Jamie Beaton – Lifting education standards of Kiwi students
In 2011, Jamie Beaton was in Year 12 at Auckland’s Kings College. His Young Enterprise Company, Number 8 Technologies, designed and built iPad stands for use in cars.
Jump forward three years and Jamie is one of New Zealand’s rising stars of Kiwi business. Studying Applied Mathematics and Economics at Harvard University, alongside running the largest admissions consulting company in the Southern Hemisphere, Crimson Consulting. Crimson has helped thousands of students across NZ, Australia, South Africa and Asia gain admission to all 8 Ivy League colleges, MIT, Stanford, Cambridge and Oxford as well as lifting the education standards of countless NZ students through tutoring and guidance.
We sat down (well over Skype!) with Jamie to grab his thoughts about Kiwi business, CSR and his ‘you get out what you put in’ take on the business.
In the last 3 years, you’ve gone from a high-schooler taking part in YES to founding your own company, Crimson Consulting, which has placed thousands into top universities around the world. First off, what does Crimson do?
Crimson Consulting is an education consulting company. We assist high school and university students applying to a variety of universities in the US, UK and Australia. We also provide tutoring for NCEA, CIE and IB within New Zealand. Our company is currently operating in a variety of markets but predominantly in Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. We provide a one-stop shop for all of education requirements and seek to ensure we make our clients the very best they can be academically and professionally.
And were there any lessons in your YES experience that helped you scale Crimson Consulting?
Absolutely. The most important lesson I learned is that tenacity is key to any successful venture. The best idea in the world fails on poor execution. Our iPad stands had a reasonable value proposition but executing the idea really relied on hustling in the early stages! We spent a lot of time identifying and then building relationships with potential partnerships (e.g. retailers and gas stations), competitors (mainly imported) and suppliers. Without pushing through to close on these contacts and early customers, we stood no hope.
It is notoriously difficult to get over this early stage in any business but what defines whether you achieve success, is not luck, but determination and grit. 9/10 start-ups fail not because 9 ideas out of 10 are bad but because 9 people decided to throw in the towel and didn’t pull harder when they encountered opposition but rather let go!
Crimson places a wider goal of lifting the education standards of New Zealand (and foreign students?) – how important to you are the social and ethical outcomes of business?
I think the free market rewards what participants want to buy and care about. Whether a company sells shoes made locally and donates a pair to Africa or makes shoes in China for half the cost, the market decides which company lives or dies by how much it cares about specific social and ethical outcomes. As a result, I don’t think it is the responsibility of business to chase the creation of “social” good or “ethical” outcomes even if one could define them appropriately. People have vastly different views on what is ethical and what is best for society and I believe the obligation of business ends at providing clients with what they need (within a legal framework!). This is my personal, libertarian stance on the matter at least.
This isn’t to say the market cannot deliver ethical outcomes. In terms of Crimson, our team are all driven by improving the educational opportunities available to students in New Zealand. The social aspect of Crimson is central all of our dealings. Crimson offers support to all students regardless of their financial background. It’s a transparent part of our process and we do it because we want to actively support education outcomes across the globe!
With your US experience studying at Harvard, what differences and similarities have you noticed between Kiwis and Americans in their approach to entrepreneurship and starting businesses?
In general, high flying ambitious US students show far more willingness to get into entrepreneurship at a young age. The US has a culture where success is encouraged, promoted and driven much more so than New Zealand. Standing out, particularly at a young age, is seen as being a bit different in New Zealand – ‘Tall Poppy’ if you like. This manifests itself in young kiwis being far more risk averse than one would find in the US.
Furthermore, Computer Science as a study option is far more prevalent in the US (with the cultural phenomena of Silicon Valley). This naturally means there is far more scope for innovation in information technology – a space where we have seen the vast majority of business development in recent years. I think far more Kiwis should be taking Computer Science. To add to that, many of our top Crimson clients are actively training their CS skills and implementing them in a variety of leadership projects for profit and for social good.
What are the three key tips you’d give to recent University Grads looking to start their own entrepreneurial career? And do you have any good resources or people you take inspiration from?
Find a skill or niche and become better at it than anyone else is. For us at Crimson that is education achievement for ambitious students – we are better than anyone else at getting people into top universities and optimizing their academic achievement.
Be aggressive. Chase down opportunities ruthlessly and don’t settle for a no. Businesses are forged by hard work not by a roulette table.
Ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing every single day. If it is not developing your skills, talents or something you are interested in get rid of it and find something you are more passionate about.