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What do surfing, cold-pressed juice and experiential marketing have in common?

Techly's Business Success Series

The answer is Josh Phillips, and he doesn’t look like slowing down anytime soon.

After working in New York until 2010, Josh took a leap into a whole new world by getting involved with Polite in Public, an agency focused on social amplification through innovative pop-up booths capable of creating branded photos, videos and gifs on the spot.

The 34-year-old flourished, eventually becoming director of Polite Social, the umbrella company that looks after Polite in Public along with staffing agency Polite Promotions, brand activation company Polite Projects and content branding app Pixta.

With four arms to play with, Polite Social has a huge bag of tricks: think 360-degree bullet time camera setups, pop-up gif booths and more.

He isn’t just an expert in social media and experiential marketing: he also co-founded Cali Press, a cold-pressed juice bar with five locations across Sydney. How’s that for variety?

Cali Press is all about 100% raw and organic cold-pressed juices, smoothies, coffee and wholefoods, so it’s the place to go when you need to treat your body right. Part of the team’s ethos is to encourage healthy living without shoving it in your face, so don’t be fooled into thinking its pretentious or judgemental.

Josh and his business partners have ensured Cali Press stocks local produce wherever possible and stays accountable when it comes to reusing, recycling and composting – something that we desperately need more businesses to get on board with.

We spoke with Josh to find out how the hell he keeps track of it all while still finding time to hit the surf.

Between Cali Press, Polite Social and PIXTA, you have a lot on your plate. Can you give us an idea of what your life was like before all this came about?

“Life before was in New York, where my business partner Nick and I lived. The city was described as a ‘tournament of ambition’ in New York Magazine’s first edition, which is an apt description and certainly helped fuel our creativity to start something of our own.

“I am busy nowadays but have the greatest people working around me including my business partners and long term staff – it’s a team effort.”


Just a few of the healthy treats available at Cali Press.

Is it a challenge to be involved with such a diverse range of businesses? How do you keep yourself on your toes?

“Diversity is great because you’re always learning, which means you’re never bored and always on your toes.

“That said, moving the mind from a mobile app like PIXTA to opening retail stores with Cali Press to creating a 50-camera bullet time set-up with Polite Social is breeding ground for a monkey mind.”

If ‘a conversation amongst friends’ is what led to the founding of Cali Press, can you elaborate on who was involved and what you spoke about?

“Good friends of mine from Byron Bay and Perth were keen on starting a business and we had a conversation that gravitated towards health as an explosive trend and then as a longer-term lifestyle.

“The idea was that Cali Press would embody that lifestyle of health, the beach, feeling good – but also not overdoing it.

“It needed to be something sustainable you could eat and drink everyday; products we’d all eat personally on a daily basis, which I do.

“The conversation extended to my long-term business partner Nick and Scott’s contact Blair, and the five of us set about creating quality in the products we serve and maintaining the beach-inspired ethos that brought us here.”

Josh Phillips holding laptop and coffee cup at the beach

The beach is a common element in Josh’s work and personal life.

Cali Press clearly has a strong set of values based on health, supporting local business and looking after the environment. Are Australian businesses doing enough to promote a better tomorrow? What, if anything, needs to change?

“I don’t know about other businesses, but I do know that Cali is doing what it can. We use Biopak for packaging, we give used produce to farmers as compost, we’ve refunded $1 per bottle in store, we recycle – and we all agree as individuals and a company that this is important.

“Change happens slowly when the stakes are as big as the environment and sustainability, but I’d like to think it will happen if we all do our part.”

What does the year ahead look like for you, both personally and professionally?

“Personally, I want to surf and be kind to the body. I’m in Sri Lanka now and working remotely is something I’m able to do at certain times of the year, so I’m trying to get the most out of that.

“Professionally, I’ve just joined the advisory board of a tech start-up called Shopgrok, which I believe will disrupt the grocery industry in 2018.

“Cali Press launched it’s first store in New Zealand in November, and we’ll continue that expansion domestically and possibly internationally.

“Even after 10 years in business, Polite Social is innovating more than ever as we move into the experiential space. We also received a government grant for the continuing development of PIXTA this year, which we’ll put to good use.

“My goal is to push hard but do it strategically, and where possible, remotely. Being remote definitely helps with perspective sometimes.

“Plus, there’s the surf.”

About the author

Andrew is Techly’s Editor. Loves: weird gadgets and the Collingwood Football Club. Hates: olives and cardboard boxes.

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