Rupert's Wundar-ful gift

Muttaburra identity, Rupert Ballinger develops online mentor portal


Life & Style
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Years of connecting up with schoolmates across the crackly airwaves of distance education, coupled with the loss of his father when he was 12, instilled a deep desire in western Queensland expatriate Rupert Ballinger to help people connect.

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Dedication: Rupert Ballinger has dedicated his new online mentoring platform to his dad, Bill Ballinger, saying the day he passed away was the day he lost his mentor.

Dedication: Rupert Ballinger has dedicated his new online mentoring platform to his dad, Bill Ballinger, saying the day he passed away was the day he lost his mentor.

Years of connecting up with schoolmates across the crackly airwaves of distance education, coupled with the loss of his father when he was 12, instilled a deep desire in western Queensland expatriate Rupert Ballinger to help people connect.

It's the basis for an online mentoring platform the now-Sydney businessman has just launched, which he hopes will give people of all ages and all walks of life someone to lean on as they develop their foundations.

After growing up on a property at Muttaburra, Rupert, now 31, worked in the Kimberley and the Northern Territory for a couple of years before studying at Marcus Oldham College in Victoria.

Rupert at work on Carlton Hill for Consolidated Pastoral Co in the Kimberley region of Western Australia after he left school.

Rupert at work on Carlton Hill for Consolidated Pastoral Co in the Kimberley region of Western Australia after he left school.

"I moved to Sydney in 2015 and mentally decided that I was all finished with agriculture and that I would pursue a life in the city," he said.

"I was in property investment and advertising, which opened my eyes to other sectors.

"I got very interested in technology. I loved smartphones and what social media was doing.

"I've always been a big fan of personal development and education, and about two years ago people were talking a lot about coaching.

"All my thoughts turned to a portal or platform to find that mentor online, which evolved into Wundar."

Mr Ballinger explains his motivation more in a poignant YouTube video created by Tommy Jackett to launch the portal, where he shares the wide open spaces of his childhood home, the desk where he did his schoolwork, and an old copy of the North Queensland Register, one of their few ways of getting the news of the world each week.

"This is a very special place for me because this is where a lot of my character and values and principles were established," he says.

"I always yearned to have more connection...and talk to people with knowledge and expertise.

"Looking back at growing up on the farm, it became apparent to me that everyone really helps each other, and looks after each other, and that's something I really cherish."

His company has partnered with The Old Cranbrookians' Association to pilot his concept and is looking forward to working with the school alumni to build an engaged and knowledgeable network.

"The beauty about working with an alumni is that they're familiar with each other already and can facilitate connections and rapport," he said.

"But it's not just about boys - I'm in the process of signing up a girls' school too, and it could apply to any school, sporting club, organisation - the possibilities are endless."

Wundar sells its software for an annual subscription, much the same as signing up for Netflix or Spotify.

An example of how it can work is already being facilitated through the Cranbrook network, according to Mr Ballinger.

He said a friend who was 24 who had just finished studying finance and accounting at university and wanted to work in Vancouver, had reached out for assistance from the 7000-strong network for help in lining up a job.

"It's not just about getting a job though, it's about getting a leg-up in life and reaching out when you need direction."

Brainstorming ideas for Wundar on the whiteboard in the early stages of development.

Brainstorming ideas for Wundar on the whiteboard in the early stages of development.

Mr Ballinger said the platform would be very beneficial for geographically isolated people, who needed technology more than most.

"You're not necessarily going to meet the person you need to connect with at the Muttaburra show," he said.

"I'm also very aware that I'm launching this platform at a time when agriculture is having a bad time with drought and flooding, and I hope this helps with that too.

"No-one's ever done anything on their own."

He quotes Sir Isaac Newton's saying, "If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants", to illustrate his point.

He's the founder and CEO of Wundar, while Sandy Rudd is the chief marketing manager and Dion Daltonbridge is in charge of strategy and communications.

Mr Ballinger added that his mum, Ann Ballinger, was bringing a wealth of experience to the venture as a director.

As far as the name goes, Mr Ballinger said it didn't have any special connotation.

"We were just throwing things around and it sounded good to me.

"I hope it gives people a sense of wonder and a desire to explore."

The story Rupert's Wundar-ful gift first appeared on North Queensland Register.

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