Janine Allis, Founder, Boost Juice
The True Measure of Success
Like most entrepreneurs, Janine Allis tried her hand at many jobs (30, to be exact) before she started her own business.
Unlike most entrepreneurs, those jobs included a stint as a stewardess on David Bowie’s yacht. (Yes, that David Bowie.)
In her book, The Accidental Entrepreneur, Allis shares her meandering journey from working odd jobs to starting a business, and insists there’s no “cookie-cutter process for success.” She should know. Though she has no business degree and left technical college before she even turned 17, Allis has built a retail empire that spans more than 15 countries.
And she is anything but cookie-cutter. She has a charm and a quirkiness that is reflected in the atmosphere of her wildly successful juice bar chain, Boost Juice.
“We want our stores to have fun with our customers,” Allis explains. “We want people to feel good when they leave, and the only way to feel good when you leave is to have a smile.”
When Life Hands You Lemons
As a multimillionaire, Allis has a lot to smile about. According to the BRW Rich Women List, the Boost Juice founder clocked in with wealth of $66 million in 2015.
But her path to success was riddled with failed attempts. Before launching Boost Juice, she and her husband Jeff tried being touring comedians, “which was a disaster,” and then tried publishing, which didn’t work out either.
Unperturbed, Allis used her desire to be her own boss to drive her forward.
“I didn’t want to be a result of other people’s decisions anymore,” Allis recalls. “I wanted to have flexibility. I had three children, and I wanted to be the creator of my own destiny.”
It wasn’t until she was on maternity leave with her third child that Allis struck on her million-dollar idea. On a trip to the United States, she noticed a growing trend in juice bars and thought she could do it better.
“I saw the category of juice and smoothies over there, and I liked the category, but I didn’t really like any of the concepts,” Allis says. “My passion for loving life and my passion for fresh fruit and vegetables and getting as much of that great stuff into humans, or us Australians, was sort of the vision that we had to start Boost.”
To fund her business idea, she and her husband sold their family home. In 2000, the first Boost Juice opened in Adelaide.
Over the next four years, 100 stores opened in the Australian market. International expansion began in 2004. And today, there are more than 500 Boost Juice stores worldwide, from Singapore to Namibia.
To Franchise or Not to Franchise?
To grow Boost Juice that quickly, Allis implemented both a company store strategy and a franchise strategy, with most Boosts today being franchises.
“One of the challenges that we all have out there, particularly in retail, is how do we get the people that run the store to have that real ownership in the store, to give that passion that we wanted to deliver in our business?”
They determined franchising was the best way to pull it off. Allis insists there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to franchising, but if you’re considering it for your business, there are two things she would urge you to assess.
First, make sure it’s a win-win for both your business and your franchisee.
“There’s no point charging someone so much that they can’t make a business for themselves,” she says. “But equally, there’s no point doing a franchise model if you’re not making enough money to … actually make a business yourself.”
So take a hard look at your business and determine how much a franchisee would stand to profit and how that would look for you as well.
“I think sometimes people … skew it one way or the other,” Allis says. “Sometimes they don’t charge enough, and they consequently fail because they’re not getting enough revenue in, and they can’t support the franchise network because they’re not getting enough revenue in. Or they charge too much, and then the franchisee is disengaged, and they’re not making the money that they need to make as well. So you’ve really got to find the happy medium, and every franchise you put on the ground has to be successful, because that’s how you grow.”
Second, if you’re thinking about franchising, Allis encourages you to do your research on others in your industry.
“You can go online and find out half this information,” she says. “It’s important when you’re doing any business plan—and a franchise model is a business plan—that you do your research.”
The Ingredient That Wins Over Loyal Customers
What’s Boost Juice’s secret ingredient for success? If we have to pick one, it’s the fact that Allis treats the customer the way she would want to be treated, focusing heavily on creating a captivating customer experience.
To build the Boost Juice brand, Allis asked herself, “What do I want from a brand?”
Her answer? “I want to have a bit of fun. I want to smile. Really, the essence is what I want as a customer. And I think that if you grow brands and you grow businesses always from the customer’s view, it’s interesting how you build it. So some people get so caught up in the company towards the customer [that] they forget it should always be the customer towards the company.”
From the lime green cups to the fun menu items—sporting names like “Berry’d Treasure” and “Grape Escape”— to the friendly staff, Boost Juice has built a recognizable brand with consistency across its stores, ensuring every customer is having a good time, from the moment they walk in, to the moment they take the last sip of their smoothie.
“We have a philosophy of fun,” Allis says. “I mean, if you come into the office, you’ll see that there’s dogs everywhere. Everyone’s in shorts or T-shirts. It’s quite a casual sort of environment, so we have the ‘love life’ philosophy.”
Allis also attributes Boost’s success to the way she runs her business. “We manage our system very well,” she says, claiming to have a “profit culture,” where every dollar is sacred and one dollar should turn into 10.
Swimming With the Sharks
In addition to founding Boost Juice and serving as executive director of Retail Zoo (the umbrella franchise business that Boost Juice is a part of), Allis sits on the panel of Australia’s Shark Tank TV show, where she fields pitches from businesses and decides if she’ll invest.
Allis and the other sharks typically get together for three weeks of filming at a time, working 14-hour days to knock out shows for the season.
