“You’re dreaming, kid”: Meet the 23-year-old founder who bagged $24 million in revenue in his first 12 months of business

Verus Global

Verus Global founder and chief Jackson Meyer. Source: supplied.

Having launched his first startup when he was 22 and not quite out of business school, Jackson Meyer has seen his venture Verus Global turn over an epic $24 million in revenue within its first 12 months.

Verus Global was founded in January 2019 to reimagine the freight forwarding industry through cloud-based technology, offering customers more transparency as to where their goods are at any given time.

At the same time, this is a relationships business, Meyer tells StartupSmart. So that tech is layered over the traditional, people-centric side of logistics.

Each customer has one point of contact, and access to people on the ground, the founder explains.

“Relationships make the industry, and we’re not taking that for granted,” he says.

Finding a backer

Having spent the summers of his teenage years unpacking for his parents’ foreign forwarding business, Meyer spied a niche in the market, and “an opportunity to become a young player within such an old and traditionally dated industry”.

While he admits he wasn’t exactly engaged in high school, he ended up pursuing a diploma in logistics and then a business degree, majoring in supply chain logistics.

When he was one subject away from graduating, Meyer got the opportunity to pitch his idea to the Young Presidents’ Organisation, and walked away from uni to pursue Verus Global.

He started setting up meetings with potential partners, advocates and investors. Eventually his work paid off, and he secured the backing of serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Aspen Medical Andrew Walker as an investor and chair of Versus Global.

“He fully backed me and what I wanted to do,” Meyer says.

“Others were saying, ‘you’re dreaming, kid’,” he adds.

“I can’t speak highly enough of him.”

Big ambition

Meyer doesn’t disclose how much Walker invested, but the startup launched with three offices, in Melbourne, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Now, Verus Global has 14 sites around the world and 53 staff members.

But when asked whether hitting $24 million in revenue in the first 12 months surpassed his expectations, the young founder says, actually, the opposite is true.

“It’s a little bit disappointing,” he says,

“It could always be better — there were a few things that obviously went our way, but there were a few things that didn’t.”

For example, especially in the early months, Meyer admits he struggled with managing cash flow. Because the business bills clients after their shipments have arrived, there was no incoming cash until March or April, months after the business launched, he explains.

“It was a really difficult period in order to get started.”

But if 2019 was about laying the foundation, 2020 is about accelerating, he says. There are higher expectations now.

“We will see those revenues double or triple” Meyer predicts.

He’s equally confident in his long-term goals.

Within five years “we’ll be doing $150 million, easy”, he says.

For Meyer, much of this confidence comes from his faith in the Verus Global team, especially those at the management levels.

He has “complete faith” in them to make the right calls at the right times, he says.

This is a young guy running his first business, and he appreciates the risk his staff are taking by coming on board.

“People have left jobs they’ve been at for 20 years to join a 22-year-old with an ambitious idea,” he says.

“I can’t let them down … there’s no option for failure.”

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