with greg layton

The Inner Chief is for leaders, professionals and small business owners who want to accelerate their career and growth. Our guest chiefs and gurus share powerful stories and strategies so you can have more purpose, influence and impact in your career.

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In this episode of The Inner Chief podcast, I speak to Jeremy Hastings, Founder & Managing Director of both Hutly and Bondable, on being fired from his own company and successfully returning to transform the real estate industry after working on his inner chief.

After a career in mining at Rio Tinto, Jeremy experienced his first business success through a gelato shop, which sold 16 tonnes in its second year.

Following an unsavoury experience with a crooked real estate agent, Jeremy made it his life’s mission to leverage technology to power a more positive, transparent, and human-centred real estate industry, creating Hutly as the world’s only Living Contracts platform and a place where all parties can transact real estate with trust.

He is also the founder of Bondable, Australia’s first subscription-based residential bond service, which launched in 2024.

Jeremy went to the University of Canberra, where he studied a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Management. He also has three postgraduate qualifications – a Graduate Certificate in Community Relations (Resources Sector) from the University of Queensland, a Masters of Mining Engineering from UNSW and a Masters of Commercial Law from the University of Melbourne.

In this episode we talk about:

✅  How an accidental guinea pig brood was seven-year-old Jeremy’s first foray into entrepreneurship

✅  Successfully negotiating the rights to IP he created at Rio Tinto, that he wanted to commercialise after leaving the mining giant

✅  Being fired as CEO from his own company, and returning after working deeply on his inner chief where he is now transforming the real estate industry, and

✅  Recognising that there are different types of CEO that are suited to the various stages of a business.

Thanks to Sam Dybac and her team at The PR Hub for introducing us to Jeremy.

Connecting with Jeremy Hastings

You can connect with Jeremy via LinkedIn.

Books and resources

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“Yeah, it was brutal, a very, very difficult period of my life. I’d hired a lot of people who didn't have technology experience. What I actually did was I set them and the business up for failure.”


On early career lessons

  • One was important to stakeholder engagement, stakeholder management, and I've taken that learning throughout my whole career, especially in founding a business. You have a range of stakeholders from employees to shareholders to your external stakeholders and the importance of understanding their needs and issues and taking the time to listen.
  • I learned a lot about organisational culture and change and change management. I learned a lot about cost centres when you look at mining, what people don't understand is a mining operation, there's no such thing as revenue, that's looked after in Singapore by the commercial team for you to worry about is cost centres and managing money. And so I never learned how to make money. I learned how to operate a really efficient business and keep dollars per tonne down, but I never learned how to make money.
  • And having unlimited resources to solve a problem is actually a really dangerous trait to develop. 

On why he started Hutly

  • I look at the real estate contract is this sort of beautiful nexus of value. So you have, traditionally it's been a paper based document. What we do at Hutly is we…A real estate agent or property manager will fill out the contract and now send it for signing on our platform. So essentially we provide a means for them to transact real estate. 
  • We capture the data in that contract and then we can provide insights back to, back to the agency using the platform and to the broader market around what's going on in the property market. And we also can unlock the vendor, buyer, landlord and tenant as customers of ours. So we then would offer specific to their needs.

On being asked to step down as CEO

  • I set the business up to have a really tough time. And then you couple that with your own learning journey, you don't know. So I would very much back then put me as a first time founder making a whole lot of mistakes.
  • I had a whole lot of staff who were very unhappy with my leadership style. And when the board said, Hey, you need to step out I sort of listened to it. Under the shareholder agreement, I could have said no bugger off, but when you when you're getting a tap on the shoulder like that, you really need to stop and take some time to reflect.
  • And the journey was a mix there's a clinical psychologist that I engaged to look at from a leadership perspective and from why was I demonstrating some undesirable behaviours and going all the way back to early development, childhood, et cetera, and understanding and breaking down those relationships and those impacts.
  • And then I had an executive coach and a mentor sort of helping me through what are the skills you need as a leader and how do you build out that toolkit. 

On returning as a Director on the Board

  • Alan Bird, who was one of the directors, said to me the best experience you're going to have is actually sitting on the board. And so I was chair of the board, co chair initially with the, with the existing chair, and then that co chair stepped into a director role to let me continue chairing the business. We hired two CEOs during that time and, and it gave me a different perspective looking at it from a shareholder lens, from a governance lens, from a risk lens.
  • How's it actually performing? What are they not seeing? What are they seeing? And And going through that process, it gave me perspective I hadn't had before, and the ability and time to really work on myself and change my behaviour.
  • So fast forward to March last year, the business was not going well, we were burning too hard. The CEO was a highly capable individual, but wasn't the right person for that stage of the business. I think had we been a little bit later, they would have shone. Rather than being that really tough in the trenches. managed cash day to day is a very different skill set to you've got 10 million, 10 million a bag product market fit in your growing funnel. I sort of acknowledged that we needed a big change. And so I put a plan to the board to say, Hey, I think this is the change that we need and it involved some really aggressive reductions in headcount and narrowing of our focus as a business, but a month later we'll cashflow positive. And we're happy with that. We've doubled our revenue and market size since.

