ApartmentReviews - Australia's Largest Dedicated Apartment Resource

Vishal Sunday, April 26, 2009 , , , , 0 comments

Today we showcase story of an exciting venture, from Brisbane, Australia, ApartmentReviews - Australia's Largest Dedicated Apartment Resource, founded by Shane Moore.

In a recent email based interview Shane, he gave insights how he is managing and juggling. This is what he has to say in his interview with us:

• How long it took before it was up and running
From the initial concept to having the first basic site live was around 3 weeks. The current design took another month or so to get right, at which point I started advertising through Google Adsense and posting on forums.

• Stage of Venture
The site launched in 2007 and since that time I've been concentrating on building traffic and attracting real estate agents to list their details. The next step will be to transition the 30 or so real estate agents we have into paying customers (currently it is free for them).

• Which Market Segment
Anyone looking to rent or buy a residential apartment.

• Customers
Anyone looking to rent or buy a residential apartment, and real estate agents that specialise in apartment buildings.

• Targeted Age Group
All above 18

• Users Using Service
Around 6,000 unique visitors per month, plus around 30 real estate agents listing on the site. Over 500 individual real estate agents are subscribed to our monthly apartment popularity (traffic) report.

• Marketing Technique
Organic search results (where most traffic comes from), Google Adsense, letterbox drops in large apartment buildings, print advertising in local publications.

• Measuring Success
The site was ranked 29th in Australian Anthill Magazine's inaugral Smart 100 list. Traffic is growing each month (albeit a little slower currently as the marketing budget has been significantly reduced) and we're attracting more real estate agents wishing to list their details on the site.

• Monetizing/Revenue Model
Currently Google Adwords plus individually negotiated banner ad campaignes. The next step is to monetise the agent listings. Each building has five positions available for agents to list their details on, and they will pay a monthly subscription fee for each building they list on.


• Main competitors
None yet, as we aren't a classifieds site like realestate.com.au and the like.

• money required
Around $10k has been spent on development costs and advertising so far. Ongoing costs related to the site itself is very low.

• Main Barriers
Hundreds of hours of manual research to get all of the apartment building information. The work never stops because more apartment buildings are popping up every week.

• Advice For People
Sites that use all user generated content, as opposed to our site which is half generated by us (the apartment info) and half generated by the users (the ratings and reviews), take much less work!

• External Funding
None

Ongoing coverage on Australian startups, innovation, business and tech trends, and interviews with experts in various domains can be found here

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infome - Find Anything Nearby from your Mobile

Vishal Friday, April 24, 2009 , , , , , , , 0 comments

Today we showcase story of an exciting venture, from Sydeny, Australia, infome - Find Anything Nearby from your Mobile, co-founded by Scott Middleton, Andrew Lowe and Brett McDowall.

In a recent email based interview with us, Scott gave insights how 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?
When I was about 12 - thanks to a book my parents bought me - I found out that I could create web pages, I was so excited I distinctly remember tossing and turning the entire night because I began imagining the possibilities, imagining what I could create; especially how I could build websites for local businesses.

A year or two later, still excited and full of enthusiasm I’d learnt how to create mobile games, a well-established local mobile developer bought my first game and it went worldwide – it even made it to a top 20 list for Australian developers.

Even now, I still love mobile. I love how it can make everything so simple and so easy to do. I love the possibilities and I love that there is always something new.

In my downtime when I’m not immersed in the world of technology I’m at the gym, the beach, the pub, diving, playing Aussie rules or trying something new.

One of my partners, Brett McDowall, spends his time as the Chief Technology Officer at Object Consulting, you can read about him here.

There are a few more of our team in the wood works at the moment, but I hope to introduce them soon.

• What is the name of your venture/company?
infome. Pronounced “info me”. infome is a free iPhone application and mobile service that allows you to search for anything local. You can check out what we are doing at infome or through my blog.

• Please tell us about your venture/company?
Like I just mentioned, searching with infome is like asking a friend who knows all about you as well as the details of every business and every product in the local area.

infome takes things a step further than your usual search, infome is about giving you the ability to search for everything in the world around you. Remember those times you’re out after a great party and you need to find a bar that is open, with infome you can search “bars that are open”. Taking it further, imagine you’re late for a dinner, in a suburb you aren’t too familiar with and your friend only drinks shirazs, just search infome with “open bottleshops with shiraz”.

