling those three managers to get together and talk about how to most efficiently work with this other Filipino team member, because I just don't have time in the day. You just gotta find people who can do that and then give them that autonomy. Deep down, I don't want to have to get involved in all these decisions. It's base use of time. Highly autonomous. One of the ... We've adopted a system where it's the Google OKR system. As a company, we set the company's OKR, so me and Dave set that, which will be the general direction or the firm direction that we want to go in out of the next quarter. 
And then, each division then gets together and ... Alright, how do we, what do in that order, so that the next person gets together and says, "Right. What do I need to do to best align with my company and the division OKRs." Having a system like that means, firstly I'm not making the decision about what this person is doing. They're making the decision, which is much more empowering to them. 
Gen George: Of course, yeah.
Will Davies: And then, secondly, I again, I haven't got the ability to make a thousand decisions for 40 people now.
Gen George: Also, you're not an expert at you know whether it's digital marketing, engineering, I don't know what you're sorry.
Will Davies: Yeah. No, no, no. I'm definitely not.
Gen George: So, how do you pick the best things that they could be doing in the detail?
Will Davies: Exactly. Yeah, I can't. It's all about letting that stuff go. I guess what I spend a fair chunk of my time doing is catching up with people and then trying to drill quite deep into one thing, and see if I can get my head around it. Often you might find a few things that aren't quite happening right during that bit, trying to be across everything is impossible.
Gen George: Yeah, definitely.
Will Davies: What's probably one of the major things is the police we've got with the team is we pay everyone really fairly. We make sure every six months we have a proper salary review process, which is quite early for a business like us to be doing that. We've done that for a long time, because we want to make sure that ... I read a book that's talking about, it's called The Hard Thing About Hard Things.
Gen George: Yes. I know it.
Will Davies: Yeah, yeah, yeah. He's talking about, you don't want everyone coming to you every time they want a pay raise. If you set the times that you're going to discuss it, everyone knows that there's two times a year that that gets discussed and that's when that conversation is happening. But also, it lets us make sure that we're paying people the right amount. But then, the second thing to that is that we don't have any bonuses across the business. The team are all on, get equity as well. That's a bonus of sorts, but that's just linked to you being here. We don't pay people. We don't say, "Okay, if you get 40 cars on this month, we'll give you an extra thousand bucks." We're all in it together. There's no individuality performance based stuff at all.
Gen George: Yeah. That makes sense. When you get to that bad cycle of constantly, if you turn up to work on time we'll give you a bonus.
Will Davies: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And it's very different, my last business, the mortgage broker business, everything was completely the opposite. Most of the team, we're on commission only. But yeah, this feels a lot better if you try it.
Gen George: I can imagine. So, what is the team makeup? Is it a strong focus on engineering, or ops? How does that all work?
Will Davies: There's ... Well, we've got a team of 14 now in the Philippines that are doing a lot of the customer service functions. We've got five customer service in Australia, largely handling the escalations. We've got a car ops team. We've got the customers, the borrowers, and then we got getting the cars on, keeping the owners happy, and all those sort of things. That's another five people. Marketing team of four. Development and product team of eight at the moment. That's kind of the guts of it. 
The big one that we're going to be pushing a lot on, we've realized that most of our bottlenecks now are through lack of developers. A big focus is going to be on getting more developers.
Gen George: What kind? What are you hiring for? In case anyone is watching.
Will Davies: Oh yeah, we're looking for ... We're already built, but, and I get confused. I think we're using the Ionic the app thing that determines ... You make it once and it turns, it makes both the apps, Ionic. I think we're AngularJS on the front side.
Gen George: Yes, that is something. Yup.
Will Davies: We're currently looking for full stack developers, front end developers, and back end developers as well. We're looking for everything. That should ...
Gen George: If anyone's watching.
Will Davies: Yeah, yeah. Get involved.
Gen George: That's cool. It is half past, you okay to keep going?
Will Davies: Yeah, no, the meeting that I was talking about has canceled.
Gen George: Oh, perfect. Okay, lots of questions then.
Will Davies: Yeah, yeah.
