We don’t hear of cutting edge technology ventures out of Australia succeeding in the marketplace. ROKT is a rare gem, and a fascinating story!
Sramana: Bruce, where are you from? What kind of background do you come from?
Bruce Buchanan: I was born in Sydney. My background is a bit unique. My mother was British and my father was American. I spent quite a bit of time traveling to different places. My two grandfathers were stationed in Australia during World War II. After the war each one of my grandfather’s brought their families to Australia.
I spent a couple of years in the UK going to school and I spent a year of school in the US during junior high. I did my MBA at UCLA and I also worked for BCG in Boston. I have worked in the US and the UK as well, but I am predominantly an Australian.
Sramana: What did you do after your schooling?
Bruce Buchanan: Before I started my company, I still had the entrepreneurial blood in me. In high school, I was busy creating businesses and doing things that would pay my way. I started my first serious business when I was 16. My mother passed away and I wanted to finish high school so I started doing handy man work around the region I lived, which was north of Sydney.
I went on to study engineering but while I was in school I worked for a technology manufacturing business. I designed product in more efficient ways. In the end, I bought 50% of the business and continued to do that for 5 years after I graduated. I then sold that business and went to business school and earned my MBA from UCLA. After I graduated, I started working for Boston Consulting Group. I no idea who they were and I stumbled on them by accident.
I became one of their leads in the global consumer practice. I became very interested in consumer behavior and brand. With that I had worked in the US for two years and across several industries. I spent a lot of time working the travel industry and because of that I was asked to come back and write the business case for Jetstar. I came back to Australia to write that business case and presented it to the board twice in 2003. The board then asked me to stay on for 6 months to help set the company up. Turns out, ten years later, I was running Jetstar. We had 7,000 people working for the company generating $3 billion in 17 countries. It was a great ride and I really enjoyed it.