“For me, it’s like me hanging out with four of my mates for three weeks,” she says, “and we have a lot of fun.”
Is there a formula for picking winners? For Allis, it’s a combination of gut feeling, picking the right people, and doing her due diligence.
“I think I can smell BS pretty quickly,” says Allis, who says the sharks get a transcript of every pitch after the show, so there’s no way for the contestants to hide.
Little do most viewers know, a lot goes on off camera. The sharks get to hear the pitch for an hour, without having done any prior research, and then they make a deal on air. Off air, the contestants must return with their financials and business plans, and the sharks have a chance to do their due diligence and make sure the numbers match up to the business owners’ verbal claims, and that all the trademarks are properly owned. After that, the sharks get to meet with the contestants for a question-and-answer session.
“Not every deal that you see on Shark Tank goes through,” Allis says.
For instance, there are times when a contestant will say yes to a deal on camera and then come back afterward and say they no longer want to accept the deal.
“And that’s okay,” Allis says. “When we say we’re going to do a deal, it’s like getting engaged. And through that engagement period, we’ve got to make sure that we are who we say we are, both parties.”
Other times, the investors find that the contestant doesn’t actually own the recipes, or the patents are in someone else’s name and can’t be transferred, or the numbers don’t stack up.
“I don’t think anyone deliberately misleads,” Allis says, “but I do think that some entrepreneurs haven’t got a grasp of their numbers as they probably should.”
When a deal does go through, Allis follows a structured process as an investor, which includes monthly meetings. “It’s like a mini board meeting. You go through the numbers. What’s the plan, what are the challenges, what do we need to do, what are the action plans. And so every month is a new plan.”
Does Allis have any favorite deals from Shark Tank?
The Scrubba wash bag comes to mind. It’s a lightweight, portable bag for hand washing clothes while traveling.
“I think he’s doing a great job,” Allis says. “He’s a man after my own heart. He’s a patent attorney, so all these patents and trademarks are spot on. He understands the bootstrapping concept. … He’s an investor’s dream because the structure of the reports are great.”
Another favorite Shark Tank investment for Allis is furniture company OneWorld. “[OneWorld] is gonna be massive in America,” Allis predicts. “Watch this space. … They’re getting into some really big players in America, particularly the online players in furniture, so that’s going to be a great business.”
An Entrepreneur’s Greatest Weakness
There comes a point in nearly every entrepreneur’s journey when they have to ask themselves some hard financial questions: Do I continue to bootstrap? Do I take out a bank loan? Do I raise capital?
“I’m a firm believer that you always ask for money when you don’t need it,” Allis says. “And the only way you’d know you’d need it is by planning well in advance to see when you actually are going to get yourself into a bit of a pickle.”
And according to Allis, the worst trait shared by most entrepreneurs is poor money management.
“They get so excited about the idea and the journey, that they forget that they have to have those foundations solid for them to be able to live their dreams,” she says. “Also, what you’ll find is when you do start to go for financing or go for money or go for the financial solution, you find that the first thing they ask for is, ‘What’s your profit? What’s your balance sheet? What’s your forecast? And where are you going?’”
So if you want to succeed in business, Allis says: “Learn to love the numbers. Learn to love the structure, because that will tell you the answers to your questions.”
Why Entrepreneurship Isn’t for Everyone
Can everyone be an entrepreneur? “I don’t think everyone wants to be an entrepreneur,” Allis says.
To emphasize the dogged determination that goes into starting a business, she cites American Shark Tank investor Lori Greiner’s famous quote: “Entrepreneurs: The only people who work 80 hour weeks to avoid working 40 hour weeks.”
“That’s what an entrepreneur is,” Allis says. “It took me three years before I got a salary, and that salary was $30,000. We had to sell our family home to fund the business. It took five years before I even got a dividend from the business.”
Clearly, this lifestyle isn’t always glamorous. “The entrepreneurial path mostly means that you have to live with your parents for a while,” she says. “So it’s not exactly what people think.”
At the start, Allis thought being an entrepreneur would mean she could spend more time with her kids and have more free time, but she ended up working till 2 a.m. every day.
“And I loved it,” she recalls. “I found a real passion.”
Even though it’s her passion, Allis admits entrepreneurship is not for everyone. “It’s okay,” she says. “Some people want to have the security of a salary and be able to go home and not worry about the fact that they’ve got the house on the line, and they’ve got more debt they’ve taken on for the business than they can pay off in five lifetimes. People don’t want to worry about that, and that’s okay.”
Among Allis’s long list of achievements—which include being named Telstra’s Woman of the Year in 2014, ranking among BRW’s 30 richest self-made women in Australia in 2015, and scaling her business to more than 500 stores worldwide—she considers this one her greatest: being loved by her family.
“When I sit back and think success, it is all about family,” Allis says.
The mother of four started Boost Juice with her husband and best friend, Jeff Allis, and attributes her entrepreneurial success to having solid support from her family.
“Without the support of Jeff, and my support of him, we wouldn’t be anywhere where we need to be,” she says.
If you want to cultivate the right partnership, Allis advises: “Marry well, or partner up well, whatever you want to do. … You need that great partner in crime to really create the dreams that you have in life.”
She also cautions young entrepreneurs against being lured by money alone.