Gen George: With your, I guess where you're heading in the future, what have you achieved today in Australia and then what are you looking to move towards?
Will Davies: We launched in the 1st of January, 2013. We've now got about 1,400 cars, about 120,000 users.
Gen George: Users, yeah.
Will Davies: We've done about 130,000 trips.
Gen George: That's huge.
Will Davies: We're turning over about ... Marketplace [inaudible 00:15:56] is a million bucks a month. It's you know. It's funny sort of stats. It's like what we've ... We're about five years old now and we turned over more in the last year then we turned over in the previous four years. It's that kind of stat. There's that very growth, which is really exciting.
Gen George: Impressive, definitely. And how do you as a CEO make sure you can continue to support that growth, because that's where generally the stop ups start happening.
Will Davies: Yeah, well I guess that the major bits is continuing to get really good people into the business. And then, spending a good chunk of time trying to make sure you got the right ideas, because ... The right new ideas, because we're still making ... It's not like everything is going to stay exactly how it is. We're still going to make changes. We still gotta adapt. We still gotta push in new directions. 
Gen George: Definitely.
Will Davies: So, we gotta work out how ... Making the right decisions about the directions to push. Try to make as few mistakes as possible, which is very, very difficult, but to keep experimenting at the same time. And then hire really good people. And then, have a good management system in place like the OKRs down to the personal level, so that everyone has a high level of autonomy and can keep pushing, doing stuff themselves.
Gen George: Yeah, definitely. Makes sense.
Will Davies: I think that's probably the bits. I don't know have you got any others?
Gen George: Oh, no. I think that's pretty good. Everybody approaches it so differently, right. Where are you guys trying to get to? Trying to stay in Australia? Go international? 
Will Davies: What we've always said is if we ... We need to get Australia right first.
Gen George: Yeah, you can have a big business in Australia.
Will Davies: You can. You definitely can. We need to get Australia right first, because if we try to expand too early it just creates an extra whole bunch of complexity. We're getting closer to that point where we are really starting to feel like we are getting things right. What we've always said is if there's an opportunity that presents itself overseas and there isn't the right player there at the time that we can sort of go for it.
Gen George: So, do you think you're getting a lot of pressure just because it is the city startup is very much about go international from day one or the glitz and glamor of San Fran? Have you every had that along the way for yourselves?
Will Davies: No, because I mean some of the venture capital businesses that's some of their ... If they're going to invest in you, you need to be international from day one. They've always, I've got to know them over the years and I think we both agree the car next door is not an investment they would make. 
Gen George: Sure, yeah.
Will Davies: There is a really strong physical component in each different, but even from state to state there's different regulations and rules and everything. It's not the easiest one to expand internationally instantly.
Gen George: But you have done a phenomenal job to get to where you have in four or five years.
Will Davies: Yes. Yup, yup, yup. And even I think ... So, we're out of their radar, but there's plenty of other people who've got a different view on that. Yeah.
Gen George: Could be interesting. From a fundraising point of view, what's your journey been like?
Will Davies: We raised, I put the first chunk of money in myself, part of the sales from the mortgage broking business. It was the first 250 grand. The team worked mainly for equity at the start, so that actually lasted us quite a while. Then we raised 650 grand convertible night, which looking back it lasted us a huge amount of time as well. Then we did a Series A, where we raised 1.6 mill and then that included going in on Shark Tank and Steve Baxter put in 300,000 bucks. And then a few months after that, Caltex decided that they wanted to invest in us. They put in 2.7 mil and then just two months ago we closed another 5 mil. 
Gen George: Impressive.
Will Davies: We're sort of, we raised about 10 mil so far on the journey. Just been through that big capital raise.
Gen George: You're looking a lot more relaxed.
Will Davies: Only thing, exactly. Exactly. They're very, very stressful things. Each one's, they're progressively more stressful. I think you forget how stressful one was before, because they're in a fight for survival. The longer you go on. I've been at this for five years now. The thought of hitting some capital ... I mean, we're in an interesting position now. If we couldn't raise the capital, then we could break even. The reason we're not breaking even is because we think that the better option is to push a lot harder for growth. We want to make the platform better and better. We got heaps of things that we know to do to make it way better, which then makes more and more people want to join. We want to build out the market quicker, so we're better of spending another five million bucks, building that quicker, building a better product quicker, because we're going to end up with a much more valuable thing at the end.
