Introducing you to interesting people around the world
Meet Shane Wallace
– CEO of WorkApp, Keynote speaker (Brisbane, Australia) –
One day I had my mind wandering… Far, far away, to the beautiful Aussie land. I visited it in 2008 (exactly 10 years ago) and I’ve made awesome memories. Starting with the flight (that allowed me to cut the skies and observe the outstanding desert-sea conjunction) and ending with having a 2 weeks dream vacation. I went to Queensland area, the place our guest for today is from.
Who is our guest? A wonderful person, to whom I had the pleasure of a 2 hours video call discussion. An amazing man, who started from scratch, failed several times, got up and finally reached the top. Privacy is a core value to him, yet he warmly allowed me to interview him, as I promised not to record the call. And I didn’t!
Most of our conversation revolved around his business, but he also revealed his secrets to a happy existence.
Find out more about his experience from his answers below…
1.Mr. Wallace, our call was a real pleasure. I have rarely been given the chance to have such a warm welcome into someone’s life. And I am grateful for your accept to take this interview. For someone who never got in touch with you, please briefly introduce yourself.
I am an Aussie entrepreneur, CEO and Co-Founder of a successful tech start-up called WorkApp. Whilst I had no experience with IT or technology prior to launching WorkApp, I didn’t allow that to stop me. My particular strength lies in sales and now that I am leading a team that is promoting WorkApp globally, it is an amazing feeling.
“I’m a big fan of diversity. I fully support multiculturalism; after all, we’re all here together!”
2. In the introductory text I mentioned that privacy is a core value to you. Can you tell us if discretion was always your friend or if you adopted it as years went by?
Discretion isn’t really high on the agenda when you are young and inexperienced. Maturity over the years, impact of social media on easy access to personal data and the introduction of data security and privacy laws across the world have all contributed to my increased awareness of the need for greater discretion when it comes to privacy.
It is a philosophy that I continuously apply to WorkApp to ensure that our User data is protected at the same level of privacy and protection that I seek personally. I like to have the choice and control over who can see my data and that is what we have carried across into the application we’ve built.
3. Continuing on a personal level, how do you see diversity in the world? Is it beneficial or not? And why?
Yes, I’m a big fan of diversity and I think the 21st century is a very exciting time to live, even though the human race has many challenges ahead. I fully support multiculturalism; after all, we’re all here together and in – my view – by embracing diversity, we become part of the solution in helping humanity to prosper.
4. You live in a city I would happily call a home. When I was there, the gates to visitors were open and the construction sites were blooming – buildings were rising one after another. What’s the trend now?
I can honestly say that living right between Brisbane and the Gold Coast is fantastic, both economically and from a lifestyle perspective. We just hosted the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast a few weeks ago and the whole place was abuzz with visitors and activities. We have great weather, great beaches and living standards that we are very grateful for. Construction is always booming in this Country and there is also a very strong start-up culture that has emerged over the last five years.
5. Speaking about trends, how do you perceive all the rumors and facts about Facebook’s personal data breaches?
I am not one to engage in rumors; I’ve always chosen to steer clear of them. It appears, though, that Facebook’s user data was compromised or misused by a third party. I prefer not to judge Facebook, as I don’t have all the facts and data at hand to understand the contributing factors. When a platform is growing at the rate that Facebook has, I can well imagine the challenges that rapid growth would have brought with it.
We are taking the learnings from Facebook’s experience and applying them to WorkApp. The security and privacy of the user data on our platform is our top priority and something we take very seriously. It’s something that we will never,ever compromise. So, I guess there are some flow-on benefits from Facebook’s experience.
6. Ok, now that we touched that area, please tell us about the outstanding business you build with WorkApp. How did it start? How many times did it fail?
WorkApp started five years ago now, with the idea that came from my brother (who is a tradesman), to build a free system that finds the closest workers to the job sites and that are active and ready to work now. It was a problem he and lots of other tradies often experienced trying to find labourers at the last minute when he really needed them.
