Wonderful story of yet another Australian founder who has diligently scaled to $10M+ in revenue.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Hugh Massie: I was born in Sydney, Australia. I was privately-educated at a very good private school. When I finished that, I did a degree in Commerce and Economics at the University of New South Wales. Following that, I became a Chartered Accountant and worked with Arthur Andersen for 10 years in auditing, mainly in the tax area. I worked in the Sydney office and then in the Singapore and Thailand offices as well.
After 10 years, I wanted to go out on the street and become an entrepreneur. That was really the start of my entrepreneurial journey. I had always been an investor though, ever since the age of 20. As soon as I got my first job, I bought a house and got an investment rental property and was always doing things that were related to investing.
Our family also had a cattle ranch in Queensland. I had some business experiences through having to manage that as well while I was doing my day job. That set me up to want to be an entrepreneur. I was always interested in money, how businesses get built, and why people get successful.
Sramana Mitra: Before you got into the business, you described a bunch of different things. Can you put in a timeline point of view? What year are we talking when you started working on your business that we are going to be discussing today?
Hugh Massie: The idea first came up at the end of 1999.
Sramana Mitra: Before that, you were working at Arthur Andersen?
Hugh Massie: I worked at Arthur Andersen up until 1996. At the beginning of 1996, I set up a financial services business.
Sramana Mitra: That is not the business that we are going to talking about.
Hugh Massie: No, but the idea for the business that we are talking about today came out of having had the financial services business and my business experiences generally speaking.
Sramana Mitra: What was the idea?
Hugh Massie: This is important for entrepreneurs to understand. The roots of fostering an idea and doing something about it came from my personal passion and a discovery of what my life purpose was. That came from a friend asking me a very simple question, “Hugh, what is your purpose? You don’t seem to be happy in what you’re doing.”
What sprouted out of my mouth very quickly was, “I would like to help people all over the world become more financially self-empowered.” I realized that I needed to figure out what that meant and how that could be done. Then I could see on the other side of that two components. In working with the clients that I was working with, I didn’t know enough about them as people to guide them on the journey of wealth creation, developing their talents, and building their lives. I needed to understand more about them.
There were very few products in the market that were geared towards helping somebody address money issues, provide them with the confidence and knowledge to become self-empowered. What I realized is financial self-empowerment is not about knowing what a financial product is. It’s knowing about who you are and how you deal with money, and how you manage with emotions.
Once I figured that out, I was lucky enough to have some chance meetings with two different people – one in Australia and one in America. They showed me that my theory about human behavior had a lot of merit and was true in that people are born with an innate set of strengths and struggles in terms of how they make decisions. They helped me build the product. That product that we started with was Financial DNA.
Today, we have a broad range of products under the banner of DNA Behavior. That’s the journey. It really came out of a personal passion and what my life purpose was. I built products and services around that. I could see that the financial services industry would need them and that eventually people were going to make decisions not just about how much money they’re going to make. It was also going to become goals-based. It was going to become about who they are. Today, you’ve got a plethora of organizations who started down that journey of putting in place processes to do exactly that. It has taken 15 years to see that kind of market transformation.