Posts Tagged 'australian startups'

M-Vouch CEO Todd Graham on Mobile Advertising

Last night at Mobile Monday Sydney Todd Graham gave a great presentation on mobile advertising that reconfirmed many of the views that infome is based on. Todd Graham is the CEO of M-Vouch a coupon advertising network available on 3 mobile.

Here is what Todd had to say:

  • Mobile advertising must be free to the consumer. There is so much that the consumer can do for free that there just isn’t anything in it to make the consumer. Ask yourself, why would they pay to receive advertising when they can receive it for free?
  • It must be easy for the consumer. Keep mobile advertising simple.
  • You can’t spam or push to the consumer. Carriers have a wealth of information on their customers but they CAN’T push messages to them because the customer will just consider it spam.  It must be opt-in. Additionally, Todd used the example of inserting an ad for Starbucks above someone’s messages on Facebook. This type of ad is more likely to annoy someone than get them to buy a coffee.
  • High ROI is a must for mobile advertising. Based on Todd’s conversations with advertising executives, marketers and brands need to see a high ROI for mobile advertising. Having a background in television Todd considers mobile a much more effective form on advertising than television. This is probably because mobile is a new medium, so people are hesitant and want to be sure they will see strong results.
  • Incorrectly target your mobile advertising and you’ve just lost a customer.
  • 25-35 is the most responsive age group to M-Vouch campaigns.
  • MAKE SURE ITS RELEVANT. M-Vouch ensures it is relevant to what the customer wants by being opt-in and being able to base the vouchers on location and category of what the individual is after. You’ve got to make sure your advertising is relevant.

Todd’s product looks great in action. He and his team gave us all a live demo where we could all text in and receive a free beer voucher to collect then and there.

I’m really excited to see where it goes.

Note: The bold points are the points/facts that Todd made/stated. The text that follows maybe my intepretation or spin on what he said just because I can’t remember his exact wording from last night!

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The 7 lessons learnt from letting expire

Almost a year ago from now I launched the second version of It was to be Australia’s number 1 location for Australian street fashion and outfits. It never made it.

This week the domain for expired and the decision was made not to renew it. That is I’ve decided that should come to an end.

Here some lessons you can take away from my failure with

  1. You need to be 2010% passionate about what you’re doing. Whilst I was passionate about creating something that people loved to use, I wasn’t passionate enough about the actual purpose of the I really couldn’t get passionate about gladiator sandals, no matter how hard I tried.
  2. Focus your product/service on a specific need. The first version of was launched almost 2 years ago. It was a mess of features and “stuff” and “things” and … It just didn’t have focus. Your focus needs to be something that people immediately look at and say “Oh I get it” – only then can you hope for growth and usage. Take a look at for an example of this.
  3. Focus on how you will bring people to your site. You need to put a strategy in place for bringing people to the site before you build the site or service. The reason for this is that by asking “how will I get people to my service?” you inevitably end up asking “why will people come to my site?” which not only helps you focus but gives you the exact information for how you should be building your site and the advertising you need to do. If your site is built to draw people to it, then it will. With we eventually focused on fashion trends, creating content with the exact title of the trend and running advertising campaigns around that.
  4. Advertising is a must. Naively thinking that your service will just take off like there is no tomorrow because everyone thinks it is great and tells their friends is cods waddle. Ain’t going to happen. It doesn’t matter how great it is because how can someone tell their friends about something if they don’t know it exists?
  5. Focus on bringing people back to your site. had a mailing list that bought people back to the site. This mailing list had an exceptionally high conversion rate compared to most mailing lists. Once you’ve spent all that time and effort drawing someone to your site, you need to spend more time and effort getting them to stay.
  6. Keep it simple. Transforming from a feature list like “A social fashion site where you can upload outfits and share them with your friends, rate them, buy them…” to “Australian street fashion and outfits” made a big difference. Keep it simple.
  7. Get other people involved. You’ll be surprised at how many people really want to take on an exciting “extra curricula” project. Almost everyone has the itch, they just need to be pointed in the right direction. was lucky to become the outlet for some very creative people.