“The security and privacy of the user data on our platform is our top priority and something we take very seriously. It’s something that we will never, ever compromise.”
So we enlisted two techies and started developing the solution to his problem, in early 2013; of course, at that time, I wasn’t aware of the specific challenges that would lay ahead of us in software development. We had our first attempt at creating WorkApp live for download at the end of 2013 and people would have said it was very average at best. It would often freeze and just stop working, so I guess you could call that failure number one.
“We labeled the second attempt as a successful failure”
We continued to develop the product with the concept growing into other categories and, in mid-2014, we had our second attempt at going live. It was definitely a big improvement with a lot more features. We ran some promotions in India through Social Media and the response was great – with thousands joining. It was very exciting at the time, but our system wasn’t able to handle the spike in load due to a severe lack of development infrastructure; thus, the App crashed more times than not.
So, it was back to the drawing board once again…
7. What kept you going? And what’s the status now?
After the second attempt, I became even more determined because I knew that, ultimately, we were solving a problem and there was a need on the market for an App with the value proposition that our platform brought. That was sufficient motivation and it was time to step back and look at the skills we needed to make WorkApp a secure, scalable and a functional platform that would have global appeal.
We cast the net out wide and found a Brisbane based technology firm (Milestones Technology Group – MTG) who specializes in Mobile & Web App development, digital transformation, graphic design and social media marketing. MTG’s vision of helping small businesses prosper was in alignment with WorkApp’s vision.
In early 2015, we formalized the engagement with MTG as WorkApp’s technology partner. Upon advice from my new team, we scrapped everything we had developed and started with a clean slate.
After starting again, Version 1 of WorkApp was released in early 2016, with a new design and user experience. A strong marketing drive by MTG saw our organic Facebook fans grow to over 700,000 and a growing user base. I am grateful to have found MTG at a crisis point and they were able to navigate us back on track.
8. I know that today an event is planned, regarding WorkApp… Would you like to give us a bit of an insight?
Yes, it’s a very exciting event for me personally, especially after breaking through all of the barriers over the last five years. In only days from now we will be announcing the global release of WorkApp Version 2.
Version 2 will showcase a whole new design and user experience for Mobile (iOS & Android) as well as Web. Also we have added features for Real Estate and Auto. Staying true to WorkApp’s vision of being a free platform for everyone, we see Real Estate Agents and Auto Dealers becoming early adopters of WorkApp Version 2.
Search Engine Optimization and the ability to share your listings via social media will create greater awareness, leading to more users. It is rewarding to see our vision becoming a reality within a period of just five years.
9. Congratulations on the success! Tell us more… Why should people engage with WorkApp?
WorkApp’s mission is to provide a platform for people to prosper with equal opportunity.
We achieve this by:
- Ensuring that everyone in the world can use WorkApp for free – no fees, no commissions, no charges;
- Everyone can boost their listings to the top of Search Results in WorkApp as often as they wish. This effort is rewarded with a spot in the featured ‘What’s Fresh’ slider;
- Businesses and individuals are treated equally.
“You can’t pay your way to the top in WorkApp.”
This, in our opinion is ‘Net Neutrality’ in its purest form.
I also believe that, by providing a level playing field when it comes to being searched and found within the WorkApp platform, is key to solving our initial problem of finding the closest worker to our area, who is ready to work now. The WorkApp search results are based on the closest active result at the top, instead of who pays for that spot. For e.g. closest hairdresser or plumber, closest job on offer or closest type of business you need at the time. When you change your location, the search results will automatically change according to the new closest result.
10. As a CEO, do you focus on multiple tasks or do you take one step at a time? And how do you see your business’ trend for the next 5 to 10 years?
I’ve never really been much of a multi-tasker, to be honest, and I definitely like to focus on one step at a time. Things often change very fast in my world, so I try to never spread myself or my energy too thin. When I look back over the last five years to identify what it was that helped me the most, it was wholeheartedly focusing on the next step that I needed to take and not worrying about anything else outside of that one step.