“Success isn’t having five investment properties or lots of zeros in a bank account—they’re just numbers,” Allis says. “And you might go, ‘Oh, it’s all very well with Janine … you’ve got those numbers in the bank.’ But really, the reality is what gives you joy.”
And what gives Allis Joy? “It really is being loved and in love.”
She points out that there is a difference between achieving financial freedom and achieving success.
The former is certainly powerful, providing the “freedom to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to the things I want to do and not want to do. Freedom to be able to write my own ticket, in some respects. But really, what I’ve found is, as I’ve got older, my view of success has changed.”
When you’re just starting out, you might see things differently. Allis admits to having very little balance and neglecting herself at the beginning of her business journey. Now, she’s happy to have struck that coveted work-life balance, savoring the fact that she can do yoga whenever she wants, and that her husband brings her coffee in bed and tells her he loves her every day.
“That’s what success is,” Allis says. “It’s not the zeros in the bank. That gives me freedom, but that’s not success.”
- The simple solution to avoiding the money trap and investors
- Expert advice on how to build your business to grow as fast as possible
- Her secrets to building a killer brand that connects with millions
- What to expect when dealing with investors, and how to know if one is right for you
- How to have it all as an entrepreneur. No concessions, and no compromises
Full Transcript of Podcast with Janine Allis
Nathan: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the “Foundr Podcast.” My name is Nathan Chan, I’m the CEO of “Foundr Magazine” and also the host of this podcast. So for those of you that are just joining us, we interview a ton of super successful founders that are disrupting their industry and doing some incredible things. In fact, you know, I can confidently say that we’ve been lucky enough…I’ve been lucky enough to interview some of the greatest entrepreneurs in the world and, you know, it’s just been an incredible ride. And I started this business with knowing nothing about business, entrepreneurship, startups, publishing magazines, you name it.
Now, let’s talk about today’s guest. Her name is Janine Allis, and she’s the founder of a company called Boost Juice. So she’s a fellow Australian entrepreneur and she’s also a shark on “Shark Tank” here in Australia. And we had an awesome, really fun, really useful, you know… I learned a ton, I was taking so many notes from my conversation with Janine around building a business and also, in particular, franchising. Now, I don’t really know much about franchising, so some of the questions that I might have asked, you know, some of you guys might already know but, for me, I found that really, really fascinating because she’s used franchising as a way to scale multiple companies that she’s built. She builds retail businesses and her parent company is a massive retail, you know, massive holding company that has many brands underneath them. And yes, she uses franchising in a very, very big way, where it’s an interesting growth strategy, right, for a retailer to, you know, if you wanna build a big retail business.
So Janine has done some incredible things. Boost Juice is all around the world. You know, I never forget, like Boost Juice is massive here in Australia, I think they are quite big in the States as well. I’ve only been to the States a handful of times in my life, so I don’t really pay that much attention to all the other places that are around. But either way, Janine’s a very, very smart person, she has a ton of gold with us and you’re gonna learn a lot about franchising, raising capital, growing your business, hiring, marketing, all sorts of things.
So that’s it for me, guys. Just Before we jump in though if you are enjoying these interviews, please do take the time to leave us a review on iTunes, please do tell your friends, I know that you’re an entrepreneur and you must have other friends that are entrepreneurs. All right, guys, that’s it for me. Now, let’s jump into the show.
So the first question I ask everyone that comes on is how did you get your job?
Janine: How did I get my first job? Which job?
Nathan: The job that you’re working in today, I guess, if you want to call it that.
Janine: How did I get my job? I got my job because I was on maternity leave from albeit like my real job and I didn’t wanna be a result of other people’s decisions anymore, I wanted to have flexibility. I had three children and I wanted to be the creator of my own destiny.
Nathan: So while you’re on maternity leave, you started working, was your first company Boost?
Janine: Yeah. Look, you know, I think if you speak to any…and you’ve spoken to many entrepreneurs and you’ve found that quite often, their first business that they’re known for is never their first business. So I touring comedians which was a disaster, and then we tried publishing, that didn’t work. So yeah, you try a few things before you find your real passion and what you really wanna do. And so Boost Juice, for me, was a result of actually a trip to the States, and I saw the category of juice and smoothies over there, and I liked the category but I didn’t really like the concepts over there. So really coming back to Australia and really it was my passion for loving life and my passion for fresh fruit and vegetables and getting as much of that great stuff into humans or us Australians was sort of the vision that we had to start Boost.
Nathan: Yeah, wow, that’s incredible. So just for our audience that aren’t in Australia that may not know of Boost Juice because you guys are massive in Australia, and I know you have a series of other brands that I didn’t know actually were owned by boost Juice, like you’ve got Fresh Mix, and there’s a few others there that I’ve seen that I found that you guys owned. But could you be able to give, I guess, when you started to where you are now, just a little bit of perspective of how big of a business you guys have built?
