Justin Ryan (Glow Capital Partners)

Justin is co-founder and Managing Partner of Glow Capital Partners, alongside his co-founder Kate Morris.

He started in PE at Catalyst in 1997, spent the last decade at Quadrant and was also Chair of the Australian Investment Council in 2003. Justin led the investments and acted as Chair of Adore Beauty, Grays, Quad Lock and Modibodi.

He was also previously the CEO and Managing Director of Alesco Corporation, an ASX200 company acquired by Dulux Corporation in 2011.

On your daily habits

I am an early riser, usually to exercise or to do yoga.

On Fridays, I get up at 4.10am and drive to Clontarf Beach, where I meet some friends at 4.45am, and we start initially paddling on our surf-skis in the dark upriver. Then, after a few kilometres, we turn around and start heading back towards Middle Head and the Ocean.

Part of the joy of the early morning is to see the sunrise not far from North or South Head in Sydney with the occasionally Manly Ferry or ship passing by. It is a great start to the day and part of my passage to the weekend.

On drive and ambition

I've been investing in PE since 1997. Over that time, I have become more purposeful about what I will invest in and where I will dedicate my time and commitment. For example, at one point, I was an investor in a portfolio of gaming hotels; at another point, I was involved in a business that serviced the coal industry.

Now I'll only get involved in a business if I am proud to be associated with it. In recent times, I've been so proud to be associated with businesses like Modibodi, Quad Lock, Grays, and Adore Beauty, which I still Chair on the ASX.

For me, the sweet spot is to partner with innovative, entrepreneurial, values and purpose-driven people and businesses that help make the world a better place. It's not about making money; it's about making something great.

On advice to a younger self

It took me a while to realise that you can achieve more as a team than as an individual.

I grew up thinking that if I worked harder than everyone else, I would ultimately prevail. However, it was only during my MBA at Wharton doing team projects that I realised I could solve more complex problems than on my own.

After my first real career failure — which was as a leader of a public company — I realised that having not had many failures before had resulted in hubris and overconfidence. One element of this hubris for me was that I thought I could do almost anything well. But as it turned out, the failure led to another big insight, that is — play to your strengths.

The things you are really good at you enjoy more and do better at. So if you focus on what you enjoy and what you are good at — success usually follows.

On a trend that you are watching

For so many years, it had been a rarity to see an Australian business compete and succeed globally. In fact, I remember when it was a mantra of Australian public company boards to be very sceptical of any such idea or ambition. Yet now, with the cloud and digitisation impacting every industry, it is becoming more and more possible and common for Australian businesses to be global.

Apart from so many software unicorns, it is inspiring to see Australian consumer brands and eCommerce businesses taking on the world enabled by Shopify, Afterpay and 3PL warehousing worldwide. Quad-Lock, a phone case mounting business that I was previously involved in, is a great example of this new and exciting business model.

On content you consume

I'm always looking for the next great TV series, and most recently, I've been searching for the meaning of Squid Game.

I've always loved the concept of the arena, whether it be the arena of Brene Brown or Teddy Roosevelt. What does it mean to be so vulnerable, and how does it take us forward — unless you die in Red Light Green Light! 🔴🟢

Also, the concept of a zero-sum game. The notion in the old business world that someone had to lose for another to win (in many cases, it was our environment that lost). Yet, in more recent times, we see many successful entrepreneurs creating so much value whilst doing so for purpose.

In fact, more and more are focusing on how to give back to raise the whole ecosystem so that all can thrive rather than seeing one small group doing so much better than others.


👉 Check out Justin's new growth equity firm Glow Capital, which he co-founded with Kate Morris to invest in ecommerce platforms and consumer brands in ANZ that are set to take on the world.

Or connect with him below...

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