Jarred Baker, 29, is the Founder and CEO of Groupee – a mobile app that makes it a hell of a lot easier to split bills amongst friends. Jarred came up with the idea of Groupee while taking a career break after selling off his clothing business, Saveus. He was working at Sydney’s Catalina Rose Bay when he discovered what a pain it is for both customers, and restaurants to split bills. Jarred shares his journey from studying HR and Business to jumping into the tech world.
I always wanted to do something in business as both my parents were company directors and they totally inspired me to do something on my own. My choice to pick Business with a HR major was a combination of the content and how versatile it was, but also because of the group of people I was studying with and wanting to experience uni with them.
I tend to take each opportunity on the basis of how excited I am by the business, with an emphasis on working with purpose driven people when I take on new projects. My career is varied and I’m so glad that I have had the opportunity to work across such a broad spectrum of projects. It makes me far more agile in business with all this diversity under my belt.
I met my business partner of Saveus through work and she immediately inspired me to back her talent and go into a partnership where we could leverage her creative talents and I could bring my business experience to create a business that we ran for almost 4 years, including 5 stores, employing over 15 people.
The changing fashion landscape both locally and internationally made it very difficult for a new label to grow without access to significant capital investment. It was a difficult decision to close the label, but the decision was made because we felt we were working so hard for so little, it was killing our passion for the industry and we couldn’t see this changing in the foreseeable future. We offloaded the production side of the business and the label itself, after our last international fashion week in Malaysia, was put to bed.
I was burnt out from working on my own business that I wanted something that was flexible and stress free so I decided to take a career break and work in my friend’s family restaurant. I had absolutely no idea what my next move was going to be at the time, but I knew that my end game wasn’t to work for someone else. I still really wanted to do my own thing.
I realised through my work that split bills universally sucked. Restaurants couldn’t stand offering it to their customers. It created errors, it kept customers that had stopped spending money in the restaurant and they almost always lost the tip they’d worked hours for. For customers, they hated it just as much. It was always a dampener on a meal – this cringe worthy moment at the end of a lunch took the shine off even the loveliest of events. As I walked around a table of 10 people, swiping cards over and over, listening to people squabble about their bill, knowing very well that I wasn’t getting any kickback, I knew there had to be a way to fix it. 2 years later – Groupee was born!
The biggest lesson is that an idea is only as good as it’s execution. Sometimes even the best ideas don’t get off the ground because the work surrounding communicating the ideas message to customers doesn’t land. We are constantly working on crystallising Groupee’s value proposition for both new and existing users. It’s something that we will evolve constantly.
Short term wage reduction is for me, the most visible sacrifice I have made starting my own business. When you are pre revenue you cannot draw a big wage, especially when you are investor funded. This is meant that I have had to miss out on some exciting things that my friends who are established in their career get to do. It is a short term sacrifice though as the benefits of leading my own business will hopefully make this sacrifice worth it in the future.
I love that I am building a business that solves a problem for my two customers: restaurants who hate the inefficiency around splitting bills and customers who are screaming out for a solution to an age old problem. I love that everyday is different and get to come into the office and work hard and immediately see the effects of my teams hard work. I love that I watch every new user register for Groupee and watching people see the value in the product is something that I find immensely rewarding. I definitely believe I’m on the way to creating my dream job as the founder of Groupee.
Starting your own business is not for the feint hearted and be sure to question your logic, judgement and faith many times through the journey. What sets entrepreneurs aside from your regular job goer is the ever present desire to go above and beyond, to dare to try something out of the box and a little crazy and to have a true belief in the problem you have set out to solve.
It is this tenacity and resilience which means I as an entrepreneur will never be fulfilled in a regular job as it is this ride that gets me out of bed everyday, happy to take an immense risk for the chance of building something that changes the way people pay.