Archive for October, 2013

One Cent Flights & Wines take off

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
Photo credit; Ben Hosking on Flickr

Photo credit; Ben Hosking on Flickr

After filling niches in the emerging group buying marketplace and giving a new twist to the classic auction website, cousins and co-founders Matt and Elliott Donazzan’s pay-to-bid auction sites are now bringing in over $100,000 per month in revenue.

One Cent Flights and One Cent Wines allow users to bid on flights and wine, respectively, for lower prices. The sites put a new twist on the auction site by charging people for bids.

And the sites have taken off so much, the two entrepreneurs have sent their wine and travel company partners significant volumes of traffic.

The Donazzans have hit on a workable model and they’ve recently launched a fundraising round to raise between $1 million and $5 million.

“A year ago we were a little start-up, and we’re not a massive business yet, but we’re a niche database player that is getting some success at an early stage,” Donazzan says.

He says their database is currently at just over 200,000 users, and they’re growing by 10,000 a month. They’re aiming to get to two million users in the next 12 to 24 months.

One Cent Flights launched in August 2012. The idea emerged from gaps they kept spotting as Matt was exploring group buying sites and Elliott was running his own eBay business.

“We thought if we focused on specific product niches that people really wanted rather than the broad approach of group buying sites, we could build something big,” Donazzan says. “We launched with flights because we noticed the other pay to bid sites were focused on male-centric products. So we saw a big untapped opportunity with online businesses only ignoring a big part of society and consumers,” he says. “We did a whole bunch of focus groups, and the topic that came up again and again was travel.”

He describes their model of seeking a customer first and then creating a product for them has worked well for their rapid growth.

They expanded into wines after it was the lead product identified by focus groups with another market they believed was overlooked by group buying sites, men over 35.

With plans to expand internationally, primarily into South East Asia, Donazzan says the funds they’re raising will go towards expanding their team of five.

To read more on this story, click here.

Well-known online entrepreneur shares 10 signs that an internet company will fail

Monday, October 28th, 2013
Photo credit; Nima Badiey on Flickr

Photo credit; Nima Badiey on Flickr

Australian internet entrepreneur Fred Schebesta,  who founded online comparison website and is also a StartupSmart mentor, has put together a list of the signs he says show that an internet company is likely to fail.

Here are Schebesta’s 10 indicators that an internet company is set for failure:

1. The owner expects it to go viral

“The most successful viral campaigns out there are for brands that have already established themselves in the market and have an existing following. Viral campaigns drive brand awareness not sales and should support a core marketing strategy, not the other way round.”

2. The chosen idea adds to an already ‘successful’ core product

“A product that adds value to another successful idea can thrive in the beginning however, when the existing product fails or its owner decides that they can create that add-on even better, this business becomes redundant.”

3. The product is good but could easily operate as a free service

“I’ve watched entrepreneurs crumble as larger businesses swoop in and offer a similar service for free. Remarkably I’ve also watched as others try to establish a paid service when it’s already available at no cost to the consumer! It’s not a good idea if money can’t be made from it.”

4. It’s a faceless business

“Brands that are non-personable scream out to customers that they’re money-making schemes. Customers need someone to talk to when things go wrong, otherwise frustrations can kill a good reputation.”

5. The owner has picked a business where others continuously fail

“Two words — group buying. Why do businesses keep trying to establish in this dying market, especially when it’s dominated by a handful of larger businesses? Too often I see business owners who are too proud to change an idea or enter a different market, sometimes you just have to go back to the drawing board.”

6. There is no differentiation to well-established competitors

“Think or — they operate so well in the market that smaller competitors don’t stand a chance. When an entrepreneur thinks they have a differentiation, they need to question how long it would be before their largest competitor also incorporates this idea.”

7. The business can’t be explained to a 12-year-old

Over-complicated ideas result in users switching off completely. If a 12-year-old doesn’t understand a product then I say don’t bother taking it any further.”

8. It’s for a niche market, not the mass market

“Australia is already a tiny market to operate in and those businesses with a niche idea are narrowing their success even further. When an idea becomes too specific consumers feel alienated and lose interest.”

9. eBay, Google or Facebook are its biggest competitors

“I am flooded with requests each month from the ‘budding’ Mark Zuckerberg. You are not the next social network. That ship has sailed, now we need to move on.”

10. The owner is trying to find new industries or customer problems to solve

“If a product doesn’t solve an obvious problem or make a customer have an ‘Aha!’ moment then it shouldn’t exist. If there are existing solutions to problems that an entrepreneur is trying to compete then they need to innovate in a whole new way to get audiences on board.”

To read more on this story, click here.

