In a culture that’s often intimidated by death and dying, Jenny Briscoe-Hough is determined to approach things a little differently. For the last six years, she’s worked tirelessly as the founder and CEO of Tender Funerals, a community venture with a vision of providing authentic and affordable funeral care to all Australians.

She admits, though, it’s a leadership position she had never expected for herself.

“Primarily, I’m in community development, and when you’re in this field, the whole idea is empowering others,” she said. “So it’s almost the opposite of leadership, it’s actually taking a step back. I would say the community founded Tender and I was the driver.”

Today, Tender Funerals helps thousands of bereaved families across Australia to have meaningful funerals which reflect the wishes of the person who has died, their family, and community – without having to shell out tens of thousands of dollars to do so.

The average cost of a Tender funeral is between $3,000 to $4,500, compared to bills anywhere between $5,000 to $10,000 from leading funeral providers.

But Jenny’s message goes beyond making funerals affordable. It’s a movement to change the culture around death and end-of-life by enabling conversations on rights and responsibilities, and enabling family and friends to have as much (or as little) hands-on involvement as they like.

Since beginning in Port Kembla on the NSW South Coast followed by a second location near Port Macquarie, Tender Funerals Australia is currently working with a further six communities to establish services (that operate as franchises) in Canberra, Far North Queensland, Newcastle, Perth, Tasmania and Western Sydney.

Creating meaningful yet affordable services

The idea for Tender Funerals was sparked in 2008 when Jenny found herself in the position of organising a funeral for her late mother.

“Even though I had attended many funerals through my 20 years or so in community development, I hadn’t had to focus on the details and costs before. Then when my mother died, we washed the flowers ourselves, drove ourselves there, we even owned our own burial plot, and we still got a bill of around $10,000,” she recalled.

She still remembers how her mother’s memorial card had the funeral company’s advertising at the bottom.

Jenny elaborated, “My mother had an estate, she had a property, so we were able to cover these costs. But because I was working in a community, I suddenly found myself wondering how others might be able to afford something like this.”

Tender Funerals aims to empower individuals as they go through this already difficult process.

“They can be as involved as they want, from transporting the body to washing and dressing the body, to putting the person in the coffin. The idea is to empower people with information while giving them choices. Some might say ‘I know what I want to do’ and then, after some thought, come back to us and say ‘actually, can we do this instead?’

“It’s an evolving and transparent process. You can have the most traditional funeral in the world or you can have something entirely unique to you. But when you’re given a one-size-fits-all funeral package by a provider, it’s not so helpful.”

READ MORE: Founder Friday with Jacqui Bull: transforming Australia’s staffing market

A shrine at a Tender Funerals service. Source: supplied.

Jenny highlights an instance when Tender Funerals’ personalised, special touch was simply a family photo.

“We had a funeral once for a young man, and all he had wanted was a family photo, but they could never get the family together. So they took a photo at the funeral, we printed it out, and put it in the coffin,” she said.

Other instances have included simple ceremonies in people’s backyards.

“Anything could be a funeral ceremony, it depends on the intention you bring with it,” Jenny added.

The initial challenges

However, it wasn’t an easy road getting Tender Funerals off the ground. The biggest challenge was “to get people to understand what we’re trying to do.”

“For years, I was applying for grants and getting knocked back. Then one day, my friend and artist Lynette Wallworth said to me ‘we’re going to have to make a film and show them,’” Jenny explained.

“It’s very hard to describe in words what happens when you put your hands on the body of a person you love, and every cell in your body understands that person has died.”

The resulting documentary Tender, released in 2013, shared the stories of community-based funerals (including the death of their community centre’s former caretaker) to powerfully demonstrate their message onscreen.

Tender Funerals was able to secure funding from Social Enterprise Finance Australia (SEFA) and the Vincent Fairfax Foundation. Their model, they say, is made viable by families able to pay full price at Tender Funerals and further support from community donations.

Jenny and team at Tender Funerals Port Kembla. Source: supplied

Changing the culture around death

“An important thing that Tender does for people is that it wakes up something inside of them, the knowledge that they are going to die,” Jenny observed. “Now of course, some funeral days are really tragic and really sad. But it also helps us realise that this life is limited.

“When planning these services, we ask people, ‘are you religious?’ And if they say no, we do follow up with ‘do you have a spiritual practice?’ and often the answer is yes, because each person has different things that connects them to their soul.”

Some of the people who visit Tender Funerals have recently experienced the death of a loved one. However, as Jenny notes, there have also been individuals who want to be proactive about their end-of-life.

“Sometimes we have people ring up, saying they want to have this conversation with their children, but the children don’t want to have it. There’s still a reluctance around this,” she stated.

“But we say that you can change the culture with just one funeral. People might first come to Tender and not have a clue what to do, but unfortunately if they have to come again, they’re able to say ‘I know what I’m doing.’ We’re empowering them with information.”

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In recent years, we’ve seen how rising costs, disrupted supply chains, and lockdowns can adversely affect businesses of any size. But there are some solutions that, if followed, can reduce your risk and help make turbulent times a little easier.

This week on Let’s Talk, our experts share their tips that will help you address the risks and prepare your business for any supply chain shocks.

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Jason Toshack, Vice President and General Manager ANZ, Oracle NetSuite

Jason Toshack, Vice President and General Manager ANZ, Oracle NetSuite

“There are several tactics that Australian business leaders can adopt to prepare for and address the aftershocks of shipment delays and stock unavailability.

“Rather than relying on the just in time approach, which can be risky when there are supply shortages or shipping delays, the just in case approach is recommended. This approach focuses on forecasting demand to proactively secure sufficient supplies ahead of time. For this to work, a robust business management solution which grants to timely data which provides insight into incoming orders versus available stock is a key requirement. The just in case approach can boost profitability, while preventing wastage.

“Having up-to-date industry data like procurement lead times, stock levels and order volumes can allow business owners to manage potential vulnerabilities in the supply chain and optimise efficiencies within. Finance teams can leverage this data allowing them to create more accurate financial forecasting models to save on supply chain costs and inventory management.”

Callan Mantell, Vice President JAPAC, Oracle

Callan Mantell
Callan Mantell, Vice President JAPAC, Oracle

“In recent years, we’ve seen how rising costs, disrupted supply chains, and lockdowns can contribute to the collapse of construction businesses worldwide. While the industry has realized significant productivity gains through digital transformation, many are now finding that they have ended up with a mishmash of applications that generate data, but do not sufficiently integrate to deliver the insights needed to optimise their end-to-end operations.

“We are now seeing a significant shift as businesses look to the latest in construction technology – the Smart Construction Platform – to solve these problems. These technologies can provide the backbone of what owners and delivery team’s need, such as portfolio, planning, risk, resource, information & cost management, and payment engines that adhere to widely varying legislative requirements. They can also support plugging in an ever-growing ecosystem of point solutions to create the vital single source of truth and can help manage uncertainty by controlling time, cost, safety, quality, and more.

“By ensuring that all stakeholders of a project are seeing the most up-to-date information and leveraging predictive analytics, teams can respond in a more timely and collaborative manner than ever before possible.”

Tom Christodoulou, Sales Vice President of ANZ, Zebra Technologies

Tom Christodoulou
Tom Christodoulou, Sales Vice President of ANZ, Zebra Technologies

“Despite being highly efficient prior to the pandemic, the supply chain was operating based on a predictable environment. However, the unprecedented changes brought on by the global pandemic has made it immensely difficult for supply chain operators to predict demand. This has contributed to the shortages and bottlenecking we are currently experiencing.

“That said, good inventory management and warehouse organisation, with the help of the right technology, can alleviate some of these pressures. For example, Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology can help locate and report on supply chain performance. Integrating this across warehouses can reduce uncertainty about the status of items and increases accountability for their movements, translating to greater efficiency.

“By having better visibility into their inventory, assets, and people, it will provide businesses with insights and intelligence that can help them make business-critical decisions swiftly and decisively to increase efficiency, productivity and keep things going especially during such challenging times.”

Mick McCluney, Technical Director ANZ, Trend Micro

Mick McCluney
Mick McCluney, Technical Director ANZ, Trend Micro

“Modern technology has profoundly impacted the management of large IT environments by allowing centralised management of endpoints, but it has also created room for more cyber attacks. These attacks have consistently launched against weak points in the supply chain and are becoming more common as more organisations are adopting new software during and post-pandemic. As remote working became the new norm, the restrictions imposed by the pandemic forced many organisations to rapidly adopt cloud-based technologies and embrace digital transformation, without fully understanding the potential of security risks. Cybercriminals now have the capability to bypass security measures by focusing directly on their target’s supply chain.

“This means that as enterprises migrate to cloud-based technologies, it is becoming increasingly important to implement security measures for back-end infrastructure which, if compromised, could lead to supply chain attacks. As a leader in cloud and enterprise cybersecurity, Trend Micro has analysed multiple security risks and formulated mitigation techniques concerning DevOps, to ensure that the solutions and approaches being used are done so correctly and effectively. For example, its Hybrid Cloud Security solution provides powerful, streamlined and automated security within an organisation’s DevOps pipeline. This can save companies from experiencing disastrous supply chain attacks, often resulting in operational disruption, financial loss, and reputational damage.”

Merlin Luck, Regional Vice President of Small and Medium Business, Salesforce

Merlin Luck
Merlin Luck, Regional Vice President of Small and Medium Business, Salesforce

“With rising interest rates and high inflation, there’s a tug-of-war happening between businesses needing to keep costs down while still meeting customer demands.

“When we think about solutions to supply chain issues, you can’t look past technology. Centralising data and the integration of AI and IoT, for example, not only helps businesses upscale but also increases agility in supply chain operations. This is because all information is hosted in one place, providing businesses with a single view of customers and partners, allowing them to connect the dots in the data to create connected and consistent experiences. With these insights, businesses can predict issues before they cause significant problems instead of scrambling to fix issues – this is key to successful supply chain management.

“Salesforce customer Blue Harvest integrated Salesforce Sales Cloud to track products and identify supply and demand trends in real-time. By doing so, the business has been able to build trust with customers, partners and suppliers and create a stronger supply chain – now managing 30 per cent of the rock oyster industry after just two years.

“By taking a more customer-centric approach, backed by technology, businesses set themselves up to stay ahead of trends, adapt quickly and create loyal customers.”

Vicki Batka, Senior Vice President for APJ Sales, Trellix

Vicki Batka
Vicki Batka, Senior Vice President for APJ Sales, Trellix

“An issue associated with supply chains is the interconnectedness of networks between organisations serving as an entry point for bad actors to disrupt the supply chain. Building out your partnerships and allowing them access to your network is common, however what needs to be assessed are the cybersecurity guards they implement that can act as a gateway to your organisation’s data.

“Key takeaways for combating and strengthening your business in the supply chain:

  • Implement and/or revise contracts to ensure all partners have a level of cybersecurity equivalent to that of your own. When working with these partners, consult, highlight and educate them on the importance of cybersecurity to the supply chain. This will stop hackers from using other networks as a gateway to yours.
  • Adopting an XDR led-strategy will monitor and safeguard your business from numerous potential entry points through a ‘living security’ approach that thrives in this type of environment.”

Andy Thiss, Area Vice President of ANZ, Anaplan

Andy Thiss, Area Vice President of ANZ, Anaplan

“Supply chain issues continue to be one of the major challenges businesses in Australia contend with considering pandemic recovery, record setting inflation rates, and geopolitical conflicts. It’s critical for today’s supply chain leaders to think further into the future and align resources to meet demand. Due to the huge impact that supply chain risk can have on business bottom line, leaders need the ability to make operational decisions in an agile, accurate manner to mitigate risk and deliver on goals.

“The key to these smart decisions is to leverage more data than ever before. It’s not enough to look at internal data from sales, finance, and operations. Supply chain leaders need access to external signals – like data from customers, suppliers, or distribution partners. Having a clear and holistic view of internal and external data will help business leaders understand what’s driving the buying behaviours of their customers. With a clearer view of the demand signals, they can then align their organisations’ resources to try to shape that demand sooner rather than later.”

