Unfiltered co-founder and CEO Jake Millar sat down in Palo Alto, California, with the co-founder and CEO of Crimson Education, an edtech start-up that supports students to achieve their potential.
Jamie Beaton is the 1% of the 1%. After being named dux of his high school, King’s College, in 2012, the Aucklander applied for the world’s top 25 universities – and was accepted into them all. He chose to study at Harvard, where he completed both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in just three years, an undertaking that would usually take five.
While there, he worked for hedge-fund billionaire Julian Robertson’s Tiger Management, becoming the company’s youngest-ever analyst at age 19. In 2016, he was named New Zealand’s Student Entrepreneur and Young Innovator of the Year, and, in 2017, he appeared on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list.
At just 24 years old, Jamie has recently completed an MBA at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He’s also the CEO of Crimson Education, a disruptive edtech start-up, valued at a reported US$160 million, that he co-founded (with Sharndre Kushor) in 2013, when he was just 17.
JAKE: Jamie, what you’ve achieved is truly extraordinary for a 24-year-old. What makes you different?
JAMIE: Having my mother, Paula, as a role model. She started her own company when she was a single mother, so I would go with her to work. I was really inspired by her grit, how enterprising she was and her passion for education. She had an MBA, a law degree, a commerce degree and a chartered accounting degree, and saw education as a pathway to opportunity for her and her family.
JAKE: What other factors do you think have enabled you to achieve so much at such a young age?
JAMIE: I’m obsessed with personal growth. Every year, I act like I’m starting from scratch. I rediscover new mentors I want to learn from and aim for continual progress in myself. This forces me to be the best version of myself every year.
JAKE: How have you managed to juggle so many things at once?
JAMIE: First of all, I manage my time really effectively. I focus on things that I really care about, and cut out basically everything else. Any day-to-day activities that I can outsource, I’ll outsource – cleaning, cooking. I just want to be working on Crimson or building a new skill; I want to focus everything on the business. I’ve realised that, by honing in on a few things you really thrive on and enjoy, you can spend every waking hour of your day on them.
By the same token, I also find that juggling a bunch of things at once enables you to do each one better because you get a lot of creative exposure. For example, when I was at Tiger investing in equities around the globe, visiting CEOs and flying around the world looking at companies, I was also building Crimson, and was able to see similarities between business models and trends that have made companies successful, and take those learnings straight back. My experience of taking classes at Harvard while working at Crimson has been similar.
The second thing is being part of a team. I’ve always believed that you can’t really achieve very much by yourself; you need to have a truly global, scaled, empowered team. So, at Crimson, we’ve built a strong team that’s helped us to really thrive.
JAKE: You’re seriously laser-focused, but you love movies, right?!
JAMIE: I do, I do! I think you’ve got to have balance and I do want to have that creative, fun time every week. I think there’s so much you can learn from interesting stories in movies, literature or conversation. Seeing how people react when things are going well or badly, and the types of mistakes they make can help you avoid the same pitfalls and improve your chances of success.
JAKE: Where did you idea for Crimson Education originate?
JAMIE: I was fortunate to be on an academic scholarship to one of New Zealand’s strongest schools, King’s College. If any school in New Zealand was going to have good resources for career counselling and overseas opportunities, it would probably be King’s – but it was limited. I’d been applying to all these universities and had some success, and I saw a gap between what schools were providing and what I’d done to enable my successful applications. I saw that I could fill that gap with Crimson.
Initially, I was focusing on a niche market – supporting kids in New Zealand who were applying to Ivy League schools – because I think it’s better to nail a niche market and get the word of mouth cranking, build traction and go from there. But I quickly realised that the problem I was helping to solve was a global one.
I’d done nearly four years of detailed market research while applying for universities, studying students who had successfully gone overseas. That gave me a good understanding of who was applying from where and which schools were hot and not – and enough confidence to jump into it.
JAKE: So what does success lookslike for you 10 years from now?
JAMIE: Success for me looks like
changing the global conversation, changing government policy, changing how people are learning and really creating the next era of education. In my view, education is the highest-impact way to change someone’s socioeconomic circumstances and ability to contribute to society.
JAKE: What’s the achievement that you’re the most proud of so far?
JAMIE: I grew up with my grandad as the father figure in my life. When I tell him about what we’re doing in the UK or the impact we’re having on students, seeing his mind blown by my stories and that excitement on his face is amazing, because he really believed in me. Seeing his and my mum’s happiness is the most rewarding thing.
JAKE: What’s your billion-dollar piece of professional advice?
JAMIE: Find something you’re obsessed with and that you can take pride in being a part of, and relentlessly pursue it. Because if you pursue a true passion, you can become better at it than anybody else in the world. And that’s what it takes to build a billion-dollar business.
See the full interview and more inspired stories of business brilliance free at UNFILTERED.TV