Julian Cook (Fr 2005) is the Founder & CEO of ‘Howamigoing’, an online tool that streamlines peer-to-peer professional feedback processes. It allows companies to implement performance appraisals, feedback sessions and help employees get ongoing professional development.
Growing up in Inverell, a small town in rural NSW, Julian decided to move to Sydney to attend university. It was a no-brainer for him to attend Drew’s, as he recalls “St Andrew’s was for me the most beautiful of the Colleges – stunning grand buildings mixed with spacious sporting grounds. Dr Porges, Wayne and the then Senior Student, Mike Woodward, were all incredibly welcoming from the moment I arrived, which made the choice easy.”
He studied a Bachelor of Science (Advanced Mathematics) (Honours) at the University of Sydney. An all-rounder, Julian was on the rugby team but more involved in the academic side of College life, being an active tutor. His favourite part of attending St Andrew’s were the people. Like many others before him, he arrived in Sydney not knowing anybody but left College with a large, diverse and close group of friends (many of whom have later become his investors and advisors!).
There was a sense that everyone was accepted, respected and valued for who they were. To this day, 13 years since I first arrived, I’d have no hesitation picking up the phone to a hundred people from St Andrew’s and we’d be able to chat as if no time has passed.
Drew’s became Julian’s ‘home away from home’ – somewhere he never felt alone, a place where he could easily have great food, a retreat with friends every day, and only a ten-minute walk from class. He said this supportive environment helped him focus on doing well at university.
After graduating, Julian accepted a graduate role in Mergers & Acquisitions with an Investment Bank. This kicked off his six-year career amongst the most renowned Funds Management and investment banks – Gresham Partners, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan. During his time, he realised that the system for gathering and giving professional feedback was incredibly inefficient, meaning many young employees were not getting the ongoing constructive criticism and personal development they needed. He moved to London in 2015 to further investigate the problem and discovered it was a global occurrence – yet no-one had solved the problem. Julian then decided to build a team to develop a modern cloud-based solution that was designed with Millennials in mind. After achieving product-market fit, and securing some clients in early 2018, he completed a Seed Fundraising, quit his job at J.P. Morgan, and went full-time with Howamigoing. The business already has a global client base across the UK, Europe and Australasia!
He said the path to starting your own business is tricky – a solo path – with everything stacked against you. There are many great books on starting your own business, but every start-up is different, Julian said, and there isn’t one way to go from an idea to profitability. However, he said it’s the “most rewarding and enjoyable thing”.
Currently, Julian still lives in London with his wife, Sonya. They love travelling to Italy and Spain with a small group of friends over the weekend when they’re not working on Howamigoing. He would love the business to expand to a team of 30 (currently they have 10 staff), where they love turning up to work every day and their feedback platform is putting a smile on the faces of thousands of employees across the globe.
His advice to young Androvian’s wanting to branch out on their own is:
Work hard while you’re at College and make a conscious effort to get to know everyone! Then get a job, any job. Work hard for 3-5 years and save as much money as you can. Then quit your job, use that money to travel the world and come up with a business idea that could change people’s lives for the better. It’ll be scary as hell but life’s too short and the world is too connected to just live for a mortgage and your next promotion. Take some calculated risks. Putting ego aside, what’s really the worst that could happen?
Grateful for all the career advice he received at College and shortly after, Julian is a big advocate of returning the favour and is happy for anyone reading this to contact him for a chat – firstname.lastname@example.org.