Hi there – I’m Richard Poole and I’m keen to help you make progress with your business. I seek to ask you the right questions and I do what I say I’ll do.
When we achieve business progress, we often also progress in our work-life ‘happy place’ and life itself, which is hopefully a great thing!
I love business and I’ve been very fortunate to have been around it all of my life.
Literally my first memory of life is walking around my grandfather’s business with my father, looking at all that was going on near the busy wharves. I can distinctly recall the smells and general feeling when stopping and staring at all the big stuff in their central gearstore.
20+ years later, I ended up working with my father in that same business as a 4th generation family member, for a period of 5 years.
It’s a bond and something special that I’ll certainly never forget.
In 2002, I decided to create the Co-Pilot® brand, having returned from travelling and being presented with some opportunities to work alongside businesses and organisations, to help guide them with their various challenges, as and when required.
‘Co-Pilot’ seemed to fit well with the type of work, whereby a business owner gained confidence from having someone beside them for a specific requirement or to be there along their journey, although not looking to control their business in any way.
Many chapters have been experienced over the past 25 years in business, made up of working in two family businesses and being a business owner & manager in two of my own businesses, culminating in my ongoing Co-Pilot® journey, arriving at today’s offering & approach.
Real-life experience that spans both business and life, has collectively provided the tools, knowledge, skills, patience and personality, to help with either one-off projects or ongoing delivery across multiple business functions.
With any assignment, I always have a genuine desire to also help the business to be ready for exit at any time. So many things can happen. A plan is helpful.
So what have I experienced in a business sense?
Background & chapters
BCom: Marketing, Management Science & Information Systems – Auckland University.
Mercedes-Benz: Product Marketing across Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles & trucks, including the introduction of the SSangYong brand (powered by Mercedes-Benz) into NZ, with the family-owned Giltrap Group.
Leonard & Dingley (now Toll Holdings/C4 Cargo): Worked in our then ~90 year old family business, as a 4th generation family member, including founding a successful subsidiary venture outside of our union-heavy industry, with ~100 staff. After I’d left to go overseas, my Dad sold the businesses to Toll Holdings.
Co-Pilot®: Founded and grew across commercial and non-profit projects, with a network of professionals.
GrownUps®: Founded and as a result of the rapid growth, managed the business over a 10 year period as an SME company 100% NZ-owned, selling to Cigna, the 13th largest company on the Fortune 500, in 2016. I then worked to transition the business into Cigna over a two year period, leaving in late 2018. Cigna has since sold GrownUps.
What was GrownUps® all about?
We’d seen an opportunity to create an online lifestyle magazine, social club, brain training and product/service hub for the active and growing 50+ demographic – and so a couple of us built it…and fortunately people came!
What did I get to do?
> set up and ran the business. My business partner wasn’t operationally active in the business
> negotiated a 20% stake with Sentinel/Seniors Finance (now part of Heartland Bank), a few months post start-up (then later bought back);
> negotiated a JV (Joint Venture) with Yellow Pages (then a ~$2.2B company) just prior to the GFC, two years post start-up (then later bought back);
> negotiated with 4 x local and international Media & PE companies keen to purchase GrownUps at various times but it never quite worked out;
> with an offer out of the blue, negotiated a successful sale to Cigna, the 67th largest company on the Fortune 500, 10 years post start-up…it took about a year and was an adventure in itself, however I learned a lot!
> Integrated the operations over a contracted two-year period
> Left the business
> Cigna sold the business in 2021 and now coming full circle, I’m doing a little bit of work for the new local owner
What did GrownUps® ‘achieve’?
As NZ’s largest website specifically for the growing 50+ audience, GrownUps enjoyed up to 200,000 monthly visitors and had around 150,000 members interacting with the 10,000 mostly unique articles & content items, a broad array of features and the usual competitions and goodies, all of which aimed to make life better for any visitor or member of the site.
What have I learned, experienced and faced?
Along with some of these wins, there is also the reality of business life. The really tough stuff. Like, really tough stuff. Staring into the abyss, at times.
Over various businesses there have been countless hands-on, real-life, daily grind experiences including going without pay, hearing ‘No’ countless times, never being able to fully switch off due to running an online 24/7 business, staff trying to defraud the business, hiring in desperation and knowing immediately that we’d made the wrong decision, shareholder challenges, working around the clock, calling people to literally beg them to pay their bills, firing people, laying people off, spending money in the wrong areas and generally regularly questioning what we were doing it all for.
All the while it has been critical to do my best to practise perseverance and to not give up. Maintaining health & wellbeing, juggling important friendships and of course ensuring a quality family life as best as possible despite what’s going on with work, has always been at the core.
Since January 2019 and after some amazing time out with family, I decided to get back to Co-Pilot®, working alongside business founders, owners and senior managers to help them get a better night’s sleep. Having worked with around 100 businesses overall, I’m currently working with 30+ business owners & some senior managers, across a range of industries, throughout New Zealand and I love it!
Learn about working with Richard, Co-Pilot® and our network.
As well as providing practical help via reviews, audits, action plans, implementation etc., I’m keen to ensure that the mistakes I’ve made and learned from during the journey, are ideally not repeated by other businesses, so that owners can achieve success sooner.
I tell it how I see it and seek to pinpoint pain points up front, before looking at a longer term plan to be business ready to grow, change, scale, partner, attract capital, enact a succession plan or sell outright.
May we help you be better business ready and make progress today?
Co-Pilot® is a registered Regional Business Partner. If your project fits within the criteria, there is the potential to apply for a Capability Voucher to assist with funding for up to 50% of an assignment’s value (maximum $5000 + GST funding). e.g. Mini Due-Diligence, Discovery & Prioritised Action Planning that works, to solve Problems (to make Progress)