Category:

Entrepreneur

Building small businesses, institutional relationships and creating more home ownership leads to a ‘thriving community,’ says Isaac Olowolafe Jr.

Postmedia may earn an affiliate commission from purchases made through our links on this page.

Article content

When Isaac Olowolafe Jr. was 15, his family moved from Toronto to nearby Woodbridge, Ont., where he recalls seeing what a tight-knit community could build: thriving small businesses, widespread home ownership, institutional relationships and the accumulation of wealth.

By the time he embarked on an economics degree at the University of Toronto a few years later, the now 37-year-old businessman says, he was already set on bringing that formula to the Black community.

“Since then, I’ve been sort of planting the seeds to do what I can from an economic (point of) view,” said Olowolafe Jr., founder of Dream Maker Ventures, a venture capital and real estate company that focuses on startups led by diverse founders.

Olowolafe Jr. is one of a number of Black business leaders who are bringing their expertise to the BlackNorth Initiative, a group founded by Bay Street veteran Wes Hall that is seeking to use the power of business to end anti-Black systemic racism in Canada.

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Olowolafe Jr. is head of the group’s housing committee, and is also championing entrepreneurship through plans for a Black Business Development Hub.

“The Hub will be the centrepiece and physical space which the Black community can leverage to increase access to institutional relationships like banks and universities and government,” Olowolafe told the Financial Post in a recent interview.

The project is a twist on a plan that was already under way when he was recruited to join BlackNorth.

The mixed-use development near Toronto’s main airport will feature more than a dozen working rooms, hotel and event space, and a commercial kitchen — all of which will be used to incubate and develop Black-owned businesses.

Now a partnership between BlackNorth, the Dream Legacy Foundation and Ryerson DMZ, the plan is to raise $10 million in funding to expand the hub from 13,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet, Olowolafe Jr. said.

He says he hopes the business hub will open this summer and ultimately be able to provide services to more than 100 Black entrepreneurs.

Encouraging entrepreneurship through the hub will lead to more successful small businesses and help build institutional relationships, such as with banks, he said. This, in turn, will generate more income and opportunity for home ownership, a pillar of wealth creation.

“Home ownership leads to other ripple effects (that help individuals and communities) over a long period of time,” he said.

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

To that end, the BlackNorth Initiative’s housing committee is embarking on an effort to create a $65-million fund to provide bridge financing to bring up to 200 working, lower-income Black and racialized families into the homeownership game.

The committee is in talks with all three levels of government about contributing to the home ownership bridge program. A handful of well-known developers including Tridel, KingSett, DiamondCorp, and The Daniels Corp. and other potential donors have also been approached.

“They’ve all raised their hands to say: ‘How can we help and support and give to this housing initiative?’” Olowolafe said of the developers. “I think that that is a great sign.”

Home ownership leads to other ripple effects (that help individuals and communities) over a long period of time

Isaac Olowolafe Jr.

The idea behind the BlackNorth Initiative’s homeownership bridge program is that prospective home buyers would be assessed for mortgages based on the usual criteria of income and assets, with the difference between the mortgage they qualify for and how much credit they need to buy a home “bridged” by a pooled fund.

The bridge financing would, in some ways, be treated as a second mortgage. When repaid by the homeowner, either after the regular mortgage was paid down or when the home is sold, the money would go back into the pool. The homeowner and the pool would share in any gains on the home’s value when sold, with the ratio determined based on how much of the bridge financing the homeowner had paid down.

The intention is to keep the fund rolling, in order to get more people into homes, Olowolafe Jr. said, noting that even if the homeowner were just able to get their own money out of the home it would be more equity than they would have accrued over the same years renting a home.

Advertisement

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

While Olowolafe is a supporter of initiatives undertaken by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to get more Canadians into affordable housing, he stands firm on the idea that ownership — not rental options — will be the key to greater success for the Black community.

“I’ve always known that for the Black community as a whole to be able to be an economic leader there were some major things we needed: institutional relationships, building small businesses, and creating more home ownership,” he said.

“All that leads to a thriving community.”

Financial Post

• Email: bshecter@nationalpost.com | Twitter:

In-depth reporting on the innovation economy from The Logic, brought to you in partnership with the Financial Post.

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

Not many people build an app that reaches a million users within the first year of release. 

However that’s exactly how Daniel Vassilev and Jacky Koh, the co-founders of Vector AI, discovered their passion for tech and entrepreneurship.

“We built our first app by accident,” Mr Vassilev said.

“We were talking about doing something. I could code and he had the idea and marketing skills, so we built the app and released it. It was an android app for playing youtube music in the background.

“A few months later it gained traction so we monetised it. In 9-12 months we hit a million users installing it.”

Mr Vassilev created this app without any formal programming training, having only graduated from high school at the time.

However his interest in app development continued throughout university and the reach of his projects increased.

“Throughout uni, we kept building and monetising things,” Mr Vassilev said.

“Our biggest app was PokeWhere – it showed you where Pokemon were and it hit 4-5 million users in a couple of months and also hit no. 1 on the app store.”

Meanwhile Mr Koh was busy diving into data science, becoming the president of the Data Society at UNSW and winning the national EY data science competition.

Mr Koh and Mr Vassilev then went on to found Vector AI, a data analytics company that uses vectors to help businesses improve their products.

“Vectors enable you to capture the DNA of data – e.g. images, audio, documents – and converts it to a format that you can analyse using statistics.”

Despite being a powerful data analytics tool, Mr Koh found that vectors were heavily underused.

Whilst tech companies or large businesses would have teams dedicated to data analytics, smaller businesses would neither have the time, resources or knowledge to tap into their data.

“Data science is not the main focus in many businesses. If you’re an ecommerce company, your KPIs are around sales and conversion rates. So we realised there was a huge gap where we could provide them with the tech to drive their KPIs without having to worry about building and maintaining.”

Through Vector AI, Mr Vassilev hopes that more businesses will become aware of the untapped potential of data analytics.

“We want to have a wide array of customers that are using vectors to better capture the data they own. Around 70 per cent of data is unused and that’s a waste because one of the most valuable assets is data.”

However venturing into data analytics for the first time without a background in technology can be difficult.

“For people who don’t know much about data science and are in a managerial position and want to make better use of it, I understand it can be daunting because there’s a lot of noise out there.

“But I think the best way to overcome this is to have data experts internally that you can talk with and help you distinguish between the real and the fake, the useful and the not so useful for your business. But if you don’t have that, just write down the list of KPIs that you have and think if there is anything you can derive from your data that’s relevant to them.”

Despite Mr Vassilev’s success as an entrepreneur, he never planned this career path.