Janine: Yeah, absolutely. We started in 2000 and we literally from 2000 to 2004, we opened a hundred stores in the Australian market. In 2004, we had inquiries from literally all over the world to take Boost to, you know, South Africa, Japan, Dubai, America, Canada, all over the place. And so, we actually, in 2004, we did start our international expansion. And, you know, so currently, fast-forward to 2017 where we’re in, we’ve got over 500 stores, 200 of them are in Australia and 200 of them are overseas. And they’re in countries like Malaysia and Singapore, we are actually the largest juice bar chain outside of our country, outside of Australia, and we’re in more countries than any other juice bar in the world. So despite the fact that I saw the idea over there and if people are in business, we are probably the most profitable juice bar chain in the world. So, you know, so we’ve done something right, you know, I think we really do tap into this human, it doesn’t matter if you’re in America or in Australia, that human need to come into a store and feel special, you know, and walk out the door with something that tastes great but is good for you. And, you know, I know the American juice bar chains and some of them do a great job, but I think in Australia, we just do it differently. And, you know, it has resonated all over the world and we are going to be launching into America.
Nathan: Yeah, awesome. So I’m curious, you said that you grew to 100 stores in 4 years, was that from franchising or opening up your own?
Janine: Both. So we had a company store strategy and also a franchise strategy. Australia, as we know, is a massive country and, you know, if you put Australia over Europe, it covers all of Europe, and so it’s a massive country, so it’s very difficult to, you know, run a store in Perth really effectively. And one of the challenges that we all have out there particularly in retail, is how do we get the people that run the store to have that real ownership in the store, to give their passion that we wanted to deliver in our business? And it got down to franchising was the best, you know, the best way. You know, Australia is full of phenomenal entrepreneurs and phenomenal people that wanna run their own business and, you know, we were lucky to be able to tap into that and get the most amazing quality partners in our business to be able to continue that Boost spirit.
Nathan: Yeah. Wow, that’s incredible. So to this day right now, how many would-be franchises? And I know you have many other brands as well underneath your group, like how many are franchised and how many are, kind of, owned by your parent company?
Janine: Right now, probably most of them are franchised. So we’ve got probably 15% of the network are company owned. We always have a company owned strategy due to the fact that you need to try all things and, you know, whatever we do, we should have the biggest impact, positive and negative. So, you know, we are committed to make sure that we continue to have a company model.
Nathan: Yeah, I see. So anyone that’s looking to get into franchising, let’s say, somebody, they’ve got, you know, a retail storefront and, you know, it’s a really great concept and it is scalable, what would your suggestions be for somebody looking to franchise? How many do you think, you know, that person should scale to…the owner operate, they own it versus then getting on to franchising, do you have a formula for that?
Janine: Look, I think there’s not one size that fits all because every business is so unique and every person is unique, too, so they might have strengths in certain areas. They might be absolutely extraordinary at running a company model, so maybe they should have more or they might have great skills, people skills, and, you know, it might be more suited to a franchise model. But at the end of the day, if I was listening to this and I was looking at my business and going, “Should I franchise or should I not?” You’ve gotta make sure that like any great deal out there, is to put yourself in both the seats and make sure that there’s a win for both parties. So there’s no point charging someone so much that they can’t make a business for themselves, but equally, there’s no point doing a franchise model if you’re not making enough money to be able to support the franchise and actually make a business yourself. So first of all, understand your business and how much profit is it in there for a franchisee and how does that business look for you. I think sometimes people are…they skewer it one way or the other, sometimes they don’t charge enough and they consequently fail because they’re not getting enough revenue in and they can’t support the franchise network because they’re not getting enough revenue in. Or they charge too much and then the franchisee is disengaged and, you know, they’re not making the money that they need to make as well, so you’ve really gotta find the happy medium. And, you know, every franchise you put on the ground has to be successful because that’s how you grow.
Nathan: I see. Okay, interesting. And when it comes to franchises, like can you run us through kind of what the, I guess, percentages is usually or what’s kind of the standard that you would recommend?
Janine: I don’t know, again, if there’s a standard. I mean, the food industry has a standard of something like, you know, 6% to 8%, and normally a, you know, 2% to 3% are marketing. But different industries have different models. There’s upfront fees, some people have no upfront fee, some people… There is so many ways of skinning a cat but I think it gets down to, again, what I said before is making sure that you model it effectively to ensure that there’s a win for both parties. So it is a, you know, it’s not that hard because there’s so many ways of franchising, so many different industries out there for it. So what I would do if I was, again, sitting here with my business and wondering if I should franchise or not, I would start inquiring about the people in our industry and start to do that research myself. But it’s not that hard, you don’t even have to call them, you can go online and let’s find out half this information. So, you know, it’s important when you’re doing any business plan, and a franchise model is a business plan, that you do your research, and that’s a part of it is answering some of the questions you’re asking me today for your particular industry.
Nathan: Yeah, okay. That’s, you know, that makes sense. So when it comes to…like one thing I found interesting that you said was you said that you guys are probably one of the most profitable retail juice chains, why is that?
Janine: Why is that? Look, I think it’s how we run our business. Potentially, I think that we have a very high turnover in individual stores or a higher turnover, which means we get obviously a higher revenue per store. We manage our system very well. You know, I have not come from any money, so every dollar is sacred and every dollar has to turn into $10, so we have a proper culture. And I don’t know what the other juice bar chains are doing, and I’m only talking about the ones that are listed, so obviously I can’t tell you what the ones that are private companies are doing. But certainly, the listed ones, you can certainly see what they’re doing. But I don’t know what they’re doing wrong to not drive the profit out of those businesses, I’m not sure.