At the moment we are building up our database and working on making our technology that little bit extra special. So you might not find exactly what you are after just yet.

• What is the main objective/mission behind your venture?
infome will be like your best mate that knows you and knows the area you’re looking for something in. Soon you’ll be able to say to infome “I’m hungry” and it will know who you are, where you are, what you like and present you with the best places nearby for you to eat.

• How long it took before it was up and running?
It's taken myself and my partners a few months of tossing ideas around to finally grab onto this one. Once we decided we were up in a month or so.

• Stage of venture
The version that is out in the open for everyone to use is very much an early version of our product, some would say beta. We want to get the ball rolling and we want to see what people think. We’re currently focusing on particular suburbs of Sydney and the iPhone. Soon we'll be branching to more suburbs and more technology.

• Market Segment
People that love technology and get out and about.


• Users sing service

We average about 30 searches per day and about 9 users using the service per day with little to no advertising.

• Marketing Technique
We've just finished testing both AdWords and flyer drops. We're now focusing on 'hyper-local' initiatives like focused websites for particular communities and needs.

• Measuring Success
First it was 1 user we didn't know. Then it was 1,000 users. Now we're looking at capturing the hearts and minds of a particular suburb.

• Monetising/Revenue Model
Similar to Google AdWords in that a merchant pays per view of their listing. Listing just the business details is free, listing products/special offers and more incurs a fee. It is all performance based because why should you pay for something that you aren't seeing benefits from?

• Main competitors?
TrueLocal, Sensis and to some extent PocketLife.

• Main barriers?
Finding a niche away from the big broad brushes of the TrueLocals and YellowPages.

• Advice for people
The most important thing I have learnt is that you need to get started and then, once you’ve started you need to keep the ball rolling – in footy we say “keep the legs ticking over”. It’s important because
(a) only by doing will you learn how to do greater things and
(b) you’ll find that when you’re doing something the world turns in your favor.

• Business partner?
2

• External funding
None

Ongoing coverage on Australian startups, innovation, business and tech trends, and interviews with experts in various domains can be found here

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Mogeneration - Mobile 2.0 Web & iPhone Development House

Vishal Tuesday, April 21, 2009 , , , , , 1 comments

Today we showcase story of an exciting venture, from Sydney, Australia, Mogeneration - Mobile 2.0 Web & iPhone Development House, co-founded by Tom Adams & Keith Ahern

In a recent email based interview Keith, he gave insights how he is managing and juggling. This is what he has to say in his interview with us:

• How long it took before it was up and running
The co-founder Tom Adams and I had been talking about working together on iPhone and mobile projects for quite a while. In the end it took about 2 months from a decision to launch..

• Stage of Venture
mogeneration started in October 2008 and launched "The Australian" on iPhone within a few weeks. We have offices in Brisbane and Sydney are still under 10 people. We have created 9 iPhone applications for Australian and US companies.

• Which Market Segment
We help companies and individuals get a presence on iPhone. We have worked with a wide variety of companies from News Ltd to small startups like Lingopal and Xumii. We are experts in publishing content in an iPhone format.

• Customers
News Ltd, Xumii.com, Lingopal Pty Ltd, Perkler, ShakeAndPlay.com, Perkler and a few more confidential customers.

• Targeted Age Group
It depends on the app - our kids games are aimed at young kids but also seem to have a dedicated adult following! The Lingopal phrasebook application contains some flirting phrases and is aimed at the twenty something traveler.

• Users Using Service
We are bound to confidentiality by our clients but we can confidentially say its in hundreds of thousands of users per month.

• Marketing Technique
As a consulting and development company we market through a variety of channels including online ads, linked in, speaking events including Mobile Monday and Cebit, contributing to open source

• Measuring Success
We were cashflow positive almost immediately and profitable soon after. Internally we measure success on how close our project estimates are to reality. Also, several clients have come to us after having a bad experience with other companies - mostly overseas. iPhone development is new and it's hard - it does not have the 10 years of community and support other environments have. We have also had some repeat business and great testimonials from our customers.

