A well-earned break or time to knuckle down? Which startup founders are working this Australia Day holiday?


Timelio founders Andrew and Charlotte Petris. Source: Supplied.

The Australia Day long weekend is upon us, and while startups may not traditionally adhere to a standard working week, the draw of a sunny long weekend is hard to resist.

Some startup founders embrace the break as a time for rest, recuperation and reflection on business, as well as for catching up with family and friends. Some even identify this relaxation time as crucial to avoiding burnout, allowing them to stay on top of things for the rest of the year.

At the other end of the scale, there are founders who see a public holiday as an opportunity to catch up on their workload, or to knuckle down with minimal distractions.

Of course, there are also those with international customers, who are often bound by their clients’ hours.

Whether they’ll be working or not, these 13 founders tell StartupSmart what a public holiday means for them and their business.

Sarah Moran, co-founder and chief, Girl Geek Academy

“I will likely be going to the ‘Invasion Day’ rally. My team members are doing various things including one volunteering to sort clothes for a new charity op-shop opening in Brunswick she told me she’d rather be doing something good on a day that is pretty sad.”

“[Public holidays are] the best days to recharge with friends and put fuel in the tank for the long haul. I don’t believe in crunch and I have the self-awareness to know burnout will come calling if I don’t take the breaks as they’re made available.”

“State and national holidays are mainly different for me, because of clients and family interstate. So, if Queensland is on holiday I can ‘get ahead’ with my Melbourne workday, or sometimes I might even celebrate both and duck up to Queensland to spend the long weekend with my family.”

“Easter Weekend my family and I go to theme parks and water parks together so the national holidays do us very well.”

Girl Geek Academy

Sarah Moran and the Girl Geek Academy team. Source: Supplied.

Alexis Soulopoulos, chief executive, Mad Paws

“Our staff will not be working. They work really hard to scale this startup and achieve our vision and so it is important to take a break and recharge our batteries every now and then. Public holidays such as Australia Day are a great opportunity to do that.”

“The only exception is that as chief executive and co-founder, I will work on public holidays if it’s a really busy period and work just really needs be done. This is the case with a capital raise, for example.”

Mad Paws co-founder and chief Alexis Soulopoulos (centre) with the leadership team. Source: Supplied.

Mad Paws co-founder and chief Alexis Soulopoulos (centre) with the leadership team. Source: Supplied.

“I will also admit that in the early days of the company this was mostly the rule, rather than the exception. But that’s the early-startup days, which I really enjoyed.”

“The other good thing I like to do on a public holiday is to just think. It’s a good opportunity to think through strategic problems without any distractions or pressure. I’ll probably take a few hours on the public holiday this coming Monday to do that, and I will spend the remainder of the day with my girlfriend and her family.”

Sam Duncan, co-founder FarmLab

“I’ll be off-grid, recharging. I’ll be camping in Barrington Tops, swimming and hanging out with my wife, daughter and a few close friends, and trying to avoid the mosquitoes.”

As a founder, you need to manage your energy reserves to avoid burn-out. Public holidays are the perfect time to take a break as, for many of us, our customers generally aren’t working either.”

“I think a lot of founders skip those rest opportunities, and over the long-term, they get more stressed and less productive as a result. Stress impacts their health and results in poor decisions for their business.”


FarmLab founders Sam Duncan and Shahriar Jamshidi. Source: Supplied.

Chantal Abouchar, chief executive, The Studio

“As we’re still a young organisation (a startup for startups), and a small team, there is always a lot on our to-do list, including getting ready for our first birthday.”

“I’ll only work part of the day and from home. This way I can also get in a number of swims at some favourite nearby beaches and swimming spots.”

The Studio chief executive Chantal Abouchar. Source: Supplied.

“A holiday is a chance to try and get ahead, or if not ahead of the curve then not too far behind it.”

“Founders never rest.”

Des Hang, co-founder and chief, Carbar

“Our office will be closed during the public holiday on Monday. I won’t be proactively working on my company, but as a startup founder, I’m always switched on and thinking about how we can improve.”

“I’ll be catching up with friends. However, I’ll still be checking emails and keeping an eye on things just in case. I don’t consider this work though, as I’m passionate about my company.”

Carbar co-founders Davie Saw, Desmond Hang, Kenneth Teh and Richard Chen. Source: Supplied.

Carbar co-founders Davie Saw, Desmond Hang, Kenneth Teh and Richard Chen. Source: Supplied.

“The definition of ‘work’ is quite blurred these days. If by ‘work’ you mean go into the office, manage staff and guide the company, then I’m not working.”

“But, I can still stay on top of my company and action things on a public holiday without needing to go into the office. You have to be flexible as a founder, as some of your partners may choose to work through the holiday and may expect you to be as accessible as if it were a workday.”

“Some founders take a hard break on holidays and public holidays. But I’m really passionate about the business that I’m building so it can be hard to pull myself away from it. But I understand the break and time away may be important for my staff, hence why we’re honouring the holiday as an office.”

Robert Tadros, founder and chief, Impress!ve Digital

“I will definitely be working. We will also have skeleton staff operating.”

