Home Articles This PhD holder believes our university education system is broken and is...

This PhD holder believes our university education system is broken and is now fixing it with his fast-growing start-up


Predicting untapped opportunity in the private higher education system, Dr Brendan Moloney left his role as a senior project manager at Melbourne University in 2011 to start his own firm, Darlo.

After completing his PhD in 2010 and working in universities internationally and at leading universities in Australia, Dr Moloney became disillusioned with the system and desired a more open, stronger and fairer higher education system.

Motivated with a vision to take over qualified PhDs working in unchallenging roles and have them work on nation building jobs, Dr Moloney set about achieving his mission to establish Darlo as the market leader in professional services for private higher education.

He was firm in the belief that university education was ripe for disruption and there was a much better way of doing things; that our higher education system is failing our future entrepreneurial leaders because what is being taught at Universities is completely out dated and most graduates will not find employment as a result of their degree.

What exactly does Darlo do?

Located on Little Collins Street, Melbourne, in the heart of the CBD and major tertiary institutions, Darlo is looking to disrupt how higher education is delivered in Australia, offering these services:

  • Darlo Consulting – consulting services in learning and development, compliance, capability frameworks, face-to-face people development training, research, and evaluation.
  • Darlo Higher Education – helping higher education providers to build quality systems, processes and programs, and providing advice in compliance and regulation.
  • Darlo Technical Writing – workshops and training for tender writing, technical writing and writing documentation.
  • Professor Write online academic editing and proofreading.
  • eDarloeLearning training and development.
  • Academiclya jobs portal for employers and employees looking for staff in higher education.

Within a year Darlo was a preferred supplier to various government departments on the Australian Workforce Productivity Agency, the Department of Education for Learning and Development, the Australian Public Service for eLearning and private higher education providers currently listed on ASIC.

The team at Darlo is making huge waves in the private higher education sector there really is not business in Australia that competes in their space hence the organisation has grown from only three staff to 35 in just nine months.

Darlo has achieved their rapid business growth and success to date by:

  • providing alternative models of work and education that challenge the ‘norm’ – in areas including course design, curriculum development and the role of academics,
  • challenging traditional curriculum taught in most universities and TAFEs – and creating new curriculum for formal education in growing and future industries, and
  • investing in innovative programs to increase employability for future generations.

Importantly (and unusually in the education landscape) the self-funded Darlo operates independently of external or government funding.

Dr Moloney told us more about the story and vision behind his first-of-a-kind start-up. Below is what he had to share with Anthill in the brief interview.

What inspired you to create Darlo?

There were three key motivators for Brendan when deciding to start Darlo.

First of all, the job market is extremely unfair for young people and they are often not given the chance to demonstrate their skills/are under-valued/under-employed and he wanted to give them an opportunity to prove their skills and worth in the workforce.

Secondly, I encountered a lot of PhDs working in the university system, many of whom were underemployed and only working in casual positions. Similarly to the position that young people were in, PhDs were struggling to get employment reflecting their knowledge and expertise, a frustrating situation with no apparent future change.

Lastly, the ageing Australian population meant that there was a need to have more businesses started by young people and suited to the knowledge economy, which is quickly becoming the dominant economy in Australia.

I had the choice of pursuing academia in a university system slowly inching towards disintegration, or going to private industry. It comes as no surprise that I chose to go down the private route.

What are you looking to achieve with Darlo?

We are strong believers in deregulation, and we believe it will open up jobs and opportunities in the Australian economy as well facilitating better quality education for future Australians.

Australia is lagging in terms of development of new innovative and exciting industries and Darlo is committed to providing support for private higher educators.

The current problem is helping private training organisations get higher education ready and capable of delivering quality higher education to students.