Australian entrepreneurs work long hours on their businesses

Friday, October 25th, 2013
Photo credit; Pavel Medzyun on Flickr

Photo credit; Pavel Medzyun on Flickr

SmartCompany’s annual Smart50, the website’s list of the 50 fastest growing companies in Australia, includes some of the hardest working people in the country.

SmartCompany asked some of the many entrepreneurs featured on the list how many hours they put into their businesses and the answers skewed toward long hours.

More than half (52%) of entrepreneurs in the Smart50 for 2013 worked more than 56 hours a week. A full 10% worked more than 70. Three founders said they put more than 75 hours a week into their business.

Ruslan Kogan, founder and CEO of Kogan, told LeadingCompany last year that he hadn’t had a holiday in seven years.

To read more about this story, click here.

Huffington Post blogger shares insight into online business and why yours might be failing

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
Photo credit; Dnikolos on Flickr

Photo credit; Dnikolos on Flickr

Huffington Post blogger Don Dodds shares these six reasons why your online enterprise might be a little underwhelming.

#1) You targeted the wrong niche — or you didn’t target a niche at all.

Prior to starting your business, you need to answer these questions:

  • Is there a demand for my idea?
  • How much competition is there for my product or service?
  • Who are my top competitors?
  • Do I stand a realistic chance of outranking them (particularly in the organic search results)?
  • Where is the industry headed?
  • Is my product or service gaining momentum or is it on a downward trend?

Dodds says after you’ve investigated these questions you might need to reevaluate your business idea.

#2) You don’t have a clear business model for your website.

While it seems like common sense to begin your business with a clear business model in mind, Dodd says many new online business owners start with a vague idea at best when it comes to monetizing their website, but they need to be much more focussed.

Aside from selling advertising through Google’s AdSense program, you could consider offering an informational product such as an e-book if you’re running an information site, or you could also charge a fee for premium subscribers to your content.

#3) You’re trying to do too many things at once.

Focus on one or two important tasks per day.

Next, combat distractions by eliminating information overload like excessive e-mail subscriptions. Dodd says not to fall into the trap of spending many hours of your day consuming blog posts, e-books, and emails about how to improve your online business, but, instead, to get out there and work on your business, one step at a time.

#4) You’re being a control freak.

Dodd says not to be afraid to outsource things like website design, logo creation, and content development if you’re unfamiliar with them to help save you time (to work on other areas of your business) and make sure your website looks professional.

#5) You’re not sure how to market your product or service.

As an online business owner, Dodd says, you have two options when it comes to marketing your business: Learn the tricks of the trade yourself, or hire an expert SEO or social media consultant to do the job for you. Just make sure it gets done properly, and remember time is your most valuable asset.

If you want to learn how to do it yourself, begin with a broad overview of the various advertising and marketing techniques that are specific to the Internet like pay-per-click, social media, press releases, blogging, and search engine optimization (SEO). Educate yourself on each of these and find out which strategies work best for your own business by testing. Get help with some vital factors for SEO planning.

Finally, know that simply having the pillars of a smart marketing strategy in place is not enough. You have to measure your progress and continue to make refinements. You can quickly get started on this task by signing up for an account with Google Analytics.

#6) You bought into the get-rich-quick dream.

The greatest barrier to online success is unrealistic expectations. Unfortunately, this has become an epidemic due to get-rich-quick schemes promoted by a handful of Internet marketing gurus. It’s tempting to get caught up in the hype, but don’t. The best defense against this kind of toxic thinking is to avoid any kind of system that promises easy riches. Instead, focus on the steady growth of your company.

To read more on this story, click here.

Rural Australian businesses missing out on online opportunties, AgriFood Skills Australia aims to change that

Monday, October 21st, 2013
Photo credit; Richard Taylor on Flickr

Photo credit; Richard Taylor on Flickr

According to Tim Gentle, who has been developing web marketing strategies for ten years, nearly all country based businesses have a reason for not having an online presence.

Some of the excuses he’s run into include:

  • online is what kids do
  • the internet speed where I do business is too slow
  • my clients are local I don’t need to be on the web.

“You don’t have to be scared of it,” Gentle says. “It’s a lot of fun.”

“I had a gentleman who couldn’t even download a photo from his camera” he recalls. “Now he’s putting up YouTube videos onto his online store, and getting his wife to demonstrate things in his shop.”

Running a business is about being competitive, and Gentle suggests if you don’t have an online presence, you will be lagging behind.

And while internet speeds is definitely an issue, new infrastructures will change this and it’s important to be set to go straight away.

AgriFood Skills Australia will be hosting different courses in different communities in the next three months with Federal Government support.

To read more on this story, click here.