“I didn’t see entrepreneurship as a career option. When we first set out to build an app, we didn’t say we’re going to be entrepreneurs, we did it because it sounded like fun. The entrepreneurial side only developed after when we realised you could build and reach people from your home just by hitting some keys from your laptop.”

Passion, he argues, is the key to his success.

“Be really passionate about what you do,” said Mr Vassilev.

“I think people might want to build businesses because it sounds great and fun and exciting.  But there are a lot of really hard days and you don’t get through them unless you have a burning desire and passion to solve the problem and help the people you target.

“If you are going to start a business, find something that even in the worst of times you feel so passionate about that it’ll keep you going.”


Keep up to date with our stories on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

Business was hit hard during the pandemic. However a number of businesses who successfully changed their strategy have managed to not only stay afloat, but tap into new markets and flourish during an exceedingly difficult time.

This week we ask: how do you know when to pivot?

Cale Maxwell, COO, LEVO

The decision to pivot and the timing will vary from business to business, but aligning the internal with the external pivot is often forgotten. Pivots are usually understood to be external and customer-focused – a company feels they want to connect more with customers, so they point all their resources to that endeavour. While customer-centricity is critical, what’s overlooked in the pivot is employee-centricity. If you neglect employee experience, there is no way you will deliver a sustainable customer experience. You might be able to hold together amazing customer experiences for short bursts, but not for the long haul. Employee experience matters because building the necessary behavioural pivot into this experience ensures that you’re creating an internal space that will support external customer experience, and successful future pivots too.

Sean Girvin, Managing Director ANZ, Rackspace Technology

For many businesses last year, pivoting was a successful reaction to a challenging climate. Looking to the future, these businesses need to be ready for another pivot, with a more agile approach and robust digital strategy. This means businesses need to be proactive in adjusting strategies so that when major events, such as COVID-19, arise businesses are more prepared and only need to make minor changes.

When looking at the wider business, to ensure an agile digital strategy isn’t built in vain, businesses must take measures to build a robust cybersecurity strategy to safeguard all networks and systems. Without one, businesses are left vulnerable to losing time, money and energy.

Adam Ioakim, Managing Director APAC, Emarsys

Knowing when to pivot requires tracking customer behaviour data in the moment so businesses can make practical decisions on how to rapidly adapt strategies in real-time. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that being able to adapt quickly to change is critical and can make or break a company. Planning ahead can be become fast obsolete during times of uncertainly, making planning as close to real-time as possible absolutely essential.  

The retail sector in particular has undergone massive changes over the past year, with the COVID-19 pandemic causing physical stores to temporarily shut up shop and online shopping to soar. This forced many brands to pivot their approach or face financial ruin. Australian fashion retailer, City Beach for example pivoted away from swimwear to comfy stay-at-home wear during the height of the pandemic last year, and it did this by monitoring customer and business data in real-time to help the brand make near instantaneous decisions on areas such as inventory.

Alex West, CEO, Swoop

As soon as new industry trends start to emerge, it’s time to assess your model and consider “pivoting”.

For Swoop, we knew it was time to pivot the way we worked after analysing, watching and learning from the early trends of the wider business industry. 

At the start of the year, and prior to mandatory lockdown being introduced in Sydney, we noticed that more customers were moving away from working in traditional office spaces and towards remote working. Observing this trend caused us to question and reassess our own model and explore and trial different ways of working.  The result of this was a fully remote workforce still delivering for our customers for most of 2020. 

Spotting the trend early meant we were able to iron out any major issues in a timely manner. This further highlights that when it comes to pivoting a business, executing and making decisions quickly is essential as it provides a greater opportunity to fail fast, learn and reshift the mindset.

Chris Rich, Head of Customer Success, Square Australia

Last year many business owners enacted short-term changes, in many instances overnight, to stay operative in an increasingly challenging business environment. Knowing when to pivot involves continually assessing your products or services, processes and customers to gauge what is and isn’t working.

For many, their 2020 pivot was driven by a demand for digital transformation; brick-and-mortar retailers embraced ecommerce and omnichannel selling, personal trainers went virtual and restaurants switched to online ordering, pickup and delivery. While these changes may have been implemented as short-term business solutions, the customer trends that evolved with them are longer lasting.

Businesses that pivoted temporarily must now implement long-term strategies, and those who didn’t should consider doing so. A pivot doesn’t need to be a major change like a new product range or rebrand, but an adjustment to meet and exceed post-pandemic customer expectations. Ask yourself whether, in its current structure, is your business well placed to operate efficiently in this new business environment? If not, stop waiting for things to return to “normal”. Whether the pivot is big or small ensure your business isn’t left behind in 2021.

Gemma Manning, Founder & Managing Director, Gemstar & Manning & Co

A common struggle for business leaders is when to pivot and when to persist. When we first launched our Gemstar business in Singapore in 2016, we had a vision to provide personalised, accessible and inclusive management consultancy support to Australian entrepreneurs expanding into Southeast Asia. 

Right after we set up shop, a much bigger competitor entered the market with almost the exact same business model as ours. It was clear we would not be able to compete head-to-head, and I immediately decided to pivot. That’s when we established YoungGems, focussing on young entrepreneurs instead. We retained our original purpose – to provide personalised, accessible and inclusive support for entrepreneurs in the region – we simply changed our means of fulfilling that goal. 

If there’s too much market competition, your landscape has significantly changed, or your numbers simply don’t make sense anymore, it may be time to pivot. And to those fearful of deviating from long-held business models, I say: choose the right things to stay committed to – your why, not your what and how. 

Ben Lucas, Founder, Flow Athletic

For me, if I see that an initiative is not going as planned I will start tweaking it or brainstorming another way to do things in a way that is more likely to be received by my audience. As I have a good client base now, I often send out surveys so my clients can essentially give us feedback and tell us what they want. In the case of COVID-19, it was obvious that our business would have to pivot online. We never really expected to invest heavily into online as we were just using Facebook Live to deliver our sessions, but we started seeing more international demand, and we still have restrictions on our business so it made sense to pivot to a strong online model too. 

So for me:

  • If it is not working, tweak or find another way to deliver it
  • If your clients are responding to a particular element of your business, consider investing more into it
  • Ask for feedback and ask your clients what they want

Keep up to date with our stories on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

Today, being disconnected from Wi-Fi would be incapacitating for most businesses.

Yet Wi-Fi is a relatively recent innovation.

Wi-Fi was invented in Australia just over 20 years ago by the CSIRO. Now almost all laptops, phones and tablets are connected to Wi-Fi.

While most Wi-Fi chip companies compete to invent faster speed Wi-Fi chips for existing products, Morse Micro is developing a new generation of Wi-Fi chips for a new generation of Wi-Fi enabled products.

