How would you describe your career journey?
I would describe my career journey - from PwC senior accountant to tech entrepreneur - as varied, rewarding and a bit unusual. After PwC, I moved into an industry based accounting role with Australian Alpine Enterprises. I then transitioned into technology as the CFO of 99designs and the broader Sitepoint Group (some of Australia’s most successful startups), falling in love with the tech industry. This culminated with my purchase of Wave Digital, an app development company, in 2013. The common thread – a keen interest in business. Today, as Managing Director of Wave Digital, one of the aspects I value the most is talking to different business owners from a variety of industries, learning about their organisations and providing refreshing and honest advice on opportunities for growth.
Can you tell us a bit more about Wave Digital?
Wave Digital is a Melbourne-based app development company that designs and develops bespoke mobile and web apps. We work with founders, business owners and government leaders to understand their business goals and match those with a tailored digital product. Our aim is to use our expertise in technology to build apps that grow businesses and make lives better.
In such a competitive industry, a key differentiator is my experience as a Chartered Accountant. That I come from a commercially driven, professional services background means I can have conversations with business owners and senior executives on their terms.
How did working at PwC help shape your career?
PwC provided me with ‘career fundamentals’ – standards that have guided me in every role I have held. I also look for these when hiring. They are a commitment to high quality delivery, attention to detail, clear and transparent communication and most importantly, a strong focus on customer service.
Wave Digital has created a number of apps in the Health Industry, how is app technology advancing our healthcare?
Over the past few years, there has been significant growth in the number of people globally using health and fitness apps and medical apps. You can see the impact of this increase in healthcare apps in two key areas – access and prevention. Mobile apps are enabling people in remote communities, including in developing countries, to more easily access medical information and advice.
What I find particularly exciting is how apps are starting to enable individuals to take a more proactive and preventative approach to managing their own healthcare. The Apple watch and its ‘HealthKit’ and ‘ECG’ features are a great example of this. Apps that complement and support our clinicians to deliver health care by enabling individuals to better monitor and manage their health (where appropriate), not only make clinicians lives easier, but can contribute to improved health outcomes.
The introduction of AI, robotics and data analytics have changed the way we work - what are 3 things we need to be mindful of when using this technology?
All of these technologies are exciting and have a lot of potential. But one thing to be mindful of with any new wave of technology, is that we don’t try and use them just because they are new (‘Let’s add some AI too!’). This means accepting that these technologies do not always need to be a part of the solution in order to make lives better. Obviously we have seen that these technologies have significant implications for our privacy and we need to be mindful of how we share our information and how it will be kept secure. Lastly, to get the most out of AI, robotics and data analytics requires depth of expertise and specialist knowledge. Business leaders are familiar with engaging lawyers and accountants, but it will now be important to enlist the services of a broader range of professionals, like data scientists and AI engineers, to get value from these emerging technologies and disciplines.
Wave Digital’s mantra is ‘better lives’ technology - What piece of technology makes your life better and why?
Facetime. I am a business owner and a Dad of 4 year old twin girls, and although I do my best to strike a balance, there are days when I can’t make it home before bedtime. Facetime means I can still listen to my daughters stories and say goodnight.
Are you an Android or iPhone man?
I am definitely an iPhone man and have been for some time. Of course, I don’t let my personal preference get in the way of building an awesome Android app!
What advice do you have for our readers wanting to develop an app?
I would say that the fantastic thing about modern technology is that anyone is able to build a digital product. There are low barriers to entry and you do not need to have a background in tech. To improve your chances of success, the most important thing you can do is spend a lot of time upfront to really understand the problem you are trying to solve. You also need to be very specific about who is affected by the problem (ie the audience for your app). The only way to do this is to be ‘close to your customer’, whether existing or potential - go out and have a chat! By focusing on people first rather than a long list of features, you will create a solid foundation for building a successful digital product and business.
What's next for Guy Cooper?
Next for me is to get more involved and active in the startup community. I love being able to combine my unique career background in business, technology and innovation to provide advice and mentorship.
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