The Foundry Co-Founder, Stephen Ring shares his advice about building successful, global businesses and the importance of taking your time to do things right.
What motivated you to co-create The Foundry?
I absolutely didn’t need to be in business again, but I wanted to. At The Foundry, Mike and I have brought together an experienced team of people and we’re financially stable, which means we can enjoy the good fun of running a business without having to worry about the sleepless nights.
We also don’t have to rush anything and we don’t have to panic. We are so fortunate that we can take our time and do things properly and with an amazing team. After my many, many years in business, I’ve learned taking your time and being patient is so important to achieve success.
For me, the most appealing thing about The Foundry is being able to work on brands and products we’re passionate about and with a group of people who are inspiring, talented and great to be around.
I believe business is the best thing you can do. When you do it well, it offers such fabulous freedom. The relationships I create with people I do business with are the same as my relationships with my friends and family and I believe that is so important. You need to have honest and open relationships to ensure the journey you’re on together in business is a positive experience.
Tell us about The Foundry team.
It was clear to Mike and I, that every business needs support from marketing, finance and operations – these are the fundamentals required to ensure it can succeed and grow. Our team is made up of experts across these fields, with experience working with some of Australia’s most renowned and successful brands including Swisse, Aesop, Mecca and Cotton On, all of which have seen huge growth in the past five years.
Mike (Da Gama Pinto) is an honest, decent and extremely talented man. It’s that simple. He’s an amazing mentor to our team and he’s keeps us pointed in the right direction. He’s also a great friend and we both feel very grateful to be working together again and seeing where we can take The Foundry with our team.
After the sale of Swisse, Mike and I were both on the same page; we didn’t have to get back into business. But we really wanted to and that’s the key. We want to work, we want to work with great brands and we want to work with brilliant people and that’s what we’re doing.
How is The Foundry different?
The Foundry is different to other private equity firms and this was intentional. We have people in our team who are extremely talented and most importantly are passionate about what they do, it’s all about sharing their expertise with our partners, not just writing cheques.
The beauty about business is no one really knows what to do, until they start doing it and learn as you go. At Swisse, we made every mistake in the book and we now look at this experience as a completely invaluable learning curve for us as business people. We can now cut years off our new journey at The Foundry because we have so much first-hand experience of what does and doesn’t work. We can learn from these mistakes. We were part of one of the most successful private companies that was ever sold in Australia and we feel privileged to share this insight and experience with other founders to help them not make the same mistakes and see their businesses achieve their full potential.
What attracted you to WelleCo and Hunter Lab?
Both of our first two investments, being WelleCo and Hunter Lab, presented an incredible opportunity for us; they are both premium Australian brands, leading and innovating in their own space within the health, wellness and beauty industries – an area I’m really passionate about and we feel confident and excited about the growth in this category and the opportunities for these brands.
I believe WelleCo has driven the global idea of beauty from within. Much more than just a statement, it is this concept that underpins everything WelleCo does as a business and the merging of the health and wellness industries with beauty.
Hunter Lab saw an opportunity in the premium, natural skincare space, targeting the modern hunter who appreciates design and aspirational experiences and we are excited to introduce this super-natural brand to new markets and secure strong global growth.
Where do you see The Foundry in 10 years?
Put simply, I hope The Foundry will continue to grow its portfolio of brands, so we can continue supporting founders to create successful global businesses, while creating positive relationships with the people we work with along the way.
And finally, any advice for entrepreneurs who are about to embark on their own business journey?
Business should be fun, but it also takes a lot of hard work. Be patient – this is so important. Building a brand takes time and you can’t rush it or take short cuts. Take the time to do things right.
Surround yourself with a good team; whether it be your business partners, investors, consultants or employees – you are only as good as your team, so choose people you want to spend time with, who are talented in their fields, who fill a gap in your skillset and who will support you through the challenges and will be there to celebrate your wins. I have been lucky to be surrounded with talented people in the past and plan on continuing to do this in the future.