Nathan: One thing I’ve noticed especially with the Boost Juice brand, it’s very strong, I, you know, I remember…because Boost has been around for a long time, I remember when I was working at McDonald’s, there was a Boost Juice in, you know, the local Greensborough of my area and there was a Boost Juice there. And there was always lines especially, you know, during summer and, you know, it was really a strong brand that is, you know…it was, you know, was a brand that you respect, it was fun. Do you have some key elements that you use across, you know, branding many of your other, I guess, companies?
Janine: Look, I think we have a philosophy of fun. I mean, if you come into the office, you’ll see that there’s dogs everywhere, you know, everyone’s in shorts or t-shirts, it’s quite a casual sort of environment. So, you know, we have the love life philosophy, we really try to, you know, not take ourselves too seriously because that’s the Australian way. The Australian way is, you know, take the mickey out of each other and have a bit of fun on the way. And, you know, we want our stores to have fun with our customers, we want people to feel good when they leave, and the only way to feel good when you leave is have a smile. And so how do we deliver a smile every day? And, you know what, we don’t always get it right, but we are committed to make sure we fight for it to make sure that we do get it right as much as we can.
Nathan: And how did you work that out? Just from trial and error?
Janine: No. I think it’s me, you know, it’s my belief. I don’t think everything should be so serious. I think we should take our food seriously and I think we should take our health and maintenance seriously. I built this brand on, “What do I want from the brand?” So when I walk into the store, I wanna have a bit of fun, you know, I wanna smile, you know. So really the essence is what I want as a customer. And I think that if you grow brands and you grow businesses always from the customer’s view, it’s interesting how you build it, you know. So some people get so caught up in the company towards the customer, is they forget it should always be the customer towards the company and that’s how it’s been built.
Nathan: Yeah, I know. It’s interesting you say that. Maybe a good example because, you know, you’re on “Shark Tank,” you’re quite well-known now especially because of the show. And I was watching it just as a bit of research last night before our interview and there was the guy that had this pet, he had some kind of, you know, an app to…
Janine: Tinder for pets.
Nathan: Yeah, yeah, Tinder for pets. And I think somewhere, unfortunately, he’s maybe lost the way of this is something that people truly want and forgot, you know, because of this was like cool, hip features.
Janine: Yeah. Look. It’s true, you know, if you make things complicated, people don’t understand it. And the reality is when you start a business and everyone…if you ask anyone to start a business, it’s not like they go, “Right, the business is a straight line and this is where I’m gonna go and this is where I’m gonna end,” you know. At the end of the day, you have to pivot, you have to change, you have to adjust. My husband actually gave a great example of this. He said that, “Businesses are like when you’re sailing and you’re finding the wind, and you keep tacking, you go, ‘All right, I’m looking for the wind, I’m looking for the wind, I’m going left and right, I’m going left and right. Finally, there’s the wind. Okay, off we go now, let’s go with the wind.’ The wind will die down, and then you have to tack again to find the wind.” So you’ve gotta always, when things are going great, you go for it, but when things aren’t going so great, you have to keep moving and pivoting to try and find where the next breeze is. And that’s what you have to do in business, and business is a problem every day that you have to solve. And you have to be a great problem solver and you have to be able to adapt.
Nathan: Do you think everyone can be an entrepreneur?
Janine: I don’t think everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, you know. I think one of the guys in “Shark Tank” in America did a great line, they said, you know, “People stopped wanting to do a 40-hour week to work 100-hour week and not get paid for it.” You know, and that’s what an entrepreneur is. Entrepreneur is, you know… It took me three years before I got a salary, and that salary was $30,000. We had to sell our family home to fund the business, you know. It took five years before I even got a dividend from the business. So people, you know, people think that, you know, the entrepreneurial path is great, the entrepreneurial path mostly means that you have to live with your parents for a while, so it’s not exactly what people think. You know, for me, I thought that starting an entrepreneurial path meant that I could spend more time with my kids and have more time, I ended up finding that I was working till 2:00 every night and I loved it, you know, I found a real passion. So, you know, entrepreneur is not for everyone, and that’s okay, you know, it’s okay. Some people want to have the, you know, security of, you know, a salary and be able to go home and not worry about the fact that they’ve got the house on loan, they’ve got more debt they’ve taken on for the business that they can pay off in five lifetimes, people don’t wanna worry about that. And that’s okay, you know, you’ve gotta be brave, you know, you’ve gotta jump off that entrepreneurial cliff, you’ve gotta back yourself in, and sometimes it’s not for everyone.
Nathan: It’s interesting you talk about debt, I’d love to talk to you a little bit about the show because I never actually mentioned this publicly but I tried to get on “Shark Tank” when it first come to Australia and I was declined, when I’d just left my day job for “Foundr,” when things were just starting to take off where I could pay myself and stuff like that. And, you know, still to this day, right now, I own 100% of the company. What are your thoughts when it comes to entrepreneurs looking to raise capital versus, you know, maybe, you know, getting some financing or just kind of bootstrapping forever, like what’s your thoughts on that?
