Personal and professional challenges have informed Tyler Spooner’s approach to leading market research firm The U Group.
Tyler Spooner learned early on that he needed to develop resilience if he were to succeed in life.
Having shifted between foster care and homelessness for much of his childhood, Mr Spooner describes himself as having been an unmotivated teenager drawn to petty crime to survive.
It wasn’t until his sister bought him a one-way plane ticket from New Zealand to Australia when he was 18 that his prospects began to improve.
Determined to change his fortunes, Mr Spooner set about establishing a door-to-door sales business in his early 20s.
And although he admits he faced near-constant rejection in the job, Mr Spooner said he came away from the experience with the tenacity he needed to succeed in business.
Mr Spooner sold that business in 2016 and used the funds to support the founding of Feedmee, an app that provided a charitable spin on traditional food ordering platforms.
Drawing on Mr Spooner’s own experience with charities while growing up, the app attracted interest from established players in the field such as Quandoo and UberEats, and provided 10,000 meals to people in need over its lifetime.
While successful, the app would prove shortlived. That was because Mr Spooner received feedback from investors and friends in early 2018 that suggested he and co-founder Brenda Lai would be better served by transforming their food-ordering platform into something more unique.
Their app uses receipt-capture technology to monitor the behaviour of 10,000 consumers across Australia, providing real-time data to clients interested in finding out the minute details of consumer spending.
The business has already attracted more than $1 million in venture funding in its relatively short lifespan, and has secured a partnership with global research firm Nielsen to help augment its market studies.
Having overseen the business’s rapid growth in the past 24 months, Mr Spooner has sought to share his success in helping support Perth’s startup sector by serving as a mentor for the Plus Eight and ClimateLaunchpad accelerator programs.
That derives from his desire to see people given a chance to succeed in business, much as he had been given when he arrived in Australia.
“My experience coming from a homeless teenager has shaped my attitudes and given me true perseverance,” Mr Spooner said.
“It has also given me the determination to take [The U Group] to the next level and expand into new sectors and geographies over the coming years.”