Booked in for success

29/06/2015
Shortly after completing his part-time MBA at Melbourne Business School in 2010, Peter Haasz co-founded a business called Booki.sh, and it’s been quite a ride ever since. The big idea was to make it feasible for independent booksellers to sell e-books. 
 
 
Getting the company off the ground required Peter and his business partners to negotiate distribution deals with publishers, establish channel partnerships with booksellers, and to deliver digital content to end consumers. Beating the odds, Peter attributes turning his dream into a reality in large part to the teachings of his recently completed MBA, “I doubt I would have been able to do it without the skills, knowledge and confidence I gained from my MBA.”
 
After developing some exciting technology, Peter had to overcome the challenge of competing with Amazon’s practice of selling below cost, combined with consumer perceptions that e-books are not the type of thing you buy from your local store. “In the end, we realised that our tech was more valuable than our business. This insight culminated in a US venture capital fund acquiring us and integrating us with their portfolio company, OverDrive, Inc . OverDrive today uses technology originally developed in Booki.sh to power e-book and audiobook deliveries for over 30,000 schools and libraries worldwide, so the story has a happy ending.”
 
A few years before deciding on how to compete with global giants such as Amazon, Peter had another decision to make; where to study his MBA. Peter chose to study at Melbourne Business School because of its reputation as Australia’s leading business school. When making his decision, he looked at various rankings and spoke to alumni from MBS and other schools, and concluded no other school compared in terms of quality of teaching, breadth of syllabus, or calibre of faculty. “Just as important as these factors was the confidence I felt that a degree from MBS would stand me in good stead no matter what direction my career took in the future: an MBA is like a passport and the conferring school is like the issuing country. I felt a degree from MBS would open the most doors.”
 
The decision to study an MBA was driven by Peter’s desire to broaden his experience and help him approach business and organisational issues confidently and in a structured way, “When I started my MBA, I had worked for about 8 years. I’d learned an immense amount on the job, but ultimately my experience was limited to the job functions, industries and business situations I had personally come across. Doing an MBA was a way to learn from situations well beyond my direct personal experience.”
 
Once Peter’s MBA got underway, there was no looking back, “MBS changed my life, and probably also changed the structure of my brain. I found the real value was in building intuition and getting a sense of how all the different areas of knowledge fit together. The benefit of being able to relate course content to current workplace issues was invaluable.” The other highlight for Peter was getting to spend a semester on exchange at the Stern School of Business at NYU in New York City.
 
Having recently joined Culture Amp as VP of Business Development & Strategy, Peter is yet again part of a company that is growing rapidly. Culture Amp aims to be the world’s leading feedback and analytics platform for people and culture. It provides companies with a way to understand not just how engaged their employees are, but also what's driving that engagement, and what they can do about it, all in real time. “There is a real buzz about the company, as we recently raised $8 million from venture capital funds in the USA, UK and Australia, and we’re growing quickly, including a number of high profile Silicon Valley firms such as Airbnb, Uber, Adobe, Pinterest, GoPro, Etsy, Slack, and so on. The fact that these innovative and culture-focused companies trust us gives me confidence that we’re on the right track in solving an increasingly important problem.”