I’ve come to the realization that, looking too far ahead or trying to do too many things at the same time, can seem too daunting and become overwhelming. This – in turn – can distract you from achieving the incremental milestones needed to create success.
I think the global trend toward digital platforms is only going to grow in the next decade, which positions our business for massive growth in the years to come.
11. What do you enjoy most about your work?
What I like the most about my work is that it doesn’t feel like work at all. If I could choose any thing in the world to be doing right now, at this stage of my life, it would definitely be this.
For me, knowing that I’m doing something in life because I want to, rather than having to, gives me a real sense of freedom and gratitude.
12. I know you’re a dedicated husband and father. How do you manage to successfully balance leading a business and family life?
I believe it’s about having good people around you who are dedicated towards achieving results and who also share your vision and play their role towards making it happen. You’re only as good as your team and fortunately I have a great team by my side which, in turn, has created a knock-on effect for a great home and family life. It certainly helps to have a family that is as excited as I am for the success of WorkApp.
13. I recall you saying that you don’t own a computer and never had. What kept you away from such a useful tool?
Prior to starting WorkApp I was completely non-digital, not on social media and had never even sent an email. I have always preferred voice calls or face to face meetings.
“You’re only as good as your team”
My wife, on the other hand, is computer and social media savvy, so it was only logical that she managed all the digital correspondence, which suited me fine. In fact, the very first App I had ever downloaded on a smart phone was WorkApp and I remember feeling quite elated at the time.
Now that we are five years into the WorkApp journey, I still don’t use a laptop. I’ve opted for a Tablet and a smart phone instead and they serve my purpose well.
14. In this extent, how do you manage to have everything under control via your phone/ tablet? Ok, technology supports this trend, but still… wouldn’t it be easier if you had a PC?
My time is better spent working ‘ on ’ the business rather than ‘ in ’ the business. This is a decision that I made very early in our journey and have managed to stay true to it. By delegating the PC related tasks to my very capable team members, I can free myself up to focus on business development activities.
15. Both on business and personal levels, what are your near future plans? And what would be your message to the world, especially as a keynote speaker? What is your secret to a happy life?
On a business level, my plans for the near future are to introduce WorkApp to as many people as we can, both here in Australia and globally. Our platform is gaining momentum with steady growth. Over the next 12 months, I’m confident you will see WorkApp gain more and more traction on the market and become a serious competitor to some well-established incumbents.
My message to the world is:
“Don’t sweat the small stuff in life and be consciously aware not to let yourself worry about things that are out of your control.”
Many people waste massive amounts of energy worrying unnecessarily, instead of directing their energy towards the things and outcomes they can control. I find it’s important to monitor your internal dialogue and thoughts.
I call it the screen play of your mind. Many people have their personal screen play set to auto shuffle without realizing. What the mind can perceive and believe, it can achieve. If we allow negative screen play to be a regular occurrence each day, we will manifest undesirable outcomes and then think it was just bad luck. Take your screen play off shuffle and – consciously – choose your playlist of thoughts throughout each and every day.
Happiness is a state of mind and, by ensuring you choose positive screen play more often than not, you will, in turn, experience consistent happiness in life.
Mr. Wallace, I am grateful for having had the opportunity of getting this interview and I have no doubt that your business will flourish as beautifully as your soul did! Keep spreading the good vibe! 🙂
*The photos used in this article were provided by the rightful owner, with clear consent. Using them without prior agreement may be object of the copyright law. All rights reserved to Shane Wallace*
Mr. Shane Wallace can be reached via LinkedIn and company’s website:
Shane Wallace: linkedin.com/in/shane-wallace-workapp
Freelance writer & editor | Storyteller | Interviewer | Published author | Co-Founder of afsyn.com | Podcast host & producer