27 Mar 2014

Passion and Money: the lo$$e$ I don’t regret



You’re looking at an Australian Monitor AM 1600 mosfet power amplifier, made by my firm and designed by Stuart McLean. Greg Hicks was the foreman at the factory we set up behind Graftons Sound and Lighting in Campbell street east Sydney in 1986. Hundreds of these still solider on, testimony to the brutal engineering. See the Bakelite plate holding down the 10 amp toroidal transformer (flown in from Scotland) in the middle? And the custom extrusions each side, with front and rear extrusions that we had hand milled by a big happy Canadian kid who did nothing but operate the aluminum router every day?

I ran out of money before we hit production so Hymie Meyerson and Lionel Krupp ventured in for a half share worth $400,000. We all ran out of money before the first hundred amps were sold, but we kept it all going until I gave up in 1988 and walked away, $1 million poorer.

Based on the 1,000 amps made (Stuart and Hicks, please update the number if I am wrong) I subsidized each amplifier to the tune of $1,000.


Hymie and Lionel poured in a lot more money as well, no one will ever know what they lost before they sold or gave the brand to Audio Telex, who continued it until this day, albeit with product made in India. Hymie and Lionel had guts to partner with me – a pair of Jewish South Africans, and an uneducated kid from the slums of Woolloomooloo. Who knew?

Not knowing how to learn from prior mistakes I waded into a college venture in 2002, and by the time I closed Julius Events College in 2010, I was down $1.5 million. So again, with around 1,000 kids enrolled over that time for anything from a short course to a Diploma, each and every one of them was subsidized $1,500 for their decision!

I started to calculate the cost per student on a course duration and graduation basis last night, in between the Villa Maria Pino Gris and the Greenache Barossa Rose – but I ran out of formulas and brain matter. It works out to roughly $20,000 per Diploma graduate, and given they paid me $14,000 to do the course, that’s a serious whack to the economy. Especially considering there are only 100 of them working meaningfully in the industry, which blows the cost right out, so each and every one of them cost someone $35,o00 to educate.


The final passion lesson relating to money (that I failed) was the marriages – but those three girls all deserved every dollar they got, given my apparent errors above.



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