Paul Leahy, Country Manager ANZ, Qlik

Paul Leahy
Paul Leahy, Country Manager ANZ, Qlik

“One of the greatest challenges faced by companies is supply chain visibility. When even processes such as inventory management are regularly outsourced, having a clear, real-time view across a distribution network can be difficult. As a result, making informed decisions becomes harder too.  While all companies have some amount of visibility, it is not unusual for there to be a lag of over a week—considered typical. Companies today need to see even further, with daily or even up-to-the-minute visibility, to give them a handle on better risk management and alternative sourcing arrangements.

“Connectivity will drive actionable real-time insights at all parts of the supply chain process, extending to partners and suppliers. A data-informed supply chain process helps to break down these silos, allowing companies to not only proactively see these problems, but understand the implications and act in an agile, pragmatic, and timely manner.”

Gideon Joseph, practice director ANZ/SEA, UKG

Gideon Joseph
Gideon Joseph, practice director ANZ/SEA, UKG

“Overcoming supply chain issues is a key focus for many SMBs, particularly in today’s rapidly changing landscape. Intelligent workforce management can alleviate key challenges within the supply chain including:

  • Labour shortages: Having the correct number of people on hand to ensure tasks are completed is a major challenge in today’s market, and increasing competition for labour means SMBs must reflect on how they retain and attract talent. Paying people correctly and on time, employing people-focused rostering practices, and offering engagement tools that provide employees flexibility create a positive employee experience that can improve retention.
  • OH&S: The magnified effects of downtime due to non-compliance issues means that SMBs must be extra vigilant by employing safety-focused scheduling policies that promote fatigue management and certification checking to ensure that rostered employees are qualified for the job and well rested enough to do it safely.
  • Holistic forecasting and demand planning: SMBs can build capabilities into their scheduling and planning functions that deliver incremental benefits in efficiency and productivity gains. This can start with simple demand planning using a provided forecast and work up to intelligent workforce management calculated using demand using algorithms and historical volume and overlaying that with labour standards for optimal results.”

Nathan Kale, General Manager ANZ, Icertis

Nathan Kale
Nathan Kale, General Manager ANZ, Icertis

“The last few years have seen widespread disruption that exposed supply chain inefficiencies on a global scale. Many businesses were forced to confront how ill-equipped they are to react to disruptive crises and meet consumer demand during such disruptions. As a result, businesses are examining their supply chains with a particular focus on digitisation. One of the most important steps for businesses in a post-pandemic era will be moves toward supply chain diversity and transparency. Diverse, transparent supply chains will empower businesses to avoid bottlenecks leading to stockouts— which damage customer loyalty — and allow them to react in real time to shifts in customer demands. Winning that last mile in the supply chain will go a long way to restore customer confidence following the supply challenges of the pandemic.

“This kind of end-to-end integration is not possible without the critical business insights contained in contracts. Contracts sit at the heart of multiple essential business processes and define every link in a supply chain. Digitally transforming the creation and post-execution management of these documents should be a central component of any supply chain investment strategy. Advanced Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) software provides the critical system of intelligence for whom a company is doing business with and on what terms. This kind of contract intelligence can generate high-impact insights that help businesses overcome key supply chain challenges. Supply chain warning signs—such as a supplier missing contractually obligated timelines or volumes—can be detected early and addressed before they become an issue. New suppliers can be quickly identified and onboarded into the supply chain through seamless, cloud-based collaboration and inbuilt risk assessments.”

Jude Mahony, Director, Optimal Resourcing

Jude Mahony
Jude Mahony, Director, Optimal Resourcing

“Supply chain issues are also people issues according to Resourcing Strategist Jude Mahony. As with all procurement of resources, people resourcing is also about supply and demand. Currently, we have a huge demand and a limited supply. So, what’s the solution? Do you try to ensure proactive sourcing much earlier to build multi-channel sourcing strategies and flag risks in the supply chain? If this was any other resource, you would be using multiple levers to strategically adjust the demand requirements and look at alternative supply channels.

“My top tips to solving supply chain issues are:

  • Look at how you can you adjust the quantity of resources required.
  • Adjust your requirements slightly to enable a broader supply pool.
  • Look at different ways to improve efficiency in the process, remove duplication and automate where possible.
  • Ask yourself if you’re a purchaser that vendors want to have a relationship with? Do you pay quickly and support them as they support you.
  • Look at how can you adjust your timeframes while you work to make long term improvements.”

Mark Khabe, Co-founder, PRIME BPM

Mark Khabe, Co-founder, PRIME BPM

“For most businesses, the biggest supply chain issue continues to be long, unpredictable lead times. This is most likely caused by the process bottlenecks. Even a small chokepoint in the process can lead to a domino effect impacting the entire supply chain and causing production delays, backlogs and unhappy customers.

“As supply chain’s throughput, efficiency, and productivity, is dependent on bottlenecks in the process, identifying and fixing them needs to be the first step in your operational efficiency improvement plan.

“What is needed is end-to-end visibility into the entire supply chain process. Business process mapping proves extremely helpful here as it helps you understand lags at the task level and take an appropriate remedial measure. For instance, insights into high-frequency, labour-intensive tasks that lead to errors and delays could be used to analyse if automating these tasks is the right solution.

“Value analysis, which focuses on identifying non-value-adding activities in your process, such as rework, and double handling of tasks, is another highly effective technique. As your supply chain efficiency depends on the slowest part of the process, eliminating the weakest link or making it efficient will dramatically increase the overall performance.”

Paul Soong, Regional Director ANZ, e2open

Paul Soong
Paul Soong, Regional Director ANZ, e2open

“If we can learn anything from the state of the current supply chain, it is that uncertainty is a guarantee in the future. There is also a growing sense of urgency for businesses to operate sustainably with consumers now purchasing from brands that are only sourcing and creating environmentally friendly goods. Building supply chain resilience and sustainability is key to remaining competitive for businesses.

“From retailers to logistics companies, putting the right solutions and strategies in place should centre around providing visibility over their entire networks. This can help them become aware, in real time, of where their goods are coming from and going to, so that they can better manage demand and their inventory availability.

“To deliver on this, businesses need to adopt smart tools including AI and machine learning applications that help businesses make efficient short-term decisions based on real-time information to optimise stock levels and meet the needs of the end customer. Even within the conversation of sustainability, these technologies can reduce ESG risk by applying sustainable measures and practices at every stage of their supply chain, keeping their customers happy, and loyal.

“Real-time information is crucial in this new age to build resilience along the supply network. Moving into the future with data-led decision making can allow businesses to act quickly on unexpected changes and optimise their operations to build a more profitable, customer-centric business.”

John Karabin, Senior Director of Cybersecurity, NTT Australia

John Karabin
John Karabin, Senior Director of Cybersecurity, NTT Australia

“Being able to access and understand real-time data is key to building supply chain resilience and agility. What’s out of sight is out of mind — so by gaining visibility into performance data, organisations are better equipped to react quickly and accordingly in times of uncertainty. This holistic approach can offer a huge advantage, as you have a fuller picture of your organisation’s supply chain performance, and can identify opportunities to innovate within the network.

“By having connected sites — that is, linking different components within your supply chain — it’ll increase process visibility. This could involve having sensors on your machinery to see if it’s working at full capacity, to the trucks taking your stock out tracking humidity levels.

“With an abundance of information, it’s paramount that the data is secure and can be trusted. It’s critical that it can’t be intentionally changed or altered. For example, there was an attempted attack on a water treatment plant; even though it was a low profile attack, it had the potential to heavily impact life and safety. No industry is exempt so it’s important to remain vigilant and implement protection strategies to keep security tight.”

Andy Mellor, Regional Vice President ANZ, Kofax

Andy Mellor
Andy Mellor, Regional Vice President ANZ, Kofax

“Supply chain woes are set to deepen, with a labour and skills shortage predicted to continue. Solving supply chain issues to transcend the short-term means leveraging readily available tools.

“Designing intelligently automated processes across the supply chain drives increased staff productivity, service levels, and capacity and frees up over-worked employees to focus on more valuable tasks. On top of that, you’ll have access to insights and data to allow greater efficiencies across the supply chain process.

“With the skills shortage created by a low unemployment rate and low levels of immigration, businesses need to look to technology to bridge supply chain gaps; automation is key to relieving this pressure in the logistics industry. Adopting an automated workflow will not only transform business performance and capacities in the short term but can strategically transform processes long-term – creating a resilient supply chain that can thrive in any circumstance.”

Simon Ractliffe, Regional GM ANZ, Qualys

Simon Ractliffe
Simon Ractliffe, Regional GM ANZ, Qualys

“As supply chain attacks increase in volume and sophistication and its infrastructure becomes more interconnected and complex, organisations at the end of the chain are now diverting more attention and resources to mitigate their third-party risk as attacks on one organisation have detrimental effects on many others throughout the chain.

“Supply chain managers should prepare for increased scrutiny in the form of reporting, audits and security-led contractual agreements with their customers’ IT, security, and compliance teams. Suppliers that can demonstrate comprehensive security and compliance policies and procedures are likely to find it easier to win new business and reap the benefits of satisfaction and loyalty from existing customers.

“A good first step is to create a well-considered legal agreement that defines the controls you apply (benchmarked against a framework such as CIS or ISO 27001), and in return will expect your customers and suppliers to have in place.

“Depending on the level of associated risk, further controls may be necessary to provide monitoring of the data transit between organisations and the associated access rights. It’s important for all aspects of basic security hygiene to be followed by all parties, such as access and credential management.”

Kylie Butchard, Managing Director, Pacific Security Group

Kylie Butchard
Kylie Butchard, Managing Director, Pacific Security Group
  • “Diversify supplier chains of the same product and keep abreast of their stock availability. Having a close relationship with suppliers means you’re kept updated with any ordering concerns on the horizon and quite possibly opt in to purchase bulk for your own supplies.
  • Bulk buy most common items from suppliers and store for your future turnover.
  • Avoid overselling and promising parts known to have long back orders. Strong inventory management is a must to reassure the customer of delivery of their product or by offering them an alternative solution.
  • Explore alternative brands of similar specs so you’re prepared and the product has been tried and tested before offering it to the market.
  • Give customers a clear understanding of stock availability, wait times and price influxes.
  • Approach the problem head on and be proactive rather than reactive by all of the above.”

Thomas Fikentscher, Regional Director ANZ, CyberArk

Thomas Fikentscher
Thomas Fikentscher, Regional Director ANZ, CyberArk

“Over the last year, software supply chain attacks have become one of the biggest issues affecting organisations’ critical digital resources, which attackers can gain access to via compromised software.

“Organisations can protect themselves against these attacks by taking the following steps:

  1. Enforce the principal of least privilege (PoLP) by applying role-based access control so that a developer, application or script only has access to the credentials needed.
  2. Deploy an identity security solution that will protect organisations against credential theft and privilege misuse by automatically discovering and onboarding privileged credentials used by humans, devices or applications.
  3. Adopt secure coding principles. It is critical for the security team to take a proactive approach in integrating security with the DevOps process.
  4. Adopt software bill of materials (SBOMs) which are machine-readable documents that provide a definitive record of the components used to build a software product including open-source software.”

Brian Renvoize, Director of Sales AU & NZ, Wayflyer

Brian Renvoize
Brian Renvoize, Director of Sales AU & NZ, Wayflyer

“The most pressing supply chain challenge right now is planning for the upcoming in Q4 well ahead of time. With ongoing freight and production delays, securing stock early will be crucial. Business leaders should forecast expected demand using previous holiday season data, while also factoring in year-on-year growth.

“The next logical challenge for many businesses is cash flow, as cash on hand may not be enough to secure the stock needed to capitalise on the busy season. Traditional finance providers may take too long to process an application, so many businesses are using alternative finance providers that use a revenue-based model to secure funding quickly. Getting funds in the door fast can be the difference between an average or stellar end-of-year sale season.”

Brent Paterson, Managing Director ANZ, SNP

Brent Paterson, Managing Director ANZ, SNP

“Organisations can streamline business processes and reduce the impact of supply chain delays by harnessing the power of robust data analytics and driving enterprise mobility.

