What’s next for Olympic medalist & entrepreneur Melissa Wu

17 min read
Andy Sutherland

We recently followed up with Melissa Wu to offer our congratulations on her Tokyo 2020 individual Bronze medal in the women’s 10m platform diving event. But the conversation didn’t end there — it started with the Olympics, including her TikTok video that got 2.3M views, and ended with what’s next for her businesses in 2022. 

This interview has been gently edited for length and clarity.

All about the Olympics

GoDaddy: We have to ask – how were the Olympics?!

Melissa Wu: It was really awesome [laughs]. There was a lot of coverage around COVID before we got there, but once we were there it all felt pretty normal.

It was funny going from lockdown here in Sydney to being around so many people, but it was really awesome and it went really smoothly.

We haven’t had many competitions for almost two years now, so that’s the only international comp [sic] we’ve had in a long time.

Melissa Wu preparing to dive

We’re all very friendly in diving. They’re your competitors but they’re also your friends.

So it was such a great experience being able to compete again and be in that atmosphere. And obviously the bronze medal was pretty amazing too. Really happy with that result and came home a very happy girl.

GD: That’s so fantastic to hear – and congratulations again!

When you weren’t competing, what did you get up to?

MW: There wasn't a lot to do in the [Olympic] Village because of COVID. There is a big international zone that has shops and things like that, but the merch store was packed and there were a lot of people there every day. So we tried to avoid going to those areas too much.

Other than that, there wasn’t a lot to do, but our training schedule filled up the days anyway. We had maybe an afternoon or a morning off here and there, but that was spent recovering or just walking around the Village.

Most people weren’t there for too long so it didn’t matter, but towards the end I was getting a little bored [laughs].

GD: We think we might know the answer to this one, but what was your proudest Olympic moment?

MW: Definitely winning that medal was pretty amazing. It just meant a lot to me.

I won a medal at my first [Olympic] Games, and I don’t think you really appreciate it as much when you’re younger. It all seems easy, and you don’t have that pressure on you yet, and you’re chasing the generation before you.

So I think in these years gone by I really appreciate what it means to win an Olympic medal. Being able to do that, especially in an individual event, was pretty special.

I've been with my coach for more than 10 years now, and this is our third Olympics together.

And we got a fourth and a fifth but to get that Olympic medal with him was pretty amazing. I had a really great support team and network for this Games especially, including GoDaddy, and it felt like this medal was for everyone.

Dream it. Build it. program and hotel quarantine

GD: Unlike previous Olympics you had to head straight into two-week quarantine after competing. How was that?

MW: It was actually busier than I thought it would be [laughs]. Everybody always talks about all this free time to watch things, but my time in quarantine was pretty scheduled around the fact I had a lot of post-Games interviews, meetings and webinars.

It was so good to have so much to do, including GoDaddy’s [Dream it. Build it.] program. It was really cool to have that to focus on.

Melissa Wu working on her business

I wasn’t able to do much business stuff during the Olympics, so it was nice to catch up and get on top of those things.

So even though quarantine was busy, it was kind of nice to get back into the swing of things and not just feel like I was sitting in a room for two weeks.

GD: Tell us about GoDaddy’s Dream it. Build it. program.

MW: So GoDaddy ran a free program for Australian Olympic athletes to help them learn how to build a website and online business from quarantine — it was great.

You could work through it at your own pace, watch videos, and [the content] was laid out really simply which I enjoyed.

Even though I’ve done a lot of work with my websites, particularly HrdKAW’s site on GoDaddy’s Websites Builder, it was just nice to watch and see other people’s work and see how simple the Website Builder tool is to use.

Plus there were so many other useful tips in the program, and not just about building a website, but growing your business too.

GD: Sounds like a very productive quarantine stay! How was your homecoming?

MW: It was pretty cool. My family set up balloons and did a big welcome home sign on the front fence, which wasn’t quite finished when I got home so my brother had to drive some laps around the block so they could finish [laughs]. But it was really cool.

My family are my biggest supporters, and they've been with me through all the ups and the downs, so it was really exciting to come home. And get some cuddles from my dog.

GD: And we saw your mum got an Olympic bronze medal for her birthday! She must have been pretty happy with that?

MW: Yea I think so [laughs]. It’s a little in-joke with us. I think it was before Beijing that she said she’d like a medal for her birthday, so now it’s become a little in-joke. She’s definitely happy and happy for me, and it’s so nice to have the support of my family.

Surviving lockdown

GD: You must be a pro at quarantine stays now. In fact you came home to a full lockdown in NSW — is that right?