Gen George: How do you go about as a leader picking the right partners to invest in the company? It's like dating.
Will Davies: Yeah. I mean, I guess it is like dating in probably two senses. You got to pick people who you like the most out of a limited pool of people.
Gen George: You're choosing your words very quickly.
Will Davies: No, so I mean it's not like we don't get to pick anyone. I can't ...
Gen George: It's like the arranged marriage. You have to pick one of ten.
Will Davies: Yeah. I don't just go and go pick a super model and say, "Alright, come and be my wife."
Gen George: You'll be fantastic. Is anyone there?
Will Davies: Yeah. We are really careful. We've been very careful with the investors we've brought on. We've said no to people just because they didn't seem like the right fit. The second thing we've been really careful on is the terms that they come in at. I've had really [inaudible 00:22:47] investors who I would love to get on board, but who have wanted terms that would hinder us for the rest of the life of the company and we've said not to them, even though they're a great opportunity.
And so, it's looking at those things and making decisions from there.
Gen George: Yeah, that makes sense. Any regrets along that path? Any ones that got away? You don't have to say names as well.
Will Davies: No, I wasn't gonna either. I wasn't planning on naming.
Gen George: Okay.
Will Davies: We're kind of in a position where we've got a lot of small investors on. We've got a lot of people, because in that Series A we raised 1.6 I think there was probably a whole bunch of people who put in 25, 50 thousand bucks, which is a small amount of money when you're raising 1.6. We've got sort of 40 investors now. It does potentially get a little bit unwieldy having 40 investors, but ...
Gen George: Do you get calls from them all the time?
Will Davies: No, I don't and I'll come back to them. One of the things, if I had my time again would I try to get fewer investors, but back then you've gotta ... If someone's came to put money in and you like them.
Gen George: You need the cash, yeah.
Will Davies: Yeah, you need the cash. The cash is the most important thing and then having a really good investor who can help you is the second most important thing. You need the cash first, because ...
Gen George: Have to keep the lights on.
Will Davies: There's no company otherwise to discuss things with your investors.
Gen George: Now, that you have pretty much won the Nobel Peace Prize for keeping all your investors happy, how do you manage so many people? Well, manage different [crosstalk 00:24:32]?
Will Davies: Well, it's actually really easy. I know other founders who've also got a lot of investors who have the same thing. You often hear people, "Oh, if you get too many investors and you have all these questions, all these interruptions." What I do is every month I'll send the investors a snapshot of basically we've got a bit of a dashboard. I'll send them screenshots of the dashboard, so they're completely up to date with how the facts and figures are going. I'll only spend an hour a month, taking the screenshots and then putting some of my commentary under each and I send it to the investors. I send it without fail within the next 20 days at the end of each month. They know that that's going to come and because I do that, I don't get the questions and I don't get the anger.
I've actually been, I've made a small investment on the other side and the founder was just hopeless. You just would never hear from him unless you ask. That's when you start getting problems. Yeah, and then once every quarter I'll do a much more detailed, here's the major products we're doing. Here's how we've gone on them. Here's what we're planning on working on over the next quarter. But, I actually find, and that might take me four or five hours, but I actually find that very clarifying, because ...
Gen George: It's sort of you as a leader. [crosstalk 00:25:52]
Will Davies: Exactly. It gets me to really think through things and be like, because I've got to present it to a group of investors you do that extra day thinking, which you wouldn't have if you didn't have investors. 
Gen George: No.
Will Davies: You wouldn't do it if you didn't have investors. Yeah.
Gen George: You don't think it's a priority.
Will Davies: No. Yeah, exactly.
Gen George: Of course, every startup founder makes that mistake. So then, what are the different tools, you use a dashboard, what do you use to measure the company on how it's going?
Will Davies: We've just integrated mix panel onto. I need to get my head around that a little bit. The guys are using that for a range of things, like ...
Gen George: All your analytics are there. You're final [crosstalk 00:26:33].
