Investorist founder Jon Ellis reveals how he is growing his $2 million property business by 30% each quarter and expanding to the United States

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Jon Ellis

 

Name: Jon Ellis

 

Company: Investorist

 

Location: Melbourne

 

Jon Ellis always knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur.

His father and cousin had their own businesses. Then there was the time, in his 20s, when his boss slammed his fist on the table and reminded him who paid his wage.

“It was that juncture that got me to stand up and say, actually, ‘I don’t work for you and see you later’,” Ellis says.

“The desire to not have one individual control my destiny and cause me stress was the catalyst [for starting my own business].”

As a result, the Melbourne-based entrepreneur launched his own marketing and creative agency, Extension, when he was just 26-years-old.

A decade later, Ellis now also runs Investorist, a platform to connect off-the-plan property developers with agencies and advisors all over the world.

Ellis says the business has been achieving 30% quarter-on-quarter revenue growth for the past 18 months and will turn over more than $2 million by the end of this financial year.

Investorist launched in August 2013 and has offices in Australia, Singapore, China and the United Kingdom.

So what’s Ellis’s secret?

“It’s very difficult, to be truthful,” he says.

“But it’s all about the team. I have a great team here.

“My co-founder and partner in crime is my wife, Kathryn. She’s a lawyer and she’s very details-focused where I’m all flair. We’ve also got very talented people who work with us.”

SmartCompany caught up with Ellis to find out how he manages Investorist’s fast-growing team across the world.

 

Mornings:

 

Ellis says he has a pretty strict morning routine – that involves steering clear of technology.

“I usually wake up at 6.30am or 6.45am,” he says.

“I do a bit of yoga, meditate, and eat my weird muesli. I do that and just make sure I don’t pick up my phone until 8am so I have plenty of time to get myself ready for the day.”

Ellis says he makes a habit of not checking his phone in the mornings because he would simply get swamped with emails from his overseas staff.

He says this is an approach other entrepreneurs should adopt in order to centre themselves before the workday begins.

“Before I opened my office in the UK I’d sit in bed and read my emails and do all these terrible things that made me worked up,” Ellis says.

“But now, if I had my phone in the room it’d ring at 1am in the morning. So out of necessity I keep it in my home office and leave it there until I finish my morning routine.

“Even when I’m travelling, I follow the same philosophy.”

 

Daily life:

 

For Ellis, who is based in Melbourne but leads a global company there is no such thing as a normal day.

“I try to be in the office by 9am and deal with my team,” he says.

“We’ve got 35 people here. My routine has changed a lot over the last 18 months because of having international offices in other time zones.

“Having an office in London feels glamorous but finishing dinner and having a meeting with people who’ve just finished eating breakfast isn’t that glamorous,” he adds.

As for how Ellis manages staff in so many time zones, the entrepreneur points out that it’s all about time management.

“Distil what is important,” he says.

“If you allow other people to dictate what is important, you’ll never get anything done.

“If you spend your time putting out fires, you can allow yourself to spend your whole life putting out fires.”

Ellis uses the example of how he went on a recent work trip to the United States in order to scope out potential offices.

While there, he focused solely on the task at hand and told his Australian team to only contact him if something was urgent.

 

Leisure time:

 

After leading such a busy life for so long, Ellis says he has realised the importance of taking time away from the office to recharge.

In particular, he loves the outdoors.

“I’m a fanatical kite surfer,” the Melburnian says.

“I love kite surfing. My wife and I also go hiking regularly. In winter I snowboard. When we were opening an international office recently I got to spend three days snowboarding in Switzerland, so that was nice.”

 

The future:

 

The plan for 2016 is for Investorist to open three to four new offices, with a particular focus on expanding into the United States.

As for what else he has up his sleeve, Ellis says this year he just wants to “enjoy the ride” and see what opportunities come his way.

“I’ve learnt so many things along the way,” he says.

“Before I started the business I had no idea how to raise capital, but I’ve since raised $5 million for the business.

“If I didn’t have that experience raising money, I’d be lesser for it,” he adds.

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Broede Carmody is a former senior reporter at SmartCompany. Previously, he was a co-editor of RMIT University's student magazine Catalyst.

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