How this serial entrepreneur turned his passion for workplace culture into a $1.3 million business

How this serial entrepreneur turned his passion for workplace culture into a $1.3 million business


Ryan Meldrum started his training and recruitment business Expect a Star at the age of 24.

After 10 years of growing the business, Meldrum sold the company to work on his new venture, SeventeenHundred.

Founded in 2013, SeventeenHundred now employs eight full-time staff and turns over around $1.3 million.

SmartCompany spoke to Meldrum to find out why he is a serial entrepreneur and his top tips for budding business owners.


I’m entrepreneurial by nature, so when I was starting out I was looking to start a business – any business.

I did about a year’s research into different things I was interested in.

I was looking to start a childcare centre but didn’t have the capital at that age to do so.

My experience was more on providing operations and services to businesses. That was where my strength lay.

I managed to build that business up to be a national businesses servicing over a thousand childcare centres on a regular basis.

Then I went on and made the decision to sell.

I’m a builder of businesses and during that time I’d started another business that was growing.

When I initially created another business, it was good for diversification. But in the end the diversification began to stretch my time and resources.

My current business is called SeventeenHundred and we provide support for corporate Australia employees, no matter what age or stage they are in their life.

To be a truly supportive business you need to have support for all of your employees.

If you do that, you encourage people to bring their whole selves to work. If you do that, they are more engaged and you get better outcomes.

In my view, corporate Australia means well with what they say but what they actually do can sometimes be different.

This is where we’re creating our own market at the moment, which is quite exciting.

There’s been a lot of research out there over the past five years about the benefits on productivity by having a greater, diverse workforce. People are really focusing on this issue.

The days of just providing a gym membership are finished because it’s not real or authentic. That’s just ticking a box to say we provide employee benefits.

The reasons why we are successful to date is we look at a person’s whole life.

The best piece of advice I’ve received is stick to your core values. If you’re consistent in those and believe in those, people will believe in you.

You will only have a successful and productive business when people feel empowered and motivated.

Why am I an entrepreneur? I get inspired by seeing team members that I recruit believe in what we do.

I also find it interesting that I don’t know how much the business will earn over the next 12 months. I find the unknown interesting.

If you’re working for someone else, you’re not 100% sure what you can create.

But if you’re an entrepreneur, you might make a few mistakes along the way but it’s about being challenged and creating something.

For me, the thing that keeps me awake at night used to be cash flow. That was a great pressure I carried for a long period of time.

But from that, I’ve built some resilience. I know I can get through that and now nothing keeps me awake.

You need to build a level of resilience and be able to think about past events in that moment and be comfortable that while you might have an idea of what you want to achieve, you might have to accept only 90% of that.

The final thing I would say is the importance of culture.

You’ve got to make anyone you employ feel valued, feel welcomed and supported. If you can do that with everything going on around you, you’ve got your team working for you in the direction you need them to.

If you can do that, you’re more likely to be successful.


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