“They can do this by:

  • Investing in digital, data-driven technologies, prioritising data integrity, and adopting near-real-time data analytics capabilities
  • Embedding live data analysis and best practice processes across every aspect of operations
  • Integrating secure, reliable mobile technology solutions that support all facets of mobile, remote, and hybrid work.

“The modern supply chain network requires businesses to eliminate legacy data siloes that create bottlenecks and impede internal processes. This opens the door to achieving much greater levels of businesses productivity and efficiency through continually optimised processes. It also delivers complete visibility of business and customer activities as a result of the real-time, accurate insights that data intelligence provides.

“Just as importantly, this approach helps businesses achieve enterprise mobility, which is essential for success in volatile, unpredictable markets. It ultimately empowers organisations to build mobility, agility, and resilience into every aspect of their operations, which is the hallmark of an intelligent enterprise.”

Nathan Gower, Head of Business Development ANZ, Boomi

Nathan Gower
Nathan Gower, Head of Business Development ANZ, Boomi

“It was just a few years ago most Australians wouldn’t have even considered the complexities hidden within supply chains. Supermarket shelves were reliably stocked, medical supplies were available, and pricing on raw materials was fairly consistent. Global supply chains ticked, but recent years have made it clear supply chains must better understand themselves to maintain around the clock resilience.

“The not-so secret ingredient is data. It is what binds the web of collaboration between different partners for materials and components, logistics, and services. Connected data gives supply chains the ability to cope with unexpected events and crises in our global, digital economy.

“But record digitalisation has only added to the challenge. Today’s supply chains use vastly more solutions and systems than ever before, with a combination of ‘best-of-breed’ technologies to tackle specific functions, such as dedicated logistics tracking, inventory planning apps and demand optimisations tools.

“However, most are only partially integrated, if at all, meaning they operate alone. Having systems that communicate and share data securely fosters a collaborative and fully integrated ecosystem where all stakeholders, from suppliers to transporters, can view and receive the information they need, when they need it, and identify areas of waste or inefficiencies.”

Walter Scremin, CEO, Ontime Delivery Solutions

Walter Scremin, CEO, Ontime Delivery Solutions

“The most important thing is to focus on what you can control, and in supply chains that’s not always possible – for example, business has limited power over a shipment unexpectedly stranded on the water. But business can keep analysing its supply chain performance and its supply chain relationships, to ensure they are efficient and not overly exposed to any one supplier.

“The delivery transport aspect offers some control, yet it’s an area which is often run inefficiently. There’s much to be gained in researching delivery costs, and understanding your efficiency and responsiveness. The best delivery fleets are flexible and adapt to fluctuations in demand.

“When trying something new in areas like third party logistics, a trial period is generally best. Start small before over-committing, and look for partners which make your business better. Technology is key as you need to monitor and measure your efficiency. And communication is critical in managing supply chain issues.”

Matt Richardson, Senior Corporate Client Manager, OFX

Matt Richardson
Matt Richardson, Senior Corporate Client Manager, OFX

“For businesses moving goods globally, part and parcel of supply chain bottlenecks is heightened currency volatility.

“I’ve seen companies’ profit margins severely impacted by exchange rate fluctuations when buying and selling goods and services overseas, but also those who have been able to take advantage of such moves when their FX costs are planned.

“There are a number of useful tools that are readily available to help minimise risk, and keep your costs in budget, so you don’t have to tighten your margin or pass on costs to your customers. Here’s my top three tips to help you do just that:

  • Choose the right FX partner. Your bank may not guarantee the best rate and provide the specialist FX advice you need.
  • Set a target rate. Good if you have an exchange rate in mind to meet your budget and have time to wait, so you can take advantage of favourable market moves in different timezones.
  • Consider a Global Currency Account to take FX volatility out of the equation. Use local currency accounts to receive payments or pay taxes, fees, vendors or suppliers.”

Leona Watson, Speaker and Coach

Leona Watson
Leona Watson, Speaker and Coach

“I’ve had several business coaching clients in this predicament.  One couldn’t fulfil orders as he didn’t have packaging. Ouch!

  1. BUDDY UP WITH COMPETITORS/SIMILAR NEEDS.  I’ve been recommending bulk buying and sharing shipping and storage costs.  Better buying power is a key element especially for SMBs.
  1. REDUCE # OF PRODUCTS.  What are your low volume, low profit, fiddly, time-sucking, pain-in-the-butt products? Ditch them to simplify your Procurement & Operations.  You can always bring products back. but for now, sideline them, so you can buy more of less items. Better cashflow for sure.
  1. REDUCE RELIANCE ON KEY STAFF.  Less products means less product training for Sales and Customer Service teams. You won’t be held hostage by key staff.
  1. CONSIDER BOUTIQUE OR NICHE.  This laser-focusses your marketing messages and Brand Promise to a tighter target market.  You’ll spend less dollars and save time.
  1. HERO PRODUCT X 3.  Once you’ve eliminated products, consider: 1. Entry/budget  2. Mid-range and 3. Bells & whistles versions of your Hero product.  You’ll now have 3 products to sell without extending your supply chain needs.  Fab for upgrade selling too.”

Nik Vora, Vice President of Asia Pacific, Neo4j

Nik Vora
Nik Vora, Vice President of Asia Pacific, Neo4j

“Since the onset of the pandemic, global supply chains have suffered unprecedented disruptions. The sheer complexity of supply chains requires organisations to have greater visibility and agility to be resilient and ensure business continuity. This is where graph technology can help alleviate key supply chain issues.

“A graph data platform bridges data silo and creates a connected supply chain that will enable businesses to better manage, analyse and visualise their data. It provides a trackable and in-depth picture of all products, suppliers, and facilities and the relationships between them, enabling businesses to make more informed decisions.

“The ability to identify risks by tracking multi-tiered supplier information, costs, and disruptions is key for companies to take corrective action before shortages impact business operations and overcome supply chain disruptions.”

Jarrod Kinchington, Vice President and Managing Director of ANZ, Infor

Jarrod Kinchington, Vice President and Managing Director of ANZ, Infor
Jarrod Kinchington, Vice President and Managing Director of ANZ, Infor

“Ongoing supply chain disruptions have upended Australian industries, exposing costly operational gaps. My top tips for businesses struggling to overcome these challenging times include:

  • Map it out: Identify key suppliers and areas of risk for full visibility over processes, and  see how supply bottlenecks will impact operations, revenue and customer experience.
  • Be agile: Supply shortages mean it’s more important than ever to broaden networks and source from different suppliers. A broad supply chain is a stronger supply chain.
  • Be transparent: When shortages and delays happen, consumers and supply partners left in the dark inevitably lose confidence. Improve your product and process visibility, and you won’t just improve these relationships but you will also lay the foundations for greater predictive capabilities.
  • Embrace automation: Companies leveraging automation technology are more effectively managing their talent, strengthening their supply networks and driving significant business improvements.”

Nic Brill, CEO, Poolwerx

Nic Brill
Nic Brill, CEO, Poolwerx

“The pandemic revealed an urgent need for greater agility and forward planning in supply chain and manufacturing operations. In November 2021, Poolwerx identified we were selling salt faster than we could source. We endeavoured to find the better way: onboarding a third supplier to create a secondary supply chain bespoke to Poolwerx. This required a significant investment, staff resources, management oversight and logistical coordination with suppliers, warehousing and transport.

In February 2022, we innovated again to address additional supply pressures caused by La Niña and flooding on the east coast. We worked closely with our new supplier to arrange extra shifts amid a worker shortage to produce salt at night. This meant we had an ample supply of salt and experienced zero shortages and outages when most retailers across the coast ran out. The moral of the story: forecasting, persistence and a little creative thinking are your allies in times of crisis.”

David Aherne, Managing Director and CEO, Across The Ocean Shipping

David Aherne
David Aherne, Managing Director and CEO, Across The Ocean Shipping

“Top tips for solving supply chain issues:

  • With an unpredictable supply chain, it is often difficult to ascertain when a particular product may become unavailable. Clients need to be proactive and anticipate these problems. Research needs to be conducted to look into alternative supply chain solutions around the globe. Vietnam, India and Malaysia are all attractive alternatives. Through doing so, you’ll be able to spread the risk and maintain adequate stock even if an original supplier is unable to fulfil your needs.
  • Supply chain issues can have a significant impact on your inventory. Clients need to consider using historical data and trends to successfully plan for future supply and demand changes. This can help you to prepare for future issues and prevent inventory shortages.
  • Develop strong relationships with manufacturers in various geographical locations to provide yourself with greater flexibility. Supply chain issues are widespread, many manufacturers are openly available to build new relationships and provide reliable alternatives. This can help clients to avoid prolonged delays.
  • Look and accept alternative routes of transportation, the cheapest way is not always the best way. With an increasing number of ports becoming congested, look at moving your shipments via air, road or rail to alternative ports with lower vessel wait times. This can help you to overcome inefficiency and delays.
  • Utilising a forwarder with clear communication channels that can offer 24/7 tracking and milestone push points is a simple yet effective way to stay on top of supply chain issues. Uncertainty is much worse than being aware of a delay. To keep waiting customers happier, ensure they have timely messaging surrounding any delays to keep them informed on when they can expect to receive their goods.
  • The unpredictable supply chain is leading to an increase in delays and late shipments, meaning that you can’t always rely on the predicted shipping times. Planning ahead is essential to ensure required stock arrives in time to avoid any negative implications.”

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We started with nothing; we found funds where we could through savings and borrowing from friends and family that wholeheartedly believed in our brand. The main driving force that sustained us was a strong belief that we were creating something worthwhile

Steve Moon Founder & Director, LinkSafe

In early 2020, LinkSafe remodelled its cloud-based contractor management system to keep up with client demand for a trusted, easy solution to new vaccine protocols. This quick change in gears resulted in a 33 per cent increase in revenue and almost doubled their client base. 

Since 2012, the team has grown their client base from 10 to 545, with over 30 international businesses utilising the platform daily. LinkSafe founder Steve Moon says that the company worked tirelessly in the early stages of the pandemic to ensure they could capture sensitive medical data on behalf of their clients. However, there were many lessons to learn along the way.

“As LinkSafe developed and grew, there were many things I had to learn. At the beginning of this journey, I could concentrate on doing what I enjoyed: the creative side of product development. 

Steve Moon, Founder & Director, LinkSafe

“As we grew, I had to step out of my comfort zone and work on things like sales, marketing and managing overheads and staff. None of these came naturally to me, but I accepted that they needed to be done and had to do it. I decided early on to employ great people and contractors and implement systems to take on the things I didn’t have the time or skills to do properly,” Steve says.

“While this created additional costs, it was an investment that had to happen to grow the business to what it is today. Without a solid and trusted team by my side and bulletproof systems and processes, LinkSafe could not have succeeded. I have found that you have to be passionate about what you do to develop a new business from scratch. This passion helped me get through the lean times at the start and helped me get support from friends and family. It then helped me sell the vision to staff and clients. 

The inception

The idea for this business was developed over time, according to Steve. “Initially, it came out of discussions with clients about the challenges they were facing with the operations and processes of their business.”

“From the initial idea, I  engaged in more in-depth discussions with clients regarding ideal ways to improve and automate safety and compliance requirements in their business. The needs within the safety and compliance sector expanded rapidly, and we were quick to understand the importance of ensuring we were continually developing and innovating new features and modules to stay relevant and successful in a growth market.”

The early stages

Steve says that the early stages of establishing the business in 2005 stemmed from a combination of communicating with potential clients about their needs and proposing various ideas and possible solutions to meet said demands.

“The first 18 months of the business were predominantly research and development-based, typified by hard work and long hours, but also great excitement for the future as we were developing an innovative software product in the emerging market of safety and compliance.    

“This was followed by creating a mock-up of the software screens to garner client interest and, in some cases, receiving a forward commitment from clients to use the software when it was ready.” 

“The thing I want to highlight for others who wish to start their own business is how important it is to ensure you share your vision and your passion with your staff and your clients, as this will help your business grow and thrive in a dynamic and changing market.”

