David Gold – Entrepreneur

David Gold is Chairman of Sunnyvale Ventures, Chairman of Cotendo Australia and a Director of Igloo Zoo.

Until December 2006 he was Founder and Chief Executive of Azure Wireless Pty Ltd. Azure was sold in December 2006 to NTT DoCoMo.

In November 2005 Gold, together with business partner Danny Gorog, founded Simply Sold which operates a chain of eBay consignment stores.

In August 2007 Gold founded Igloo Zoo – a new age retailer in the food space with the aim of integrating technology into the retail environment in a globally leading manner. Igloo Zoo currently operates four stores around Australia with more stores opening nationally through 2009 and an expansion into India and China  in Q1 2010.

Prior to Azure, David Gold established dstore in January 1999 and headed up the operation as Founder and Chief Executive Officer until December 2000.  Formerly Vice President, Business Development for LookSmart he was instrumental in forming critical partnerships to successfully launch dstore.

Before assuming this role he was based in San Francisco as Director of the LookSmart Network and one of the early employees at Looksmart.  He was responsible for its development from inception and the network became one of the largest ISP content networks in the United States and valued at over $5bn.

Returning to Australia in January 1998 to assume the role of Director, LookSmart Australia, Gold established and managed the LookSmart Australia business. Under his leadership, the company’s website consistently ranked among the top three web sites in Australia and had an extensive partnership network with companies such as OzEmail, Telstra, Pacific Access (now Sensis), NineMSN, Alta Vista, FAI, Netscape, Qantas, Commonwealth Bank, Fairfax, PBL Online, Excite/Liberty One and Microsoft. He later served as VP of Business Development for Looksmart.

Gold has won many awards and is widely recognised as one of Australia’s leading entrepreneurs and technology pioneers.

Describe yourself in 3 words: Motivated, Enthusiastic, Trustworthy.

What is your life motto? Where there’s a will there’s a way. 

When did you start pursuing your career and how long did it take to become successful? I got a bit lucky with the timing, but my career started in the early days of the dot com era, which were very exciting times to be entering the business community and for embarking on a career because there were so many business opportunities. Success came quite quickly in those days, (and it also depends on how you define success) because of being involved with the dot com boom and a number of start up businesses that have done quite well. It was quite a unique time.

How much time and effort did you dedicate to pursuing your dream? At the beginning I was single, I didn’t have a wife and a family – and now I have all that, so I was able to fully immerse myself in my career at that point in time. In fact I moved overseas to the US to be based in San Francisco, with LookSmart, which was obviously a very exciting time to be over there. In that time, because I didn’t have any dependants, I was really able to focus in setting up my career path.

What are the challenges in your line of work? It would be to ride the economy and the global situation in the challenging times, which you don’t necessarily foresee. I would say very much the markets and external factors: the state of the economy and the European net crisis. All those sorts of things impact on a number of businesses.

What is the mistake that taught you an extremely valuable lesson? I guess you make lots of mistakes along the way. I think the mistake earlier on was there was big focus to get big fast, growing businesses quite quickly and worrying about making a profit later and it was all focused on the top line and on revenue. I learnt very early on that ultimately a company has to have a real business in order to succeed longer term.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given to date? Focus on what you think is right and follow where your heart says it’s the right way to go. 

In your mind, is formal training essential? I think that is valuable. I think it gives one the opportunity to mature a little bit before embarking on a career as well as broadening ones education and understanding of a specific area; and ultimately ensuring it’s the right way you want your career to go. 

Do you think having a mentor is important? How would you go about getting one for this industry? I think it can be important in the sense of having someone to bounce ideas off and get feedback on certain things and to give one a sense of security. A mentor can be anyone really; it can be someone who’s achieved something in business, a friend – various individuals can fulfil the role of a mentor. 

What are some steps those starting out can take to start/further their career? I’m not a big believer in formalised structure around that because I think that often it doesn’t give one the flexibility to adapt. I don’t think there’s a set formula, circumstances change and external factors can play into that and personal lifestyle issues come into it and a business plan need to be dynamic. 

What kept you going when you weren’t at your best? Being motivated by new opportunities and new areas of interest. I think having a life outside of business is also important. I don’t think it’s healthy to be fully immersed in business, to live and breathe business in everything that you do. I think it actually benefits you in a business sense to take a step back.

Do you believe that ‘making it’ is about luck and being in the right place at the right time? As I mentioned earlier, I did get lucky with the timing with the dot com boom and it tying up the way it did when I decided to get involved in business. I mean there are opportunities all the time and it just about trying to find out what they are and pursue them.

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