Creel Price is one of Australia’s most dynamic entrepreneurs. Having founded eight businesses before he left school, he went on to co-found Blueprint Management Group by the age of 25 with just $5,000 in capital and sold it within a decade for over $100 million. Whoa! That’s a lot of money. Recently named Sir Richard Branson’s entrepreneur of the quarter, Creel spent five nights on Necker Island with big gun Branson and 20 of the world’s top entrepreneurial minds to discuss the future of philanthropy and social enterprise. Check him out…
Half of you are probably going, “If Creel is so super duper, mega successful why is it have we never heard of him before?”
“Where was my yacht with Creel’s kill written on the side? Or when Brett Lee walked on the world cup the other day with those little patch on his sleeve with Creel’s price is right. Why is it that you’ve never heard of me in OK Magazine having a secret love tryst with Megan Gale?”
In short we started with more hope than promise. We didn’t even have a client before we started. As you can imagine, things were a little bit tough on those early years.
One of our most memorable moments was what we would call the Hollywood set. We would always envision we wanted to work with a bank. They got lots of money, lots of customers. In those stages we’d turn our business into a customer relationship market business.
We kept knocking on front doors and it kept slamming on our faces and stuff. 18 months of doing this, we were so close into going out of business so many times. We finally got a pitch to talk to on of the executives in one of the divisions in West Bank. I thought, this is gonna be our big break!
So, I walked down into Mountain Place, I vividly remember Trev, because he was more on the sales side, was doing so much pounding on the pavement with sole was coming off his shoe. He was walking down Mountain Place like a penguin. Flap flap flap! I had these horrible pen marks on my best shirt so I had my jacket double breasted completely done up, which you’re not supposed to do, just so no one could actually see. And you’re on a hot meeting.
We did the pitch of our lives and the head guy got up and said “That’s just amazing! I can’t believe the timing you guys had. This is exactly what we want!”
And we were looking at each other with thumbs up. And he said “There’s only one problem…” we sank into our chair waiting for it and he goes, “We have to start immediately.”
If anyone’s in sales here, that’s exactly what you want to hear! Everyone’s in sales. I don’t care if you’re an accountant or a lawyer, you’re in sales!
We figured, oh my God this is the greatest thing ever! We can start whenever you want to start! They said ok that’s perfect. The first thing obviously, we need to come out and see you operation. And since were going to start soon, can we come out tomorrow afternoon, at mid day? This is about 3:00 in the afternoon.
We were like, yeah…?
So we walked out of the office in Mountain Place. We were halfway jubilant, halfway “oh my God this is never going to work”, that sort of thing. We’re walking out there going “Awww we got so close. I wanted what we’ve got, but they’re going look at us with $5,000 each.” We’ve spent $7,000 on a photo copier. The rest of our money went into a security deposit for our building in the city. We had a $100 left for all our furniture. We went to one of those second hand auctions and we got those 40 year old big bank desks and chairs with our backs on them, all for 100 bucks. Every time someone comes into our office we never see them again. So we thought those respective executives are coming out, it’s going to happen again.
So we resolved on our way out that we have $3,000 left in the bank. We said, rather than a death of a thousand cuts, let’s just put it all on rent. Let’s just make one last gamble. So we got all of our stuff together, we got back to the office which was at that time a total of 5 people. We had more before that but at the time we didn’t have much going on. We got them all together and said, look guys we need to turn this place around. The place just has to look like a million dollars by mid-day tomorrow, and it was 3:30 in the afternoon.
Someone was allocated with a job of going out and getting some plants, some rugs and some paintings to cover up dodgy, patch stuff. Someone else was charged with getting some computers because at the time we actually didn’t have computers in the office. And we couldn’t actually afford the hard drives, so we just got the monitors. We called up the hire company and we said, we just need 25 monitors for 24 hours. Someone else was charged with the job of hiring another 20 staff. Friends of our friends and other friends and we have to come up with what they have to do and someone else has to go out and get brand new furniture for 24 hours.
The next morning the removal vans were pulling out to our office and there was so much flurry of activity. We kept looking at our watch hoping they aren’t going to turn up early. Then someone actually thought of a really bright idea. There was actually a vacant office next door. We thought, no one’s using it, why don’t we break in and have the new furniture delivered to the new office which was a bit nicer than ours… It was actually my idea, I ‘fess up…
So we put this whole new furniture in there. By the time they arrived, Trev and I still haven’t actually been in this brand new office. We said hi, come this way, We’re trying to find which way to go. We got in there and we felt like a million dollars because the board table was this beautiful mahogany thing and there are leather back seats. Because up to then we were using my grandfather’s dining table as our board room table, which looked okay but it had a really dodgy rock side. Someone had to be in charge of every meeting, we had a table holder and you had to hold the table the whole meeting because otherwise the coffee and stuff would spill. If the meeting went longer for an hour, you can imagine what would happen to your hand right?
So we walked in there, we were thinking, ah beautiful! We did the pitch of our lives and we got the business. And not once did we lie.