Any start-up founder worth their salt will tell you that the road to success is rough going, with the flow of cash (or more to the point, lack thereof) being the number one gripe that throws many off the rails. But a sympathetic ear and practical advice have proven to be just as important. We catch up with two small business owners who found not only financial support, but also key business guidance through sharing their visions with Bank of Melbourne.
At the age of 16, Cam Greenwood finally coerced his mum into driving him to the waves of Torquay, Victoria. “I was so excited I actually sat in the car in my wetsuit for two hours until we got to the beach,” says Cam, whose healthy obsession with surfing saw him founding Monsta Surf just two years later.
I’ve got a big, crazy goal that, by 2030, we’ll be the most positively impacting brand on the planet.
Today, the surf brand encompasses a bricks-and-mortar store and staff of 10, plus a foundation supporting the Huruma Children’s Home in Kenya, as well as projects in the Philippines and closer to home. “I think that this world needs more people who have really come alive by their enthusiasm for life… and the reason behind why they do things,” says Cam. Here’s how Cam found his way from the waves to a burgeoning global business…
When I finished school, I asked my parents if I could make a surfboard in my backyard, and not knowing what they were getting themselves into, they said yes. I renovated our shed, painted it all, put in some surfboard racks and taught myself how to make surfboards.
Later that year I was on a trip to Kenya, and I was really inspired there to turn my surfboard hobby into a business that could give back… I got home from that trip and started taking it really seriously, and planning out the business and brand – one that I wanted to be on-trend with youth, not just through the boards, but through clothing as well.
I deferred my university degree, booked a plane ticket to China and got a loan from my parents to try and expand the brand.
I had no real idea about the clothing industry, how anything was made or how to go about it, so I just started talking to as many people in the industry that I could. In October 2013, Monsta Surf went live to the world. I was so amazed that I had a tribe who were really behind me and my vision, and I realised it had become so much bigger than me, which was really cool.
I’m a pretty excitable guy so, once we had that momentum, I deferred my university degree, booked a plane ticket to China and got a loan from my parents to try and expand the brand. I left China with some awesome relationships with fair-trade factories that now manufacture for us. But on the downside, we tried to expand too quickly, and I got into cash-flow problems.
I took my ideas and vision to Bank of Melbourne, to a lot of banks actually, but most them just wrote me off straight away. Bank of Melbourne really believed in what I wanted to do and that I was going to be able to service the loan. They gave me support and advice around that as well; they’ve introduced me to a lot of my business mentors through the events they run. They’ve supported my vision by giving me experience and knowledge beyond my years.
We invested in some new materials. I wanted to be more innovative with the materials that we were using, and more high-end than what we were known for back at that time. So we put the money into developing a new, world-class range and went from being a backyard start-up that was trying our best, to a growing and up-and-coming player in the Australian market.
I’ve got some pretty big dreams for the brand. We’re working towards creating a global lifestyle brand that will be a platform to empower people to support life-changing projects. I’ve got a big, crazy goal that, by 2030, we’ll be the most positively impacting brand on the planet.