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Airtasker founder Tim Fung shares his best and worst investments

tim fung airtasker

Tim Fung is founder and CEO of Airtasker, a services marketplace allowing people to outsource chores and errands.

He is also a mentor at Founders Institute Sydney and was named in SmartCompany’s Hot 30 Entrepreneurs under 30 and Shoe String Startup’s Young and Influential List in 2012.

What was your first job?

During high school I was a candy bar assistant at Hoyts Cinemas in Sydney’s Chatswood. The job also involved cleaning the popcorn popper and hopper and then making choc tops in the freezer during down time.

What’s the best money advice you’ve ever received?

Money is worth a lot less than your personal brand and reputation, so don’t make decisions that might provide you with a few extra dollars in the short term but will hurt your personal brand.

If your personal brand is tarnished, you’ll miss out on lots of opportunities.

What’s the best investment decision you’ve made?

While not financial, I believe the best decision I’ve made was to work pro bono during a university internship at Macquarie Bank and then again scoring a pro bono role as a consulting agent at Chic Management.

Both of these time investments helped to build relationships with great people which have absolutely paid off.

What’s the worst?

Not investing more heavily into US tech stocks in 2009. In hindsight these bets had really strong fundamentals and were really obvious! I believe it’s important to look at consumer-facing fundamentals – not just revenue growth and profitability but more importantly aspects such as brand loyalty, product superiority and developing network effects.

On this basis, it’s really hard to see how the likes of Apple, Amazon and Google weren’t going to continue to do well.

What is your favourite thing to splurge on?

I like to spend money on sneakers like New Balance, Nike, Car Shoes or Alpinestars. I think the most expensive shoes I’ve purchased were a pair of Nike Air Max Zeros from eBay. They were originally released as a Tinker Hatfield special edition so I expected them to remain a rare find.

But due to their overwhelming popularity they’ve been released to the mainstream and you can buy a pair reasonably cheaply at the local store. Luckily, I didn’t buy them as an investment and wear them often, so they wouldn’t be worth much today anyway!

If you had $10,000 where would you invest it?

Into a start-up founded by a trusted friend or colleague. I would want to bet on the opportunity to make a significant step-change win and to do this I think you would need to bet on a company which is doing something meaningful for the community and society.

What would you do if you had only $50 in your bank account?

I would look to earn a little more money by leveraging my skills on Airtasker. I would focus on local tasks including office admin and building Excel spreadsheets and mix it up with some moving jobs to get some exercise!

Do you intend to leave an inheritance?

It would be nice to leave something behind for my wife Modi and our labradoodle Harvey but at the same time I think it’s important to invest into enjoying your life, which means something different for each person.

Overall, I don’t really believe in the importance of leaving behind a huge personal legacy in terms of commercial success, so I would take a reasonably pragmatic view of what I would need to leave behind to make sure Modi and Harvey could have a comfortable life together.

What needs to happen to help start-ups grow in Australia?

In Australia sometimes there is a tendency to not look at the fundamentals and concentrate on monetisation and extracting profits before we’ve built a strong underlying platform for sustainable future growth.

I think the main thing that we can improve on is having more confidence and, ultimately, chutzpah. We have a tendency to not push ourselves as hard as start-ups in competitive markets such as China, where competition forces start-ups to reach higher.

Finish this sentence: money makes …

… more money. Which is a little sad as it seems that in the modern world there is quite a bit of inertia which hinders the poor getting a little richer and the rich getting a little poorer – and I don’t think this represents any type of meritocratic system.

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