20 Questions with Jen Geale, Co-Founder of MTB Direct

Ally Feiam By Ally Feiam | 21 Mar 2022

Jen Geale co-founded MTB Direct in 2012, which has gone on to be one of the leading pureplay sports and outdoor retailers in the country. Beginning in the corporate world, Geale has gone from strength to strength, working as a renowned keynote speaker at retail events, growing her pureplay business, and inspiring others in the e-commerce world. We got to know the retail trailblazer a little more by asking her 20 questions about the risks she loves to take, the proudest moment of her career and advice she’d give her 16-year-old self.

1. What has been the proudest moment in your career?

There are lots of ‘traditional’ business achievements I’m proud of, but I’m most proud of developing confidence in myself and backing my own instincts and decisions – not something that came naturally early on. I’m generally pretty risk-averse and that can be a challenge as someone founding and running a business (though it can also be helpful – the trick is harnessing that critical lens, but not letting it stop you from pursuing opportunities).

2. What is your favourite film?

I have a terrible memory for movies. Half the time I can’t even remember if I’ve watched them, let alone actually remember what happened or if I liked them. But I am a sucker for Mrs Doubtfire, that movie never gets old.

3. What kind of student were you in high school?

This kind 🤓 I was in the debating team, I graduated as Dux and I was pretty good at ‘school’. I also played saxophone in the jazz band and gave it a go on the (decidedly amateur!) water polo team – but I was definitely more academic than anything else. Despite personally having a ‘good run’ at school, I’m currently homeschooling my own kids – I joke that I do this because there’s some entrepreneurial attitude in me that’s convinced I can do things better myself. I have mad respect for teachers, they have such a tough job, but I do love working with my kids on their learning.

4. If you weren’t in e-commerce, what industry would you like to work in?

I started out doing a Law/Economics degree, and while I can’t actually imagine myself as a corporate lawyer, if I had stuck with law as a career I’d probably have ended up doing either international/maritime law, or refugee/immigration law. Those were the two areas that were always of interest to me.

5. If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

My mum ❤️  She passed away a few years ago, and I would give anything to spend just that little bit more time with her. (Dear reader, please go call your mum and tell her you love her. Mums are just so precious).

6. Say you’re stranded on a desert island (and all basics are met), what are three things you would take with you?

My husband, he’s a bit of a MacGyver. So he’d be useful! But also, you know, family. I’d take them all of course!
Kindle/reading device/a huge pile of books
Coffee machine

7. What do you enjoy about this industry?

I love thinking about what motivates people and why they make the decisions they do (that’s my economics degree coming through). Which is basically what we’re doing all the time when we’re thinking about ranging, branding, marketing, CX, UX, leadership and working with teams – everything ecommerce.

8. What was the last book you read?

Cribsheet by Emily Oster. She’s an economist who digs into all the data/studies behind various parenting recommendations (everything from feeding and sleeping to early learning) and basically looks at what’s just a popular idea and what is actually backed by data. It’s fascinating how many things become ‘conventional wisdom’ on the back of some really dodgy data (not totally surprising given some of the gender politics at play in this space too).

9. What’s your most-used App on your phone?

Nothing too surprising here, it’s social apps, but (according to my phone data) these are closely followed by fitness. I’ve been using two apps lately – Sweat and Fight Camp – that are both great workouts but also really interesting from a UX point of view! (Anyone else unable to interact with the world without seeing UX/CX examples everywhere?! Just me??).

10. Is there any advice you’d give your 16-year-old self?

Take a pause and enjoy the ride. It’ll all work out.

11. Have you ever broken a bone? How did you do it?

For someone that runs an action sports business, I’m kind of embarrassed to say that both times I’ve broken a bone, it was a “slip and fall” as a kid!

12. If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?

I would be fearless! Imagine all the things you could do if you had ZERO fear (I’d probably also need to be invincible too or else it’ll all just end badly….!)

13. If you could turn yourself into any fictional character, who would it be and why?

Bluey. That kid has THE best life.

14. What are three wishes you’d request from a genie?

No rules? I wish for unlimited wishes 😉

But otherwise:
A world that’s peaceful and safe for everyone.
The ability to pause time at will.
All my worries to be forever taken away/dealt with.

15. What is one skill you would love to master?

I’m currently relearning to sew. I learned in high school and I’m definitely a little rusty, but I just love the idea of being able to create things and also repair things easily rather than see them go to waste.

16. You’re at a cafe. What is your go-to beverage order?

Long black.

17. What risks are worth taking?

The ones where you can get comfortable with the downside. Often the downside is not that bad, or so very unlikely to eventuate – if that’s the case, take the risk!

18. What’s the best single day on the calendar?

Christmas! Especially now with kids, they just love it and the joy is contagious.

19. When was the first time you shopped online?

I have no idea! I don’t really remember a time before online shopping!!

20. What takes up too much of your time?

Life admin and thinking about all the things that need doing around our house since we moved to ‘the country’ (it’s not the country, it’s ten minutes from the second-largest shopping centre on the Gold Coast. But it’s acreage, and there is a never-ending maintenance and improvements list!!).

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