Because we were stepping into a relatively new and undefined market, we propelled our business forward by reaching out to potential clients with the trust and confidence to adopt new technology to fulfil their demands. In other words, the typical ‘early adopters’ were our first clients. 

Revenue wasn’t the driver.

In the early stages of the business, revenue was not deemed a primary driver for LinkSafe – it was all about investing in the future, Steve says.

“We started with nothing; we found funds where we could through savings and borrowing from friends and family that wholeheartedly believed in our brand. The main driving force that sustained us was a strong belief that we were creating something worthwhile – we were creating a valuable service that businesses would not only want but one they would need to achieve their growing safety and compliance obligations.

“At the end of the day, we’re providing essential software and services that clients of our kind cannot do without. Not engaging in or having poor contractor safety management could result in dire legal and financial ramifications.”

The catalyst

Steve notes that the company worked tirelessly in the early stages of the pandemic to ensure they could capture sensitive medical data on behalf of their clients while providing a way to redact this information once stored.

“We needed to help bolster our client’s online abilities around contractor engagement, enforcement of vaccine protocols and COVID Safe Plans. Although we could not see the complications of a global pandemic, we were lucky because our system was built with the foresight to handle unprecedented circumstances. 

“During 2020, our legal advisory arm LinkSafe Legal, which contractor safety heavyweight Sue Bottrell now leads, was able to provide critical advice, assistance and support in navigating new COVID-19 laws, requirements and differences in health directives issued from state to state.”

Steve continues by saying that the business’s provision of necessary services contributed to increased demand during the pandemic.

“Our products and services were deemed essential by our corporate and Government clients, thus resulting in the strong demand for our business. We proactively remodelled our cloud-based contractor management system to keep up with client demands. 

“We strived to be a trusted, easy solution with setting up and actively managing new vaccine protocols for our clients during the pandemic’s uncertain times. Like many other businesses, we were significantly impacted by restrictions and had to find a new way of doing ‘business as usual. Thanks and credit to our team, we were able to pivot to a working-from-home model quickly. 

“While this model was not ideal, we found that by utilising our strong internal work systems, we could complete work faster than before. Over the pandemic, the uncertainty of a ‘new normal’ faced by businesses highlighted the importance of safety and compliance. This cemented safety and compliance processes as a mandatory requirement until this day.

The secret recipe

Steve believes that the success of any business relies on establishing a name for itself in the market. 

“To ensure the success of our services, we worked closely with clients with a strong vision, industry knowledge and the ability to collaborate with us in strategising a viable solution that we could incorporate into our products. In turn, their constructive feedback greatly informed our current capabilities in developing a functional and valuable service that could be applied to a plethora of clients from various industries. 

“When we started the business, safety and compliance requirements in the general commercial and industrial sectors were just beginning to emerge. Safety and compliance were commonly managed with paper-based or spreadsheet systems, or in many cases, not done at all. 

“One of the initial challenges was to understand the operational issues faced by clients and successfully design a system that reflects those needs into automated processes efficiently – such as providing users with a straightforward and clear workflow and record-keeping features for audit and compliance requirements.” 

“Another challenge we recognised was to make sure we developed a service that was not only useful to clients in specific sectors but also to ensure we prevail as a well-rounded service that is well-informed and flexible to be used in every industry. Over time, we applied an agile approach to developing our service, which allowed us to pivot and respond to emerging needs efficiently.”

While many Australian businesses providing contract management services are relying on offshore tech support and customer service partners, Steve and the LinkSafe team believe these services should be kept in-house. 

“We’ve developed an on-shore, in-house proactive client support network which allows us to service our clients, get to know them intimately and strengthen our relationships by providing them guidance, support and introductions to various networks we’ve formed relationships with. We are more than a software company; we’re a trusted industry partner always a phone call away,” says Steve.

“As LinkSafe developed and grew, there were many things I had to learn. At the beginning of this journey, I could concentrate on doing what I enjoyed: the creative side of product development. As we grew, I had to step out of my comfort zone and work on things like sales, marketing and managing overheads and staff. None of these came naturally to me, but I accepted that they needed to be done and had to do it. 

“I decided early on to employ great people and contractors and implement systems to take on the things I didn’t have the time or skills to do correctly. While this created additional costs, it was an investment that had to happen to grow the business to what it is today. 

“Without a solid and trusted team by my side and bulletproof systems and processes, LinkSafe could not have grown. I have found that you have to be passionate about what you do to develop a new business from scratch. This passion helped me get through the lean times at the start and helped me get support from friends and family. It then helped me sell the vision to staff and clients. 

“The thing I want to highlight for others who wish to start their own business is how important it is to ensure you share your vision and your passion with your staff and your clients, as this will help your business grow and thrive in a dynamic and changing market.

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The English translation of the Sanskrit word “Bhumi” is “Mother Earth.” In an industry rife with child labour and disastrous health effects from grower to consumer, Bhumi products take pride in being ethically made using organically grown cotton with no harmful pesticides, toxic dyes, child labour, and net zero carbon emissions.

“Seed to Shelf” refers to Bhumi’s ability to track the entire ethical and ecologically sound supply chain, from farmers sowing the organic cotton crop to the dyes used to colour the cotton fabric to the finished goods shelf. 

But Bhumi, like many eCommerce brands, struggled to maintain inventory levels that kept up with its rapid growth and allowed them to meet its true sales potential. 

This is the story of Bhumi, which began five years ago for Vinita and Dushyant Baravkar, and how Bhumi was able to triple its sales revenue in just one year.

The inspiration

When Dushyant and Vinita Baravkar moved from New York to Australia in 2010, they were passionate about living sustainably and being ethical consumers.

“The inspiration for Bhumi comes from my time in New York. I used to live very close to the Wholefoods flagship store, and I used to wonder why people would go there and purchase products at twice the price,” Dushyant Baravkar says.

“That led to my curiosity about the products sold, how they were made and if they were sustainable. I met Vinita there while she was working with the United Nations on the ground with WHO, and she was experiencing first-hand the negative impacts of textiles and conventional cotton.”

Vinita has been fortunate to travel to many exciting destinations and experience the beauty of nature and world cultures. With a background in Health and a Masters’ in International Public Health, Vinita saw first-hand the disastrous health and environmental impacts of traditional cotton growing with farmer suicides, child labour, pesticide poisoning, congenital disabilities, harmful dyes and toxic waterways.

Initial days

In 2017, Dushyant and Vinita founded Bhumi to pursue their passion. With Bhumi, they have created a range of premium products made from organically grown and ethically produced cotton.

Dushyant says, “the inspiration if I had to summarise everything in one word would be – curiosity. I’m your stereotypical corporate financial services person. I spent much time in the United States, primarily in management consulting, before moving to Australia, where I have been with ANZ on the institutional side and then Australia Post, among other roles. 

One thing led to another; Dushyant and Vinita came to Australia, and Dushyant decided to leave ANZ because of his curiosity to start a socially conscious business. 

After they launched, they started visiting small markets and stores where they found a huge demand from local customers. Neither Dushyant nor Vinita had experience in eCommerce, but after a few years of success selling their products through physical stores, they eventually opened their first online store with Shopify.

Getting suitable product material has proved a big challenge for Bhumi as it requires much capital. They considered bringing on investors to provide this capital but were worried it might impact their ability to deliver social impact.

Dushyant came from a career in finance, so he was well aware of the challenges he would face when trying to scale Bhumi. 

“This is a very capital-intensive business,” said Dushyant. Bhumi’s suppliers required a 30 per cent upfront payment for all stock, and at the pace, they were growing, they always needed to purchase more inventory than they had the cash for; “we often missed out on potential sales as we didn’t have the stock to sell to customers who were ready to buy” says Dushyant.

Managing cash for both inventory and marketing is a tricky balance to strike: “the two biggest issues for cash flow are related to inventory and spending on marketing. You have to have both of these hummings in parallel”, says Dushyant.

Dushyant and Vinita explored the option of bringing on investors. Still, they were worried that giving up control of their company would hold them back from delivering on their social impact mission. 

“We wanted to grow organically, not taking on investors who would dilute the value of our brand and challenge our ethos”, says Dushyant. However, their need for capital did not go away “if we don’t get the funding we need, at the right time, it would be a big issue,” tells Dushyant.

The Bhumi team approached Wayflyer to discuss how they could find a solution to this problem. What appealed to them about Wayflyer’s offering was the ability to get the funds they needed to grow without giving up any control or ownership. Bhumi decided to take capital from Wayflyer to fund their inventory purchases and have gone on to take multiple rounds of funding for each order they make.

“We tripled our sales last year; we simply could not have done this without access to the right capital”, says Dushyant. This growth has also significantly boosted the social impact they deliver. Every Bhumi sale has a positive environmental and social impact, helping to fix many of the current problems in the textile industry. More sales for Bhumi means more social impact for people and the planet.

The vision

Dushyant has long had a passion for socially conscious enterprises and textiles. Dushyant’s vision for all businesses today is to have a purpose beyond profits. He firmly believes that companies should be financially sustainable and at the same time provide economic, social and environmental benefits to local and global communities.

Vinita and Dushyant knew it was time for positive change. Vinita’s background in Health and years in the field meeting with amazing NGOs, combined with Dushyant’s finance and technology background, has seen Bhumi grow into a global platform.

Making a difference with its efforts

According to the company, since Bhumi chose to use certified organic cotton over conventional (non-organic) cotton, 1,361,464k of driving emissions have been avoided, and 7,1910,375 days of drinking water have been saved, and 645,500m2 of land have been farmed without pesticides.

After the United States of America, Australia has the second-highest global textile consumption rate per person. Each Australian uses 27 kilogrammes of new clothing annually, and 23 kilogrammes of that clothing are discarded in landfills, making up 93 per cent of the textile waste produced, according to the Department of Climate change, Energy, the Environment and water.

Fast fashion, which refers to clothing retailers selling inexpensive, primarily synthetic garments inspired by the newest trends and intended to be worn for a brief period of time before being discarded and replaced by new garments once trends change, is a significant factor in this situation.

Second-hand clothing stores contribute to lowering landfill waste from textiles. There are 10,000 charity collection bins, 33,000 volunteers, and 5,000 jobs supported by Australia’s 3,000 charity and social enterprise retailers. However, more must be done to lessen fast fashion’s adverse effects and landfill waste from clothing.

More about Bhumi here; more on Wayflyer here.

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As India celebrates its 75 years of independence, many world leaders, including the prime minister of Australia, conveyed congratulations to Indians living in Australia and other countries. 

Many academics and think tanks believe that India represents the best possibility for the Western democracies looking to counter China as a strategic partner and market.  Whatever the reality on the ground, the possibility of a secular democracy with a sizable population, aspirational English speakers, and a thriving economy has long been a glimmer. Australia has contributed significantly to the alliance’s expansion.

India and Australia have a solid and purposeful bilateral relationship. The scope of Australia’s relationship with India has grown in tandem with India’s rapid economic and strategic growth, supported by trade and investment. 

According to government data, India was Australia’s seventh-largest trading partner in 2020, with two-way trade valued at $24.3 billion and the sixth-largest goods and services export market, valued at $16.9 billion. 

Interestingly, Education is Australia’s largest service export to India, valued at $6 billion and accounting for around 88 per cent of the total in 2020. At the end of 2020, Indian students in Australia numbered 115,137.

A modernising economy

The post-independence economy of India (1947–1991) was notable for its planned development, heavy regulation, and protectionism. India started a phase of economic liberalisation in 1991 that aided in its transition to a market-based economy. 

The Indian economy grew at an average yearly rate of over 7 per cent for a decade starting in the late 1990s. India’s GDP increased seven times since 2000 to reach USD3 trillion. Since the 1990s, tens of millions of Indians have been lifted out of poverty. The nation’s economic progress is still uneven, though.

Notably, India’s independence marked a turning point in its economic history. The Indian economy, which is currently the sixth-largest by market exchange rates, was valued at $3.04 trillion in 2021, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). India’s economy is also among the fastest-growing in the world, with average annual GDP growth of 5.8 per cent during the past 20 years.