“We see large companies focusing on ultra-high speed Wi-Fi, leaving a gap for startups like Morse Micro to get to market with a new generation of Wi-Fi HaLow chips for the Internet of Things (IoT) market,” said Michael De Nil, CEO of Morse Micro.

“Wi-Fi can now be found in more than just laptops, phones and tablets. Wi-Fi has made its way into many IoT devices. Devices that don’t necessarily need ultra-high speeds but do require a robust connection to the internet. That’s the problem that we’re trying to solve – connecting billions of new IoT devices to a robust, longer range Wi-Fi network.”

Morse Micro, a fabless semiconductor company headquartered in Sydney, develops Wi-Fi chips that reach 10 times farther than conventional Wi-Fi chips.

Their team includes one of the original inventors of Wi-Fi, Professor Neil Weste, who built the world’s first Wi-Fi chips here in Sydney.

However their product is different from the Wi-Fi that most users are familiar with.

“The big difference between the Wi-Fi in your phone and ours is that ours uses a lower frequency and narrower bandwidth. It means you go 10 times slower but reach 10 times farther,” Mr De Nil said.

One of the challenges associated with creating such cutting-edge technology is predicting how it will be applied.

“We’re in an emerging market. We’re putting Wi-Fi in products that don’t exist yet.”

Nevertheless, Morse Micro has been seeing an uptake of their Wi-Fi chips in various hardware manufacturers.

For instance, Morse Micro’s Wi-Fi HaLow chips are currently being implemented in industrial IoT hardware, where sensors and actuators require extended coverage in large factories. Morse Micro’s chips can also soon be found in various wireless video cameras, such as security cameras, video doorbells and smart baby monitors – all products that need Wi-Fi connectivity to reach farther than the Wi-Fi we have today.

“There’s a range of new IoT products that you’ll see hitting the market soon,” said Mr De Nil.

“All IoT products need to be connected to the internet. At Morse Micro, we develop the enabling technology that will power today’s and tomorrow’s IoT devices. While we don’t really know yet what these future IoT products will look like, we have the chip that will connect them robustly to the internet.”

However speculating upon the future of emerging technologies can be difficult.

Despite its ubiquitous presence in daily life, Wi-Fi was not readily accepted when it was first invented.

“When we first started talking about Wi-Fi, there were many non-believers. No one would have imagined Wi-Fi would end up in billions of devices,” said Mr De Nil.

“Now it’s in smoke alarms, thermostats, doors, etc, and with IoT we’re seeing so many more connected products in each and every home.”

Although Morse Micro faces the unique challenge of creating a product that will be deployed into largely unknown applications, Mr De Nil is optimistic about its future.

“It’s hard to predict the future of IoT … [but] I think we can all agree it’s very bright.”


Keep up to date with our stories on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

Christmas is just around the corner, which means that businesses are preparing for the busiest time of year. Knowing how to position your business to take advantage of the festive season is more essential than ever as ecommerce and supply chain disruptions change consumer behaviour.

This week we ask: how can you make the most of end of year sales?

Natasha Burns, Sales Director, Go1 

News that Christmas tree farms are selling out is proof people are starting to reopen their wallets. Whether it’s the festive season, easing lockdowns, money saved from cancelled travel or just the hope that the woes of 2020 will soon be over, spending appears to be enjoying a surge. While traditional end of year sales were about consumer items, these days every business – whether B2B or B2C – is creating promotions and special offers and deals aligned with holiday events. Many businesses have undergone accelerated digital transformation this year and are ready and receptive for new products and services.  A good way to reduce stock and/or drive additional revenue, especially in the lead-up to Christmas, is by offering attractive deals – be they bundles or discounts. Ultimately, businesses who offer a service or product that improves or creates a more efficient way of working will reap the rewards of end of year sales.

Edward Wiley, Director of Strategic Partnerships Ecommerce, OFX

2020 has brought its fair share of challenges and opportunities for ecommerce businesses, pushing many retailers to either take a leap into the online world or strengthen their ecommerce offering into new global markets.

In fact, in November, we saw a 41 per cent uplift in transactions from our online seller clients, compared to the same period in 2019. 

As Australian businesses head into end of year sales and with the Aussie dollar breaking through 0.75 US cents this week, retailers need to be aware of the potential pitfalls that could impact profits, especially with cross-border trade.

Transaction fees, market volatility, and the automatic currency conversions imposed by some marketplaces are examples of costs that can add up, particularly during sale periods.

Working with an OFXpert to find the right solution for your business, like a multi-currency account or the option to fix your rates, can help minimise risk and provide currency certainty over the holiday season and beyond. 

Gordana Redzovski, Vice President APAC, Vend

With under 10 days left until Christmas day, capitalising on the last-minute rush can greatly impact a retailer’s bottom line to end the year. While early bird shoppers may have utilised a combination of ecommerce and in-store shopping, a significant proportion of last-minute shoppers will flock to stores in the coming days. Streamline the in-store shopping experience by listing your in-store inventory online, implementing loyalty schemes, introducing click and collect and using targeted marketing to promote your products, returns policies and everything else your customers need to know ahead of the end of year sales.
With many of these last-minute shoppers on the lookout for bargains and gifts, end of year sales are a great time to capitalise on the opportunity for upselling. Offers such as “buy one, get one,” placing smaller items near the checkout counter, and bundling related products helps to increase perceived value and incentivise sales.

Shaun Broughton, Director APAC, Shopify Plus

This year’s ecommerce boom particularly attracted younger consumers who have been quick to take their shopping online and drive market demand that has seen retailers rapidly accelerate their digital transformation plans. To make the most of the end of year sales, retailers will need to ensure they are addressing the needs of the 18-34 year old demographic, which Shopify’s research shows will require demonstrating convenient and seamless customer experiences. This includes contactless payments, curbside pickup options, and local delivery so consumers can take advantage of proximity when shopping locally.

Younger consumers will also be looking for independent, socially responsible and sustainable, and authentic brands this year and into 2021. The onus will be on merchants to transparently demonstrate and communicate how they address each of these areas and the value this provides to customers.

Sean Girvin, Managing Director ANZ, Rackspace Technology

As 2020 draws to a close, retail businesses need to take the opportunity to implement changes and updates to their IT systems so they are ready to hit the ground running in the new year. It may be that they need to look at a “change freeze” to ensure nothing goes wrong whilst the majority of employees are on annual leave.

During the critical end of year retail period, it is also important for retailers to continue investing in their ecommerce platforms to keep up with increased traffic and ensure the security of their site and their customer’s data. When looking to make adjustments to IT systems, think about executing load and penetration testing ahead of big sales event like Boxing Day, proactive capacity review and remediation of bottlenecks and single points of failure.

