Celebrating 21st Anniversary with Darren Copper

Video Transcription

Greg:  

Hi, Darren, nice to see you. This is your invitation and attendance one person only to the network overdrive 21st birthday party.   

Darren:  

Yeah. Great to be with you. Congratulations to network overdrive for turning 21. Well, the time went quickly. Hey,   

Greg:   

It sure did. I spoke to mark and john yesterday. And we talked a bit about the staff and how we were there with them. And, they bailed on me. And, you know, they decided that running the business was too hard for them. And basically, they admitted that they were chasing the money. They were making more money as consultants.  

Darren:  

Yeah, yes. I remember I moved to Melbourne to help you out in that little office in Thornbury. My wife and I were exploring business ideas in India. And we came directly from northern India to Melbourne. There was a bit of a shock.  

Greg:  

I know I sold you on the pizza.  

Darren:  

That’s right. I think it was flamingos pizza around. I think we drew up some plans and ideas on a napkin.   

Greg:   

Yeah, that was That’s right. And, and so that was such a significant, obviously, lots of things are in flux. And mark and john disappearing and having to make a decision to for Brisbane to no longer be the head office and basically made one of the bedrooms of my flat the head office of network overdrive.   

Darren:   

Yes,   

Greg:   

And then you went off and did a course in business planning. And that’s part of that process we decided to join forces and keep going with network overdrive and made Melbourne, the head office of network overdrive, and Melbourne’s been the head office of network overdrive for 21 years.   

Darren:   

Yep, that’s it. Yeah. It’s been great. tracking your progress, after all this time and seeing the company grow, to well, to KL and, to Brisbane, and all everywhere in between.   

Greg:   

and, and, and one of the things that I said to john is that I what I learned from him is that there’s one thing to be on the team and contributing to network overdrive, like being in the business. But I feel like there’s been a sense of family as well. So, someone might leave the team but never leaves the family, some people want to leave the family as well. And then that’s fine. But you’re another one of those people who have never really left the family, even though you exited the team, and only after a couple of years, would you say in a very early stage of network overdrive.  

Darren:   

That’s right. It was just after two or three years. I think I helped set up all the procedures and internal processes, the business plan, the research.   

Greg:   

I’ve got this. I want to share this with you. I’ve got a little bit of a screen here if that’s okay.   

Darren:   

Yeah, yep. Network overdrive is 21.   

Greg:  

Yeah, I know. I know. That’s right. Hey, and not everybody gets to start a business. It’s a unique experience. And I wondered if you could share with others about what that was like for you.   

Darren:   

And oh, well, it was exhilarating. Exciting. Yeah, I guess the initial market research found that there was no IT company servicing not for profit and community organizations. And I think, yeah, that was our main target group back in those days and said, Yeah, that was a, it was a big part of the dream for me, perhaps not entirely realized, the way I expected.  

Greg:  

Well, before we get into how things didn’t quite work out, I want to remind you of this photo. Well, can you see that?   

Darren:   

Yeah, that’s great. Oh,  

Greg:  

But I have no idea. I think that’s I think not what right is that I have coming to my it’s got the tram on it. I believe I’m on Thornbury, but I’m not you’re on the high street.   

Darren:   

High Street. Oh, my goodness.   

Greg:  

That’s High Street Thornbury. And for those who don’t know, that’s my now lovely wife. I don’t know if I married her that stage. So, but look at those business cards. I went looking for those business cards to include in this slide. And I couldn’t find it.  

Darren:  

I think I might still have a couple of lying around somewhere.  

Greg:  

Well, yeah, well maybe throw that in. But talking about hopes and dreams. And back to wearing glasses. I actually put away my glasses for a few years. But after 21 years of business is caught up again with me  

Darren:

All that spring work. Yeah.  

Greg:  

Yeah. Well, ironically, at the day of starting, I was 100% just looking at screens. And then as part of running a business, I stopped doing that I was more meeting people. And then I think old age has just come back and said, No, you really have to wear glasses now. Yeah, so what amazing thing, I just wish I had a photo, but I can’t find it of the one-bedroom office, which was really the origin that lease of network overdrive, Melbourne, which was the head office.  