“We are a digital marketing agency and the companies who are integral to our business such as Facebook and Google don’t take holidays, especially not Australia Day, so we can’t afford to either.”

“Impress!ve is turning three in March so we’re still a young business focused on rapid growth and results for our clients. Some of our clients have operations internationally so we have to be available to them even on public holidays.”

Impress!ve Digital founder Robert Tadros. Source: Supplied.

Charlotte Petris, co-founder of Timelio

“As a national holiday, it is one of the few days of the year that we close our office and it is important for us (Andrew and I) and the team to enjoy this break.”


Timelio founders Andrew and Charlotte Petris. Source: Supplied.

“Our customers are all across Australia and require our funding services every day, and for this reason, we are always open for business on state holidays.”

“As a founder, in the past I would be working every day of the year irrespective of whether it’s a public holiday or not. But I have learnt how important it is to take a break from your business and your passion, even if it’s just one day.”

Paul Tory, founder and chief of Foodbomb

“As Foodbomb is an online marketplace we are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Part of our strength is that we allow our customers to search, compare and order at a time that is convenient to them. We have staff on call at all times (including public holidays) to offer assistance any way we can.”

“Obviously, our suppliers work similarly. Some will open and do deliveries on Australia Day will many won’t. It’s their call.”

“Personally, I never switch off and will be on call on Australia day although our team will enjoy the day off.”

Foodbomb Paul Tory

Foodbomb founder Paul Tory. Source: Supplied.

Adrian Przelozny, founder and chief of Independent Reserve

“The exchange operates 365 days a year. The team is small and we always arrange for staff on hand throughout.”

“Trading on crypto exchanges happen even on public holidays. We pride ourselves on having high customer satisfaction which means the team is always working to resolve issues as quickly as possible.”

“That’s the nature of running a crypto exchange. We are always on but I do try and unwind when I can and also prioritise time with family and friends.”

Independent Reserve founder Adrian Przelozny. Source: Supplied.

Independent Reserve founder Adrian Przelozny. Source: Supplied.

Gareth Gumbley, founder and chief of Frollo

“What are public holidays?”

But seriously, it depends I block off some for family time and holidays but unfortunately have to work through others.”

“I am working [on the Australia Day public holiday] and so are some of our staff. My team are very good at stepping in when needed when we have some deadlines to work to.”


Gareth Gumbley (centre) with the Frollo team. Source: Supplied.

“This weekend, I will be prepping for a TV appearance on Australia Day … appearing on Channel Nine’s Today Extra program. It’s not my first appearance on TV but I can get nervous so I like to be prepared.”

“And of course, the work of a founder never ends there’s always general admin and catch up, and taking a step back and reflecting on the past week.”

“I’m really looking forward to spending time with my family especially since my kids go back to school next week. If the weather is good I will go kayaking with my son which is always great fun.”

Paula Mills, chief executive, Academy of Entrepreneurs

“I love working on public holidays, there are less distractions, such as WhatsApp calls and a million emails. I normally switch off my phone so I can be 100 per cent focused and in the flow during public holidays.”

“I’m flying back from the Philippines, where we launched Academy of Entrepreneurs this week, so there will be a lot of work to do. Australia Day and the long weekend will also be used to finish our 2019-2020 growth strategy, and our team is running an event for our community of entrepreneurs during Australia Day.”

“We love what we do. So work doesn’t feel like work. We have fun all day long.”

“A public holiday equals more time to work, and less distractions as most of our customers are out enjoying the celebrations.”

“At Christmas and Easter, I give myself the day off and enjoy time with my family (and I always ask our team around the world to do the same).”

Aiman Hamdouna, founder and managing director, Hatch Quarter

“I will be working on Australia Day, as well as my co-founders unless they have an event organised. My staff have the day off. They are not expected to work but sometimes a workaholic will.”

“I tend to use public holidays to work on my business and refine Hatch Quarter’s processes, as on most other days we are working on client projects. But I don’t work all public holidays as I need to have some time for myself and my family.”

“It depends on the workload or the priority to improve an area within the business. However, I make sure I don’t work on every public holiday as taking a break every now and then is the best way to avoid burning out.”

Aiman Hamdouna

Aiman Hamdouna. Source: Supplied.

Guy Abelsohn, co-founder, MyInterview

“As a startup founder you are always working. Additionally, we have a lot of international clients, which means I often need to work different hours and days. However, of course, our staff won’t be working. It’s important that they are able to recharge and refresh.”

MyInterview co-founders Benjamin Gillman and Guy Abelsohn. Source: Supplied.

“One benefit we have is our team is distributed across Sydney and Tel-Aviv. This means we generally have global visibility for clients and users even across public holidays in both countries. We also have a great dynamic across leadership in the company with Benjy (co-founder who is based in Tel-Aviv) able to pick up items that I’m across and vice versa, this ensures we can take public holidays and other days off if need be.”

“Taking time off and refreshing is very important for your health. The most important thing is exercise (a gym or a run) and spending the day with friends and family.”

NOW READ: This year’s best advice for startups: Why founders need to be indie and stop ‘killing it’

NOW READ: How Timelio’s husband and wife founding team are bringing balance into their lives — or at least trying to


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