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Want millennials? Don’t stitch them up, says Afterpay’s Anthony Eisen

The Technology Fast 50 program ranks the 50 fastest growing public or private technology companies, based on percentage revenue growth over three years. The competition has been running since 2000 and the 2019 program was proudly sponsored in Australia by the ASX, DLA Piper and NAB. In this blog series, we take a look at the 2019 winners to find out how they got to where they are. 

Afterpay Touch Group won the Tech Fast 50 Leadership award with an impressive 810% growth rate. We chat to co-founder and CEO Anthony Eisen, who tells us how to get millennials on board and his five key business insights.

Anthony Eisen’s philosophy for winning over millennials is simple. Don’t stitch them up.

The CEO and co-founder of Australian fin-tech company Afterpay, winners of our 2019 Tech Fast 50 Leadership award, says that mutual trust was key to building their audience and customer base.

“Afterpay started out as a word of mouth brand, we didn’t advertise and we were effectively trusting strangers to pay us back. The fact we were empowering people to manage their finances, trusting them and not ‘stitching them up’ is what built brand advocacy,” says Anthony.

Millennials and finance companies aren’t natural playmates, but the company has disrupted the payment industry and tapped into the generation’s psyche of using their own money to get what they want without going into debt for it. As a result, their customers appear happy to wave the flag for the brand.

“Once they used the product and saw how easy it was, they became brand ambassadors. They told their friends and family and once they told their friends and family, they started telling their favourite brands to get on board and we felt the snowball effect,” he says.

It’s this organic publicity that has helped the brand build a social licence and ultimately attract new customers and retailers.

Another handy way to attract customers is have one of the world’s most famous people tweet about your service.

When they launched into the US market in 2018, Kim Kardashian West teamed up with Afterpay on her beauty and fragrance retail sites and then tweeted about their service to her millions of Twitter followers. The company was instantly endorsed to a global audience.

While most companies won’t have a Kardashian tweet about them, Anthony believes another path to business success is to continually deliver value to the people who matter most.

“Getting started is always the first challenge to overcome. Thereafter it is all about proving your right to exist by delivering very apparent value to our two ultimate stakeholders - customers and merchants.”

With an 810% growth rate in 2019 and an ever-increasing list of customers and retailers signing up to their service, it looks like business will continue to boom for Afterpay.

Anthony’s six key insights for business success

“Don’t stitch them up! Trust, loyalty and never wavering from what you do best is what makes millennial customers sticky.”

“My relationship with Nick (Molner – co-founder) has always worked well as we complement one another.  The key is to know your strengths, your partner's strengths and stick to each of your own lanes with no ego.”

“Your team is everything. To build a high performing team, you need to hire people who are 110% invested in what you are trying to achieve and aligned to your culture as a brand.

“Balancing who you need now as opposed to two years down the track is always the challenge, so you need to try and visualise where you will be in two years as a business and find someone that can meet in the middle of where you are now, but can grow into what you will need down the track.”

“Never waiver from your vision, build and maintain a high performing and loyal team, know your customer back to front, find or strengthen your economic moat, make your product better whilst remaining simple.”

“It's great for the team to receive recognition for their hard work. Afterpay is here because of our group of high performing dedicated staff members. We do it for them.”

“Afterpay won the Tech Fast 50 Leadership award and for me being a leader means having determination, remaining pragmatic and maintaining accountability, being able to define and live your core values, being honest and sharing your vulnerabilities with your team."

“Afterpay had to forge a path for itself and disrupt the status quo in a long-established category, so my final tip is to focus on the things that move the needle.”

Find out about more about the awards, meet all the 2019 Tech Fast 50 Australia winners and pre-register for 2020 Tech Fast 50.