Matt Ireland, Aussie Entrepreneur - Owner of 3 Successful Ventures

Vishal Sunday, September 28, 2008 , , , , , ,

Today we showcase story of an entrepreneur with 3 successful ventures under his belt, Matthew Ireland, founder of eTradesman.com.au, MineOnline.com.au & LawyerLink.com.au from Sydney, Australia.

In a candid interview with us, he explained how as an entrepreneur he is managing and juggling. This is what he has to say in his interview with us :

• Please tell us about yourself, your background and interests?
I’m Matt Ireland, founder and manager of eTradesman.com.au, MineOnline.com.au & LawyerLink.com.au. Based between Sydney & Newcastle i have a huge passion and interest in the possibilities and developments of the internet and am always keen to read up on entrepreneurs and people who have been there and done it. Huge sports fan outside of ‘work’ and enjoy a beer with friends and family.

• What is the name of your venture/company?
Our current portfolio of online businesses include: eTradesman.com.au, MineOnline.com.au & LawyerLink.com.au – stay focused for new developments!

• Please tell us about your venture/company?
eTradesman.com.au – aimed at the tradesmen of Australia who are looking for the best way to get their business online and reach the younger generation of consumers who prefer internet search as opposed to offline hard copy methods to find trades & services. It’s about giving our tradesmen value for money and a quality service – the offline directories ask huge advertising fees which most tradesmen cannot afford, so we looked to create something that all tradesmen could manage and really give the whole market a bit of a shake-up.

MineOnline.com.au – bringing the Australian mining industry and it’s many stakeholders together to one central, easy to navigate place. The industry has more mining magazines than is necessary and these are seen by equipment and service suppliers as the best way to get their businesses in front of the right people. Again, we’re about providing a value for money, up to date medium for businesses to advertise their products and services and further expand their online reach.

LawyerLink.com.au – providing people with an easy to use and convenient tool to research various law firms in their city. Allowing law firms to expand their online exposure and further promote their services and specialties. Law firms have long considered advertising as something of a grey area but this has changed in the last few years and many are now looking for new ways to market their firm and services and many of the larger firms have dedicated Marketing Managers who are pushing the direction of the firm.

• How long it took before it was up and running?
All websites were taken to market reasonably quickly – website development and testing phases took only a few weeks to a month to successfully launch. Constant development is always underway so the work never stops yet it keeps things fresh and up to date with the latest online trends.

• What sort of marketing you are using to spread the word?
A combination of methods combined with natural & organic growth. Internet-based advertising and promotion, magazines, trade shows, telemarketing etc. Satisfied customers have proven to be our best asset to get the word out and bring more people on board.

• How are you measuring the success of your venture? Are their any special mechanisms/tools in place to monitor the progress?
Website visitor statistics are always a good sign of our growth. Repeat business from current clients is also helpful as listing renewals are very import to us and show a great sense of faith in the service we are providing to them and are viewed as a big thumbs up to what we’re doing.

• What is the monetizing/revenue model? Is their any new model, which is being tried?
Listing fees paid either monthly or yearly – there are also other options like targeted advertisements across the websites.

• Which are the main competitors or major players in this market segment?
Too many to mention. Since we began our businesses we were mainly competing with one or two major players but now it’s extremely competitive with different companies trying to compete on price or various services. Of course our main competitor is the Yellow directories (Sensis) but we’re still eating away at them and trying to get more business owners to realise the value of having their business online as opposed to purely offline – we’re not about telling people to not advertise with offline methods, as long as they look at a mixture of options then that’s the smartest decision they can make, cover their bases.

• What's your thought on being an entrepreneur? How tough it is to start a venture in Australia?
Risky & Rewarding. For me the internet was the only real option to start a business as I began straight out of high school so you’re looking for options with small start up costs and as little or no barriers to entry as possible, so the internet was a no brainer. In terms of managing a business I think more could be done to help entrepreneurs get things done on their own, as majority of the financial and legal side of things seem incredibly hidden to the business owner and the only people with the knowledge are the professionals so you have to get a good accountant and solicitor to help keep things in compliance and this all comes at a cost. Also as an entrepreneur you need to know your own skills base – know when you need to bring in someone else who is better at certain things, so for me outsourcing is a great way to get things done in a high quality / fast turnaround way.

• What's your thought on the start-ups culture and innovation coming out of Australia?
On the rise. It will be interesting to see how it goes in the next 10 – 15 years as the mining boom could really tempt people away from trying their business ideas as many see it too easy to go earn big money in the mines without the risk of being an entrepreneur, the boom also brings business opportunities but so monitor that space.

• How do you see the battle between Sensis, Google & rest of the players?
I think Google is in the best position to really take control of things but it will be interesting to see if they can stay focussed as more and more is coming out about their different plans to diversify – i.e. mobile phones, internet browsers... – tough to even compare as they are in a different league to the others.
• What do you think the government (federal and state) should do to improve the culture of innovation and the IT industry?
Tough to say. At the end of the day it all comes down to the person and the business idea. Maybe some efforts could be made at the school level. How many careers advisers out there are tossing up the option of business ownership or entrepreneurship to the students? Instead of pushing mainly for university or trades, why not spend some time researching some successful entrepreneurs and letting the students know that all of this is an option for them if they have the drive and skills.

• How often do you catch up with others trying similar things and where do you catch up? Do you have dedicated communities in your city?
I’m on the email to a few people every now and then just to check in and see how things are going.

• Do you have any advice for people who want to start their venture?
Research! Really look into and it, try and see if the market is there for your idea or venture. Get the best advice, consult with others who have been there and done it or are specialists in their field. I’ve got a network of people who are hugely successful in their own right and i’ve found them to be incredibly helpful with tips and advice so look at getting yourself a mentor or help network. Of course the obvious tips to just give it a go, work hard, treat your customers/clients as best you can and try to have fun along the way.

Thanks Matthew for sharing your thoughts with us. All the best for future.

For coverage on other Australian startups, innovation, and tech trends, check this out and our coverage on interviews can be found here

Del.icio.us Digg! My StumbleUpon Page

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good on him.

Anonymous said...

That's a great interview.

Anonymous said...

I met Matt at a seminar a couple of years ago, great young guy and really switched on.