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Jack Corbett: From high school drop out to Young Entrepreneur of the year

Jack Corbett has an impressive resume. At just 27 he is the 2017 Young Entrepreneur of the year, Managing Director and founder of ISR Training and was recently on Shark Tank.

Corbett went from a 14-year old school dropout, to running multiple businesses and consulting with some of the biggest organisations around the world.

Dynamic Business sat down with Corbett to find out more about his journey and what he is up to now.

Corbett isn’t sure whether he considers himself a successful businessman yet, but says once he is in the Forbes 500 he will be happy to wear that tag. After getting kicked out of school at 14-years of age, he was thrust into a life of entrepreneurship, as it was the “only logical option” available to him at the time.

“So, I started my own business, importing wholesale volumes of confectionary from the US to the UK and retailing it through mobile tuck shops around my home city of Birmingham,” he says.

“After running that business for nearly 4-years I moved to Australia at 18 and continued to exercise my entrepreneurial flare to start four more businesses in Australia in the solar power, software, training and property sectors.”

ISR Training & Recruitment was established in October 2014 by Ryan Tuckwood and Corbett.

“After I sold my software business earlier that year, I had decided to retire and spent the next 8 months bored, lonely and totally disengaged before Ryan and I decided to joined forces to make an active attempt to solve what we believed to be one of the Gold Coast’s biggest community problems: youth unemployment,” he says.

“At the time we started the business we were alarmed to learn that one in six 18-24 year olds on the Gold Coast were not in full-time employment or an apprenticeship scheme. Growing up in a housing commission myself, I was aware that lack of employment could lead young people down the wrong path. We set out to create a free recruitment service that would help businesses access this key demographic.

“Combined with recruitment was a high level of sales and negotiation training, which helped provide young people with the soft skills to succeed in these roles. After placing 3,500 youth into work and negotiating nearly $100,000,000 worth of employment contracts, ISR no longer offers a recruitment service, but instead purely focuses on delivering Australia’s best sales and negotiation training.”

The founder says that the Shark Tank experience was very enjoyable.

“From point of application to actually receiving the investment it is nearly a 12-month process. I arrived at Fox Studios in Sydney in March at 6am and had a fidgety 5-hours wait until I was called into the tank. I spent nearly 2-hours being grilled by the Sharks before receiving four offers and choosing to release 30% equity stake in our business in 10% increments to Glen Richards, Andrew Banks and Steve Baxter,” he says.

‘Upon completion of the ‘deal’ in the Shark Tank, that is when the real sale begins. You have to produce high volumes of business details and documents that match and confirm the information ‘pitched’ in the tank.”

The biggest challenge that came from the Shark Tank investment for the founder was the additional workload, particularly from a digital perspective.

“Faced with an impending influx of 70,000+ visitors to our site, we needed a fast solution to ensure our website didn’t crash. I don’t consider myself a ‘tech guy’ so we were fortunate enough to partner with a company called WP Engine who walked us through the process and helped us create our own unique hosting environment to support the increased traffic. During our peak, we had approximately 7,400 people on the site on at the same, with close to 1,000 transactions on the night of the announcement,” he said.

“We also had to scale our team quickly due to a massive increase in customer enquiries. We nearly doubled the size of our team within the first 30 days. Apart from that, just trying to keep our feet on the ground and not get too carried away with multiple media outlets wanting to meet and interview us and people stopping us in the street or shopping centre for a photo etc.”

Corbett’s big advice is to know your numbers. “When it comes to leads, sales, revenue and growth, it’s absolutely essential that you know every last detail. On top of that, I would be super focused on not coming across as arrogant or egotistical. Be humble, be real and don’t put too much pressure on yourself as the nerves can get the better of people,” he says.

“Understand the true worth of your business. So many start-up or scale-up entrepreneurs seek investment and value their business based on where it will be not where it is. Very rarely do investors or venture capitalists invest in ideas, or potential, they more so invest in pre existing profitable businesses. When ‘pitching’ an investor, focus less on what your product or service does and more on how much the investor stands to return from their decision to invest.”

Corbett’s Top pitch tips:

Less is more, keep it as simple as possible. Always focus around the problem you solve and the emotions your customers have after using or investing in your product or service. Always promote clarity, even if you do offer 10 or a dozen different products, simply focus on those that are most commonly purchased and represent the largest portion of your revenue. Sell on emotion, not logic. Always give facts, stats and third-party examples of the benefits of your offering.

Corbett’s number one lesson:

That there is never the right time to start. Seek progression not perfection. The early stages of business are about 95% do and just 5% think, but in my personal circumstances I have realised 23 is not the right age to retire!

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Gali Blacher

Gali Blacher

Gali Blacher, editor, Dynamic Business

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