Nathan Murphy is gearing up to launch Audio High School in July, following six months of intensive planning.
Despite being just 19-years-old, Murphy has already had to overcome some major hurdles to starting up his own business, which provides audio versions of school books via smartphones, MP3 players and tablets.
StartupSmart caught up with him to see how he is progressing.
You had a fairly tough time in the lead-up to starting the business didn’t you?
Yes, there have certainly been a few paradigm shifts for me in the past year.
I was until recently living on the streets in Darwin after a family disturbance. I was on the streets for about a month and a half.
I had the desire to improve my life and make a difference. The Salvos took me into crisis accommodation and gave me a kick up the bum. They really helped open my mind to new things and made me realise the potential I had.
Had you wanted to start a business during this time, or was it the last thing on your mind?
Yes, it was something I was thinking of even when I was living rough. The Salvos asked me, “What do you want to do with your life?” And I said I wanted to start a business. I had an eBay business in high school, so it was always something that was on my mind.
Living rough, you live more day to day, wondering where your next meal is coming from. When I had accommodation, I could act upon my idea and think a bit more long-term.
Can you explain your idea?
The idea I had was High School Audio. There are 1.5 million high school students in Australia and they are very tech savvy. I saw there was a gap in the market for audio versions of text books, so that students have a digital learning text rather than have to carry around lots of books.
How have you supported the business financially?
I’ve worked a few odd jobs and had a traineeship two days a week at Virgin Money in Sydney. The Salvos provided good links and opportunities to me and Virgin has been very good in supporting young entrepreneurs like me. They’ve been very good to me.
I figured that I needed feedback and help so I used Freeelancer.com and bootstrapped the business. I paid $60 to get a logo and put all my income from my jobs into building a splash page, in order to build my brand, and made a promotional video. It’s had 4,000 views on YouTube.
People liked the idea and we’ve also managed to capture contact details through an email sign-up for details.
I think people can see the opportunity it has to change lives, especially blind, dyslexic and non-English speaking students.
What’s the next step for the business?
The next step is going live on July 2. I looked to pursue a partnership with publishers for content, but it’s quite cutthroat, so I’ve had to think of another way to do it.
I’ve taken on a co-founder, who will look after the technical side of things. We’ve also got an agreement with Vision Australia to provide free content for vision impaired students.
We’ve turned over a few pricing structures, whether to download for free or to charge a fee, but the majority will be downloaded for free.
What would your advice be to anyone in the same situation as you were?
That once you believe in yourself and think entrepreneurially, anything is possible.
There are 32,000 12 to 24 year olds that are homeless every night in Australia. There is so much social dysfunction for a first world country, but there are organisations you can go to that will help you.
The best time to start a business is now, I think. You can create a business by paying someone a few bucks to help you get a site up. Just get out there and do it.