Michael Giles is making the most of his Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation
A 12 year old investing in stocks isn't something you hear about every day – but then Michael Giles has always done things a little differently.
From a young age, Michael invested all his birthday money in stocks, and it became strikingly clear to those around him that Michael was determined to forge a different path.
While still in high school, Michael bought his first investment property two weeks after his 18th birthday. Another one quickly followed three months later and it was then that he started to wonder if he could turn investing into a career.
An astute and sharp entrepreneur, Michael barely graduated from his western suburbs high school. Once a straight-A student, he lost interest in favour of investing in stocks and property. While the rest of his friends were applying for university, Michael had other ideas.
As it turned out, a combination of determination and timing saw Michael land a job at Computershare where he started to learn the ins and outs of how the Australian stock market worked.
With a fascination for automated investing, Michael soon left to launch his first startup, AutoInvest. Due to heavy legal requirements, he eventually decided to turn AutoInvest into a traditional online brokerage service called OneTrade Stockbroking.
"I was 21 when I started it and there was no ecosystem to help entrepreneurs back then. I didn’t even know what to do, I just fumbled through and didn’t really know how to scale it up."
His fumbling worked and in the midst of a global financial crisis, OneTrade proved itself to be an award winning online brokerage company before being sold off.
Michael worked for the company that bought OneTrade for a few months before realising that it wasn’t what he wanted to do. Soon after, he decided to follow the advice of mentor and former Swinburne Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MEI) graduate Domenic Carosa who told him ‘Mike, you’re a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. You should do the MEI and it will help structure your entrepreneurial knowledge.’
And it did just that. ‘The MEI definitely polished my entrepreneurial knowledge. I had never gone to university. I just went straight from high school to working so I think it enabled me to come out of my shell a lot.’
Having previously spent time in the spiritual home of stocks, bonds and trading, New York, Michael decided to embark on yet another adventure. ‘While studying I applied for a Swinburne study abroad grant. I’ve always been fascinated with New York City and felt a connection with the place. As a kid I would get up early with Dad in the morning and watch the market close in New York.’
Through the Swinburne study abroad grant, Michael attended Renssealer Polytechnic Institute in upstate New York.
"That was one of the best experiences. It was super fun being an Australian in another country and it got me out of my comfort zone. It was life-changing. I’d highly recommend it to anybody."
With automated investment still on his mind, it was in New York that his second startup, RoboInvest, was born. It quickly grew into a social investing website with accompanying mobile apps. It became obvious that for Michael, his journey towards automating the investing process would not come without a willingness to adapt.
‘I think that people who are genuinely interested in what they’re doing will continuously evolve and change and eventually create something that people want.’
After selling off RoboInvest, Michael launched his third company, Third Party Technologies, in 2015 with a mission to make US financial markets accessible to everybody, especially Australians.
‘Third Party finally provides the underlying infrastructure to allow companies to build products that automate the investment process for retail investors. As you speak to more people around the world you realise that the growth companies are all available [to invest in] in America but not accessible to anyone else. It shouldn’t be the case, so this is the one I want to keep working on and just keep building up.’
While it hasn’t been an easy road to take, Michael’s certain that he’s running his own race. ‘It’s a grind and the world moves very fast now but if you surround yourself with good people, mentors, other people who have done it before, be open-minded and keep a positive mental attitude, you can solve global problems and have fun while doing it. I’m always open to learning new things and I think it’s made me a better person.’