Tunc Bolluk, Vice President APAC, Validity

The end of year sales period is often referred to as the “Golden Quarter” because it’s one of the busiest and most lucrative times of the year for businesses. And after such a tumultuous year, the final push to boost end of year sales revenue is more important than ever this year. With that, businesses must put their best foot forward to cut through the noise and attract customers.

The most important advantage a business can have over their competition is being data-driven. Having valuable and accurate information about your customers at your fingertips means you can speed up the sales cycle by personalising the customer’s experience based on their interests, needs, and behaviours – giving them the gift of a seamless and convenient shopping experience. Another important advantage to being a data-driven business is that you’re better equipped to monitor all aspects of your operations, from sales to returns and customer engagement, enabling you to consistently refine and improve your offering.

Leon Adato, Head Geek, SolarWinds

Online spending has soared this year as shoppers opted to buy online due to changing COVID-19 restrictions. While Australia looks to be through the worst of the pandemic, there will still be an element of caution around travelling to busy shopping malls this holiday season. For retailers, this means doubling down on digital channels. Stress testing systems now is crucial—the last thing you want is a crashed site during peak season. Retailers should work with their IT teams to implement network performance monitoring tools, allowing teams to act fast during spikes of activity and empowering them with the necessary data to diagnose recurring problems potentially affecting performance. Businesses nailing end-of-year sales with a frictionless online customer experience will make the most of end of year sales and start 2021 on the right foot.

Simon Le Grand, Director Of Marketing And Product Management, Lightspeed

The promising signs of a national financial recovery, coupled with the easing of pandemic-imposed restrictions mean many Aussies will return to their regular spending habits in the lead up to Christmas. 

To cut through the noise of these busy sales periods and capture your customers’ attention, it’s important to move away from a “one size fits all” approach and recognise that personalised content is a crucial part of the selling experience. Different promotions may suit different demographics, so it’s critical to equip your business with the right tools to understand consumer behaviour and create targeted strategies. Short-term sales should also be viewed as acquisition tools for long-term customer relationships, and the opportunity to generate repeat business. Advanced point-of-sale software provides extensive capabilities such as customer segmentation, profiles and sales history, while seamlessly integrating to marketing and loyalty platforms – resulting in a more personalised customer experience and more profitable outcomes for businesses.


Keep up to date with our stories on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

Businesses are increasingly able to streamline workflows and finances through technology, lifting productivity and accelerating growth. However the right technology can also help simplify your operations, reducing the everyday stresses of running a business.

This week we ask: what has made your life easier when running a business?

Mike Featherstone, Managing Director ANZ & APAC, Pluralsight

Businesses today are operating within an unpredictable and complex marketplace that’s now digitally-led as a result of COVID-19. A recent Gartner survey revealed 54 per cent of Australian and New Zealand CIOs say funding for digital innovation in their organisation has increased this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. To navigate this environment with efficiency and ease, business leaders are encouraged to create and foster a highly skilled team of tech experts.

Investing in ongoing tech skills development will enable a workforce that’s ahead of the tech trend curve and adaptable. This will, in return, streamline tech projects, foster a quicker adoption of new tech, and alleviate unnecessary workloads to save on time, resources, and manpower. From my experience, working with employees that are committed to professional and skill development gives me peace of mind knowing my team is resilient, competitive, and high-performing in the face of a volatile and increasingly advanced landscape.

Bish Rath, Managing Director ANZ, McAfee

In this digital age, we can’t deny that every industry has, in some way, evolved or even improved with the greater use and adoption of technology. Having the right technology in place can help streamline processes, improve workplace efficiencies and advance business operations.

Cloud platforms and environments are a prime example of a technology that has revolutionised the way we work, enabling improved mobility and the ability to collaborate 24/7 without borders. The beginning of this year alone saw a spike of cloud adoption by 50 percent – a lasting trend for the months to follow. The use and adoption of cloud environments have greatly supported the rapid shift to a remote and distributed workforce, as brought on by the pandemic.

While cloud services have been instrumental to business resiliency, we also found that attacks on cloud services users reached nearly 7.5 million this year. With this in mind, it’s worth noting that underlying any successful implementation of cloud services are cloud-centric security policies and intelligent controls that ensure our sensitive data is protected. For me, and for many business leaders today, implementing unified and convergent security systems to protect against cloud-based attacks helps to navigate a hyper-active, tech-led landscape in the most secure and efficient way.

Steven Maarbani, CEO, VentureCrowd

Running a business is tough! Every day you navigate from one major issue to the next, from stakeholder to stakeholder, from one decision to another, hour after hour, until the working day is done. Then you eat, sleep and repeat. And as for weekends … ah yes, I remember them fondly. But it’s also one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Being part of a team committed to finding and funding the future is worth the challenges along the way.

So, how do you make business life easier? Here’s my tip – focus on your health! Health is my number one priority. Without it, I’m not much good to anyone. Skipping the gym for an early morning Zoom call or ditching lunchtime Yoga to finish some document that just has to get out right this second is completely counterproductive.

To get the most out of myself, I know I need the positive impact of daily mindfulness and physical activity. It materially increases my productivity, reduces my stress levels and makes me a better version of myself. So before you cancel your next physical activity for work, take a deep breath and let’s all meet in downward dog. Trust me, you’ll feel much better.

Drew Haupt, Co-founder, WLTH

Technology has always been a huge part of making business easier for me. For example, Apple products are at the forefront of all our businesses. We have the full suite of products including laptops, iPads, iPhone, airpods, Apple TV, and an apple Homepod for the office to keep the mood up at all times.

We have a great team and to ensure everything runs and operates smoothly, we believe it’s important to maintain a high level of communication between every team member. We do this with the help of a number of tech platforms that we use to know exactly how everyone is tracking on certain projects. We take full advantage of the Google Suite of products, as they allow us to have all our calendars synced, documents stored on the cloud, as well as provides us with a platform to discuss all our internal and external deadlines via Google Meet.

On top of this, we use a number of other tech products such as ClickUp for task management and planning, Slack for internal messaging, and a comprehensive tech stack for all things marketing.

As a tech business, we are constantly looking for new tools and products to help us grow. The combination of our team and the latest technology, is what has made my life in business easier.

Cheyenne Hackland, Founder & Owner, Holler Social 

One of the things that have made my life easier in business has been seeking help from industry professionals in the areas I feel I have less expertise in.  

When I started my social media business about a year and a half ago, one thing I quickly learned was that I really enjoy what I do, and I’m good at it, but when it came to managing the financial aspects of running a business – I felt a little out of my depth. I’d never run a business before, so there was a lot to learn, and quickly.

