Mick Carr

Mick Carr has a proven track record of driving start-up companies from concept, through to commercialisation and profit. He has delivered significant growth to global leading companies across a diverse range of product categories.

An entrepreneur by nature, Mick showcased his nose for business at 8 years old when he bought Mother’s Day flowers from the back streets of Kurri Kurri and sold bunches half the size for the same amount on the main road. His ideas got more refined at 23, when Mick designed, built and launched a full commercial laundromat, securing 90% of underground mine sites throughout the Hunter Valley. At 27, Mick developed, built and commercialised an innovative solution to market for safety equipment that changed an industry and started an incredible 9-year relationship with the Fortune 500 company, 3M.

In 2016, Mick Carr founded The Village Co, a brand that designs radical solutions that disrupt the foodservice industry, revolutionising the way the Australian hospitality sector accesses the latest technological trends. In 2018, Mick, with the support of The Village Co formal advisory board, sub-brand Grub Lab was born, a kids entertainment solution for hospitality venues using Augmented Reality technology, which promotes returning new customers in an innovative and dynamic way.

With a team of 16 in the Hunter Valley, the business goes from strength to strength as collaborations with the NRL and AFL take Grub Lab to new heights, with the latest collaboration bringing the fun and excitement of the NRL off the field and into venues. The NRL Heroes Scan & Play series includes a 13 page activity booklet and collectable sticker pack, with 4 collectable versions released throughout the year which include all 16 team mascot characters. Mick’s passion and drive for The Village Co is to help as many businesses as possible to grow and overcome the challenges of running a business, by delivering platforms and technology that allows for collaborations and access to resources that may normally be out of reach.

Where did the idea for Grub Lab come from?

After several successful start-ups, a successful exit and spending 3 years with a Fortune 500 company in an innovation project role, I decided it was time to scratch the itch again and have another crack at a start-up. However, this time I was passionate about doing something to help local businesses. It had to be scalable, fun and make a difference to people’s lives. After submerging myself in the foodservice industry, the nugget of gold we found was that in the super lucrative family dining sector, where we found that 93% of all family dining decisions were influenced by the kids, yet most venues didn’t give this sector of the market any attention. Being the dad of 3 super active boys and a bloke that loves dining out having a beer and a dessert, I felt no one was better positioned or motivated to solve this problem than me.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I start work at 5:30am. This gives me a chance to get out of my head with a vacant office and set up all of my critical actions for the day. My boys get dropped off at my office at 8am, where I give them breakfast, spend a bit of time with them and then drop them off at school. I feel lucky to be in a position where I can see my boys before and after school most days. In terms of managing my workload we use Jira, Confluence and a strategic action plan that captures and drives all decisions in our business.

How do you bring ideas to life?

QUICKLY! We will often build rapid prototypes to test. We use a process that we call dartboarding to uncover potential ideas and features and we use this same process to solve business problems really quickly. In these sessions, we get everyone involved to ensure we’re creating clever solutions in a timely and effective manner. That’s why I insist on the whole team getting stuck in, from sales to design, to marketing, finance and tech, we’re all throwing some wild ideas around and having a good laugh whilst we’re doing it. Heck, my kids and wife joined in on one last week. Some good fun and incredible ideas were brought to the table.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Hyper-local. We believe that local business owners are salt of the earth people and pillars of so many Australian communities. Our goal is to support them by bringing big business thinking in a cost effective and scalable way.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Resourcefulness, being a networking wizard, and employing smarter people than me.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Think bigger.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

No one in the team believes me, but I’m taking the whole team to “The Edge” of Australia on a big pink bus for 12 months. We’re going to work from the bus and explore this awesome country once travel restrictions between states have been fully lifted!

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Trust that the universe has your back.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Identify a problem, develop a solution then partner with the biggest and best company in that field to help execute it

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Heart Failure. 3 years of living with constant stress and anxiety resulted in my heart functioning at 15%. The shock from a defibrillator 3 times, getting my heart stopped 3 times with medication. A near death experience forces you to evaluate everything you are doing. As a company we engaged Andrew Hughes as an executive coach which has transformed our executive team and me personally more than any of us could have imagined.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

“Strip a tonne out of your town” a marketing promo for gyms and PT’s, get 100 people to sign up to lose 10KG each over 1 month. P.S. Can someone set this up in Kurri Kurri because I desperately need to lose 10kg!

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

10 Espresso Martinis for my team to celebrate the launch of Grub Lab’s new collaboration with NRL that features the NRL mascots within our Grub Lab activity packs in hospitality venues nationwide.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Slack, we have multiple channels set up. There are specific channels where we can have fun, making it a great tool to help build team culture. It has been fundamental in keeping both the fun and dream alive through lockdowns!

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Shoe Dog: A Memoir By The Creator of Nike. For anyone who hasn’t had a start up this is the closest representation of what our Grub Lab journey has looked like. Knight nails the extreme highs and lows of getting a great idea off the ground.

What is your favorite quote?

You haven’t failed until you quit.
– Albert Einstein

Key Learnings:

  • Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.
  • Always create a fun working environment – this breeds creativity.
  • Always back yourself and your decisions, if you fail, you learn from it.
  • Life is short, so enjoy it!