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Fred Schebesta

Director and Co-founder of finder.com.au

Fred Schebesta

"Start small and build from there. Great companies start from small beginnings. There is real beauty in being small and operating like that. Stay focused and adapt to the changes you see in the beginning."

Fred Schebesta is the co-founder of finder.com.au, a website that helps Australians compare credit cards, savings accounts, home loans, personal loans, travel insurance, life insurance, shopping deals and more.

Fred was inspired to enter the financial comparison space as he realised the need for Australians to compare financial products and switch, in order to help them save money and avoid traps.

To help pioneer upcoming businesses Fred was elected as an awards judge for the startupsmart.com.au Startup Smart Awards in both 2011 and 2012. He was also selected as winner of Anthill's 30 under 30 in 2008.

1 In a couple of short sentences, tell us about what you studied and how your career path evolved over time.

I started studying actuarial studies with computer science. I was quite terrible at probability and just changed to finance and computer science. Unfortunately, I started building my first business at university and didn't quite finish all of the units required to get the double degree and just ended up with a finance degree. After starting my first business I went on to build and sell it with my business partner Frank Restuccia. We then set up a financial comparison service called finder.com.au and have recently expanded it to the world with finder.com. I needed and have used my finance degree to get a credit license for the business and it has also helped me with a lot of the financial mathematics that we use for the financial calculators on the website.

2 In your opinion, what three qualities are required to become a successful entrepreneur in Australia?

Persistence - you will struggle for the first three years. You need to persist through that, keep adapting, and keep innovating.
Focus - you must be able to keep laser focus on what your main business is and not get distracted.
Take your time - don't rush. Lay a solid careful brick, one after the other. Great businesses take time.

3 What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?

I have always been challenged by getting focused on too many ideas. Sometimes, I have had to stop entire projects because I just didn't have the bandwidth to support it. Staying focused on one thing is one of the hardest lessons I learnt when we had to shut down some of our websites that were even making money because it was all too much to manage.

4 How can we inspire more young people to become entrepreneurs in Australia?

I think it all starts with the paradigms and perceptions of an entrepreneur in Australia. I think if we start talking positively about entrepreneurialism and as children [have it] described as a career path like a doctor or lawyer, then you will start to see the neural pathways develop in kids. You don't know you can start a business until you leave university and see other people doing it.

5 What advice would you offer students thinking about starting their own business?

Start small and build from there. Great companies start from small beginnings. There is real beauty in being small and operating like that. Stay focused and adapt to the changes you see in the beginning. It's OK to completely change your path, but always keep punching.

6 What's next for you?

It's taken me nine years to finally launch a global business and I intend on fulfilling that mission of a global comparison service with finder.com all the way till the end.

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