infome sent out its first invoice the other day. In getting to this point through pickmylunch.com.au I’ve learnt a few things, I thought I’d share them:
- Do something useful. It seems obvious, but it is so easy to get caught up in cool ideas and grand schemes. All you need to do is do something useful for someone. Businesses want more customers and customers want a good deal.
- Keep it simple stupid. If you’re going to be useful, people need to be able to use you. It’s tough for them to use you if they don’t even understand what you’re doing in the first place. For businesses, “we bring more customers to your door” and for customers “we get you a good deal on lunch”.
- Get yourself noticed. Placing massive red lunchboxes with our website on them around North Sydney, often accompanied by a glamorous blonde girl handing out discounts, has played a huge role in getting to this point. By making ourselves stick-out, we made people double take, point fingers and take notice of us. Don’t be afraid to be a bit outrageous. (I loved it when I put the boxes next to some suits handing out pamphlets and the suits didn’t even get a look-in from passers by.)
- Talk, talk, talk. The more people we talked with the more we improved the business model and the offering. Go and talk to someone. Now.
- Stick at it. It’s easy to hang up the boots when you’re facing a bit of adversity. It’s easy to move onto the next exciting thing. I’m learning to push through these sorts of things, pushing through is leading to rewards.
- It’s all about the journey. I’ve been saying to myself, I should have reached this point earlier. However, the more I look back, the more I trace my steps, the more I realise that each and every step along the way has been essential in getting to this point.
- It’s an internal battle. What’s stopping you from getting that next customer? What’s stoppping you from looking at new partnerships? What’s stopping you? Well, you. You are both the greatest asset and the greatest obstacle you have.
These are the things that have stood out the most. I hope you can take something away from them.
Last night I sent out the first infome invoice. It’s been almost a year or more in the making. Evolving from rough idea, tried concept in many different fields through to what infome is today, www.pickmylunch.com.au.
Part of me wishes I could have reached this point sooner. Another part of me realises that there is no way I could have arrived at this point without going through the process I went through.
I’ve come to realise that it is a lot harder work then I thought it would be, however it isn’t hard in the way I thought it would be. Instead, it is hard in that you are confronting yourself each day, questioning yourself and pushing yourself forward. It’s easy to slave away writing code, writing plans and writing documents. It’s hard, so hard, to work up the courage to walk up to someone you’ve never met and convince them to pay you for a service that has never been used before. The battles you face are with the conflicting voices in your head, rather than with those around.
I love it. Every bit of it.
Published May 30, 2009
Marketing, Sales & Business , News , Success & Failure
Tags: australian startups, Failure, focus, lessons learnt, startup, Success, sydney startup, sydney startups, web startup
Almost a year ago from now I launched the second version of donttell.com.au. It was to be Australia’s number 1 location for Australian street fashion and outfits. It never made it.
This week the domain for donttell.com.au expired and the decision was made not to renew it. That is I’ve decided that donttell.com.au should come to an end.
Here some lessons you can take away from my failure with donttell.com.au:
- 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 donttell.com.au. I really couldn’t get passionate about gladiator sandals, no matter how hard I tried.
- Focus your product/service on a specific need. The first version of donttell.com.au 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 pickmylunch.com.au for an example of this.
- 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 donttell.com.au we eventually focused on fashion trends, creating content with the exact title of the trend and running advertising campaigns around that.
- 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?
- Focus on bringing people back to your site. Donttell.com.au 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.
- Keep it simple. Transforming donttell.com.au 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.
- 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. Donttell.com.au 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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I recently did an interview with Vishal Sharma for his blog that follows Aussie startups and tech trends.
Today we showcase story of an exciting venture, from Sydeny, Australia, infome - Find Anything Nearby from your Mobile, co-founded by Scott Middleton, Andrew Lowe and Brett McDowall.
Read the rest of the interview…
I’ve just been voted in as the President of the Young Entrepreneur’s Society for FY 2008-2009.
The main initiative I’ll be focusing on is creating and running a business planning competition in the first semester of 2009. Sydney University is in the heart of Australia’s business capital so it has every reason to aspire to have the best business planning competition for an Australian university.
I’m also looking to get people interested in starting their own business or running a business together on a regular basis for an informal coffee and chat on campus.
As per usual we will be running events to do with starting and running a business.
If you’d like to present to our 400+ members or get involved with us (non-students are more than welcome) then please contact me.
Last night I had a moment of frustration and a moment of “do I really want to continue with http://www.donttell.com.au?”;
The idea for sharing outfits, searching them and browsing them came to me over a year ago but I didn’t execute properly and it’s only now that things are really moving forward. Unfortunately it looks like someone else executed properly within that year and have moved themselves a few steps ahead of where we are with Don’t Tell.
Everything I read says “be the first in your category” which we would have been had I executed properly a year ago. Now it looks like we’re second.
Not to worry though, I’m going to push on because we do have slightly different positioning to our competitor. I just need to get it into my head that competition is healthy – in footy do you just lay down and stop playing if another team turns up?
Each day so far is new ground for me so I’m learning, learning, learning. I wonder what will happen tomorrow.
We’ve just launched the new and improved version of Don’t Tell (www.donttell.com.au), the first portal dedicated to Australian street fashion and outfits.
Here is a little snippet from an article describing the site:
Don’t Tell is your portal into Australian street fashion. It’s for what you wear when you’re out partying, grabbing a coffee, having dinner with friends or even walking the dog. It’s all about funky looks, fresh faces and having fun.
As well as creating our own content, we’re linking to other aussie fashion bloggers and sites so that there is more exciting stuff to read.
If you or someone you know would like to be linked to please let me know.
In the meantime go and checkout some of the outfits and articles: www.donttell.com.au. If you get excited, put a photo of some of your outfits up!
I very interesting article that reflects on the ‘failure’ of a startup has been written up: http://www.informationarbitrage.com/2008/07/monitor110-a-po.html. It’s a great read.
It also makes me wonder, maybe I should try harder to make things “fail” quickly rather than trying to make them succeed?
E.g. What can I do today to see if this idea/concept/product/service doesn’t work in the market?
Published June 20, 2008
Tags: business, startup
We had a great event today, everyone there enjoyed it – Mike Zimmerman from Technology Venture Partners (TVP) certainly gave a good talk.
Mike gave the aspiring entrepreneur’s from Sydney University an introduction into how Venture Capital actually worked, that is, how does Mike’s company TVP make money. Mike then went on to talk about how VC fits in with other forms of investment, how to reach one, what a VC expects in terms of returns and more.
There were some great questions thrown Mike’s way from the students. It was great to see people so interested in startups and VCs.
I hope this event gave some students an insight into one way of finding investment for their startup.
Thanks Mike – I hope you enjoy that bottle of wine… I had trouble not drinking it myself.