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Karly Chan, 2009 Anthill 30under30 Winner

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What is 30under30?

30under30 is an Anthill initiative that was launched in early 2008 to encourage and promote entrepreneurship among young Australians. Each year, we invite our readers to nominate young Australian entrepreneurs deserving of recognition for their outstanding entrepreneurial endeavours. Anthill’s editorial team then trawls through hundreds of applications and identifies and profiles the top 30 Australian entrepreneurs under the age of 30. The process culminates in an event held in Melbourne where the 30 winners network and celebrate. We’ve been releasing profiles of this year’s Anthill 30under30 winners via our Twitter account – youngest to oldest. Read 30under30 winners, 2009 (The Full List)

karly_chanName: Karly Chan
28 (1981)
Online education services

Karly Chan has a pathological fear of boredom. Though she’s pretty sure she’s never actually been bored in her life, she dived into the world of entrepreneurship to ensure that she never has to experience it at all.

Chan started her career as a teacher but grew frustrated by the difficulty she experienced trying to find better educational resources for her students. She observed that this was primarily caused by the inability of many providers to advertise their products to schools. In an effort to bridge this gap, she co-founded Cursions.

Cursions is an online advertising resource for teachers seeking experiences for students, such as excursions, accommodation facilities or even classroom facilities.

One of the biggest difficulties for Chan during the early days of Cursions attempting to overcome the TTCBAF problem — “Those That Came Before. And Failed”. Most potential clients Chan approached had been burnt at least once in the online advertising market, and they weren’t willing to give the new comers a chance.

Now boasting a clientele of over 600 different service providers, Chan says this goodwill had to be earned, and it was a slow but rewarding process of “professionalism, innovation and good customer service”.

The company’s website received an impressive 2.5m hits within its first year. Now operating in its third year, Cursions caters to 3,300,000 students and 10,000 schools.

“A big part of our success is our ability to evolve in response to our market,” says Chan, “and a big part of this is achieved by listening to and acting on criticisms from those around us.”

Chan is constantly on the lookout for new areas of clientele, ways to expanding the website and even different methods of advertising. She is also in the process of replicating the Cursions model across the globe.

“I’m a teacher myself and firmly believe that quality education is the key to a prosperous nation, rich in both industry and innovation,” says Chan. She hopes that Cursions could ultimately help make Australian education better by providing teachers with quality resources for their students, locally and globally.


What has been your most significant failure?

“Going too hard, too early. When we started this company, we threw everything we had into it — our money, our time, our souls. While a valuable and steep learning curve — if doing it a second time we would spend a lot more time in planning than blind faith and ambition. Our success was a hard road that could have been a lot easier.

“I’m all for grabbing the bull by the horns when it comes to business, but it pays to know as much as you can about the bloody bull first!”