On key takeaways from his journey back

  • Rome wasn't built in a day. I think when I first had a crack at beig a CEO, I had this unrealistic expectation of people around me and an unrealistic expectation of how fast business should be moving. And, and that was a purely underlying driver in me that that things have to be done today, can't be done tomorrow, really unhealthy when you're leading people in the business. So it took me some time on the board to look at how some quite seasoned CEOs. ran the business and were a lot more patient and also knew that they could only solve for sort of one problem at a time.
  • Not doing business with yourself. And Hutly has a really bad habit historically of doing business with ourselves. We focus more around, and this is probably looking back at my corporate experience as well. A big problem in big corporates is you. worry more about creating systems and procedures and, and, and you get in this…In this really vicious, dangerous place of, of, of thinking that you're doing important work, but actually you're not focused on customer and revenue and if you're being ineffective. And so I kind of looked at the business back then and we weren't hitting revenue targets. We weren't doing everything we should do. And that's because we spent more time looking at ourselves rather than focusing on customer.
  • I went on that journey very emotional, very difficult at times, but then you start seeing how those early years have manifested into into your leadership and how they're not sustainable and how you've got to build out that toolkit over time. So the second year, so that the six months was self. The next 12 months was really learning about being on a board, learning about, and, and getting across the business from a very different perspective. And then the last six months was, I'm ready.

On turning Hutly around

  • I said to the Board that's a problem we can worry about in 10 years when we're big. Like right now, our world is kind of simple. We're going through the chasm of death in startups. So yeah, big tip there. But now it's about getting the foundations right and putting the right people in the right roles and the right functions to be able to getting our go to market funnel working, getting those market ventures right. We can start worrying about some of the luxuries I call them later on. And I think we spend more time focused on things that we weren't big enough yet to actually turn attention and energy to that creates lack of focus. It creates confusion in the business. And gives air to things that really probably don't need air at that point in time, not that they're not important, but getting air to things that aren't that important at that point in time.

On leading a growing business

  • As the business grows, people come with great, I guess my reflections are people come with great intent. They want to do a great job and they put all their energy into the business and I deeply appreciate the contribution that everybody makes. Finding the right person for the right role at the right moment is One of the biggest challenges we have as leaders, and that can have a really positive impact on the business, but if you get it wrong, it can also have a very negative impact.
  • As you go through these horizons, you become attractive to different levels of talent. And as a business, our job is to make sure that we're bringing that talent in at the right time to keep that trajectory going and to keep the business hitting goal and hitting target.
  • That big learning as a leader is you don't have to do everything. Day one as a founder, you do. Yeah, sure. The first two years, you're it. But now my job is just to get out of everybody else's way and enable them to be successful in their job. And that's a very big transition to feeling this great responsibility for everything to actually just letting people do the best job that they can.

On what problems Bondable solves

  • Bondable was born from a problem that I was experiencing. We've moved house, we've paid this exorbitant bond, three, four, five grand that would sit generating interest for the government and was money that I couldn't use and had no utility to me at the time of my life.
  • Bondable is essentially a subscription for a tenant's bond. They pay $19.99 a month, never pay a bond, which is guaranteed to the landlord, which is just as safe being insured. as a cash bond with the statutory authority, and we solve a recovery and collection issue for the agent at the other end. 

On balancing business with parenting

  • It's a big challenge. I get home and I struggle to switch off. Like, and a lot of founders I speak to have the same issue. Presence is a constant challenge that you're going to be conscious of. I do find a lot of release if I play with the kids.
  • I do my best to contribute. I coach the under-nines AFL teams. I coach my sons. I take all the boys to nippers on a Saturday morning. So I just try to be as involved as I possibly can be.

Final message of wisdom and hope for future leaders 

  • Forgive yourself. I think you have a habit of beating yourself up and, and just to give yourself, take the learning, move on.
  • I feel for the next generation of executives, cause I feel like it's already a really difficult time. I think you're walking around stakeholder expectations, management, you've got a shifting Gen Z coming through, really shifting perspective in the workplace. Uh, so I think that, uh, be yourself, like it's, I've learned that as well, be honest. Be direct and be yourself.


Deal hope,