Young & hungry: start-up success at 24

For Speedlancer founder and Melbourne boy Adam Stone, start-ups represent a creative outlet for him to communicate and problem-solve.
He speaks to Belle Kwan about his journey so far.

 

  1. Introduce yourself to us please!

My name is Adam Stone, I turned 24 last week, and I am the founder and CEO of Speedlancer. Speedlancer, in a nutshell, is an online marketplace that connects companies with some of the best freelance writers, developers, marketers, designers and researchers.

  1. Tell us something interesting about you?

I started my first business at 12 selling toys on eBay, and my first real business began when I was 14 while I was still studying at Mount Scopus. I ran an e-commerce retailing platform for six years while managing a 10-minute work week, all thanks to the power of outsourcing.

  1. What is it about start-ups that excites you?

I think all humans have a desire for creativity, to communicate and to learn new things. Some people play music, others write books, and my creative outlet is coming up with businesses that solve other people’s needs.

With my last business, I had a team of 10 working for me offshore. And it was through my personal experience that I realised how inefficient the then-existing freelance networks and platforms were. So I got to thinking and designing a solution that would make life much easier for companies looking for freelance jobs to be completed by top-quality freelancers with a quick turnaround.

  1. You created Speedlancer at 19 – how did you manage to get investors at such a young age?

This is probably the most important lesson I have learnt so far – never doubt yourself or feel limited by something insignificant, such as age. When you have a great idea, and you are truly passionate about it, work on a good pitch and people will listen. Investors these days are no strangers to young people presenting them with pitches, they are very willing to listen as long as you know how to grab their attention, and you have a good product.

I started Speedlancer with $450, went through a disastrous first year, messed up quite a few pitches, but through all that I still strongly believed my idea was a good one, and thankfully, I was right!

  1. What has been your proudest achievement to date?

That would definitely have to be getting accepted into the 500 Start-ups accelerator program in Silicon Valley at the age of 20. Each year, there are over 2000 applicants for this program, and to be one of 30 finalists in my year, and also one of the youngest ever to graduate from the program – it’s a great feeling!

  1. What advice would you give someone thinking of launching a start-up?

When it comes to running a start-up, it is crucial to learn how to pitch well, how to network, and how to build a team. Up till I launched Speedlancer, I had managed to run my previous businesses all through emails and digital communications. So when it came time to actually stand in front of a panel or to network in person, I learnt pretty quickly how important having the soft skills of storytelling and teamwork was. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, learn what makes a convincing and persuasive pitch, and practice and test your pitch on other people before an important presentation.

Oh and another piece of advice – don’t procrastinate, don’t stall, because then opportunities will pass you by.

  1. How do you keep yourself grounded, and what do you do for fun?

I actually think I’m just like every other 24-year-old. I try to exercise as often as I can, I hang out with my friends … oh, I do travel a lot! I spend at least half of my year travelling, for work and for pleasure, and I am very thankful my job allows me the flexibility to pursue this.

I do strive for a healthy work-life balance, and acknowledge that while some long nights are necessary, once that important task is done, its time to take a break to avoid burning out.

  1. How important has your family been in your success journey?

I’m based in Melbourne and still live with mum and dad whenever I’m not travelling. They have never pushed or insisted I do anything, but instead, have always just been so supportive of my ideas, and nothing beats having your family behind you. If anything, my parents would say they wish I would travel less and stay at home a bit more!