Will Davies: Exactly. Really start digging deep. We were talking before about ... We actually built our ... We know exactly where each customer has come from. With for example, with Google ad words, we know down to not quite the specific phrase, but the very small group of phrases, which group of phrases work and we link that to the customer, so we know exactly which ...
Gen George: It's your attribution model.
Will Davies: Yeah, attribute.
Gen George: [crosstalk 00:27:03]
Will Davies: Yeah, exactly. We know this term here is someone clicks on that, they will very likely spend a lot of money, so we up the bid on that, rather than just sort of this is getting lots of clicks so let's spend more on that. We don't know whether the clicks actually work.
Gen George: [crosstalk 00:27:18]
Will Davies: Yeah, exactly. Getting to that next, we got sort of, that's a separate thing that we're running for Excel, but that's incredibly important information. That's probably the majority of it.
Gen George: I mean it's a two-sided marketplace, you don't act unless you're really critical. What's your advice to startups is it getting started? What to look for at the beginning, getting investors, what you should be measuring moving forward?
Will Davies: I've got a unit economics sort of model. The unit economics can be quite hard. This is getting quite technical, but usually with unit economics you're saying, "Right, cost to acquire a customer is this and this is how much I make out of a customer." The problem with a two-sided marketplace, what confused me for quite a few years is we've got two customers. We got the owner and the borrower. I only solved that by realizing that the owner is not a customer, they are a supplier. Now, what we do is we'll work out alright the average owner, costs us this much to market to them. They then [crosstalk 00:28:25] average owner leave their car on for a 170 bookings.
I'll boil that down to the cost of an owner is $2.20 a book for us. To market them, install them, keep them on, then they come off. We just boiled them down to a cost. This is just the unit economics, we don't seem them as that in general.
Gen George: That's okay, Sara or Betty.
Will Davies: Exactly. You're not here to [crosstalk 00:28:48].
Gen George: You're special.
Will Davies: The rest is pretty straightforward economic stuff. It's funny, I've had discussions with Tim Fung from Airtasker about this. I did think unit economics were incredibly important, but the point he makes which I think is really well made is that with a two-sided marketplace, you've got the regular value of a customer, or a borrower is the fact that they're going to generate you some income in the future. That's the usual. The thing with the two-sided marketplace is every borrower and every owner is actually a node that is then going to tell other people about it. The more of them you get on now, the more referrals they're going to bring earlier. That's more just referrals, word of mouth, like getting the word of mouth going earlier. You've got to factor that into the lifetime value as well.
Gen George: How do you put a number on that?
Will Davies: Oh, no, you can't really put a number on it. That's the second one. Sorry, that's sort of the second value. The third value in a marketplace is that our marketplace is valued not only on the sum of its future income, but also by the size of the network. So, each extra person actually increases the value of the marketplace, because of the network effect. If we own the marketplace, it's substantially more valuable then if we don't. If we've got the same income on both things. Both of those two second reasons could lead you to the idea that, let's say that unit economics says the lifetime value of your customer is 300 dollars. That's just taking into account how much they're going to bring. Maybe it's worthwhile spending four of five hundred bucks on them, because of those second two factors.
You're creating more nodes and you're building the network, but then your unit economics network, because you're spending 500 to make 300 according to that.
Gen George: Yes. In the US model of the big business just pumping cash.
Will Davies: Exactly, exactly.
Gen George: We're starting to see a time where the Ubers of the world are trying to turn around from losing 300 mil a month to, sorry quarter, to hopefully getting a lot closer, because that would be heart attack [crosstalk 00:31:30].
Will Davies: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Gen George: In the Australia market. What are you views on that and the change in the [inaudible 00:31:33] sort of mindset?
Will Davies: Well, I mean I can see ... I really love the idea of running a profitable business.