Small and medium businesses in Australia face cyber attack threat

Friday, October 18th, 2013
Photo credit; Mathieu Plourde on Flickr

Photo credit; Mathieu Plourde on Flickr

Cyber attacks hit 75% of small and medium sized businesses (SMB) last year, according to online security company McAfee, which says Australian businesses have been under concerted attacks online.

“There is a real imperative to better understand how to keep business assets safe — from data to devices, email and web,” says McAfee’s SMB Manager for Asia Pacific, Robbie Upcroft.

In its May State of Cybersecurity in Australian SMBs report, McAfee warned that almost half of SMBs in Australia had experienced a targeted attack in the past 12 months (44.5 per cent) with one in five (21 per cent) of this number experiencing three or more attacks.

And, in a worrying sign, McAfee found that just under half (46 per cent) of Australian SMBs indicated they had experienced security breach or data loss “by deliberate sabotage from current or ex-employees in the last year.”

To read more about this story, click here.

OPMC announces free Freshbooks plugin for WooCommerce sites

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

press-freshbooks-logo OPMC has created the Freshbooks Daily Billing Stats Lite plugin and is giving it away for free.

Freshbooks users can easily keep up to date with their invoicing with the quick snapshot reports generated by this plugin. It allows users to send a report to an email address they specify that shows them the amount invoiced via Freshbooks for the current week, and for the previous week.

The figures are broken down into daily totals.

All you need to use the Freshbooks Daily Billing Stats Lite plugin is a Freshbooks account and an authentication token.

To download the Freshbooks Daily Billing Stats Lite plugin, click here.

Kickstarter announces Australian launch date

Thursday, October 17th, 2013
Photo credit; David Pacey on Flickr

Photo credit; David Pacey on Flickr

Crowdfunding platform Kickstarter will be live in Australia as of Nov. 13.

The US-based platform, which has helped raise more than $US800 million for creative projects broke the news recently via its online blog.

“In August we announced that Kickstarter would soon open up to projects based in Australia and New Zealand for the first time. Today we’re happy to announce that the day has finally come!,” the blog read.

The company said Australians could start building their projects now and would be able to launch those projects on Wednesday, November 13.

“We thought the month-long gap would give everyone plenty of time to build and tweak their projects before launching. Beginning November 13, they can launch and share their projects with the world.”

Crowdfunding is a modern alternative to traditional funding avenues such as bank loans. It enables people to raise money through pledges from a large number of people, usually through a web-based campaign.

Until now, Kickstarter has only been open to US, UK and Canadian citizens.

To read more on this story, click here.

Learn the ins and outs of using Facebook and Twitter for your business

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

The Australia Business Review has posted a short guide to Facebook and Twitter, the two social media behemoths.

Photo credit; Jason A. Howie on Flickr

Photo credit; Jason A. Howie on Flickr

The guide notes that interaction on Facebook is more personal than on some social sites which is a great tool for engaging audiences.

Facebook allows you to post videos, long updates, run campaigns and events, plus pay for promotion. Advertising on the site is easy because all you need to do is plug in the amount of money you’d like to spend on ad placement per day and Facebook handles the rest.

People that like a business page can send messages with questions, or post on the timeline of the page and even negative comments can be addressed in a way that allows others to see you care about customers.

Using Twitter, on the other hand, is good for a business because thousands of people can share your message in an instant. Interaction is similar to instant messaging, only with a potential audience of thousands or more.

As with Facebook, Twitter can be a place where customer service is showcased, but it must be done within Twitter’s 140 character limit.

Using Twitter and Facebook together is often the best choice for business, the guide says.

To read more on this story, click here.


Napa Valley girls move to Sydney to start online fashion boutique

Monday, October 14th, 2013
Photo credit; Naomi King on Flickr

Photo credit; Naomi King on Flickr

In a reversal of sorts, two women who hail from Napa Valley in California made the move to Sydney to open an online fashion boutique.

While Silicon Valley might seem like the obvious choice for the women, Tessa Mini and Natalia Nowak, moved to Australia instead and were inspired by what they consider Australian women’s fashion consciousness to create Passionista Boutique, run out of their Sydney apartment.

“We package everything, we write all the slips, it’s our baby,” Mini said.

“At first we couldn’t afford a model,” she recalled, so Mini and Nowak modeled the clothing themselves. “I did the entire website myself,” Mini said, and “we do all digital marketing mainly from Instagram and Facebook.”

“We get a steady flow — about five orders a week,” Mini said. Their goal is to grow the business, selling closer to 20 items a week, she said.

Passionista sells a range of clothing including jackets, dresses, tops and accessories. Prices range from $25 to $65 in U.S. dollars. The business ships internationally.

To read more on this story, click here.