We ran into a brick wall because the markets were effectively shut. That was very defining for us and made us who we are today. It taught me resilience
“It was brutal,” Culhane says. But it taught the entrepreneur how to adapt to adversity and survive.
He launched Pepper as a non-bank lender in 2000, offering consumers easier access to funding compared with the existing channels offered by dominant institutions.
Today the company, which offers a range of flexible car, home and personal loan services, has expanded its operations outside Australia, with offices spanning Australasia, Asia and Europe, including Ireland, Spain, South Korea, New Zealand, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom.
“Through that business, I learned the British mortgage and finance market inside and out, and I ended up selling the business to Citigroup in 2001,” he says. “My old company made a very good return on their capital. So we said, ‘Well, where can we do that again?’. And the new version became Pepper.”
Culhane, who is married with two children, found setting up the business from scratch very demanding, and it meant having to spend more time away from his family than he wanted.
“I was on a plane all the time,” he says, adding that this hectic lifestyle didn’t slow down until 2020 – following the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
My old company made a very good return on their capital. So we said, ‘Well, where can we do that again?’. And the new version became Pepper.
What lessons can we learn from innovators and leaders around the world? In this podcast series, award-winning broadcaster and journalist, Aasmah Mir, talks to business leaders and industry innovators about the crucial moments of their lives and careers.