Gen George: Really? [crosstalk 00:31:48]
Will Davies: I know, I know. My previous business, if I didn't make a profit that's it. There was no investors. It was like you just had to run out of cash flow, whereas now I've been running Car Next Door and we've never been profitable. That's not even the plan. We're raising money, because we're going to keep reinvesting, we're going to keep reinvesting, because we're not making a profit. That's what we're planning on doing now, but I guess there's always this slight fear when you're not making a profit. All of your models can say, "Oh no, we could be profitable." But until you actually do it, you don't know. We're not just gonna test it out for the hell of it, because the only way for us to get profitable is probably for us to get rid of a whole bunch of development resources, which we spend ages building up. The great people are doing awesome things.
We want to keep making the platform better. It's always going to be a bit hypothetical. You can model out, alright if we did this and this and this, then yeah.
Gen George: Of course. Hiring the engineers and the talent in general in Australia, have you found that you can attract better talent, because you have beaches, the weather, the lifestyle? Or are you finding it's just hard in general?
Will Davies: Well, two bits to that. The first is that we actually recruit developers anywhere in Australia. We even, if the right person internationally comes across, we'll consider that as well. One of our developers lives up near Brisbane. We've got two in Melbourne. A few in Sydney. One in LA. We're all over the place. The reason we've done that is because it's just too hard to narrow yourself just to Sydney.
The second thing is that we are a, everyone tries to have a mission and a purpose. What our mission is we want to rid Australia of the one person, one car mentality. And we want to take a shitload of carbon emissions out of the world. Our business is directly serving a very high purpose. It's not like we're hoping other people do this so they can do that. It's like we're directly doing that. We found that it really makes a big different. You just find, people are attracted to you who want to be doing stuff, doing good stuff whilst doing their work.
Gen George: That's awesome.
Will Davies: We've got a really good advantage with that. It's certainly a lot easier for me to attract people to Car Next Door than it was to my mortgage broking business.
Gen George: Surprise.
Will Davies: Yeah, exactly.
Gen George: So then, you as a leader then, how do you keep evolving yourself and make sure you're learning and you're ahead of the curve, so you can be the best businesses on the team.
Will Davies: It's funny. I do think that I have moments where I'm like, "Fuck. Am I keeping up with all of this?" Just because I was able to get Car Next Door off the ground, does that mean I'm the right person to be running a 45 person business. I guess, so what I did personally, actually, so what we do across the whole team is we've got these things called the 3,2,1. It's a personal development them that people in the team sign up for. You basically got to meet three people, read two books, and go to one event per quarter that are going to help take you to where you're wanting to be. 
At the moment, I'm reading a book on how to be a CEO.
Gen George: What's it called? Just how to be a CEO?
Will Davies: I think it's called Startup CEO, but it's more got a ... I Googled startup CEO book and that's one, so I thought I would give it a read. I'm constantly reading books, meeting with people. I've started catching up with Tim Fung like on Fortnight. He's a step ahead of where we are. I can learn a lot from him and the decisions he's making. Yeah, just one of our, a contact of ours is at McKenizes, so I'll speak to them about customer service. Just constantly reaching out just trying to meet with people who are going to help.
Gen George: And it's good to get people with the right skillsets for the right problem, because there's no point having one person for everything, because you're limiting the values to their experiences only as well.
Will Davies: Exactly. No, that's very true. And then trying to encourage the rest of the team to do that as well, because if they're growing, then they're growing into their positions as well. One of the things The Lean Startup talks about is everyone on the team needs to basically reapply for their job.
Gen George: Yes.
Will Davies: Which we haven't formally done, but I kind of like that idea. Are you still up for being the head of development? Have you got the right skillset for that?
Gen George: Where the company is at as well?
Will Davies: Yeah.
Gen George: One of the lot bigger challenges that startups get into is they trying to hire for the problem they have right now, not where they need to be. 
Will Davies: Yeah.
Gen George: Getting into that cycle of spinning around, rather than moving forwards. Sometimes you gotta learn the hard way before you can step out of it, right.
Will Davies: Exactly.
Gen George: What's one of the biggest stuff ups you've made?
Will Davies: I've actually got one of these brains that doesn't ...
Gen George: That blocks it out.
Will Davies: Yeah, yeah. Just sort of, I'm really bad at answering those questions, which I find embarrassing, because it's like people could read into that I ...
Gen George: Don't want to talk about it.