Janine: Look, every part and journey is different. I think that you’ve really gotta understand your numbers and your figures so that you potentially can, you know… I’m a firm believer that you always ask for money when you don’t need it, and the only way you know you need it is by planning well in advance to see when you actually target to get yourself into a bit of a pickle. You know, money management tends to be probably the worst trait of most entrepreneurs, they get so excited about the idea and the journey that they forget that they have to have those foundations solid for them to be able to live their dreams. So, you know, and also what you’ll find is when you do start to go for financing or go for money, or go for, you know, the financial solution, you’ll find that the first thing they ask for is, what’s your profit? What’s your balance sheet? What’s your forecast and where are you going? And that’s the first time they open their eyes and go, “Oh, my God, I’m a deer in headlights, do I have to do all that?” So, you know, you need to…you know, if I was listening to this, I would be saying to you, “Yes, all the pretty stuff is exciting but you need to learn to love the numbers, learn to love the structure because that will tell you the answers to your questions when the sun goes down, it’ll be in the numbers, it’ll be in the research.” So even though it might not be the exciting stuff, learn to love it.
Nathan: Yeah, I love that. Yeah. The only reason I asked that question is when I spoke to Mark Cuban of the American “Shark Tank,” he said to me…he actually doesn’t…which was really funny, he said, “I actually don’t recommend raising capital, not unless you don’t have to.” So it’s interesting, like how you say it, it depends on the person and it’s always a different perspective. so when it comes to, I guess, all the people that have pitched because there’s been some funny ones, you know, what’s your favorite? And you’ve invested in a lot of companies like I watch it when I’m at…which I go to my parents place every Sunday for Sunday roast and we like to turn it on, and my dad really likes watching it now as well. And I’ve noticed you seem to…maybe it’s the episodes that I’ve watched, but you seem to invest into most companies.
Janine: Yeah, certainly. I mean, this season, I have actually invested in a lot of businesses and this season I’ve actually shown all my investments at the moment, so I’m sure they… But yeah, you know, you’re right, the last two seasons, I’ve invested the most amount of money in the most businesses. I think me and Steve, I think the both of us. And look, for me, I really look for the right person. Actually going back to your question on Mark Cuban and him saying raising capital, he’s actually quite right. I mean, I mentioned earlier about selling the family home, I mean, we could raise capital by selling shares and also by funding our own business, but we wanted to fund our own business, I should say. And the only way we could do that like most Australians was through the only equity we had which is our family home. So, you know, sometimes you do have to back yourself in. And if you can avoid selling capital unless they bring a skill, then I would agree with him, try and do that.
Nathan: So rounding back, talk to us about your journey on “Shark Tank” because it looks like you have a lot of fun.
Janine: I think I do. You know, the first thing that one of the reasons…for us, it’s really good. I actually caught up with Daymond for lunch when he was down here a couple of months ago. And, you know, their filming schedule is quite intense, you know, they film a lot more than we do. We, sort of, get together and then for three weeks, we basically work 20-hour days and we knock it out. And, for me, it’s like me hanging out with, you know, four of my mates for three weeks. And, you know, we have a lot of fun, we go for dinners. Naomi and I, because, you know, we’re the women, we tend to spend a lot more time in the makeup chair where we solve all the problems of the world. So, you know, it’s a lot of fun. And I genuinely really like, you know, Stephen, Glen, and Andrew, and Naomi. And, you know, we can actually, absolutely, you know, like us Australians do, we can absolutely give each other one and no offense is taken when we come off…it’s like a foodie field, you know, can do the beef first in a foodie field, but when you’re off the foodie field, you can have a beer and it’s all fine. And none of us are actors, you know, we kinda have to say this. It was actually Andrew was an actor in his previous life, but none of us are. So what you see is who we are, you know. We’re having a ball, Steve just, you know, opens his mouth and, you know, says what he says, you know. My mother was horrified that I actually swore on TV, and she said that, you know, I need to stop saying the word “shit.” So it’s quite funny actually.
Nathan: Awesome. So tell me, what’s probably been your best investment and why? Is it because of the entrepreneurs or because of the business?
Janine: It’s always the entrepreneur, it always is entrepreneur. I’m really enjoying Scrubba Wash Bag. I think he’s doing a great job. He’s a man after my own heart. He’s a patent attorney, so all his patents and trademarks are spot-on. He understands the bootstrapping concept, so, you know, when he goes to fairs in Germany, he camps. So, you know, he’s just a great guy too, you know, super smart. His reports that he brings in, he’s an investor’s dream because the structure of the reports are great, he’s very communicative, he uses us when he needs us, you know, he’s great. So as a business I enjoy working with, he’s one of them. Another one is a furniture business called OneWorld which is gonna be massive in America. You know, watch this space, he’s just going to be, you know, they’re gonna be really big either in furniture and in furniture’s, you know, accessories. And, you know, they’re getting into Wayfair, they’re getting into Frontgate, they’re getting into some really big players in America, but particularly the online players in furniture. So, you know, that’s gonna be a great business. So, you know, and I probably got a lot, I genuinely like the guys too, they’re really good guys so I enjoy working with them.
Nathan: And I’m curious, what happens like after, can you talk to us a little bit behind the scenes? What happens after due diligence goes through and then, you know, what kind of process, what are the common things that you find yourself helping these entrepreneurs with? Yeah, I’d love to hear that side of it.
Janine: Yeah, sure. Look, it’s interesting because we actually meet with a lot of people after the show. There’s probably eight couples or people that have come in after the show and they haven’t even had a deal. So there’s the, you know…you think you can sort of go, “Look, I can give an hour of my time to…” Yeah, we hear their pitch, we see some of their challenges, I go, “Look, meet me afterwards, contact me afterwards and I’ll meet up with you and we’ll kind of send you in the right direction,” so we do a bit of that.