A decade in the making

The inaugural Australia-India Virtual Leaders’ Summit took place on June 4, 2020, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Honorable Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, attending. The 2009 bilateral Strategic Partnership between the two Prime Ministers was upgraded to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership at this meeting (CSP). 

The Australia-India Chamber of Commerce (AICC) held several activities across Australia in February 2022 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of India’s independence, Australia Day, and Indian Republic Day.

Then, in April, India and Australia agreed to a transitional free trade deal, which will increase bilateral commerce to $50 billion in five years while lowering restrictions on the movement of people and tariffs on various Australian goods. The Economic Co-operation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) was signed by Scott Morrison, the prime minister of Australia, and Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India. 

More than 6,000 Indian industries will be given duty-free access, including those producing textiles, leather, furniture, jewellery, and machinery. The Australian government is working to diversify export markets and lessen Australia’s reliance on China, its top trading partner. Both have participated in several diplomatic confrontations that have led to Beijing banning particular Australian goods.

The deal with India lowers taxes on more than 85 per cent of Australian commodities sent to India, worth $12.6 billion. Over 10 years, that percentage will increase to over 91 per cent, worth $13.4 billion. The deal would offer huge prospects for trade diversification for Australian producers and service providers exporting to India, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. 

The Australian Government has also started the Australia India Commercial Exchange (AIBX) programme to encourage more business collaborations between Australia and India. From industry-specific insights to advice on conducting business with India and breaking into India’s online retail market, AIBX offers various services to assist Australian businesses in entering and establishing in India.

Further information can be found on the Austrade website.

India-Australia ECTA

In a recent interview, India’s Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said that the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) between India and Australia would create roughly 10 lakh employment over the following four to five years. 

The recently concluded trade agreement with Australia is anticipated to increase bilateral trade from USD 27 billion to USD 45-50 billion over the next five years. The government of India anticipates creating one million jobs in that time. The India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) was signed on April 2 by both nations.

ECTA is the first trade agreement of India with a developed country after more than a decade and provides an institutional mechanism to improve trade between the two countries.

Meet the new generation of India’s diaspora

The Australian Indian diaspora should be utilised and utilised as a national economic asset. The Indian government makes a significant effort to engage this diaspora. This also applies to the Australian Government. 

The future productivity and resiliency of the Australian business sector will be improved by leveraging the entrepreneurial spirit of this rapidly expanding group, notably its willingness to experiment and take risks, as well as its familiarity with the Indian market. Between 2006 and 2016, there was a sharp rise in migration from India to Australia, more than doubling the population of Indian descent.

The professional Indian diaspora in Australia has not yet attained the same level of influence in higher echelons of state and federal politics, academia, and business as the diasporas in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Singapore. Their presence in important economic sectors and the creation of vibrant business groups have especially contributed to the development of trust and understanding needed to increase trade and investment with India. 

They establish links with state governments and industry organisations and offer insights into India’s corporate practices, cultural landscape, and linguistic variety. They advocate for more regular visits, delegations, and conferences between government and business, and they press their governments for stronger commercial and political ties with India. Additionally, their varied perspectives support the adoption of new procedures and technology.

Investing in India-Australia Collaboration

The Indian diaspora in Australia exhibits the same spirit of entrepreneurship that is seen everywhere. Businesses owned by Australians born in India increased by 72 per cent between 2006 and 2011, compared to a 40 per cent increase for those born in China. Additionally, the transport, postal, and warehousing sector saw the greatest increase in Indian diaspora entrepreneurship between 2006 and 2016.

Like Chinese students, Indian students make up 15 per cent of the second-largest international cohort at Australian universities (34 per cent). Since 2014, there has been a sharp increase in the number of Indian international students enrolling in postgraduate programmes in Australian universities. 

But among Indian students, master’s by coursework is by far the most popular option (70 per cent), followed by bachelor’s degrees (22per cent), and it has been expanding quickly since 2014. In Australia, only 2per cent of Indian students seek PhD degrees.

India was one of the top three nations from which Australian academics were recruited between 1993 and 2013 (the other two being the United Kingdom and China). International students made up 30 per cent of all postgraduate researchers in 2014; this percentage was higher in the STEM fields of engineering (54.2 per cent), information technology (51.5 per cent), agriculture and environment (45.6 per cent), and natural and physical sciences (45.7 per cent). (36 per cent).

The India-Australia ECTA agreement has unquestionably offered a kind of road map for a successful engagement with India in the current international environment, and its relevance must be evaluated in that context.

More of these conversations may take place, and it remains to be seen how effectively the two countries’ relations will develop in light of their shared potential and principles.

More here.

More on India’s diaspora.

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Recalling that she was “always trying to scheme up ideas for businesses” as a young girl, one of entrepreneur Jacqui Bull’s first successful ventures was a dog walking business.

Decades on, she’s the co-founder of Australia’s and New Zealand’s largest online staffing platform, reinventing casual and temporary staffing in industries like aged care, retail, hospitality, promotions, warehousing, and events.

Some of Sidekicker’s big-name clients include influential industry leaders like AusPost, Crown, and AirBnB.

“We came up with Sidekicker from the premise of empowering people to choose where they work, what they want to do, and how much control they can get over their work,” Jacqui said.

“Our product solves staffing problems while adding a lot of value to our customers. We found that competitors or incumbent providers in Australia weren’t innovating or adapting their business model in line with what we were seeing globally.”

Since launching in 2013, Sidekicker has provided work opportunities to over 40,000 casual workers at more than 5,000 organisations. They estimate placing an average of 2,500 ‘Sidekicks’ into jobs per week.

Most recently, Sidekicker secured $20 million in funding from SEEK investments to accelerate expansion across Australia and Zealand, and toward platform upgrades.

“I’d definitely credit our obsessive focus on being the best place for workers to get jobs,” she grinned. “We’re focused on being the best place to get the best rates, with quick response times.”

Why Sidekicker works

Jacqui first met Sidekicker co-founder Thomas Amos while completing her degree in accounting and marketing at Monash University. While her curiosity was piqued then by presentations around entrepreneurship in the tech sector, she chose the more traditional path of a grad role in accounting at Deloitte.

She decided it was time to take the plunge into the tech space when the idea for Sidekicker came about.

Jacqui elaborated, “I didn’t have a background in tech so there was a lot to learn! My naïve understanding as a 22-year-old was that you go to a development agency, you build a product and take it to market, and the rest is sales and marketing.  A decade later, I learned my lesson that tech and development remain an ongoing process.”

Sidekicker’s technology disrupts the traditional recruitment model by providing a platform for Sidekicks to access casual work as and when they choose. It also provides a two-way rating and review system for businesses, which drives the reliability and accountability of staff.

Sidekicker co-founders Jacqui Bull and Thomas Amos. Source: supplied

However, as Jacqui candidly admits, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing.

“One of our biggest mistakes at first was launching into cities too quickly. We launched in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne as opposed to really focusing on building a hyperlocal marketplace first. We’ve had to relaunch in Brisbane a couple of times now,” she said.

“We also tried out a number of different industries, such as cleaning, but those roles can be very subjective. The idea of cleanliness really differs from person to person, so finding the right person for these roles was really labour intensive and time consuming.”

Instead, they decided to pick a handful industries they could service well.

“In terms of staffing, there are certain roles that can be objectively assessed, for example aged care where there’s a huge demand for workers and certain qualifications to be met. We realised we could really work in this market by attracting workers with a wealth of experience who are looking for the best rates.”

As an entrepreneur, one of her happiest milestones was the realisation that they truly had a good, successful product.

“It was a really special moment when we got our first seed investment and the investors could really see that we were disrupting and innovating the staffing market,” Jacqui smiled.

“Now as we get bigger, it’s a mark of pride to see our team living and breathing the values of Sidekicker. Seeing them understanding what we’re trying to build and being as passionate about the business.”

READ MORE: Conquering adversity: Female leaders reflect on resilience in the face of overwhelming odds

The team at Sidekicker. Source: supplied

The importance of representation

As a woman in the tech space, Jacqui is often asked if she’s had to ‘prove’ herself to male counterparts.

“There are a lot of statistics that show that women are underrepresented in this space and underinvested from a VC perspective,” she agreed. “For me personally, I do like to put pressure on myself to ensure I’m treated with the same level of respect and authority as my counterparts, which I don’t think you have to do as a male.

“At Sidekicker, we’re lucky to have built a very diverse business and leadership team. I work with incredibly talented men and women every day. And importantly, having that kind of representation attracts more women to the business. Our heads of engineering and product are women – unheard of in the tech sector – and this helps us attract more women to the tech industry.”

The best advice received

Ultimately, she breaks down the best advice she received to ‘knowing where you can add the most value and doubling down on that.’

Jacqui explained, “In business, it can be tempting to try to meet every demand and broaden your scope. When you’ve got a creative mindset, it’s easy to think ‘this will work’ or ‘this person will love this and this’. But it’s a lot of work to get a product up and running in the market and you can end up stretching yourself too thin. It’s a skill to know when to say no.”

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READ MORE: Founder Friday with Liz Agresta: the secrets to building a $15m beauty empire 

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“Transitioning from a homegrown success story to a new international market is challenging for most companies. Add to that the combination of a pandemic, an industry under scrutiny, and a highly vulnerable customer base – now there’s a challenge.

“My answer to anyone starting a business is to keep the product as the team’s primary focus, the advice we have held to when launching into this new market.”

Sam Bridgewater, founder of Pure Food Co.

Sam Bridgewater and Maia Royal founded The Pure Food Co in 2014 after witnessing his stepfather, Mark, struggle with food and nutrition while battling a major illness at an aged care facility. 

Sam felt that there had to be a better way to provide appropriate food for seniors or those suffering illnesses that combined taste and nutrition. He undertook extensive research and development to innovate a solution that combined higher levels of essential nutrients into beautiful meals and other snacks. 

And so Sam and his colleague were inspired to create a meal system that provided not only optimal nutrition but also good flavour and diversity to encourage seniors to continue eating enough volume. So at 28 years old, the team set out to solve that issue; that’s how The Pure Food Co was born in 2014 — an innovative food system tailored to the nutritional needs of seniors. Following significant growth and recognition within the NZ market, The Pure Food Co has launched in Australia, partnering with several sizeable aged care groups. 

The Pure Food Co offers pre-shaped food products presented in an engaging way to provide visually appealing, extremely nutritional pureed foods. Their product line also includes purees, designed for simple swallowing and created with the best local ingredients, all with protein as a vital component to help seniors with muscle maintenance and repair.

“Coming from backgrounds in banking and management consulting, it’s safe to say that my co-founder and I have had plenty of learnings – some the hard way! Food production and the complexities of this were very new territory for us, and ensuring that the food solution we were offering not only addressed the nutrition and taste problems we’d identified but was also economically sustainable for our customers was a key challenge we had to face from the outset. 

“Our solution not only had to compete with tight food budgets but deliver value well beyond this to get into networks and stay long term. Equally, we were doing very new territory from a market perspective. Fortifying foods the way we do wasn’t a ‘thing’ at the time, so we took a gamble, and it paid off; this was a critical turning point for us in creating true innovation. 

The early days

“Initially, our approach focused on the healthcare space, and we are now partnered with almost all of New Zealand’s public hospitals. More recently, we’ve seen massive growth in the aged care sector, aligning with our mission to nourish the world’s seniors. 

“After starting production within a food innovation incubator in 2017, we built our production plant in Mt Wellington, which provided the scale we needed to fuel rapid growth. We entered the Australian market in 2019 and, despite the challenges of a pandemic soon after, have seen a significant impact with the business quintupling over the past year. 

“At present, we deliver around 3 million food experiences annually across these two markets, and we’re proud to be a multi-award-winning company with multi-award-winning innovations, most notably three-time category-winner of The New Zealand Food Awards including Supreme Winner in 2019, as well as The Deloitte Fast 50. 

Sam notes that gathering insight from important stakeholders was a vital technique for them from the start. 