MW: I think one thing that a lot of people focus on is all the things that they can't do while they're in lockdown.

I’m pretty lucky because I run my businesses from home and have our home gym, but I think shifting your focus to what you can do rather than what you can’t do is really important.

Sometimes it can lead to new ideas or different things to try and develop your business.

For instance, with Australian Diving Academy, we’ve just finished a four-week online program with a part aimed specifically at divers, and another part of the program open to people from any sport. So that was great to try something a bit different and reach new audiences.

So overall tip: just keep moving forward. Focus on the things you can do rather than those you can’t.

GD: That’s some great advice thanks Mel. Let’s turn to your business, HrdKAW Strength. You’ve pivoted to offer more online services since the lockdown in Sydney – is that right?

MW: That’s right. Shifting your online selling approach is one thing, but coaching online is another!

With both HrdKAW Strength and Australian Diving Academy, now more than ever it’s about keeping people engaged and ensuring you’re supporting their needs.

HRDkaw strength website

And again, it’s all about creating that community.

There’s a lot of people feeling isolated in lockdown, and a lot of people do live by themselves which is hard. So video calls have been really important

GD: Do you have any tips for other businesses looking to offer remote coaching or online services?

MW: I’ve definitely been using video calls lots more, and experimenting with the different features like break-out rooms and spotlight speakers, sharing screens — that type of thing.

We’ve mixed together not just a physical workout but a live presentation at the same time so that people could work out together, but feel more comfortable knowing they couldn’t be seen on a big screen.

I think a little hack is experimenting with the potential of video calls.

My business partner Kevin and I spent hours one night just practicing and trying to figure out the buttons [laughing]. It’s also interesting to see how the different environments work across the different businesses.

But it’s been amazing seeing the coaching businesses get online. Even my friend who is a physio moved most of their services online, so I think it’s just experimenting and having a go. You’re not going to get it first go, but you don’t have to be a video call expert. Don’t be afraid to try those little things and see what helps.

Related: The new digital gym

GD: Did your businesses notice a boost in sales or activity after the Olympics?

MW: It’s been really helpful partnering with GoDaddy to help get the message out there that I own three businesses, and it’s given me lots of new work opportunities.

It’s really important to get the message out there that I’m not just a diver because as athletes, you don’t really hear about what other athletes are doing outside of sport. Most of the people I went to the Olympics with, I have no idea what they do outside sport. It can be lonely sometimes when you don’t know what you’re doing next after your sporting career.  So it’s been nice to help inspire other athletes and entrepreneurs to go for it and get their business idea online.

Black Friday

GD: Black Friday is fast approaching! Will you be doing any Black Friday activity?

MW: I will definitely be doing something for Black Friday. It’s getting bigger and bigger in Australia each year. I haven’t worked the specifics out on it yet, but it’s on my list for something to get organised for.

As a small business I don’t have a huge amount of stock.

And it’s harder for me to sell before I can get new stock compared to bigger businesses. So events like Black Friday are important to try and keep things new and exciting for my customers or making items more affordable with a sale.

That’s why I did my bronze medal sale recently, as it was another relevant moment to grab everybody’s attention with, and it worked really well and I was really happy with it.

Related: How to hold a Black Friday sale in (or just out) of lockdown

GD: That’s great to hear! What advice would you have for other online stores that are looking to prepare their businesses for events like Black Friday?

MW: Do a lot of research. There’s already a lot of information out there and you can see what other businesses are doing, or how you can improve your website with plug-ins or design updates.

Even if you can’t put things on sale, there might be another way that you can engage customers to bring people in. That’s why it’s important to plan for these types of events.

Every business is different so the same thing won’t work for every business. You have to go into it doing things your way. I think for Black Friday it’s really easy for people to just put on a sale, but sometimes you can be a little more creative about it.

GD: What spring cleaning do you do for your website to ensure it’s in tip-top shape for big online shopping events?

MW: I think knowing how your site will respond to heavy traffic is really important.

If you were to have a massive influx of traffic to your site – like off the charts I’m talking, generally the people you speak to say that’s not a good thing because their site crashes and they’re not prepared for it.

So it’s definitely good to be prepared for increased traffic and ensuring your hosting plan can handle it.

But generally speaking, without something like that happening, you can also look at your website analytics to see the trends happening over time, which can help you better prepare.

Benefits of a website with social media

GD: In terms of reaching new customers and growing your brand, you’re a bit of a star on social media. What’s your approach to social, and what tips do you have for other business owners?