Nathan: That’s really good that you do that, I’ve noticed that.
Janine: Yeah. And the thing is, it’s true, we actually do follow it through and they do come in and it’s great. The other one is…so basically, the process is, you know, we do the deal on-air, we only hear about the deal for an hour, so we don’t actually even know who the business is, so we can’t do any pre research or know anything about them. So what we see is what we get, so we take it all for its face value. After that, we give them a due diligence pact where they go off and actually have to come back with, you know, their financials and their business plan, and they make sure their trademarks are owned by the right people and all of that, so they go and do that. And then we meet with them and have a question and answer type scenario.
And sometimes, it doesn’t work out, you know, sometimes they’ve turned around and said, “Look, you know, the lights were on, I said yes to this deal, it’s not the deal that I think I can do. My husband won’t ever talk to me again, I can’t do it.” And that’s okay, you know, we see the business as, you know, when we say we’re going to do a deal, it’s like getting engaged. And, you know, through that engagement period, we’ve gotta make sure that we are who we say we are, both parties, and, you know, if everything stacks up to what they say, then, you know, great. But some things sometimes, you know, we find out they don’t actually own the recipes or it’s the patents or trademarks are in their husbands’ names and we can transfer it across. Or, you know, the numbers they said weren’t quite what they said they were, and I don’t think anyone deliberately misleads, but I do think that some entrepreneurs haven’t got a grasp of the numbers as they probably should. So, you know, not every deal that you see on “Shark Tank” goes through, unfortunately, but, you know, at the end of the day, we go through a very detailed process and a lot more gets through than people expect as well.
Nathan: And once it does go through and it’s, you know, it’s a fit, so like OneWorld or Scrubba, is there a common thing that you see that you, kind of, from a mentoring standpoint, that happens or teaching around scale or you have a process, like I’m curious?
Janine: Look, I think we’re all different like I’m quite structured so I’ll have a regular monthly meeting and then hopefully, if there’s anything they need during the month, they’ll call me. So, you know, and then it’s, you know, we go through numbers, it’s like a mini board meeting, you know. You go through the numbers and what’s the plan, what are the challenges, what do we need to do, what are the action plans, and so every month is a new plan. I would be encouraging all of the businesses that I’ve invested in to do strategy days or strategy meetings where we go off afterwards, that’s what we do. Actually, the other thing that I forgot to mention is we do do a strategy meeting through the businesses, where we sit down and we go, “What do you expect from us? What do I expect from you? Where do you wanna be? Where do you want the business to be?” So we do those with all the businesses that we invest in as well, so, at least, we’ve got a really clear idea of the path that we need to take.
Nathan: I see. And typically, when do you expect a return, out of curiosity?
Janine: Look, it depends, you know. Traditionally, I spoke to Daymond, also, about how much money…when did he get returns. And it’s pretty much like any normal business, “Shark Tank” businesses aren’t special, you know, they still need the love and the attention. And like most businesses, you often don’t even get a return for three or four years. And so, you know, I spoke to Barbara, actually she mentioned that I think it was year four before they started to get any sort of returns on their businesses. I mean, I know all of us, every single one of us have lost money already in some of the deals that we’ve done on “Shark Tank” but that’s the nature of business, none of us are weeping over it, you just go, “That’s business, you know. Some work, some don’t work. Some work and take off and some take a longer or a slow burn.” So it’s just the nature of business, whether it’s a “Shark Tank” business or not, it’s just the way it is.
Nathan: I love it. And do you have a formula for picking winners?
Janine: I think it’s, you know, your gut feeling and making sure my due diligence is solid, you know. I think at this point, I think it’s just people, making sure you pick the right people. And I think I can smell BS pretty quickly, I can, you know…and if I can’t smell it, then I can certainly smell it afterwards. So but the most people are really, yeah, lovely people, having a crack. And, you know, I’ll be very daunting going through those doors at “Shark Tank” and be faced by, you know, us five people, grilling you about your business and worried about do you know the numbers, and… Yeah, so it’s a big deal and we get a transcript of the pitch, so there’s nowhere to hide. “Hey, mate, you said you had 200 stores.” “Oh, 200 stores? I meant two.” “Oh, okay, that’s a little bit different because here, you said…” So I don’t know how many meetings people have where there’s an absolute transcript of the meeting, where there’s nowhere to hide.
Nathan: Yeah, awesome. All right. Well, look, we have to work towards wrapping up, but a couple last questions. One was, I thought it was interesting. Off-air, we had a bit of a mix-up on time schedule, it was probably on my end, I apologize for that. And you said to me that, you know, “If this is the, you know, the worst that’s happened, I consider it a good day.” What did you mean by that?
Janine: Oh, well, put it this way, if the worst thing that happened to me that day was that someone missed an appointment, that’s not a bad day. You know, you have phone calls where, you know, people steal from you, you have phone calls where, you know, customers aren’t happy, you have phone calls where the media has done something that you’re not happy about, you know. Someone missing an appointment, a genuine mistake, is not a problem. Yeah, I think that you’ve gotta always keep things in perspective, you know, I think people get wound up over the smallest things. You know, I think every day we should wake up and be grateful instead of worrying about what’s wrong in life.
