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Fly beyond the cloud

Focus: “Life can be broader once you discover that the world we live in was made up by people no smarter or special than yourself,” says GreenBe founder David Catalovski.
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GreenBe is on Westpac’s top 200 Australian “Business of Tomorrow” list. What does it do?

GreenBe is a game-changing tech startup, and the onlysoftware solution of its kind in Australia. The cloud software is helping governmentsand utilities, such as councils and energy companies, todeliver transformative digital solutions that connect,engage and inspire citizensto change their behaviours. For example, the award-winning City of Melbourne web and smartphone apps (seemelbourne.greenmoney南京夜网419论坛) we provided have allowed the City of Melbourne to deliver a localised sustainability rewards and education platform allowingresidents, city workers and students to earn points in their online account for taking simple green actions like ditching the car or using a reusable coffee cup. Member points are then redeemed at businesses (which provide ‘rewards’), for city-wide discounts on restaurant meals, entertainment and services.

Name a recent project?

We worked with a Western Sydney local government with 110,000 household customers.Government is viewed as notoriously slow to embrace technology, so we were starting from a low base, but it has really transformed their entire digital experience into a Google-esque organisation with seamless services and programs for ratepayers.

And the outcomes?

They transformed into an innovative customer-focused organisation. The Googles and Amazons of the world have raised the bar for all types of industries; organisations now focus on the total customer experience and government is no different. Everyone now understands the difference between a great and poor customer experience.

You did law and commerce at the University of Newcastle. Your first job?

I was in a similar situation to many Newcastle graduates. I wanted to stay close to home but the lack of opportunities forced me to move to Sydney where I started as a graduate for a large national firm. Coming from a regional town, I had the pleasure of finding myself in courtbefore judges and briefing barristers after my second week. It was a steep learning curve but gave me confidence and I discovered what I was capable of professionally. Had I stayed locally, I may not have.

Why did you start GreenBe?

I was quite comfortable as a lawyer but I just couldn’t see myself doing it for the next 30-plusyears. I knew I could use my problem solving and analytical skills to start a firm that could tackle real world problems rather than representing faceless corporates. I had been an early adopter when it came to technology, having my first computer from a young age and it just came naturally. Building a software company was the logical step outside of law.

Your core demand?

The software business is quite binary: your solution either solves a problem for your client or it doesn’t. Most of our demand comes from government and utilities that are leaders on the innovation front and trying to push things forward to get an edge on competitors.

Is competition stiff?

Software is a winner takes all market. That said, government software is even more competitive as it’s dominated by the Oracles, IBMs and Microsofts of the world who have unlimited resources. Looking back, I guess it was my Novocastrian naivety that led us to believe that we could build complex software solutions and work with large organisations. It’s a lesson to anyone who is held back by a fear of failure – we miss 100 per cent of the opportunities we don’t take.

Is your software unique?

We’re in a niche space in Australia as we don’t have many competitors and the barriers to entry are high with government and utilities. Each customer is unique and some involve a lengthy tender process. Often clients needbespoke customisations.It would be easier if our solutions were a simple tool that does something specific, but our solutions are complex because businesses are complex.

Hardest part of work?

You constantly need to be innovating to build a competitive edge, especially when you’re competing against Fortune 500 companies.The minute you stop, you stop delivering value to customers. Every day we ask how can we improve what we deliver to make customers’ lives easier and improve their emotional experience so they remember how we made them feel.

The most rewarding?

Working with amazing young people who have a passion for the work they’re doing to the point of obsession. It’s a key reason why we opened an office in Newcastle’s CBD. We want to tap into the enormous amount of local talent coming out of the Hunter.

Best advice in business?

The same advice you can apply in life. At school, I was taught to get a job, save, don’t rock the boat too much and do that for 50 years. But life can be much broader once you realise the world we live in was made up by people no smarter or special than yourself. If you’re willing to work andconstantly learn, you can change and influence it, and build your own things that change lives. Once you learn that, you’ll never look at the world the same again.

David Catalovski

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