The first thing I did was to hire an accountant to help me in areas like bookkeeping, managing cash flow, and BAS, and I also use a company called GigSuper, which helps self-employed people like me understand and manage my superannuation.

This not only took the headache of finance away but also gave me back more time to spend on doing what I love, which for me is the creative side of the business and getting hands-on with my wonderful clients.

Ian Yip, CEO & Co-founder, Avertro

Three things have made my life easier in the past year.

Firstly, the great people in and around Avertro, both within our core team, and in our extended team which includes our Executive Advisors. Having the right people really does matter, and the only reason we’ve been able achieve the traction we now have is down to our people doing the right things at speed, and our advisors consistently pointing us in the right direction.

Secondly, our investors. Beyond the money they have injected into our business, they have opened their network to us. We’ve managed to open more doors and find more opportunities as a result of their assistance.

Finally, using the right technologies has allowed us to reduce our operating costs, and provided expertise within code that we would otherwise have needed to pay external consultants to do.

For example, our accounting software has negated the need for us to use an accountant, except for our annual tax return. We’ve also recently launched a new website, which was built in a few days through the use of a no-code platform. We’d previously received an external quote to achieve the same outcome. Had we decided to take that path, it would have cost us 75 times more, and taken 20 times longer. This type of technological power and value is ultimately what we are trying to deliver for our customers in the cybersecurity arena.

David Rhodes, Account Manager, Infront Systems

The challenges of 2020 have clarified the importance for organisations to invest in the right technology to make their teams lives easier. Cloud has permitted businesses of all sizes, to move to a digital workplace, providing seamless collaboration and improved productivity. 

At Infront, cloud is at the core of our business operations. We moved prior to the business disruption of COVID. This enabled us to rapidly transition to a work from anywhere model, ensuring our teams could continue servicing our customers’ needs.

Experiencing moving to the cloud firsthand provided real-world insights which we turned into lessons learnt. We utilised these to support our customers on making their working lives easier using cloud technology.

Additional insights came from SMEs who were already operating in the cloud but were underutilising features and benefits. Our managed services solution, BusinessONE, made it possible for our clients to gain real business efficiencies from cloud, without the need to understand the technology. This made their lives easier and empowered them to concentrate on growing their business, instead of supporting the technology that keeps it going.


Keep up to date with our stories on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

Half Dome, a media and technology business, claimed the top spot on the Deloitte Tech Fast 50 list this year, notching up an impressive 2,390 per cent growth in revenue over three years. 

Much of this growth has been driven by Half Dome’s persistent focus on people.

“You’re only as good as your people and that’s been our focus this year,” said Co-founder Tom Frazer.

Half Dome was founded by Tom Frazer, Joe Frazer and Will Harms after identifying inefficiencies in the media industry.

Left: Tom Frazer, Middle: Joe Frazer, Right: Will Harms

“We started Half Dome over three years ago with the intention of shaking up the media industry,” said Tom.

“We thought that the media industry, in particular from a digital perspective, was broken. We didn’t understand why we couldn’t just simplify the jargon that gets tossed around.”

Even though Tom did not come from a media background, the diversity of backgrounds in their business has helped with their growth.

“What’s been really beneficial for our business is having three different perspectives on business situations. We come from different backgrounds and have different skill sets and ways of looking at things, which has provided constant, positive friction to allow us to continue to grow and prosper.”

Citing a lack of “red tape” and “large agency structures,” Half Dome has been able to leverage the freedoms of being a startup and also avoid the potential risks.

“We weren’t aligned to a particular technology and that allowed us to be nimble and honest,” said Tom.

“The other startups are focused on one particular area of digital media. We knew we needed a breadth of services. And we’ve focused our growth and structures around that.”

However, their journey has not always been smooth sailing. 

As with most businesses this year, Half Dome’s growth braked to a stop because of the global pandemic. 

“COVID-19 has had a massive impact on our business. 

“On day 1 of lockdown, we called all our customers and said we’ll cease retainers until we know you guys are okay: we want to make sure you’re okay first. 

“That’s paid off. It’s increased our trust and relationships with existing customers and all of them declined to turn off our retainers.

“We also knew it would be difficult working from home, and invested in mental health and ensuring people were healthy and okay.”

Nevertheless, Tom is optimistic about the pandemic’s impact on the business ecosystem overall.

“COVID-19 has given people the chance to grow and take risks. 

“ecommerce is a good example. Businesses that weren’t selling online have had to start and now have to sell things online. 

“People have permission to take risks and grow. When things are not going well, there’s an opportunity to change and improve ways of working, improve technologies and be the best version of yourself.”

Half Dome itself has taken this opportunity to acquire new businesses and increase their service offerings through a new process of “venture marketing.”

“From a service offering perspective, we’ve rolled out venture marketing. This means we take an equity position in early stage startups and we provide them marketing to grow.”

When reflecting on their success, Tom cites two reasons for their staggering growth. 

“Invest in your people. We’ve done this from the start. We invested in culture and we go over and above to invest in training programs, in mental health and wellness. Treat them better and they’ll repay the favour. 

“The other is be clear with your goals. To have that focus on what you can achieve and how to achieve it will make a big difference.”


Keep up to date with our stories on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

Writing a business model looks different to each company. It can be a simple plan that evolves over time or even be accidental, becoming clearer after the fact. Regardless of when or how it is created, it is universally understood to be critical to your business’ success.

This week we ask: where do you start with writing a business model?

Alan Manly, CEO of Group Colleges Australia & author of The Unlikely Entrepreneur

There are many templates of a good business plan available on a quick Google search. Writing down your great new idea in the space provided will be followed by lots of meaningful questions that may not have come to mind in the excitement of creating a new business opportunity. If any section looks a bit hard, skip it for now. Revisit when you have had some time to complete the rest. Sometime later you will start to redo the first entries as you rethink the ideas and how they look in writing. There is no need to rush. Ask someone for their interpretation of the questions in the plan. Remember that you are about to invest your emotional and financial future in this idea. This is the greatest opportunity that an entrepreneur has to avoid a sad mistake. 

Oliver Ranck, Co-founder, Future Neutral

Fundamentally business models are simple. You need to make money. There are only a few ways this typically happens – a good product, service or offering. This is then a value exchange for the buyer – you are providing something they value, which in turn should increase their utility/value either as an individual or as another business.

When people assess a business model, what they are actually doing is product market fit and opportunity. The underlying business model may not be new, but the product, service or offering is novel. So how do you know if the idea is fit to exist in the deathly jungles of a competitive market? Testing.  

You want to start your own financial advisory business? Ask friends if they’ll trust you, literally, with their money.  A lot of people will “love your idea,” but don’t be fooled by false smiles – ask people to part with their cash – that is the litmus test.