“Engagement with Dietitians, Speech Pathologists, Operators (healthcare and elderly care), and, of course, the people who would consume our meals was critical during the research and product development phases. Because we invested heavily in researching with our relevant audience, we came to market with a product that delivered on the value propositions they wanted and needed, as well as the elements they didn’t know they needed but now love! 

Conducting product assessment: Knowing what the customer wants

Sam insists that getting the product right has, without a doubt, been essential to their marketing strategy. 

“If those foundations aren’t in place, there’s no opportunity to grow when customers need to see a positive outcome to justify the investment. As a result, the organic referral has been the biggest driver of growth for us since the beginning—kitchens and clinical teams that use the product move around providers and bring us with them. 

“We’ve constantly agitated for awareness and representation of the nutritional needs of seniors and, in recent years, haven’t been afraid to call out the problem. Recently, we’ve been looking closely at our social media approach as another avenue to drive customer leads, with LinkedIn being one of our priority channels. 

“We see this route as a great way to engage with not only operators that could directly become customers but also to increase overall consideration of the issue of senior nutrition. For example, we’ve recently launched a campaign on our social media channels aligning with notable Australian athletes to highlight the similarities in nutrition requirements between athletes and seniors and to tap into these athletes’ audiences to raise consideration of ageing nutrition amongst younger generations. 

“We conducted some research alongside the campaign, which found that despite health and wellness being a huge priority for the everyday Australian, very few had considered how this could look in later life, and changing this is a theme we’ll be looking at across the board when it comes to our marketing.”

When it comes to learning, Sam says that he has been caught in the trap of trying to do too much at one time in the past, which resulted in them getting laser-focused on key strategic priorities to grow the offering and the customer base in a way that’s aligned with their overarching mission. 

“We still consider the day-to-day signing of a new customer or network as a significant moment; it’s a huge responsibility to implement a food system for residents and businesses and something that we don’t take lightly. 

“From our own first-hand experiences, we know just how important doing this the right way is for these residents and their families, so we never underestimate the task at hand.” 

Successfully launching into a new market 

“The Pure Food Co was inspired by a problem we identified on a personal and societal level. Put simply, no solution provides seniors with tasty, easy to eat and adequately nutritious foods while meeting the tight budgets of the public health system. Hailing from New Zealand, our focus naturally started there and saw us grow to a scale where we are implemented across nearly every public hospital and 100% of sizeable aged care networks. 

“However, the challenge is global, so in 2019 we began to launch into the Australian market. Throw a global pandemic in the mix, and you’ll see why it’s only now, in 2022, that we’re ready to talk about successfully launching into this market. 

“The Australian aged care sector is complex and highly scrutinised. With 50% of people entering senior care classified as malnourished in this country, it’s also an industry needing help. We saw an opportunity to meet the need that we had answered in New Zealand in this new market.” 

Lead with product 

Sam says his answer to anyone starting a business is to keep the product as the team’s primary focus, the advice we have held to when launching into this new market. 

“We needed to prove not only the efficacy of our product but also the affordability (working to tight budgets where many aged care facilities are required to feed their residents on around $12 a day, and often less) and practicality of our offering. In an industry already struggling to retain sufficient staffing, we need to provide a solution that makes carers’ lives easier, not harder. 

“The most important part of any product?”

“Ensuring it can get into the hands of those who need it. Key learning through the pandemic and beyond has been to ensure that we were clear, careful, and on the borderline of conservative regarding our supply chain to ensure product availability at all times. The trust operators place in us to implement their food systems is immense, and once this trust is broken, it would be extremely challenging to rebuild – regardless of the business you’re building.” 

“An organic referral is a huge driver of business growth and for many businesses looking to expand,” Sam continues.

“Investing in a dedicated Country Manager that can engage directly with potential and current customers was crucial when it came to growing our presence in this new market, supported by ab diverse and highly skilled team focused on continuous improvement. 

“Remaining nimble and evolving how you communicate your business’s offering can make all the difference when changes to the macro environment arise. It’s no surprise that the pandemic has devastated the aged care sector and the priorities these already stretched teams are juggling. In our case, we saw that health was more important than ever across the board, and people considered the role diet plays in their wellbeing. 

“However, labour shortages meant our potential customers would not consider solutions that were difficult to implement. Communicating the benefit of our pre-packaged solution became an important message with the skills shortage in mind. When testing the waters in a new market, finding new and different ways to engage with your audience is vital. 

“While our core focus is aged care and hospital environments, speaking to a secondary market of those with loved ones in such facilities and pushing them to advocate for the seniors in their life is proving fruitful. 

“We recently launched a campaign across our social channels that focus on heroing the #grandfluencer in your life (the significant senior that’s made a difference for you); it’s a step in the right direction of getting these younger audience groups to consider the conversation of senior nutrition., and start to understand the realities of senior nutrition. 

“Overall, whether launching into a new market or driving growth in an existing territory, being able to measure success, improve conversion, and reduce any risk associated with implementing your product are crucial in driving success. There may not always be a pandemic creating challenges for your global expansion, but there’s sure to be a curveball around the corner, so prepare accordingly.”

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There’s no denying that big and small businesses need to employ some technologies for their financial operations, given the difficulties that organisations face today and the requirement for flexibility and efficiency.

But which option is better for your company? What qualities should a fintech tool have?

In this week’s Let’s Talk, we go over the important factors that our experts consider when selecting a financial tool or app for their business.

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Sam Kothari, Head of Growth ANZ, Airwallex

Sam Kothari, Head of Growth ANZ, Airwallex

“Choosing a fintech partner can be overwhelming. The risk of wasting time and money on solutions that aren’t quite right, can mean you stick with the status quo. The secret to finding the right fintech solution for your business is in the prep.

“Start by asking what problem am I looking to solve? Do you need a partner for payments, obtaining capital, regulatory obligations, or managing the books? Clarity upfront will help avoid any overlap or incompatibility, and your team can be a helpful resource to identify priority pain points.

“When selecting a partner, businesses often overlook the time and resource commitment needed to get the service up and running. Factor in that your team may need training, or the solution may need time to integrate into your tech stack. Expecting efficiencies overnight will lead to disappointment. Instead, ensure you know what’s required at the outset, as well as the customer support available.

“Most importantly, your partner must be able to grow with you. Consider what support you’ll need in the future and whether your chosen fintech partner can meet these needs.”

Michelle Kvello, Founder, Lantern Partners

Michelle Kvello
Michelle Kvello, Founder, Lantern Partners

“The real key to finding the right fintech tools for your business is to start by identifying the key finance processes that you want to automate.  Too often I find businesses start with the tool or app itself, without understanding the processes first and that can lead to even greater inefficiency and frustration that really isn’t the fault of the tool they picked! 

“Once you have clarified the processes then pick the cornerstone fintech tool you need in the business, usually the tool or platform that underpins your general ledger.  It’s the foundation you build your fintech stack on.  Ideally all your other fintech tools should integrate with that primary technology tool and that’s how you get real efficiency. 

“Finally, I think there has to be an understanding that there is always a tradeoff between flexibility and useability.  The more flexible a tool is the more difficult it is to manage and vice versa if it is easy to manage it may not have 100 per cent of the functionality you ideally want.”

Benjamin Yeo, Chairman of the National Corporate Finance Committee, Moore Australia

Benjamin Yeo
Benjamin Yeo, Chairman of the National Corporate Finance Committee, Moore Australia

“With a vast array of fintech companies in the market, it can be overwhelming for business owners to research and then decide which fintech is most suitable for their business. My advice, having just been a judge for the Finnies 2022, the most recognized awards that celebrates the success of the Australian fintech industry, is to log into the FinTech Australia website. The FinTech Australia website provides a wealth of information on Australia (and international) fintech companies, along with Industry Reports and a Services Directory which greatly assist businesses identify the most suitable fintech/app for their requirements.”

Alex Pasminka, Chief Marketing Officer, Shift

Alex Pasminka, Chief Marketing Officer, Shift

“Always start with research. When running a business and squeezed for time it can seem easy to go with the first option you find. That can end with frustration if it doesn’t fit your business, isn’t flexible or is going to cost you more in time than it’ll save in money.

“If you’re looking for a tech-driven financial provider, make sure it integrates with your systems and cashflow needs. Nothing beats word of mouth, so ask around your circle of business colleagues to get opinions of the tools they use.

“Questions to ask your network, and yourself, include: Is it easy to use? Does it suit my exact business needs? Is it flexible, i.e. if it’s a financial solution can I change my payment schedule or the product I’m using? Will it make my customers’ lives easier? Is there a real person I can contact for support?

“The wrong tools can slow you down. The right tools can become real sales enablers for you and have a flow-on effect for your trade customers and – ultimately – your cashflow.”

Daniel West, Chief Sales and Support Officer, MYOB

Daniel West
Daniel West, Chief Sales and Support Officer, MYOB

“In an increasingly data-driven business landscape, using the right digital apps is crucial for sustainability, growth and ongoing success. Business management tools should not only support your existing operational tasks, but be scalable to make sure you’re covered for future technology needs aligned to your long-term goals. Look for tools that can truly support your needs and provide you with real-time insight into your business. I’d recommend businesses:

  • Opt for cloud-based solutions so you access your business data on any device and from anywhere – an invaluable advantage in a competitive, fast-paced business environment.
  • Choose tools where you pay only for what you really need – so you’re not wasting money on apps where you use only a handful of their available features.
  • Weigh up your business needs against the app’s capabilities and do your research to see if you could perhaps consolidate to save overall subscription costs – for example go with one more advanced tool in place of three others.
  • Check if your chosen tools can properly integrate with each other to avoid experiencing digital disconnection, and ensure the software provider is aware of any potential integration problems and are addressing these head on.”

Callan Mantell, Vice President JAPAc, Oracle

Callan Mantell
Callan Mantell, Vice President JAPAc, Oracle

“When you think about the construction industry, the image of the Sydney Opera House, or The Beehive might pop into your mind. Your first thought is probably not fintech. However, the builders and head contractors who deliver these iconic projects – and our homes, data centers, warehouses, and everything else, do need to think about how technology can be deployed to dramatically improve their back-office processes.

“Many builders have made great strides in efficiency and innovation at the job site with technologies like the Internet of Things, reality capture, drones, and autonomous vehicles. Even more efficiency gains can be had by automating and streamlining the progress claim and payment processes.

“Cloud-based collaborative claim and payment management solutions can boost efficiency and reduce risk across the entire process. And by supporting compliance with the Security of Payments (SoP) or Construction Contracts (CC) Acts, they help ensure everyone is paid fairly and on time.”

Merlin Luck, Regional Vice President and Vice President of Small and Medium Businesses, Salesforce

Merlin Luck
Merlin Luck, Regional Vice President and Vice President of Small and Medium Businesses, Salesforce

“There’s more choice than ever when it comes to fintech tools, providing small-to-medium-sized businesses with greater access to the financial instruments they need to realise their growth ambitions. For example, the days of visiting the local bank manager at a brick-and-mortar store have given way to online financial institutions running on state-of-the-art technology backends.

Sixty-six per cent of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations, and only 27 per cent feel that financial institutions provide great service and support. As such, it’s crucial to choose a fintech provider that can tailor to your small business’ circumstances and customers. Prospa, for example, allows small businesses to apply for loans of up to $250,000 using a simple online application running on Salesforce Service Cloud. After a quick credit check, in many cases, business owners receive their funding in 24 hours.

“Powered by Salesforce, these options are possible with Prospa’s sophisticated use of data insights to create a single view of the customer.

“Given the competitive fintech landscape, small businesses need to choose providers powered by sophisticated technology to ensure the benefits of a 360 customer view can be implemented for more personalised services.”

Anny Le Wilson, Chief Revenue Officer, Joust

Anny Le Wilson
Anny Le Wilson, Chief Revenue Officer, Joust

“Fintechs are often all painted with the same brush based on the misconception that a fintech can be a one stop shop for all parts of your business. This is simply not true. Businesses are complex and there will be different solutions required for different business goals and outcomes. It’s important to select the right fintech partner for different parts of your business, this can range from the payment processors, to the KYC process, to payroll and project management, all the way through to marketing and sales. The tools required for a fintech should be very dependent on the key objectives and outcomes the business is aiming to achieve. When the objectives and outcomes are clearly defined, choosing the right set of tools becomes easier.