• Monetizing/Revenue Model
We have several models, the simplest is the fixed price or time and materials straight development model. Tell us what you want, we tell you how much its costs and build it. Beyond that we have also sometimes enter revenue share agreements where we offer a reduced build cost in return for revenue share. We are moving to platform model for some vertical markets such as news/magazine publishing, music and movie promotion and interactive kids books publishing. In these cases we have a license fee per app.

• Main competitors
Traditional mobile development shops like Hyro and Tigerspike.

• Technology Stack used
Front End is Objective-C and Cocoa. Back end - Ruby on Rails and Scala.

• Main Barriers
Lerning curve on iPhone O/S and Objective-C. Working with Apples rules and regulations. Establishing a new name. Educating clients about development costs and timelines.

• Advice For People
In the wise words of Mick Liubinskas of Pollenizer: "Ideas are easy, execution is hard". mogeneration execute.

• External Funding
Some angel funding

Ongoing coverage on Australian startups, innovation, business and tech trends, and interviews with experts in various domains can be found here

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Front Foot- Media Solutions for Mobile Phone and Internet

Vishal Saturday, April 11, 2009 , , , , , 0 comments

Today we showcase story of an exciting venture, from Melbourne & Sydney, Australia, Front Foot - Media Solutions for mobile phone and internet, co-founded by Anton Sher, Ben Astill, Richard Lennox.

In a recent email based interview Anton, he gave insights how he is managing and juggling. This is what he has to say in his interview with us:

• How long it took before it was up and running
Front Foot started in April 2006 and we launched our first mobile site in January 2007. Since then we have built a number of mobile sites, including the Winner and Runner-Up at AIMIA's 2009 industry Awards for EA and Sky Racing respectively.

• Stage of Venture
Three years on and our portfolio is growing. We now have a mobile ad server, billing and alert systems, video platforms, and are integrated into Australian carriers. Currently Front Foot is looking at several export opportunities.

• Which Market Segment
Front Foot provides mobile solutions for all market sements depending on the business, brand, or site. Our core focus is on mobile, with our own sites built for niche segments that aren't fully catered for such as with our Flight Info, Traffic Info, and Winning Numbers sites. We have a strong background in Sport, Racing and Games which can be seen in our award winning work for EA, Sky Racing, as well as other clients such as Essendon FC and Sportingbet.

• Customers

We provide B2B and B2C products and services. Our customers include content publishers, telco's, ad agencies, and consumers. Our mobile solutions are powered by sophisticated proprietary technical systems that are best in market.

• Targeted Age Group
All ages

• Users Using Service
Across the board we are approaching six-digits for number of users, and doing well in excess of 1 million mobile page impressions per month

• Marketing Technique
This depends largely on the product and the clients objectives. We can tailor a broad range of marketing solutions ranging from portal advertising for carrier-integrated products, to strategic mobile ad banners for direct-to-consumer sites. We also utilise other digital mediums, all with the objective of providing clear and simple access to a mobile web page or site that we can provide detailed analytics and feedback on.

• Measuring Success
This depends on the client. Financially the payback period for the majority of our clients are measured in months and on occasion weeks.

• Monetizing/Revenue Model
Front Foot revenue models are varied. We are able to work on mutually beneficial terms that differ from client-to-client. It is important to be flexible. Even our own sites use different revenue models ranging from subscription, to advertising, and even a combination of both. With our clients we also have a mix of fee-for-service and revenue share.

• Main competitors
Various companies in different spheres.

• Technology Stack used
Front Foot's proprietary Mobile Delivery System (MDS) is widely acknowledged. It is featred in Australian Technology Showcase and used to deliver multiple services with leading carriers. Its key features include:

  • modular framework enabling mobile / web development;
  • delivers both on and off-deck solutions in a single application;
  • Customisable to customer requirements;
  • integrated to multiple carriers;
  • highly scaleable and reliable
• How Much Money is Used/Reqd.
Mobile site prices start at a few thousand $AUD and go from there depending largely upon scope, complexity, integration and support.

• Advice For People
Quality of execution will maximise your success

• Your Education/Professional Background
Front Foot directors have substantial new media experience and are all tertiary educated in their field.

• External Funding
None

Ongoing coverage on Australian startups, innovation, business and tech trends, and interviews with experts in various domains can be found here

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Debenu - Document Management Tools for your Desktop

Vishal Monday, April 06, 2009 , , , , 1 comments

Today we showcase story of an exciting venture, from Melbourne, Australia, Debenu Pty Ltd, Document Management Tools for your Desktop, co-founded by Karl De Abrew.