Will Davies: Or that I think I don't even stuff up. I do. I know I've stuffed up plenty of times. Look, one quite funny one and it's probably relevant for people who are starting something. My first business was the mortgage broking business and I got online. Got a company setup. Didn't speak to an accountant or anything like that. Set it up as a company. I was like three years into it and went and saw an accountant. He goes, "You really should have set this up as a family trust, because there's tax benefits you get to take." I ended up having to convert, or set up the family trust, and then over time did this whole complicated thing to legally ... Basically, had to start a new business in the family trust and then start doing my business there and letting the other wear off over time.
I was like right, got it, do it as a family trust. So, I started Car Next Door and I was just hell bent, got to set it up as a family trust. Or not a family, a unit trust we set it up as, because of those tax benefits, which only kick in once it's up to a 5 million dollar business anyway. Got about a year and a half into it and then went and applied for the RND grant. You can't get the RND grant if you're a trust, only if it's a company. So then, we had to convert Car Next Door unit trust to Car Next Door company, which we did year ago. Now, it's all kind of normal. 
Basically, in summary, my first business I set up as a company and it should have been a trust. Second business it was set up as a trust and should have been a company. That's just bloody stupid.
Gen George: Of course.
Will Davies: That second one cost us 8 grand to switch it. It's just stuffed.
Gen George: Oh my god.
Will Davies: Back in the day, you didn't need that.
Gen George: It's a cheap lesson though.
Will Davies: Yeah, exactly.
Gen George: [crosstalk 00:39:32] pretty reasonable, it's not like a couple hundred grand. 
Will Davies: Yeah, yeah, no. Yeah, I guess so.
Gen George: For the [inaudible 00:39:36] I actually got doing was make the hard decisions every day and then there's no big hard decision.
Will Davies: Yeah, right.
Gen George: When people ask you that, I'm always like uh, it's hard to come up with the stories.
Will Davies: Yeah, because you've made little ones.
Gen George: Constantly.
Will Davies: I mean, I've gotten a lot better at ... In my previous business, I was very [inaudible 00:39:56]. It someone was right for the business, I would just sort of hang on and hang on. It was like.
Gen George: They're turn around.
Will Davies: Yeah, exactly. You're always so optimistic. That's the same reason that I forget the bad things in general. Maybe, you sort of forget how bad they are, but now I'm just a lot more ... We're very, very careful about getting the right people in in the first place. So, I can come back to a recruitment process if you want. Care about that. And then, if someone isn't right, I can see my managers having the same issues, "Oh no, but we can do this and we can work with it." It's like if someone's not right, it's just best for everyone that they ...
Gen George: Step away.
Will Davies: Step away. Get things moving as quickly as possible.
Gen George: Definitely. It's almost like a slow motion car crash.
Will Davies: Exactly.
Gen George: You're watching it, you're like, "No!"
Will Davies: It just hinders you. You're kind of stuck. You just can't. It's like having a tumor in that area that's just holding everything back. You can't move forward in that area. Yeah. But even now it's always, you gotta give yourself a slap in the face pretty frequently to make that happen. 
Gen George: Volunteers.
Will Davies: Yeah, exactly.
Gen George: Mental health is obviously a big challenge in the startup, because not a lot of people talk about it. What are the things that you do for your own head space, but as well managing your team's head space or giving them the ability to manage it?
Will Davies: Well, I have meditated. I meditate four times a week. I do yoga. I kind of have to now because my back is so buggered. I did yoga.
Gen George: Is that the best chair for you?
Will Davies: Yeah, this is alright. I'll just flop back into it. Yeah, do yoga a few times a week. I make sure I exercise at least three times a week, some sort of way. I try to, and this is largely because of my wife, I'm being forced to/want to anyway ...
Gen George: Want to, yeah.
Will Davies: Well, just, on the weekends now I just pretty much on the whole just have proper full days where I'm not doing work. I've got three little boys as well. It's just, you kind of miss that whole part of your life if you just let it.
Gen George: Disappears [crosstalk 00:42:29].