Finally, be very careful with survivorship bias – 70 per cent of businesses fail. Had we tried to make Future Neutral two years ago it would have flopped. Be honest and blunt with yourself, you have to learn to call your own babies ugly. 

Jim Softsis, Managing Partner, Findex

Most are familiar with the saying, businesses that fail to plan, plan to fail. Planning is critical for a business, and a clear business model should sit at the core of that plan. There should be two-way interaction between your business plan and the specific business model you choose. Material changes to the business plan will impact the business model, and vice versa.

The inherent connection that exists between the “Operational How” (i.e. the model) and the “Strategic What” (i.e. the plan) requires the core elements of your strategy to be considered in the context of both “model” and “plan” together.
Core elements should include:

  • Summary – Short, thought-capturing statements that provide overview and context about your business and why it exists – make it personal.
  • Structure and operations – How your business will run, your preferred legal structure, your management or decision-making team, information flow, digital infrastructure (key during COVID-19).
  • Identified market need – A clear and concise definition of the product or service identifying what problems you’re attempting to solve and the specific needs you’re addressing.
  • Analysis of customers and competitors – Marketing strategies should evolve constantly to ensure continuity of business so it’s important to understand the barriers to entry and buying habits of those you are ultimately selling to as well as any threat of competition – new or existing.
  • Finance – Build out simple cash flow projections and put money aside in the good times. Understanding the seasonality of your business will help you handle any surprises.
  • Have an exit plan – Longevity in business is not always guaranteed so establish steps and procedures to action a future sale, a shut-down or similar.

Once in play, review regularly and update as necessary – good luck!

Bruce Perry, COO, Wontok

2020 has been the Year of the Pivot: where many business plans and strategies have been tossed out, as market conditions forced a total rethink. Food outlets switched to home delivery. Perfumiers and distillers pumped out hand sanitiser, clothing manufacturers made face masks. Other businesses simply moved online.

The lesson to take from this is flexibility and adaptability. To build a resilient business, your model needs to be able to respond to change and disruption and evolve to whatever the “next normal” is.

Fundamentally, most businesses involve three aspects: a customer, a problem, and a solution. And overarching this: a reason why that customer is going to pick your solution (assuming you’re not the sole operator in the market). In other words, a USP – unique selling point. 

This is what you build your model around, and what will subsequently guide your brand and your strategy.

Vijay Sundaram, CSO, Zoho 

Your business model is the framework that sets out what you want to achieve, how and why. It covers everything from value proposition and market analysis to customer segmentation and marketing strategies. It’s easy to get bogged down in the details or skip to the exciting bits, but your customer is the most valuable part of your business, so take some time to identify and understand them first and foremost. Your target customer should determine everything that you do; from what you charge to where you advertise. For example, if you know your target customer is in an older demographic, you perhaps won’t market heavily through Instagram. Or if your target customer is a recent graduate, ensure your pricing is fair, or offer a free trial. Once you understand your customers – central not only to writing your business model, but every decision you make thereafter – everything else should fall into place.

Ian Yip, CEO and Co-Founder, Avertro

The key to a business model is that one should not fall into the trap of over-thinking or over-analysing. There’s a reason that the tried-and-tested models exist, and it is unlikely that you can come up with a revolutionary way to make money right at the start. Those who get somewhere interesting usually iterate their way there by listening, learning, and adapting.

Instead of writing a long business plan that very few will read, use a framework. At Avertro, we started with the Lean Canvas, which is a 1-page template focusing on key business considerations. This will help articulate how you make money, and the challenges that will prevent you from doing so.

The right business model should allow you to determine the total amount of money one can make per customer over the lifetime of your company’s relationship with them, and how much it costs to get that customer in the first place. This is what’s known as Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) and Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC). Ultimately your CLV should far outweigh the CAC. Otherwise, you aren’t likely to be profitable.

Jeremy Fleming, Managing Director, Stagekings

When we first started, our business model was simple – we built stages and supplied them to large scale productions; including concerts, the Commonwealth Games and reality TV shows. We were on an upward trajectory – that was until COVID-19 hit. As quickly as the lockdowns set in, our revenues disappeared as the entertainment industry was crippled by restrictions that came with  the pandemic. We went back to the drawing board – we knew how to build things but had no one to supply to. So we changed what we built, carving up working from home desks, accessories and partisan screens. As quickly as our revenues were falling, they began to increase again, allowing us to hire back all our laid off staff and continue business operations. I think our biggest learning here was the need to build adaptability into the business model, right from the start. We had to adapt from an incredibly physical based job to an e-commerce business literally overnight, which meant we then needed to bring in partners like Stripe, to help us in processing the online orders. Being part of the e-commerce world wasn’t something I had in mind when we started Stagekings, but being adaptive has essentially saved the company. There is no one size fits all business model, and if COVID-19 has demonstrated anything about business – it’s that.


Keep up to date with our stories on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

Taking the plunge and starting your own business can be scary. However a good team and support network can make the process much smoother. Having the right roles and also the right people in those roles can determine the success of your business.

This week we ask: what were the first roles you hired in your start up?

Joseph Robins, Payments Expert, Go Cardless

The first roles you hire in any new department or region give you the ability to set the foundations and enhance your existing culture. When we launched our Melbourne office in 2018, we knew that we needed to take the most amazing pieces of our company culture and adapt them to the Australian market. As a result, we placed a “culture fit” as one of the most important characteristics of our first hires in the region.

The second key bit of advice I’d give is to hire adaptable people. Thousands of companies have launched super successfully in new regions, but I’d love to see any that followed the exact path they originally laid out. Having early team members that can adapt as you fine-tune your value proposition, your target audience, and ultimately your plan for success, is vital. Bringing in experts too early can mean you’re spending the bulk of your time either trying to fit square pegs into round holes, or having to replace team members who didn’t sign up for uncertainty and constant change!

Lucy Liu, Co-founder and President, Airwallex

When building a company from the ground up, the first hires are critical in setting the foundations for success. Any business can have a good idea — but it’s the dynamic team behind the idea that brings it to life and carries the offering to new heights.

In the early days of Airwallex, establishing a global financial infrastructure was our top priority. The quality of our tech platform would underpin the business’ overall chances of success. As such, our first hires were tech developers. 

Alongside recruiting talented developers, some of whom are still with us today, we made sure we invested in the best agile technology for them to work with. It’s so important to both hire the right people, but also to make sure you equip that team with the tools they need from day one. This joint investment in both quality people and technology meant Airwallex was able to scale and evolve without growing pains. 

Airwallex was also focused on hiring compliance support staff in the very early stages. We take our commitment to upholding and complying to legal and regulatory requirements very seriously. That’s why compliance remains at the heart of everything we do. We enlisted experts from the beginning to help us navigate the complicated regulations of the financial services sector. Being armoured with the appropriate licenses has meant we have always operated lawfully and work with integrity.

