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Rubbing Shoulders With Giants: The Entrepreneur’s Unconvention 2014

Saturday the 13th of September,
Welcome to the Unconvention!

It began when Louise and I dragged ourselves out of bed at an absurd hour (for a Saturday) and made our way to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Filled with cautious optimism we made our way into a packed lobby on the second floor, full to the brim with buzzing folks of all ages, genders and ethnicities. I don’t believe either of us could have guessed just how much we would get out of the next ten hours… one of us even came close to having a little cry…

More on that in the future.

So Saturday was just way too big to describe in one blog post. Even if I ever did get it all down, it would be thousands of words and you lot would fall asleep long before you finished reading it (kids these days!). As a result what I’m going to do is break down some of my favourite moments and take-away’s from the day and spread them across a few posts over the coming weeks.

So without further ado…


Brad Smith of Braaap On The Value Of Perseverance

Brad Smith is a champion. He is the 27 year old entrepreneur from Tasmania who founded braaap motorcycle company at the age of 18.

Unfortunately I dont have the time to go into the whole story of Brad’s upbringing (despite how compelling it is) but the story short is as follows:

Brad grew up addicted to motorcycles and, after coming to realise what a financial drain the sport had placed on his family, decided that he would find a way to make it more accessible to the average-joe, while still meeting the strenuous requirements of the sport.

At age 16, Brad ordered a set of bikes from China. He spoke with dozens of factories before finally finding one which promised that it could build him the bikes that he needed. He put down every cent of his own savings, spending years of his hard-earned pocket money… only to have them arrive looking nothing like, and with a quality far inferior to,  what was promised..

The bikes were sold at a loss.

Rather than give up Brad decided that he simply couldn’t get his message across over the phone or via email. He then began the arduous process of saving once more and on the day of his 18th birthday booked flights to China.

An 18 year old Brad (having never left the country before) arrived all on his own in China. He immediately made the train trek into the regional area known for having over 200 bike factories, got himself a translator, and planned their destinations….

Due to a somewhat naive approach involving a lot of passion and a noticeable shortcoming of capital investment –

He and his interpreter were laughed out of 50 consecutive Chinese bike factories.

Not once did he consider quitting however, despite knowing that any one of his friends or family would surely congratulate him on getting so far and trying so hard.

This was lucky too because in an incredible moment of fortune, Brad found himself crossing paths with a couple of gentlemen from France…

They had come to China to open a bike factory.


You could argue that Brad was lucky, that the stars aligned in this one instance, that anyone can be lucky…

I would argue that Brad made his own luck.

He refused to give up, even after having his dream and vision laughed at by the managers of over 50 factories and as a result his dream has come to life.

“It always seems impossible until it is done.”
– Nelson Mandela

Let me know what you think!