Globetrotter finds calling on road less travelled

Tim Norton.

He is the itinerant chief executive — the New Zealand-born globetrotting entrepreneur who breaks the traditional business success-story mould.

Tim Norton is the brains behind 90 Seconds, a video production service that allows brands anywhere in the world to “jump online, throw in a request and have their whole video production process managed from purchase to publish” using a network of freelancers across 52 countries.

His company has 26 full-time staff in five countries, collaborates with 2500 freelancers around the world and in just five years has reached a turnover of about $4 million a year.

Yet Mr Norton doesn’t really have an office. He doesn’t even have a home — he’s been living out of a suitcase for the past three years.

“I love the feeling,” he said.

“I feel free. I don’t want the four walls of the small world. I want to live in the bigger world, travelling.”

Mr Norton has lived the past year with just a single carry-on trolley bag and a small leather laptop bag. He has slept on couches, in campervans and on beaches, but mostly stays in AirBnB accommodation.

“I book at the very last minute — sometimes it’s a whole house, sometimes it’s a room,” he said.
“I try to find somewhere with a piano.

“I want a good price, not a high price, so I take reasonably low-cost flights. And I like to stop off in places for a few days.”

Mr Norton, 35, is a natural-born risk-taker, a career entrepreneur. He had varying degrees of success with several businesses before deciding to focus on 90 Seconds.

About 15 years ago, he and some business partners built an online management system and, after nearly going broke, raised $11 million. After more than three years developing and selling the product and running the business, he left to start his own.

“I started selling it but I didn’t have enough money for all ends of the business — I’d spent it all on product,” he said. “So that was a hard lesson.

“I picked things back up, built some cash up and then started a website design business and a software-for-service business around business planning.”

Mr Norton and colleague David Insull started 90 Seconds five years ago after witnessing firsthand, through his involvement in a television series that never aired, that video production was expensive and complex.

“We started building a bit of software to manage video production projects,” he said.

“I got about a year into it and thought ‘there’s a business here’, so I started selling all the other things I was involved with.

“We had about 40 people and a big office and suddenly we were back down to about four people, but we were building something really cool.”

The idea was to provide “super- easy-to-use, low-cost and high- quality” production services to brands anywhere in the world, using a network of freelancers.

The venture is well-timed to take advantage of the growing trend for video as the preferred medium for brands embracing content marketing.

“Video is the content people want right now because people are watching more videos than almost any other kind of content,” Mr Norton said.

“If you’re a brand, you’re moving into being a publisher, and instead of doing advertising you’re creating content. That video content is popping out as the kind of content that people really want.”
90 Seconds opened in Perth late last year. Run by Nick Teulon, it operates out of SpaceCubed and has already worked with BHP Billiton, RAC and Rio Tinto.

Mr Norton said his best advice for young entrepreneurs was that “success is guaranteed, you just have to persist to get there”.

“It’s hard to get success for 98 per cent of people and you don’t hear about it until they’re successful,” he said.

“It’s hard work, it’s going to feel like it will never end, you’re going to get bad advice but you have to persist because it is your own personal journey.”


The West Australian

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