“For businesses that are transitioning to digital models, a digital customer acquisition strategy is important for managing the sales pipeline and maintaining a sustainable business model.

“The majority of Aussies are now accustomed to the benefits of digital connectivity to get business done.

“Using digital channels to drive customer acquisition means that you are connecting with people who are already looking for your services. Digital marketing channels have the capability to drive significant flows through a business, delivering a stream of quality customers on a consistent basis. If managed properly, these customers can multiply based on other products they may be in the market for or by providing referral and advocacy for your business.

“Finding the right fintech partner for digital distribution, and customer targeting, is an important part of scaling your business. The true value of digital customer acquisition is unlocked when businesses make an ongoing commitment and integrate it into their workflow.”

Paul Byrne, CEO, Zai

Paul Byrne
Paul Byrne, CEO, Zai

“One service that all businesses should be asking their payment providers about right now is PayTo. Built on the back of the New Payments Platform, PayTo allows businesses to charge their consumers through direct bank transfers using their PayID. It’s incredibly useful for companies that run business models with recurring payments, as it both automates the payment and allows it to happen in real-time. As it’s a direct bank transfer, you also avoid merchant fees for card payments and any charges that may occur if you attempt to draw payment out of an overdrawn account.

“Embedded finance experts such as Zai have been working closely with NPP to deliver best-in-class solutions for PayTo.The service was only launched last month, but companies should start enquiring about it now to get ahead of what will be a major shift in how Australians manage payments.”

Karl Durrance, Managing Director ANZ, Stripe

Karl Durrance
Karl Durrance, Managing Director ANZ, Stripe

“Payments provide the essential rails for commerce. Whether that’s your customers paying you, you refunding your customers, or ensuring your employee’s wages and expenses are paid, payments are what makes the world go around. With the plethora of payment options now available as digital wallets, subscription services, online marketplaces, having the right financial infrastructure to power your online payment processing and commerce solutions can save you time, money and help streamline your business.

“Digital transformation isn’t just an option for businesses looking to get ahead.  It’s now a necessity for any company of any size and that’s where platforms like Stripe come in. Optimising payments, adding new business models, driving additional revenue streams and scaling faster are all key to business success. From homegrown brands like Luxury Escapes and The Dinner Ladies to much larger multinational businesses like Xero, Atlassian, and Scentre Group (Westfield), being armed with the right tools means we can collectively grow the GDP of the internet.”

Rob Taylor, Head of New Markets ANZ, Zoom

Rob Taylor
Rob Taylor, Head of New Markets ANZ, Zoom

“The customer experience is more central to financial services than ever before. People want flexible, secure options from wherever they happen to be. We’ve worked with customers like NAB to evolve the way financial services are delivered, using Zoom Rooms, Meetings and Zoom Phone. Features like virtual receptionist, smart call queues, and end to end encryption give your team and customers easy access to secure, streamlined services.

“If it’s apps you’re after, look no further than the Zoom Apps library. It’s a treasure trove of tools. I’ve been loving the online whiteboard from Miro, using visual tools like sticky notes and diagrams, to democratize participation across our hybrid teams and produce more actionable outcomes.

“With the DocuSign app integrated directly into Zoom, users across banking, finance and insurance industries are benefiting from the incredible time saver that is digital signatures. After weaving this app into my own day-to-day, it’s hard to imagine we ever used to courier contracts over to customers or vendors for their physical signatures! It’s a real game changer.”

Lucy Allen, Global Head of eCommerce, OFX

Lucy Allen
Lucy Allen, Global Head of eCommerce, OFX

“Fluctuating exchange rates come with the territory of managing a global ecommerce or import/export business. Rather than using precious time watching foreign exchange markets all day, an easy way to streamline cashflow and help protect your business from volatility is through natural hedging.

“This occurs when your overseas revenue, earnings, and costs, from customers or partners, are in the same currency. Costs can also include different business expenses, such as paying taxes, vendors or suppliers. The biggest benefit to natural hedging for businesses is more certainty over profit margins, as you aren’t converting revenue unnecessarily at an exchange rate you can’t control.

“Fintech tools such as an OFX Global Currency Account, which grants access to eight virtual currency accounts, allow businesses to achieve natural hedging; you can receive, hold and send funds in multiple currencies, within a single dashboard. So you can bypass unnecessary conversion fees eating into your profits.”

James Campbell, Regional Manager ANZ, SnapLogic

James Campbell, Regional Manager ANZ, SnapLogic

“Integrating diverse apps and data as well as automating core workflows and processes are critical first steps to creating a modern, connected financial services experience for consumers. Doing so allows you to harness the power of your data to gain insights for better decision- making, inform the development of new products and services, streamline operations, lower costs and more.”

“Many firms are already using automated workflows and AI to keep pace on the surface with consumer expectations. But these pockets of automation and digitalisation are often siloed, the product of disconnected data and applications, leading to inconsistent consumer experiences.

“The fact is the faster you can integrate all your applications and systems, the better you can compete with seamless, connected experiences for your customers. It allows you to harness the power of your data to gain insights for better decision making, inform the development of new products and services, streamline operations and lower overhead costs, and more. With a true 360-degree view of your customer, you’re able to deliver personalised marketing and services that meet their needs.”

Chris Dahl, Co-CEO, Pin Payments

Chris Dahl, Co-CEO, Pin Payments

“Small businesses play a significant role to the Australian economy, yet are often the least advanced when it comes to digitising and optimising their own operations. However, nowadays, it’s very easy to outsource aspects of the business which are time consuming or laborious using technology. 

“Firstly, if you haven’t already, make sure you have the right digital accounting software (like Xero or MYOB) to simplify this process. Once this is in place, look for aspects of the business which could be made more efficient. There are apps for monitoring business expenses (Expensify), getting your invoices paid early (Marmalade) and handling your backend business payments (Pin Payments/Stripe).

“While there are countless apps to make running your business easier, what you decide on will depend on your needs. Take the time to read reviews from other businesses using the tools you’re considering, to get a better idea on their impact to your business.”

Marcus Lasarow, Founder and CEO, CashD

Marcus Lasarow, Founder and CEO, CashD

“Considering the flexibility of our work lives now, the pay cycle is the last bastion for change. Along with the emergence of apps that enable micro savings, BNPL services and financial coaching, many employees are also seeking the option of earned wage access to match their new work models.

“The traditional pay cycle is outdated, there are more people accessing apps to get their pay before pay day rolls around, as opposed to using credit applications for living costs. An app that enables workers to get paid their up-to-the-minute accrued earnings from their employer at any time on any day, can flip the old pay cycle system on its head.

“The CashD app integrates with a company’s existing processes across payroll, workforce management and HR solutions, and offers an extension of the company payroll funds. A 2020 survey demonstrated that flexible pay solutions that empower employees, such as an app for access to a real-time digital wallet of earned funds, can increase staff retention by 19% and speed up recruitment by 27%. The seamless low risk experience can be a game changer for the business, and make them an employer of choice.”

Patrick Tripp, SVP of Product Marketing, Cheetah Digital

Patrick Tripp
Patrick Tripp, SVP of Product Marketing, Cheetah Digital

“Marketers in banking and finance are used to navigating regulations. Strict rules make it challenging to connect with consumers in a meaningful way, something now expected from all brands digitally. However, with the right tools and support, restrictions can spur creativity and see finserv brands uniquely differentiate from their competitors.

“Banking and finance marketing teams must have access to industry-compliant solutions that enable them to make bold customer interactions. Rather than having non-engaging, one-way communications, there is an increasing need to offer a two-way conversation between business and consumer across all channels.

“Solutions that offer personalised and two-way engagement with consumers across multiple channels will increase the customer lifetime value due to their meaningful experience with your business, which then presents the opportunity to cross-sell and upsell with your happy clients.”

Carly Shamgar, Co-Founder & CEO, Shouta

Carly Shamgar
Carly Shamgar, Co-Founder & CEO, Shouta

“Utilising fintech tools and apps in the workplace can streamline processes and give you more time to focus on the running of your business. The question is, what are your pain points and what tools are available to help you?

“I work with businesses every day who struggle with the hassle of corporate gifting. Often, businesses are ingrained with old school processes and ideas around gifting that can be time consuming, expensive, and a logistical nightmare. Many are now opting for new-age fintech alternatives to simplify the process.

“The Shouta Biz platform allows businesses to digitally gift clients and employees in a way that is quick and affordable –  it’s a must-have fintech tool for all businesses big and small.”

Guy Olian, CEO, Smart Ease

Guy Olian
Guy Olian, CEO, Smart Ease

“Given the huge number of fintechs in the marketplace, thorough research is critical before adopting a solution or partnering with a business. Many of the best fintechs solve a single problem and have specialist expertise in their niche; look for case studies to get a good sense of the business problems solved and the applications in different settings. A good source of advice or information could be your industry body or association.

“While the tech aspect is key, most fintechs are only as good as their service. Often you need more than just a platform to complete a transaction. You may need some advice or consultation, so find a fintech that will listen to you, has the resources to help, and that puts customers first. As well as asking the right questions, look for genuine testimonials that demonstrate a strong service record.

“Finding the right solution for your business can unlock huge potential. These innovations can make your business more efficient by increasing productivity and reducing operating costs. Smart Ease, for example, helps businesses decarbonise and digitise their operations – which helps to increase business efficiencies and lower overhead costs.”

Brian Renvoize, Director of Growth AU, Wayflyer

Brian Renvoize
Brian Renvoize, Director of Growth AU, Wayflyer

“Australia is home to a thriving culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, with a rising number of individuals committing to the dream of establishing their own businesses. With the eCommerce space bustling in particular, there is a need for agile and smart tools that support businesses in this sector and enable them to grow, especially from a funding and analytics point of view. One of the biggest challenges is that traditional finance providers often don’t consider the unique context of eCommerce businesses.

“However, new alternative finance providers are increasingly offering solutions tailored to the needs of this sector. This includes things like evaluating business performance holistically when assessing funding applicability. It also means providing fintech tools/apps which help entrepreneurs make data-driven decisions based on insights from sales, revenue and more. In short, business leaders should collaborate with a company that sees the relationship as a partnership – one where both parties thrive.”

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It all began with a very personal story. We did not start with any grand plan in mind. The objective was purely and simply to create a couple of high-quality products that had efficacy and that people could trust. My personal agenda was to produce a daily multi-nutrient that I believed would benefit Monique.

Trevor Bolland and Monique Bolland, co-founders of Nuzest.

When Trevor Bolland discovered that his 22-year-old daughter Monique Bolland had Multiple Sclerosis, a condition that affects the central nervous system and is incurable, he set out on a quest to learn about alternative health and nutrition. What began as a father and daughter looking for solutions has grown into a global company today, formulating supportive nutrition for all.

This is the story of Nuzest, an Australasian nutritional business that is celebrating 10 years of providing high-quality plant-based supplements. 

“I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. As yet, there is no medical cure, and at that time, unlike today, there was very little in the way of treatments to slow down the progress of the disease.  My MRI showed quite serious lesions on the brain and spine, and the prognosis I was given was bleak. I was in a very dark place, and my parents were equally distressed,” Monique recalls.

“My Dad is very determined and does not take no for an answer. He decided to sell out of his business and focus on finding a solution. We spoke to doctors, scientists, and natural health practitioners worldwide and discovered what most health-conscious people understand today; that a balanced lifestyle and good nutrition are critical to good health and longevity.

Monique recounts spending many weeks at a time at a Naturopathic Health Centre in the United States, focusing solely on restoring balance to her body and mind, learning about diet, and receiving natural treatments to help manage the disease.

“Although my background was in graphic and web design, with a degree in Digital Marketing, this journey led me to various studies in nutrition and health coaching and opening an integrated health clinic in Sydney. Meanwhile, she adds that my Dad continued his research and became involved in the health supplements industry.