Ed Mallett, Managing Director, Employsure

When starting up Employsure, I hired two roles to help make my vision a reality. First, a crucial ingredient to any start-up is to hire someone who is highly adaptable, with no shortage of humility. Someone who can and will do anything to get the business going and can assume any role, a Jack of all trades you can depend on to get the job done.

Secondly, and perhaps in a way counter-intuitively, is to bring in someone whose expertise is the same as your own. For me, this helped free up time for me to learn the other facets of the business more intimately, so I could learn how to scale them, and then how to build on them.

If you have those two factors in place and they work effectively, you will then start to see steady growth in your business. If not, the business might struggle to achieve what it wants, and could run into trouble that otherwise could have been avoided with an effective start-up plan.

Jonathan McFarlane, Co-founder and CEO, PlaceOS

At the start of any business journey, you’re on a constant rollercoaster of ups and downs. During this period, having a great team beside you is one of the most important things. At PlaceOS, along with my co-founder, Steve, we wanted to build a team where we could problem solve over drinks. I like to think we’ve achieved that.

Steve’s role as CIO was to work on the product, while I was working on the solution design. But what we really needed to get going, was someone who could pull everything together and present PlaceOS as a service that customers could invest in. Therefore, our first hire was a Technical Director who could make this happen.

The next position we hired was a Lead UX/UI Designer. With a strong focus on user experience within PlaceOS, we wanted to put our money where our mouth was. Hiring someone who focused solely on this aspect, was the next logical step for us to take.
Following these two hires, we focused on building a team that we could trust and lean on. This is important because at the end of the day, a strong team makes a strong business and no matter the industry you work in, this is important.

David Fairfull, Co-founder and CEO, Metigy

At the heart of any successful business, start up or otherwise, is quality talent who are the right fit, both in terms of the skills they bring and also how they mesh with your culture.

For a deep-tech business, like Metigy which provides an AI powered marketing solution, we had to recruit talent that was going to help us actually build the product. This included a CTO to ensure we had the right project capabilities and tech stack — and also data scientists to both validate our logic and guide the development of our machine learning. 

Although the team you hire will depend on your specific business needs, it’s smart to hire from the top to ensure you have strong leadership in place, before expanding as resources permit. Original start up hires typically set the foundation for business culture and growth, so building the right team is a critical factor to long term success. 

Nick Frandsen, Co-founder, Dovetail

Your early hires set the culture of your startup, and will likely be responsible for growing the team, as I’ve learnt firsthand as the founder of Dovetail. Dovetail acts as a technical co-founder for start ups and scale-ups, leading product development for some of the world’s fastest-growing companies, like Afterpay.

Talent tends to attract other talent. If you get the first few right, you’re setting yourself up for success. But, one mistake we often see in young tech companies is the under-prioritisation of non-technical roles. The key roles an early-stage startup should consider hiring for are:

  • Sales and marketing: Most companies will have competitors with established distribution channels and larger budgets. To steal market share from these competitors will require serious thought, effort and ingenuity. You need someone waking up every morning thinking about these challenges.
  • Chief financial officer (CFO): Many first-time founders will take on many of the tasks of a CFO to save money. A good CFO (even a part time or outsourced) will free up a lot of your time that can be spent on higher value uses and help you gain a better understanding of the company’s financial situation.
  • Head of Product: This role sits at the intersection of strategy, design and engineering. How do you transform the high-level vision into software? Too many founders will take on this role and end up spending a lot of time doing detailed product work when they would be better off focusing on getting the high-level direction right and leaving some of the nitty gritty to a product manager they trust.

Danny Lessem, Co-founder and CEO, ELMO Cloud HR & Payroll

Whether it’s the first days of a start up or a publicly listed company, it’s crucial that each and every role in an organisation delivers a return on investment. Needless to say, what that return looks like will be different for each type of role. However, before someone is hired the business needs to have a clear picture of what success will look like in that role and how that return on investment will benefit the business.

The first few roles ELMO hired for could not have been more different in their functionality, yet they all had clear return on investment measures. For example, one role was a design focused role where the return was having professionally designed material for our growing customer base. The other was a sales based role where the return is growing customer pipelines and finalised sales.

Each startup will need to hire different types of roles based on their industry. However, every single business regardless of size or sector needs to hire with a return on investment mindset.

Bill Fry, Managing Director, EVE Investments

Culture is absolutely paramount and hiring the right people can make all the difference when it comes to positioning your business for success. As one of Australia’s leading vertically integrated health and wellness companies, Eve Investments is focussed on creating a strong sense of purpose and a clear vision. The company encourages collaboration and sharing of ideas and promotes inclusion and openness in all aspects of its business. This is achieved by having a flexible work structure, good communication channels and regular team meetings whereby individuals are actively encouraged to provide their input. Having staff located in a variety of different geographical locations, it’s important to have flexibility in terms of working hours, workplace locations and reporting structures. With technological innovations, we have been able to achieve a collaborative team environment that is united in pursuit of the company’s vision.


Keep up to date with our stories on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

After an incredibly challenging year, the upcoming Black Friday sales on the 27 November presents as an attractive opportunity for engaging new customers. However as both a non-Australian event and a sale that typically involves lucrative discounts, participating in Black Friday may not actually benefit your business’s margins.

This week we ask: Black Friday – to participate in sales or not?

Colin Birney, Head of Business Development, Square Australia

After an extraordinary 2020, Black Friday is a significant opportunity for retailers still recovering from government mandated lockdowns, operating restrictions and changing consumer behaviour. The key to success, however, is not simply eye-catching discounts but carefully considered preparation. Health and safety remains a top priority for Australian consumers, so to meet and exceed customer expectations, create a solid COVID-Safe plan that includes the provision of sanitiser and PPE, displaying visual guides and decals, and prioritising cashless payments. With health and safety measures in place, rely on your payments technology to analyse stock, recognise potentially busy periods and identify products that could be popular this time of year. It’s also important to note that a seamless omnichannel presence is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Establishing an online store and offering click-and-collect options create a convenient, effective experience for any shopper.  An approach that prioritises safety, enables you to leverage data, and refines your omnichannel strategy will give your business the edge it deserves to make the most of Black Friday and holiday shopping season.

Shaun Broughton, APAC Direction, Shopify Plus

Shopify’s research shows 61 per cent of Australians are planning to participate in the Black Friday Cyber Monday sales this year, and more than a quarter of those shoppers are already looking for deals. This year will undoubtedly be different to any sales season so far, but the trends we can bank on are the growth of ecommerce and online shopping, and the imperative for retailers to prioritise online customer experiences.

