My name is Liam Greinke. Final year Business (Accounting) and Laws student here at QUT interested in all things startups and philanthropy.
I was fortunate to meet Chris Hooper at a recent Office of the Queensland Chief Entrepreneur pop-up event in Brisbane. Chris is one of the co-founders of Accodex — a cloud-based platform empowering freelance accountants. He kindly agreed to share his story and his advice to aspiring accounting start-up founders at QUT.
In high school, Chris operated a fitness business out of the garage of his family home in Adelaide. Within three years, his garage business operation had morphed into an inner city fitness centre. It was his early exposure to managing and running a business that led Chris to pursue a degree in accounting. He decided that he needed to improve his business acumen and enrolled in an accounting degree in Adelaide.
The moment after he enrolled in an accounting degree, he sourced a mentor to guide him through the years to come. He connected with a senior accountant from a mid-tier firm in Adelaide that he had met through his time in the fitness industry. This was a pivotal connection for Chris and provided him with key insights that have helped to lead him to where he is today. His mentor advised him to, “get a job from day one…don’t wait until you graduate.” Following his mentors advice, Chris persistently engaged with accounting firms in Adelaide until he was employed a short three months after commencing his formal studies. This early exposure to the accounting industry proved to be influential for his start-up journey.
After completing university, Chris decided that he wanted to forge a career in start-ups. Except, he didn’t have the “killer” idea yet. He fortuitously decided that he should start up an accounting firm. At this point, Chris had a heightened understanding of the accounting profession for someone just 24 years old. While he was waiting for his “killer” idea, he began to encounter a number of problems that limited his ability to scale his business. Most interestingly, he realised that these problems were not unique to him and that freelance accountants all around the world were probably facing the exact same problems. This inspired Chris to co-found Accodex and to solve the problems that freelance accountants were facing on a daily basis. Accodex sets up all of the technological infrastructure and back office support infrastructure that empowers freelance accountants to start a scalable practice.
There are a number of key pieces of advice that Chris would like to share with aspiring accounting start-up founders at QUT.
- Seek out a mentor if you haven’t already.
- Don’t listen without actioning on the advice of your mentor.
- Aim to listen, personally reflect and implement.
- Once you have taken this advice to it’s end, then catch up with your mentor to discuss how you went.
- Thoughtfully consider how you can creatively add value or “pay it forward” in your mentoring relationship.
- Actively engage with the accounting industry and the startup ecosystem from day one.
- Take advantage of all the social and overseas study opportunities available to you.
- Proactively wrap your head around all of the software that is used in the accounting profession e.g. don’t wait to learn it when you start a role as an accountant.
- Stay up to date with the relevant disruptive technologies and link them back to native problems that you face in either your work in the profession or your daily life.
- Start developing startup friendly skills through involvement in startup weekends, hackathons, pre-accelerators, accelerators etc.
I decided to write this post to hopefully inspire accounting students who have not yet considered startups as a legitimate career path leading into the future. The key lesson that I have taken away from my chat with Chris is to understand the value that you as an accounting student can bring to a startup organisation. Especially, if you manage to build the generalist startup development skills throughout your time at university. The future of the accounting profession can be scary at times for graduates. Hopefully, this insight will empower you to see the value you can bring and the amazing things that you as an accounting student can achieve as an accountant, a starter or in life in general. There’s a plethora of paths out there for you all and I wish you all the best on your journeys.