Darren:  

Yep. Yep.  

Greg:  

And you talked about your business plan you just shared with me before we started, and I quickly threw that into this presentation. So, I really love it. How are you? This is all your work. I can’t own any of this. So again, in terms of a legacy, you set the course of actually talking about what are we actually going to do. And in 21 years, I would say that network overdrive probably went through five versions of network overdrive. And what this capture is that first phase of the like you said the nonprofit’s and I just like the positive contribution to advancing society. Yeah, and I think that’s still true, but I love how at the end, we still through in the year 2000, the y2k problem. Yes. And you even tell me what the y2k problem is.   

Darren:   

What is this the end of the universe as we know it?   

Greg:  

Yeah, unlike the 2020 problem, which is also the end of the universe.  

Darren:   

Yeah. That’s right. Yeah. Well, we all got through the y2k bug. And life goes on.   

Greg:  

You were planning for planes to be dropping out of the sky weren’t you  

Darren:  

And I think I was. Yes, that’s right.  

Greg:  

Back in the day.  

Darren:  

That’s right. power stations shutting down aircraft. airports. Freight and commerce. Yeah. Anyway, well, there you go.   

Greg:  

I just wanted to share with you I pulled out our website.   

Darren:   

Yeah. Wow.   

Greg:  

So here we are. So, for some reason, this is half-developed, where john and Mark were still in the picture. They were still doing stuff in Brisbane, but effectively, we’re not really part of the picture and your title was Niche Explorer. Did you ever have a business card Saying that you were a niche Explorer? How did that get on the website?   

Darren:   

Yeah, I think that definitely rings a bell. Yeah, niche Explorer, there you go. 

Greg:  

Are you tempted at all, to pull that out again and make it your business card?  

Darren:   

Mm-hmm. Maybe, I’ll think of something more up to date, something more groovy for the 2020s group 

Greg:  

So, I still fondly remember lots of those things. And the reason why I wanted to get this slide up because you started talking about customers. And I actually also got a client list, back in the day, but there was also like Fresh 2U and Rotors & Drums.  

Darren:  

That’s rotor and drums. Yeah, there you go. Wow.  

Greg:    

And then what about these India ones? Obviously, AligarhNet was one of your links.   

Darren:   

That’s right. Yes. That the plan was to develop software in Australia but get it tested in India. And yes, so there were AligarghNet and a couple of other companies in northern India. If I remember correctly, Microsoft was setting up a few years earlier than us in Bangalore and Hyderabad in India. That was sort of the mid-90s. And we were exploring software testing in India in 1998. Wow.   

Greg:  

So, how about that I just thought I’d quickly show you those things as a bit of memory going down memory lane. And like, as you said, I think that the most important you mentioned that you’re only around what only inverted commas only for two or three years and things didn’t quite work out for you. And I think that that realization that something didn’t quite work out for u is a really important part of the journey. And ironically, the legacy that you left behind, because like we were a partner, right? We were working together. And there are lots of organizations that the story is that they’re running a successful business and then the partners don’t get on. And they fight so much that the business suffers and eventually it stopped trading.   

Darren:   

Yeah.   

Greg:  

So somehow you realize that that running a business was not for you. And you were able to talk about that with me. And you were able to move on and we still stayed friends.  

Darren:  

Yeah.  

Greg:  

So, how come that worked out? How come you were able to exit the business so well?  

Darren:  

Um, wow. Yes. Well, there was my high regard for you, Greg: as a friend and a business colleague. And on you, you had, you know, great values, business values and ethics. So, I knew that network overdrive, would go forward to make its small contribution, perhaps larger contribution to society? Yeah, so I think just a strong bond of friendships and our families knew each other. Yeah 

Greg:  

You didn’t want to be on the road in any way. And basically, the friendship was more important to you than that and then having the title of a business owner.  

Darren:  

Absolutely, yeah, yep.  

Greg:  

I also think that perhaps there’s a bit of self-discovery for you in terms of what made you happy? And what skills how you could make a difference in the world.  

Darren:  

Yeah,  

Greg:  

is that true that you felt like you could do that better in a different way?   