Nathan: Okay. Last question…no, two more questions. Now, we’ll you give this last one. Last question, so you’re a quite a well-known, you know, one of the…like I’ve read articles where they say that you’re, you know, one of the top, you know, richest self-made women in Australia. So in, you know, “society”, you know, you’re extremely successful, right? And the level of success that you’ve attained is something that’s, I would say, most of the world would aspire to. So I know as an entrepreneur myself and many of my friends, we always tell ourselves stories that if I get to this, it’ll be awesome. So I’ve always been curious, someone at your level, can you have it all?
Janine: Oh, you can. You can. Yes, you can.
Nathan: You can?
Janine: Yeah, you can but not all at once. You know, basically, you know, if you’re climbing your Everest and my Everest was pretty much from 30 to 40, there was no life balance. I didn’t hang out with friends, I didn’t have coffee with mates, I really neglected myself, I probably neglected my children different times, I certainly neglected my husband. So, you know, and because, you know, when you’re actually doing something and you’re creating something special, you’ve gotta give your all to it. You know, now, I have a bit more of a balance, so as you said to the question is, “When I get to this, this will be the answer, when I get to here, this is gonna be the answer.” And for me, it was never about the money, you know, you do the right things, the money will come, but what the finances has done is it’s created quite a freedom, you know. Freedom to say yes or no to the things I wanna do or not wanna do, you know, freedom to be able to, you know, write my own ticket in some respects. But really, what I found is, as I’ve got older, my view of success has changed. You’re on it when you’re younger and you’re climbing your Everest and you’re building a business, you know, it’s that hundred stores or…
Nathan: Ten million, 20 million, 30 million, 40 million, 50 million, 100 million, yeah.
Janine: That’s what it is. When you actually have a family and you look at what gives you really great joy, it really is being loved and in love, you know. I’m really lucky that, you know, I’ve done this journey with my best friend and my husband and someone who I adore, and I think success is looking at my four kids and seeing them healthy and happy and that they actually wanna hang out with me, that’s a success. You know, success isn’t having, you know, five investment properties or, you know, lots of zeros in a bank account, they’re just numbers. And, you know, and you might go, “It’s all very well, Janine, you know, you’ve got those numbers in the bank,” but really the reality is, you know, what gives you joy. You know, so I when I sit back and think success, it is all about family, it is all the fact that I’m not lonely, it’s the fact that I have a great balance in my life, it’s the fact that I can do yoga when I want to do yoga, or it’s the fact that my husband brings me coffee every morning in bed, it’s the fact that he says he loves me every day. You know, that’s what success is, it’s not the zeros in the bank, that gives me freedom but that’s not success.
Nathan: Yeah, I really appreciate that. Okay, well, the final question…
Janine: For you at your age…
Nathan: What’s that, sorry?
Janine: You at your age, it’s different.
Nathan: Yeah, that’s all good.
Janine: Do you have kids?
Nathan: No, just a long-term partner.
Janine: Yeah. Now, look, kids, I think there’s life pre and post kids, and I think that that is a different way. But, you know, certainly when you’re with a long-term partner and, you know, absolutely, now’s the time to absolutely go for it.
Nathan: Yeah, she’s an entrepreneur too now.
Janine: You know what actually helped…you know, my husband being a entrepreneur and a highly successful businessman in his own right, you know, by him having that understanding and me having that understanding for him, it meant that 1 and 1 can equal 10, you know. Without the support of Jeff and my support of him, we wouldn’t be anywhere where we need to be. So people who are listening to this, marry well or partner up well, whatever you wanna do, you don’t have to marry them but just bloody pick your partners well. Because the many people that I’ve have seen out there that have not fulfilled their greatest desire or greatest version of success often because is they choose the wrong partner. And, you know, you need that great partner in crime to really create the dreams that you have in life.
Nathan: And push you, and challenge you, and support you, yeah, for sure.
Janine: Absolutely. All that.
Nathan: Yeah, no, I’ve never thought of it like that but no, that’s really true. So look, we have to work towards wrapping up, Janine. Final question is, where’s the best place people can find out more about yourself, your companies, and your work? Or I know you have a book as well, “The Accidental Entrepreneur,” yeah, where’s the best place you’d like people to go?
Janine: Look, there’s a number of places, you know. You’ve got LinkedIn which is, you know, you can find me there. I’ve got a blog and a website which is janineallis.com.au. There’s obviously the Retail Zoo and the Boost Juice website. So, you know, there’s lots of places and there’s just simple Google.
Nathan: Awesome. Well, look, thank you so much for your time, Janine. This was a ton of fun, I really enjoyed our conversation.
Janine: No, my pleasure, Nathan. And good luck with the mag, it doesn’t sound like you need it. And hopefully, you’ll come and pitch next season.
Nathan: Yeah. Look, to be honest, yeah, we’re 100% bootstrapped, probably gonna stay that way for a while.
Janine: No, I want it though.
Nathan: Awesome. Thank you so much.
Janine: No worries, Cheers. Bye.
Key Resources From Our Interview With Janine Allis
- Checkout Boost Juice
- Follow Janine Allis on Twitter
- Connect with Janine Allis on Linkedin
- Learn more about Janine Allis
- Checkout Janine Allis’ Book: The Accidental Entrepreneur: The Juicy Bits