Small Business

How losing a knee put tradie Jake Tyson on the path to becoming a serial entrepreneur

A serious motor bike accident set Jake Tyson on the path from tradie to entrepreneur and he's now looking to disrupt the food and healthcare industry with his second business EarthEcco.

Tyson says he was already questioning whether life as a carpenter was for him when fate intervened.

Jake Tyson says you need to look at what you can make money from, not just what you are passionate about.
Jake Tyson says you need to look at what you can make money from, not just what you are passionate about.  Photo: Supplied

"I had a motorcycle accident and lost my knee in the accident and was laid up in hospital for two years so I was forced to try something else because I couldn't work on building sites," he says.

The Handsome Handyman

Tyson swotted up on manufacturing and marketing and when he got compensation of $230,000 he used that to fund his first business Redback Tools.  

Jake Tyson is disrupting the food safety market with EarthEcco.
Jake Tyson is disrupting the food safety market with EarthEcco.  Photo: Supplied

Tyson branded himself as "the Handsome Handyman" and built a business selling tools designed for women, which he says was valued at $50 million at its peak.

He took Redback Tools to the United States to target the bigger market there and scored a $10 million exclusive deal with the world's largest hardware retailers, Lowe's.  
 
The financial crisis meant a slowdown in trade and in the end Tyson sold Redback Tools for "less than $5 million", a price he says resulted from "hanging on to it for way too long". 

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A 'Crikey' moment

It was enough to give Tyson a chance to reassess where he was and investigate different business ideas. He decided to focus on "anything to do with commodities".

"It's one thing to be passionate about what you are doing but it's another to make money from it," Tyson says.  

In the United States Tyson went to a food processing plant with a friend and was intrigued to see the employees "suiting up as if they were about to walk on the moon" when it was time to clean up at the end of the day. 

"I found it hard to believe that the harsh chemicals they cleaned the plant with didn't make their way into the meat," Tyson says.

"I thought 'Crikey there is something here I can change for sure.' "

The antibacterial spray you could drink

Tyson spent close to $2 million formulating a non-cancer causing antibacterial spray called EarthEcco.

"It's made from citric acid and derived from natural plant extracts," he says. "It's so safe you could drink it, it tastes terrible, but you could. The difference from tools is that I didn't need any third party certifications for them but when you go into the health industry and food you need a million and one different certifications."

It's one thing to be passionate about what you are doing but it's another to make money from it.

Jake Tyson

Tyson signed a partnership deal with multinational company Bunzl which he describes as "the smartest move I ever made".

Bunzl now orders, stocks and delivers EarthEcco to its customers while Tyson focuses on marketing the product. 

Having set about disrupting the food safety industry Tyson is now targeting the childcare and medical industry.

He plans to roll the product out to the United Kingdom at the end of the year and eventually to head back to the United States. 

EarthEcco already has a revenue of $1 million and Tyson says in two years time he expects turnover to be more than $50 million as the business expands.

"Yes it's fast, but I've done it before and I'll do it again," he says. 

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