Darren:   

Um, yes, the journey with network overdrive, which was my first foray into business taught me a lot about myself and my own design and my own skills. And so, there was a lot of um, yeah, hard learnings that really you know, I’ve since leaving network overdrive. You know, network overdrive, in some ways was a platform to my community development work with well corrections Victoria with prisoners and post-release prison programs, community development projects through local government and other state government departments. And yeah, so those hard learnings in itself realizations contributed to those programs as well.  

Greg:  

And what I saw, exactly, nothing’s lost. And in fact, I saw that, you know, rather than just trading these other roles that you had as just another job, the fact that you had attempted or participated in starting a business meant that you always saw those other roles as effectively like running a mini business inside a larger organization, and it was your entrepreneurial spirit because you’re able to go out and get grants or get additional funding. that a person else who just thought they’re getting a wage, and that’s all they had to do would never have thought of that you were able to build programs because of that business experience.  

Darren:  

Yes, Yep. Yep.  

Greg:  

And so yeah, like, we thought that I wanted to just share this final screen again with you or so basically what this next slide is, is a thank you card to you down.   

Darren:   

Okay. Thank you.   

Greg:  

And I want to publicly acknowledge that, that you are a risk-taker and a community builder. And that you are also mature to realize when something’s not ideal, and that you’re able to take action to fix the problem. Yeah, and that less a person could have held network overdrive back. But when you realize that running a business was not for you, you exited gracefully and allowing network overdrive To grow. And so the irony is although you contributed so much to network overdrive It was almost a passive thing in turn not passive, but the exit the way you exit network overdrive is perhaps one of the greatest legacies because you had a chance to destroy something and you chose not to step on that flower and network overdrive would not have been here today if we couldn’t have worked out the differences and in your own self-journey. You couldn’t have realized you didn’t you weren’t able to work out how what would really make you happy. And so, I personally thank you, and everybody who’s got a job in network overdrive and all the customers that have experienced value from network overdrive since that time should also Thank you. how you did that thing.   

Darren:   

Yeah. Yeah. I don’t know what to say. Yeah, Greg. Well, thank you for this is a bit of a surprise. And thank you for your kind words. And, you know, it was my honour to play a small role in back in the early days of network overdrive, laying some sort of foundation, the internal systems and processes that help you clear your mind for the bigger vision for the   

Greg:  

Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. So, all I mean, is That’s exactly right. You, you, you shared with me just before the operations manual that you did back in 2000. And it’s magnificent. And it’s an example of working and all those processes absolutely helped me at the time to Get on with it. But yeah, as I get older and I look back on those moments of, you know, forks in the road and the journeys and network overdrive and talk in my own personal life and our lives together, that, you know, the parting of ways as a business could have been a really bad breakup. And we didn’t spit, we didn’t skip a beat. Yeah, I’m both in terms of our own lives and then collectively and so that’s, that’s something I want to celebrate as something that’s really valuable in today’s age where some people can’t work out how to get on with each other.   

Darren:   

Yeah, yep. Yep. Well, network overdrive, happy 21st birthday, 21 incredible years, years of growth and expansion, and making contra positive contributions to all those businesses and community organizations and communities that network overdrive has served and supported. So yeah, congratulations to network overdrive, may the next 21 years be a fantastic time of growth. And I can’t wait to read all about it. Yeah.  

Greg:  

Read it, digitally experience it. Thanks, Aziz. I mean, I said that to it. And another thing is that I can sort of getting my head around a business been in business for 21 years. But I must confess that business been in business for 42 years is a really, that is a hard concept. Hmm. So how about that? Thanks, Darren. All of that. And we’ll stay in touch soon. And in this, as this isolation period comes to an end, hopefully, I’ll get to see you later. Face to face with you.  

Darren:  

Absolutely can’t wait. Again, the coffee again at that coffee shop on the high street.    

Greg:  

Well, actually now Okay, that’s a good idea. We should recreate that photo. I wonder. I wonder if and Cafe is still open. That’s a great idea. Yeah,

Darren:  

Yeah. Good.  

Greg:  

All right. We’re gonna make that happen. See you soon.  

Darren:  

See you pal. Bye-bye.

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