Black Friday Cyber Monday will present a significant opportunity for retailers to benefit from the buzz and excitement of an international shopping extravaganza. While it will be tempting to look solely at pricing and discounts, the best way retailers can prepare is by ensuring they have the right technology and infrastructure in place to manage significant spikes in website traffic, while also analysing their customer data to understand what kinds of customer experiences will be most valuable to their customers at this time. 

Tunc Bolluk, VP APAC, Validity 

Black Friday presents a significant and lucrative opportunity for retailers after what has been a very tough year. Last year, Black Friday saw a 34.4 per cent increase in online sales compared to the year before. And as a result of the pandemic forcing many traditionally offline customers online, we’re expecting to see record-breaking levels of online sales come November 27. 

Almost every retailer will be offering shoppers some kind of online promotion or deal, so with increased competition, retailers must focus their efforts on cutting through the noise to capitalise on this major shopping event. One area where retailers would do well to focus their efforts is their email marketing strategy. 

Email is the most cost-effective channel for generating consumer website traffic – driving 11 per cent of all global retail traffic and accounting for 69 per cent of all returning traffic. Keep in mind though that with increased email traffic, mailbox providers will have their work cut out for them trying to determine what’s SPAM and what’s legitimate, so it’s very important that retailers take the necessary steps to ensure their emails actually reach customers and aren’t incorrectly marked as SPAM or fraudulent.    

Gordana Redzovski, VP APAC, Vend

Once considered a North America-only event, Black Friday is now a lucrative day on Australia’s retail calendar. Data from Vend retailers reveals both revenue and the number of customers participating in Black Friday has increased steadily during recent years. And this year, in particular, the event carries even greater significance as retailers look to capitalise on the shopping phenomenon after a period of extraordinary disruption. However, participating in the event doesn’t have to mean competing with big box behemoths like Amazon by offering eye-watering discounts that barely cover your costs. Instead, appeal to Australia’s strong ‘shop local’ sentiment by spotlighting the bespoke nature of your products. Promote the quality of your materials and products, why they make beautiful gifts for meaningful people, share glowing reviews and the story behind your business and what it stands for. Be proud about your business, what you sell and why, and you will likely see Australian shoppers develop a stronger affinity to it when Black Friday arrives.

Shannon Ingrey, VP and GM APA, BigCommerce

The upcoming holiday sales period – including Black Friday and Cyber Monday – is expected to be Australia’s biggest ecommerce period in history. Australian ecommerce businesses should prioritise participation – or risk a slow Christmas sales period.

For retailers disrupted by COVID-19 throughout the year, running sales could be a saving grace – an opportunity to boost cash flow and move stock. For retailers that have successfully navigated the challenges of the year, it will be an opportunity to capitalise on ever-eager online shoppers and build the foundation for a strong 2021.

In a year filled with uncertainties, customer loyalty has been tested and consumers have become more purpose-driven than ever before. Ultimately, these sale days drive online traffic and can play a key role in helping retailers to expand their reach and cement existing customer relationships. Given the level of competition retailers will face, preparation is key – their platforms and technology should be scalable and secure enough to meet expectations and demand – or they risk missing out.

Martin Filz, CEO, Pureprofile

This Christmas is set to be a year of less socialising, less travelling and less spending. At Pureprofile, we recently published a report that focuses on how COVID-19 will impact this festive season and we’ve found that one in ten Australians (10 per cent) won’t be buying any gifts at all this year – almost double when compared to 2019 (6 per cent). Just 20 per cent stated that they would be spending over $500 on presents this year, which means the majority of Australians will be watching their wallets. Many of us (82 per cent) are also planning on spending the holidays in our own state. While overall spending will be down this year, the Black Friday sales do create an opportunity. For customers sticking to a strict budget, it will be a time to get presents at a reduced rate and possibly save a little more. For retailers, it might be an opportune moment to move items that have been stockpiled throughout the year. A word of caution for shoppers; check where your goods are coming from. This could affect delivery times during a period where we have seen huge growth of online shopping. If you are expecting something by a certain date, be sure that it will arrive on time.

Dean Vocisano, Country Manager Australia, ShopFully

Like many industries, the Australian retail sector experienced a shift this year where digitisation of products and services was accelerated for consumers to continue shopping in-store and online. But let us not forget, there are already existing calendar moments like Black Friday that can help facilitate this customer journey to drive engagement and brand loyalty in the long run.

By understanding data, retailers have a prime opportunity to appeal to the right consumers who are ready to spend – such as, knowing what digital medium is best-suited to drive foot traffic to a brick-and-mortar store. Or, considering 77 per cent of Aussies think about gifting before December, brands might tailor their Black Friday promotions, personalised offers and communications to drive early present purchases.

Constantine Frantzeskos, CEO and Founder, PENSO

Black Friday sales are a great way of attracting more people who are “in the buying mood”, so there is a strong chance you are going to get customers visiting your site for the first time. Give them a good impression of your website, brand and business and try and turn them from a customer to a client. Here’s a few other simple do’s, as well as don’ts, when it comes to participating:

Do’s

  • More than discounts: As much as there’s a perception that Black Friday is all about discounts, it’s not. If you solely offer discounts, you’ll attract “promo pigs” – people who look for the lowest price, suck your margin and move on. You’ll erode your margin terribly; no margin, no mission. Drive sales with exclusivity, urgency, access, value and price.
  • Create a value exchange: Offer discounts or special access if the potential customer does something in return, such as sharing on social media or entering their email address

Don’ts

  • Don’t spend too much effort promoting deals to your existing customers – especially those that are your high-frequency purchasers. These customers will most likely find you anyway, and all you’ll end up doing is giving away margin to purchases that would have already happened. Instead, focus on reaching new audiences.
  • Don’t think that just because you’re not a retailer of goods that you can’t offer Black Friday Deals. If you have vouchers, gift cards or pre-payments – offer them up!

Ben Rohr, CEO, Eve Investments

Figures from Australia Post across the 2019 Christmas period last year found that burgeoning online sale events like Black Friday had grown at an unprecedented pace with online spend in the two weeks to Christmas 18 per cent higher than previous years. For local Australian businesses, that’s an opportunity that can’t be missed. 

Black Friday can also be an important opportunity for new entrants in the market to start building out their presence and see an uptick in sales.  

Meluka Australia has a US presence and for any Australian business thinking about scale and international reach, you cannot be selling online in that market without participating in Black Friday in a meaningful way. We took part last year and will be participating again this year and hope it is successful. 

In November last year, our US Amazon sales increased by 20 per cent from October 2019 due to Black Friday and we are hoping for a similar result this year.


Keep up to date with our stories on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail
Newer Posts