Plenty of joy at Prosper HQ from the news that we have been chosen in the top 100 companies from over 700 applicants for Australian Anthill’s Cool Company Awards 2018. Business awards are a common phenomenon on a state, commonwealth and global stage, but for entrepreneurial start-ups, often the things that make you great aren’t measurable in a cut and dried, metrics driven way. Enter the Cool Company Awards.
Australian Anthill, founded by publishing entrepreneur James Tuckerman in his mum’s garage in 2003 has always been a little maverick, a little maven. It was the first hard copy magazine to focus on Australian entrepreneurs, and when the writing was on the wall for paper based products to go digital, the business led the way there too, sharing its own story alongside thousands of Australian start-ups as it navigated the pivot, fund, scale and grow cycle. What better organisation then to instigate awards based on some of the usual suspects: innovation, growth, social good, export, tech, service and online with the critical X factor of cool.
But how does cool play into the specs to get a guernsey in the top 100? It has to be embedded in culture, demonstrated through behaviour and tied to an amazing product that solves a problem for the market, all of which of course leads to sales and growth. Prosper is a relatively young company in that our product was launched into market in 2017 after 18 months of laser focussed development. While that development was happening, alongside the product was a lot of consideration of what type of company we wanted to be. We didn’t just want to make a product that was excellent, we wanted to be a place to work that was also excellent, and would be the kind of place people would want to be part of.
For the Founders that meant a workplace that was open and transparent, loaded with diversity and drew its culture from having many different people as contributors. That diversity was cultural, but also gender based: we didn’t want to be another tech company with an all male bench of execs doing the tech and business and a lone female doing the (so called) soft skills role. Prosper has recruited for all those things, and we are stoked to have an exec team with over 50% women (including CPO, Head of Country for China, Director, Corporate Affairs and Regional Manager, Marketing). Our staff are from Australia, Thailand, China, England, Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Scotland. We suspect these are some of the cool factors that got us into the Cool Company’s Top 100.
But our product is a little bit cool too, as it disrupts the way English is taught to young learners, with a curriculum that has Growth Mindset and social and emotional skills built into every part of it, embedded into the design of the tech, and reflected in our values, ways of working and solving problems. As a business, we have to do what our product does and says: we seek to give 100 million children globally an incredible beginning, so we have to live, work and breathe those incredible beginnings for ourselves and our company. As we say in growth mindset, we’re not there…yet! But our recognition in the Anthill Top 100 Cool Companies means we are definitely on track.