There are other little lessons learnt along the way, but these were by far the most important. It’s because of these lessons that it is hard for me to be upset about this coming to an end. I’ve just learnt so much from it.

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9 Lessons I Learnt From My First Pitch For Investment

Yesterday I made a pitch to the guys at Geeksville on a real-time local mobile search service (similar to buzzd). We’ve got a provisional patent on a particular method and believe there is an exciting opportunity to use our technology in the local Australian market. (Email me if you’d like to know more about our plans).

Whilst I’ve made pitches for various things, internal projects/change initiatives, sales pitches and pitches to get people interested in my idea I had never pitched with the intention of getting financial commitment.

I went into the meeting with the view that no matter what happens today I win. I either a) walk out with the backing that I wanted or b) walk out having learnt a huge amount about making a pitch for investment.

Interestingly I think I walked out somewhere in the middle.

Here are the lessons I learnt:

  1. MAKE SURE YOUR NUMBERS ARE OFFERING THE SIZE OF OPPORTUNITY YOUR POTENTIAL INVESTORS ARE LOOKING FOR. My feeling was that these guys are looking for something that goes profitable in the first 12 months and breaks even that year or the year after. I went in aiming a bit low and my numbers reflected that. I should have aimed higher. Which brings me to my next point:
  2. Aim high, have a big vision but be realistic. I should have looked at the larger opportunity, I focused primarily on Sydney and then later in the first 12 months on Melbourne. I should have said “Hey let’s tackle Australia, then NZ and then parts of Asia.”
  3. Get your cost of customer acquisition as low as possible. Understand how much each customer is worth to you over a year, I only looked at over 5 years (way to long). Then look at how you are going to acquire each customer, how much is that going to cost? My costs were probably too high.
  4. Don’t be on the bleeding edge, be on the leading edge. This is somewhat related to number 3. My marketing strategy involved an expensive campaign that was partly focused on educating customers. This drove up my cost of customer acquisition and made it hard for me to be profitable. I need to cut these costs and find an innovative way to raise awareness and service use.
  5. Understand who you are pitching too. I should have spent much more time than I did in understanding who these guys were and what each company in the Photon Group does. In particular which ones, when combined with our offering could find substantial leverage.
  6. Explain your assumptions and your financials. I didn’t spend enough time explaining why my financial projections looked the way they did.
  7. Present alternative paths. With a service that doesn’t yet have signed on customers it just makes sense to present alternative paths. E.g. if we tackle all of Australia at once it will cost X and we can expect revenue of Y and a profit of Z. If we tackle take a staged approached going city by city it will cost X2, we can expect revenue of Y2 and a profit of Z2. These alternative paths should also be used to answer the question “how much do you need?”.
  8. Just when you think you understand as much as you can about the market – learn more. I backed up most of my arguments and discussions with relevant reports, studies and statistics however I still think I said “I’m not sure” too many times. Just when you think you understand your market, start learning more about it!
  9. What is unique about you? Make sure you can clearly articulate why you are unique and why you are the man/woman/team to do the job. At the end I stumbled (at least thats how I view it) into our strong background in technology/telecommunications and the provisional patent we have.

So now I’m going to incorporate everything I learnt last night into my next pitch, the service and future pitches.

Aussie entrepreneur shuts innovation business

It’s an unfortunate day to day if you read Smart Company’s ‘Entrepreneur Tim Pethick shuts innovation business‘.

Yesterday was a sad day for entrepreneur Tim Pethick as he closed the Australian office of innovation company Whatif!

The founder of Nudie had joined Whatif! as managing director six months ago and had high hopes that he could not only grow the innovation consultancy but also to use the agency to spearhead an innovation agenda in Australia.

He says the issue was that the global board deemed Australia not exciting enough as a marketplace.

“Australian companies also expect to get half a million innovation projects for $50,000. The innovation ambition exceeds their willingness to pay.”

He also believes that Australians do not focus on innovation output. “They think of the cost not the new lines of products and services or the new revenue.”

I suppose if I look at the Australian start-up scene maybe this is right, or maybe its just that we don’t have the amount of people places like the US have.

Maybe there is an opportunity to change this?

Scott Middleton
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