Will Davies: Yeah, yeah. Exactly. There's certainly periods where, even recently, where you get in a bit of funk. Even after we just raised this capital in the last month, we had some pretty, we went through a really tough ... It got really busy and our customer service wasn't keeping up. That really knocks me around mentally. I was feeling unhappy. I guess what the meditation gives you and what I've probably learned how to use is you just got to look back at those things from a distant rather than ... If you let it be, oh everything's here now and you're riding that and you've got no perspective. So, just the ability to sort of step back. You look at it from the bigger picture and you say, "Right. Is this really, are we going to die because of this?" No. Is this saying we're going to be out of work halfway through. Just because you've got a few angry people right now does that mean the business is buggered, which is the kind of talk that goes through your head. But if you can give yourself that space to step back and be able to see it from the distance, you realize, not, this is a short term thing.
We can take active steps to fix it.
Gen George: You can always send them flowers as well.
Will Davies: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. That's kind of what I do personally. I know that certain team members at times have issue. Everyone handles things in different ways.
Gen George: Different ways, yeah.
Will Davies: People, I mean it's like, I don't know if you're married ... My wife won't take advice from me on pretty much anything. The people you're closest to typically often don't take advice. If I said, "You should meditate. You should do yoga. You should do this, that." I don't know if that's really going to help, but if you encourage them to read books that other people have written. Or maybe the people that just ... It's that kind, hopefully it goes in the three, two, ones that I talked about
Gen George: Sounds like parenting.
Will Davies: Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. 
Gen George: No, fair enough. I ask everybody this question. If you could have superpower what would it be and why?
Will Davies: Well, I already have a superpower and it is, I don't know if you've, there's a song called very mild super powers. I don't know ...
Gen George: No, I don't. Sorry.
Will Davies: It's on some comedy thing, but my very mild super power is that I can cut a loaf of bread super straight.
Gen George: That is a super power, I will give you that.
Will Davies: Because it's not easy. No easy. I end up cutting most people's bread when I go to their place.
Gen George: Does anyone need some bread cut? You know who to hit up.
Will Davies: I can sort that out for you.
Gen George: Great. That is definitely a unique power, we haven't heard that one yet.
Will Davies: What's it is? A super power.
Gen George: A super power.
Will Davies: If I could have one.
Gen George: What would it be and why?
Will Davies: What would it be? I would love to be able to only in the sense midway between like cliché and obvious or something like that, but it's so easy to get dragged back into the detail and lose sight of the real important things that you're doing. I just have feeling that maybe some of these real superstar guys like Elon Musk and heads of different things, they've basically just cut all of the bullshit out. I would like to have the super power.
Gen George: It is.
Will Davies: I think it would be a super power to just be able to completely be able to focus only on the absolute top things and just let everything else go.
Gen George: Down to the one.
Will Davies: Yeah.
Gen George: Everyone is about being able to be like speed, run around the world super fast, so they can get from point A to point B as quick as possible. Fly. Time travel. Is that time in getting [crosstalk 00:46:43].
Will Davies: Right, yeah, yeah.
Gen George: Because they're all trying to do what they do with the businesses, so it's interesting that you're probably the only one, besides cutting bread getting out of the detail.
Will Davies: Yeah, yeah. I would love and a lot of my weekly planning routine is to try to do that, but ...
Gen George: Just put a photo of Elon being like.
Will Davies: Maybe he doesn't even do it. I presume that he does though.
Gen George: Building rockets.
Will Davies: Well he'd have to. He'd have to with all the different things he's doing.
Gen George: Going on. Yeah, definitely.
Will Davies: Yeah.
Gen George: Well, thank you so much for your time. 
Will Davies: That's alright.
Gen George: Really appreciate it. If anyone can help you out in any way, what site can they go to check it out?  [crosstalk 00:47:21]
Will Davies: If you want to list your car or become a borrower, Carnextdoor.com.au. As mentioned, we are very, very keen for developers, front end, back end, and also if you're a customer experience guru. Either physically doing it or working on customer experience, make it better, that's we're actively looking for that at the moment as well.
Gen George: Fantastic. Awesome. Well, thank you very much.
Will Davies: Thank you.
Gen George: Bye, gang.
Will Davies: See ya.