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From high school dropout to tech founder and CTO: behind Luke Millanta's journey so far

Millanta’s entrepreneurial flair kicked off with a digital education business he founded in 2014, now he's CTO of the company that bought his startup for $4.2 million.
Hive's Luke Millanta

Hive's Luke Millanta

At the tender age of 29, Brackenwood Systems founder and Hive Gaming CTO Luke Millanta has already carved up his own entrepreneurial track record.

Millanta left school at the age of 17 to become a professional video gamer and was sponsored by companies such as Gigabyte and Cooler Master. 

“This was 2007, right during a financial crisis, it wasn’t the smartest move I made,” he said. “I got into IT to help fund my existence at the start, and then started thinking about trying to make a good run at it.

“I’m very fortunate with the opportunities that I’ve had, that has built me into what I am now.”

Millanta’s entrepreneurial flair kicked off with a digital education company he founded in 2014, called Acadeemit. It specialised in developing a number of web-based learning solutions for the K-12 sector, specifically aimed at home schoolers across rural, regional and remote Australia. 

Nine months into his education venture, he had entered into a number of partnerships with schools and universities such as Kaplan Business School and University of Sunderland. The company hosted more than 8500 courses spanning 10 English speaking countries, supporting more than 90,000 users. 

Two years later, Acadeemit’s intellectual property was acquired by Learnosity. 

Millanta then moved on to founding a software development company in 2016 called Brackenwood Systems. Brackenwood created a virtual goods trading service called Deeds, which allowed video gamers to safely buy, sell and trade in-game items for Bitcoin. 

While running Brackenwood, Millanta was appointed as the CIO of publicly listed cyber security entity FirstWave Cloud Technology. He was 27 at the time.

During his time at Firstwave, Millanta has been credited for leading a number of aggressive cost-cutting, task automation, and infrastructure modernisation initiatives, resulting in a 79 per cent decrease in annual technology expenditure and a complete overhaul of the company’s business support systems.

In October 2019, Millanta was appointed to the position of chief data scientist, taking on responsibility for the company’s data mining and analysis operations. 

“I enjoyed my time at Firstwave and had to learn to manage the expectations of a large executive team,” he said. “In my first three months at Firstwave, I completely overhauled the company’s support systems and technology infrastructure - through the use of automation, which cut costs dramatically.”

He left Firstwave in April this year, while simultaneously selling his software development business to Hive Gaming for a cool $4.2 million, his proudest achievement to date. 

As part of that acquisition, Millanta took on the CTO role of Hive. 

“We’ll be looking to partner with a number of big organisations to take some new products to market. In the next couple of years, I’ll be putting on more of a commercial hat, which I’m excited for, and I think that’s where I’ll be learning and growing my skills.”

 Millanta said that, since the Hive transaction, he has had a few opportunities come his way.

So what are some of the key considerations that grab Millanta’s attention? The first is whether the company peaks his interest and offers some form of challenge, and he needs to see commercialisation aspects. 

“When you’re getting into business, planning something out or getting into a joint venture, you need to look at the commercial aspect, networking prospects, do you have the right connections? Who would you need to connect with it to make it successful? And is there an exit plan in the next five to 10 years?”

To other young entrepreneurs, Millanta says it's important to remember there’s always a lot to learn. 

“You’ve got to take the time to learn and I enjoy being around people that are smarter than me,” he said. “Don’t think you’re the smartest person in the room, hope that you’re not, and work out who is, and learn from them. It’s the best way of growing and seeing real experiences.”

“I work hard to get results, and if I say I’m going to do something, I do it.”