MW: The most important thing is consistency, and that is one thing I’m not actually that good at [laughs]. Especially for businesses that are providing a service, you need to educate your customers and help them as well.

I need to take some more of my own advice as I always see a correlation with consistency on social media and how well the businesses are doing. But the hardest thing is staying on top of it!

GD: We also saw your Tik Tok account was going viral at the Olympics!

MW: It went really well during the Games, but as I said consistency [in social media] is really important. I’ve been so busy since I’ve been back that I’ve let the Tik Tok go a little bit!

But it’s actually been a really powerful thing.

Melissa Wu tik tok

I’ve always been such a big Instagram user and I’m not very tech-savvy so I avoided TikTok for a long time. Especially getting on there during the Olympics and seeing the reach you can get in such a short period of time. So when I do have more time it’s something that I want to look into a bit more for my businesses.

I also used to think that Tik Tok was just about dancing, but now I can see there’s so many different ways that people use it, and there’s a whole small business community. And the way that they create videos is really interesting, and people do it in a way that’s not a hard sell, more life as a business owner and what goes on. Things that people don’t often get to see behind the scenes.

GD: And what would be your top Tik Tok tip?

MW: It’s very trends-based, so it’s really easy to create videos that are based on trends. Whilst they’re funny, it’s important to create original content in-between to stand out. That’s also how trends start. By someone having an original idea, that people then jump on the bandwagon.

Importance of a business website

GD: How important do you think a website is to support your business? Can you sell on social media alone?

MW: I think [a website] is really important. Social media is great, as it’s free and a way to advertise your business, but most people are selling on a website.

So it’s great to see the correlation between social media and sales, but at the end of the day it’s all about the website, supported by the right technology at home to keep you running.

What’s important are things like:

  • Having a really nice-looking website
  • Making it simple for your customers to find what they need
  • Having a seamless check-out experience

And then follow it up with an email confirmation. Make sure everything’s done professionally, and that way you’ll gain people’s trust and they’ll be more likely to come back to you again later.

Even if you’re not tech-savvy there really isn’t an excuse not to have a website anymore. If my Australian Olympic team-mates were able to build websites in hotel quarantine with GoDaddy’s Website Builder, anyone can do it![AS1]

GD: Outside of good technology, do you have any hacks or rituals that help you keep on top of your game?

MW: Having little goals of what I want to do. So a big one for me at the moment is consistency. Consistency of creating content and having content across different businesses.

If there’s something that you really need to do, set yourself a goal or write it down somewhere.

I think just writing things down makes you more accountable. I’m not very good at prioritising, but that’s one thing that I try and do because it helps me work out what’s important and what needs to be done, and then I can just tick it off, one at a time.

New NEW – 2022

GD: Looking at 2022, what’s top-of-mind for your businesses?

MW: Good question. We started HrdKAW first and that’s the one we have really big goals for. We’re currently at maximum capacity in terms of athletes that we have, with my brother and sister coaching, and then also in terms of space. We’ve already extended the space out the back for the gym and we’ve already outgrown that, so once we come out of lockdown that’s a big goal for us.

So it’s finding money that we need for that, and then figuring how that will work scheduling-wise, between my brother, sister and I, so there’s a bit of logistics too.

But I’d really like that to be the big thing, and I’m happy for Havok to just steadily continue to grow.

GD: And any new business ideas on the horizon?

MW: I think I’m at capacity [laughs]. I think it’s cool to have ideas for different businesses and things you might like to do, but if I have more time I’ll put it into my businesses rather than spread myself too thinly.

GD: Fair enough! Are there any Olympic-inspired ranges coming for Havok?

MW: Not at this point. The thing that’s hardest is that everything has to be done so far in advance — like it takes so long to produce everything. So if I wanted to do that — maybe for Paris [laughs]. We’ll see. An Olympics when I’m not competing will probably be easier to do that.

GD: And in sport. What’s on the diving calendar that you know of for next year?

MW: So next year it does depend on COVID. There’s some competitions but we’re not 100% sure if they’re going to go ahead.

There is one in December that’s a team event, and you only have to do two dives so it’s a bit of fun and nice to travel. I think I’ll make that my short-term goal.

And then just get fit and get back in the pool again and remember what it feels like to be wet! I’ve forgotten already [laughs].

Melissa Wu airborne

GD: So we have to ask … is there another Olympics on the card for Melissa Wu?

MW: Never say never [laughs]. I’m working on a few things at the moment, and then I have that comp [sic] in December to focus on. So I’m just going to take everything one step at a time, and I’ll see what happens.

GD: Solid strategy. Thank you so much for your time Mel!

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