“Dad and I saw an opportunity to improve on what was already available in the market; to create products that would genuinely support people’s health – not just read well on the labels. In 2012 we joined forces and launched Nuzest – Nutrition for Life.”

The beginning

Trevor Bolland notes that the story of Nuzest did not begin with a big plan. The goal was to build a couple of high-quality items that were effective and that people could rely on. The goal was to create a daily multi-nutrient that would benefit his daughter Monique.

“Through my involvement in the health supplement industry since Monique’s diagnosis, I had learned a little about production and distribution and was confident that if we could produce a good product, we should be able to find a market.

“However, we were essentially new to the industry, with my background being primarily in the property and early childcare education sectors and previously in the Navy. The production and distribution of health-food supplements was a completely different ball game.”

‘We realised we needed to engage and consult with experts in their field.’

Trevor says he called upon many contacts he had made since Monique’s diagnosis, including a team of health practitioners and PhD scientists to assist with the formulation. The duo engaged a highly respected design company in Sydney, Boldinc, to direct brand development, and teamed up with a long-time friend in New Zealand with a career in marketing and communications to partner with them in the launch (in New Zealand).

“Our distribution has grown exponentially and is now available in over 20 countries. Our head office in Potts Point coordinates manufacturing and production in five different countries. 90 per cent of our packaging, design and marketing is now conducted in-house, and we employ people all over the world in roles from sales and logistics to customer service,” Trevor says.

“We have never actively sought distribution in other regions but have taken chances on people who were as passionate about our products as we were and grown with them. Many of our early distributors were people we have known personally or professionally for years or met while starting. These tight connections have meant the feeling of being a family resonates throughout our global team.

“While the products remain fundamentally the same, we continually review and revise our formulations to ensure they are always up to date with the latest scientific research. We will always do this to ensure we are true to our promise of being ‘led by nature, backed by science. 

“Our focus for the foreseeable future is on growing our current markets, extending our product range, and transitioning to fully sustainable packaging by 2025.”

‘The greatest challenge was the unknown.’

Trevor admits that they had minimal industry experience. Thus, there was a lot of “sometimes expensive” on-the-job learning. This included what to look for in manufacturing contracts, how to price the items, what margins were needed for the retail market, labelling needs, the regulatory environment, package sourcing, logistics, and much more.

“We were lucky that we entered the market with plant-based products when “plant-based” popularity was in its infancy. We entered the market with a high-quality pea protein isolate that tasted good and had immediate success. Because we had something different to offer, he says we could get traction in most health food stores in the country.

“We started distribution out of a downstairs room in my partner’s home in Auckland. From there, we did all the packing, managed deliveries, handled customer service, designed marketing collateral, and wrote all the marketing copy. To date, the business has been entirely self-funded.”

‘High-level athletes and personalities became brand advocates, not by contract but by choice as passionate consumers’

Trevor says that Nuzest has become a household name in New Zealand thanks to advertising, word-of-mouth marketing, and attendance at exhibitions across the nation. This was made possible by a strong base of devoted consumers, which included numerous elite athletes and public figures who chose to become brand ambassadors rather than being asked to do so.

“Entering new markets has been particularly challenging. There is an entirely new regulatory environment, different labelling requirements, logistical challenges, different distribution systems, and new competition. There is no easy way to navigate these waters, especially without experience in the industry. It was simply a matter of learning by trial and error, taking the first step and finding your way.

“After ten years in business, the challenges keep coming. There has been a plethora of new brands, many with significant financial backing due to the market opportunity offered by the growth in the sector, with each advocating their credentials as being of the highest quality. It is difficult to be heard above the noise and equally difficult for the consumer to know whom to believe.

“With the introduction of Good Green Vitality (previously named Good Green Stuff), our biggest challenge was explaining what it was and what it was designed for; how it was different from a multivitamin tablet or the usual mixture of just Spirulina, Chlorella and Wheat Grass. This challenge continues today, and we rely very much on one-on-one communication, the support of health practitioners, and word-of-mouth.”

The COVID-19 effect – Supply chain bottlenecks

Trevor says that COVID 19, whilst initially being a cause for increased demand, has resulted in significant supply chain challenges and increased costs, placing pressure on margins and on the ability to supply stock.

“The industry generally is more complex than ever. Because of growth in consumer demand, the entire industry is growing exponentially. We have multiple companies providing innovative ingredients and new delivery formats such as Gummies, candies, and shots. More competition with Venture Capital funding numerous start-ups and multinationals entering the sector. This has brought more focus from regulatory bodies resulting in additional barriers and increased costs.

“However, there is equally more recognition by people of the importance of good nutrition and significant scientific research on the benefits of certain nutrients for specific conditions and general health. There is also greater acceptance by many in the traditional medicine of an integrative approach to health care. Medicine is science, and Science is, after all, the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural world.”

For the greater cause

Trevor believes that knowledge is the first point for good nutrition for everyone. “We are trialling a program in underprivileged primary schools in New Zealand called “Basecamp”. It aims to inspire and empower young children through nutrition, health and wellbeing.

“The school is visited by one of our Nuzest sports ambassadors, who share their success story and explains how being healthy in body and mind helped them believe and achieve their lifelong dream.

“They deliver a masterclass outside on the sports field and then teach the children to make a nutritious smoothie as part of their healthy eating plan. The aim is for the children to make the connection that food is mood and food is energy and that a healthy mind and healthy body lead to greater focus and success.

“We are selecting schools in the 5th decile (lower socio-economic communities) in New Zealand as a sustainable and positive ‘give back to schools in need.

“However, the parents’ education also needs to be addressed. We tend to think of supplements as being expensive. However, if the cost of a serving of Kids Good Stuff is compared with the price of a take-out coffee, a glass of beer or wine, or a packet of cigarettes, we might understand that good nutrition is more accessible than most people realise.

“That does not, of course, apply to everyone. Still, perhaps one answer could be a Government-led social programme in partnership with supplement companies, providing vouchers for quality nutritional support products.”

The never-ending debate on supplements

Monique notes that the question that is debated is the need or otherwise for supplementation by the general population versus reliance on food from your daily diet alone.

“I would like to clarify that we do not advocate supplements as a cure for, or prevention of, disease. I still have Multiple Sclerosis. Whilst a change in lifestyle and good nutrition helped me manage that in the early years, there are pharmaceutical solutions today that can slow down the progression of the disease. We believe in an integrative approach to health, and I take advantage of all the available tools to enable me to lead an everyday life.

“While we firmly believe that food comes first, sometimes diet alone isn’t enough to meet the nutritional requirements of modern life. Even a clean, whole-food-based diet may not provide the variety or required levels of nutrients for optimal health. The soil our food is grown in is often deficient in nutrients. These crops’ harvesting, storage and transportation can further deplete their nutritional value. 

“The medical profession widely prescribes some supplements for specific conditions or where there is serious depletion. Vitamin D, Iron, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 and many more are regularly taken on medical advice. Vitamin D is a strongly advised supplement for people with Multiple Sclerosis.

“Additionally, many people have medical or genetic conditions that don’t produce, absorb, or metabolise certain nutrients. If our digestive systems are out of balance, we may not absorb all the nutrients in the food we consume. Other people, such as athletes, tend to need more of certain nutrients than the average person.

“Finally, people are on restricted diets due to food allergies or beliefs where supplementation of certain essential nutrients is advised.

“The difference between a product like Good Green Vitality and a simple multivitamin tablet is that it is food based and therefore contains a matrix of nutrients that can be found in whole foods. It is also more than a multivitamin and much more than just a “greens” powder; it is a comprehensive blend of whole food powders strengthened with high polyphenol fruit extracts, adaptogens, vitamins, minerals, dietary enzymes, probiotics and more, a true superfood more than a simple supplement.”

“Whilst we always advise people to seek advice from their health practitioner before taking supplements for therapeutic purposes, we do advocate the use of a daily multi-nutrient such as Nuzest Good Green Vitality to help fill nutritional gaps due to potential deficiencies in the everyday diet. In many ways, it can be likened to an insurance policy.”

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In what might sound like an unlikely source of inspiration, it was Freya Tasci’s studies in literature and philosophy that would go on to inspire her successful business idea.

Coming across references to oilskin used to wrap items in transit, the entrepreneur decided to test it out herself.

“I was buying expensive organic veggies for my small children who had allergies and they’d wilt in the fridge after a few days – I needed better wrapping to keep them safe,” she recalled. “I also wanted to avoid introducing harmful chemicals like plastics into the house.”

When she couldn’t find anything like this in the market, trials into creating her own oilskin (cotton soaked in beeswax) ensued. Eventually, she landed on her hit product: Apiwraps, named after the Latin word for ‘bee’.

She elaborated, “They’re waterproof but also breathable, making it the perfect item to wrap veggies and other food items like that. And since its beeswax soaked in cotton, it can be washed and used again.

“Beeswax is the most incredible material. It’s beautifully versatile and natural. It’s something that you can even eat and there’s no chemicals or anything in it.”

Freyja’s practical, eco-friendly product can be used around the kitchen and with proper care and attention, one Apiwrap will last around a year. Significantly, due to its sustainable impact, it’s estimated that Apiwraps has replaced the need for more than 10 million metres of single-use plastic wrap over its last ten years of business.

an image of beeswax kitchen wrapping used to cover a salad
Source: supplied

Supporting small businesses

She started the business in November 2012, selling Apiwraps in Byron Bay markets.

“People would walk past and say to me ‘you’ve got to build this business, you’ve got to scale it, this is amazing’,” Freyja grinned.

Today Apiwraps are available across Australia through their website, local vendors, and major retailers like Aldi and Woolworths.

The production of Apiwraps combines the efforts of numerous small Australian businesses: a family beekeeping business for the wax, one of Australia’s last standing textile manufacturers for the cotton, and local artists who create the unique designs.

Freyja elaborated, “My mother was a fine artist, so I love having the opportunity to support the arts and other small businesses with this commercial product. That’s the beauty of being in business and keeping business in Australia, we get to meet and work with these amazing people.”

COVID as a ‘reset’

Like many other entrepreneurs, she suddenly found herself “on pause” for two years when the pandemic hit. Having to scale back expenses, they had to cut the team down to the bare minimum, move out of their warehouse at the end of the lease, and find a way to continue orders.

“It’s a reset in a way of everything. And now I’m launching any product at the gift fairs in Melbourne, at the end of the month, and I’m doing a product launch from scratch for the first time in 10 years!” she laughed.

“To do that, I followed my own advice. I reached out to our retailers to pick their brains. What was working? Do you think the customers might like this? What about if we did so-and-so? It was invaluable to get that information, to inform me on the product I’ve got.

“It’s now an exciting time to go into a product launch and this all came from taking that step back during the pandemic.”

Source: supplied

Entrepreneurship and motherhood

With her children’s allergies playing a pivotal role in inspiring Apiwraps, it’s no wonder than Freyja continues to find inspiration and drive from them, now 13 and nine.

“When you’re in the thick of running a business and it lives or dies with your effort, you have this temptation – ‘what if I sold this and got a job?’ It could be so easy to do that, to get a more reliable income,” she observed.

“The fact that I am juggling motherhood and the responsibilities with my business, I know that I would never have that flexibility anywhere else. I really want to work for myself so I’ll make this effort.”

The best advice received

Freyja still remembers the valuable advice one of her uncles provided in the early days of the business.

“I felt like I was in an endless cycle of investment, and we were inching, painfully slowly, forward. That’s when he said to look at it as a series of experiments in order to find the solutions.

“It’s a subtle shift, but realising the world isn’t against you is a really empowering mindset change.  You’re creating something from nothing and this is simply the process. I’ve since applied it to everything I do in business, whether it’s a new product launch or a new advertising strategy – it’s just a series of experiments that will reveal the best way forward.

“Business is hard and it’s not always going to be easy. But just because something’s not easy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing it or that it’s not a worthy idea.”

READ MORE: Founder Friday with Jacinta Timmins: the secrets of launching a sustainable apparel brand

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