In a recent email based interview with us, he gave insights how 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've spent time my earlier years in the UK, Australia, the US, Ireland, and then back in Australia. I'm an avid technologist and have been for as long as I can remember. Back to the times when people would laugh at me for using a keyboard when they had their trusty ball-point at the ready.

I enjoy working with my friends, and consequently I try to involve them all at some stage in my businesses.

I have managed to create a working environment that doesn't feel too much like hard work. Sure, the hours are long, but as an entrepreneur -- well, I've got a great boss. I also get a lot of freedom and satisfaction from that. Having said that, I do always keep an eye out for some more diverse activities! For example -- this week I'm heading up to Sydney to visit some close friends, do a little surfing, and watch some AFL.

It's hard to beat a cold beer and a bit of kick-to-kick with your mates.

I've funneled large amounts of cash up via iTunes to Steve Jobs and I like my movies -- having gone through almost everything in the store (of course, with time spent reviewing first via IMDB). This said, I'm not quite as fussy as some of my compatriots which leads to renting some pretty low-budget movies that I really shouldn't bother with.

Basically, I've been "working" as an entrepreneur for (almost) all long as I've been working ...

• Please tell us about your venture/company?
Debenu is positioned squarely in around "digital documents" -- we've one product, Benubird Pro which is a personal/desktop document manager for home and business users. It designed to provide an easy way to archive, manage and retrieve documents. It's has an iTunes-style interface which targets your documents, instead of music. Secondly, we have a product called Quick PDF Library, this is a royalty-free component that application developers can add to their products to "power" them up to operate with PDF files.
• Who are the people behind this and how it started?
Myself and Rowan Hanna, my brother.
Basically all my working life (and the time before it), I've been working toward a goal of building a paperless office system. Or at least, a less-paper system. Why? I'm not sure, it might have been the result of my really early years working a paper round to distribute newspapers at 5AM each day -- or perhaps the 5+ years I spent operating a fax, telex and photocopier at a stockbrokers distributing their information to each desk in the organization.

After talking with all our customers for years, we established that there was a real need in the market for a lightweight-yet-powerful, desktop document management system -- that explains Benubird Pro. Re: Quick PDF Library, we've been working with PDF for well over 15 years, in the beginning I used to pitch PDF as being the "defacto" standard for electronic documents. Well, now, it actually is... so there's a huge demand for a product that can power up any application with true PDF capabilities.

• How long it took before it was up and running?

From my experience I know that it takes around 12-18 months of solid work before a startup will realistically start making money. This being the case we put aside enough money to last us 24 months -- but luckily, it only took us 12 months. Starting a successful business rarely happens overnight, so you need to keep at it over a prolonged period of time and have faith (and a good idea!).

• What is the main objective/mission behind your venture?
We're looking for Benubird to become the main application of choice for SOHO users who are looking for a more intelligent way of working with their files (mostly documents, images, spreadsheets, etc...).

As for Quick PDF Library -- we're looking for it to become the #1 library of choice for developers around the planet. We've got a healthy start here...

• What type of customers/people you are targeting?
Benubird Pro targets the desktop professional -- so pretty much your SOHO users.

Quick PDF Library is focused on software developers, both enterprise customers and 3rd party applications. Quick PDF Library is royalty-free which is a big selling point. To be clear, this means we do not charge you "per seat" if you compile Quick PDF Library into your application -- it's a one-time low-cost payment. Less than a couple of hundred bucks.

• What sort of marketing you are using to spread the word?

  • Online marketing.
  • User-to-user communities
  • Demonstrating the capability of our products by providing free versions (Lite). As distinct from a demo version of software, a lite version can be used forever, however, it's features are reduced from the commercial edition.
• How are you measuring the success of your venture? Are their any special mechanisms/tools in place to monitor the progress?
I suppose the biggest and most significant measure is a) the online 'buzz' about our business and products as well as b) the fairly obvious method, which is simply sales.

