If anybody knows how to spot a good business idea, it’s Jane Martino. The ‘serial entrepreneur’, as Smart Company once coined her, has built a reputation for cultivating successful business — including founding and exiting Undertow Media and digital platform Shout, as well as holding the role of Director at Melbourne Football Club.
Naturally, that’s just scratching the surface.
In 2012, Martino would find a new passion when partnering with Moonlight Cinema founder, James Tutton, to create Smiling Mind, a global wellness app that helps foster mindfulness through meditation. This venture, which she’s described as one of her career’s most “joyful”, has grown continually over its decade, counting more than 6 million regular users of its individual program, while its education program is used by more than one-third of Australian educators.
Meditation is something Martino says “permeates everything” for the better in life, explaining “whether it’s parenting, friendships, relationships or business, it helps every single aspect.”
Of course, that rings true for Martino’s impressive list of accolades, noting that long before the launch of Smiling Mind, she’d been using meditation to improve herself as a leader and innovator.
Beyond her own businesses, Martino has long been a passionate advocate for Australian start-ups, becoming an investor and advisor to some notable companies, including TRIBE, activation platform brandcrush and Sorted. She was also an early-stage investor and advisor at Unlockd, eventually going on to lead the business as CEO.
Asking Martino what makes a business stand out, she says it’s less about the idea and more about how the idea is partnered with who is bringing it to life.
“For me, it's not so much about the idea, it's a combination of so many things,” Martino explains. “It's a combination of the idea, of the timing, but predominantly the founder and the person or people leading the business — that's just such a big factor.”
Martino adds that technology also plays a pivotal role when it comes to deciding whether to invest in a business or not, as well as “what problem they’re solving and how real it is.”
“Personally, technology has to be at the heart of an idea and probably the driver of the business,” she notes, adding, “I think there are lots of great businesses out there that are tech-enabled, but I love the ones that as much as possible, are using that tech space, utilising technology in ways that have not been used before, rather than tech being just one part of the business or one part of the strategy.”
Throughout her career, Martino has been in contact with countless founders and innovative leaders, as well as being one herself, of course, which means the entrepreneur has developed a keen understanding of what it takes to really stand out.
“It’s about the relationships that are built up in combination with just getting in and doing the work and getting the results — I always think that speaks louder than anything.”
But it's Martino's everyday approach to ‘getting things done’ that is exceptionally notable, with the entrepreneur explaining her dedicated ethos: “I don’t overthink things.”
“I often get asked, ‘How do you do so much?’ I just don’t think about doing so much, and just do it," she says. "I think people cripple themselves with their own thoughts and judgments. There’s a great book called The Four Agreements, and I think that’s really transformative, especially for women to be able to let go of a lot of that, especially when trying to juggle a lot.”
One of those key lessons is not taking things personally, as Martino notes. "For me, now that I’ve been around the traps, many times, I’ve stopped taking things personally, and it’s very liberating. You realise that actually, a lot of the time, it has nothing to do with you or your capability. It’s very important as leaders not to take things personally, and to just focus on the positive and what you can get out of the experience.”