Hybrid setup of:
  • Google Analytics - Allows us to track our traffic levels, where our visitors are coming from, results from AdWords, keywords used to locate our site, etc...
  • Alexa - gives us a rough idea of traffic levels
  • UserVoice - allows us to gauge interaction with the user community and thoughts on new ideas
  • Constant Contact - talk to customers via newsletters, and receive feedback (more traditional "broadcast"). The larger the number of subscribers, the greater our success in intriguing users as to our progress.
  • SurveyMonkey, Again, for us, this can measure success in two ways, if we ask direct questions about our products and position in the marketplace, we can garner a clear idea about our progress, secondly something as simple as the number of people who take the time to complete our surveys -- again shows that people really care to contribute their ideas and feedback.
  • # of downloads, Pretty clear, no need to explain.
  • # of sales, Another obvious one.
  • Direct feedback from users... Likewise, with SurveyMonkey, the fact that our customers, or potential customers take the time to write us direct emails shows that they do care about our products and business.
• What is the monetizing/revenue model? Is their any new model, which is being tried?
We're based around the traditional product sale system. Our products are all software-based hence, for the most part, the costs are (fairly) mixed as revenues increase. Increasing our sales is directly correlated to the number of visitors/trial users that we have.

We have a short-term and long-term financial strategy - with products that will sell from day one, and others which -- as a result of their innovation, will take a lot longer to communicate/educate our users.

Our PDF library is based around a royalty-free sale model which is very compelling benefit of a high-quality component to within an application.

• Which are the main competitors or major players in this market segment?
There are a variety of PDF library vendors and a few small document management compaies.

• What are the main technologies used behind this venture?
Regarding our document management product, Benubird Pro, we used Visual C++, SQLite and BCG ControlBar Professional.

Basically, re: our PDF component, Quick PDF Library, involves most development environments such as Visual C++, Delphi, ActiveX, basic Window development, PowerBasic..., however, the main technology was Delphi (surprising, but yes, true).

• What has been the most easy to use, out of box and helpful technology?
Visual Studio, BCGSoft. Delphi -

Note -- this is primarily due to experience, not necessarily due to use of use. As in, there may be a "better" method for working through to reach our goals, however, it's important that we make use of our competencies and experience.

We also use, standard open source online web-hosting, marketing and forum tools

• Are you using lot of open source tool sets for this?
Not really -- excepting SQLite. Again, this is based around a) experience and b) the relatively low cost of these tools when measured against the price of our applications. It makes more sense for us to utilize applications.

• What is your operating environment (operating system) and what type of database you are using?
Windows XP/Vista + SQLite.

• What's your thought on being an aspiring entrepreneur?
Chose your goal first. Don't worry about how lofty it is, or what other people think about. Make it your goal.

After that let everything else fall into line. If you can't get money -- use your own, if you don't have it, don't pay yourself, if you need money, get a 2nd, 3rd or fourth job. Remember, there's always someone doing it harder than you are -- and most likely for a lot less.
Just get on with it...

• What's your thought on the start-ups culture and innovation coming out of Australia?
To be honest, I really don't know -- our customer base has primarily from the US for Benubird (and our previous entity, Nitro PDF) -- with Quick PDF Library, our most significant base is from Europe. As a consequence, we've had little need or requirement to involve ourselves in the local environment.

I'm certainly not saying that wouldn't be exciting and a dynamic place to be starting up a business, I just can't really provide any useful feedback.

• What do you think the government (federal and state) should do to improve the culture of innovation?
From a technology perspective, I'd say that there's a few additions that could help. Firstly, since it's the technology and innovation that's important, in the early years, take the focus off the standard business operating procedure. Provide early-stage support for new startups that handle offices, accounts, taxation -- basically your day-to-day stuff. Let the innovators focus on what they should be good at -- innovation. Some time during years 3-5, they move out (or you boot them out!), either out into the wide world, or back home to think of the next idea.

• Do you have any advice for people who want to start their venture?
Work out the best way to move ahead, don't waste your time, do it today (not tomorrow). I mean, literally, stop right now, don't read the answer to the next question, send your boss an email saying that you've decided to move on. Then come back and keep reading...

• Do You have any business advisor/mentor?
No. But I should have. Not having an advisor meant that I "learned" a lot of lessons. That in itself isn't a problem. The problem is learning the same lesson, over and over ... and over. Of course, learning from experience has its merits too.

Ongoing coverage on Australian startups, innovation, business and tech trends, and interviews with experts in various domains can be found here

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