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Founders feedback from B2B startups

Video Summary

Listen to a panel of Founders share there ideas and experience to help B2B startups and growing businesses.

Speakers

The elevator pitches we remember are the ones that connect and strike an emotion reaction.

So, i’ve included a sample outline that a pitch should include — whether its a live pitch or pitch video. You should be able to fit this all into five minutes or less — especially if you use images & graphics in your presentation. You should mostly speak to each of the points, using graphics or props to reinforce your spoken words.

Co-Founder of Upwire. Focusing on creating new communication technologies to simplify current business processes and in doing so pushing the boundaries of today's technologies for tomorrow's products.

I'm a marketing geek who entered the SaaS world after getting frustrated sourcing & leveraging brand partnerships. I'm B2B digital marketing and PR expert with agency and in-house experience across small business education, events, fashion & lifestyle.

I founded Collabosaurus, a brand-to-brand matchmaker for marketing partnerships, in 2014 and have grown core revenue at an average of 157% year on year.

I have delivered workshops, keynote presentation and speaking opportunities for some incredible companies, including Apple, The College of Event Management, General Assembly, ADMA & Life Instyle.

I was also lucky enough to win Anthill's 30Under30 award for 2017.

I focus on groundbreaking and emerging technology, and the effects this has on traditional business structures, their associated cultures and the economy.

I co-founded Startup Muster in 2013 after noticing a lack of reliable, high-quality, and timely data on the Australian startup ecosystem and decide to tackle this head on.

In this role I participated in everything related to the Australian startup ecosystem. This included, but wasn’t limited to regular interstate and international travel, advisory, speaking engagements, media relations, and startup engagement.

Having worked in private industry, the public sector and startups I understand the challenges faced by both new business and existing institutions when establishing and maintaining a relationship and what can be done by all stakeholders to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.

Since completing the AICD Company Directors’ Course in 2017, I’ve pursued several advisory committee roles, for more information see below.

An economist at heart, with a Bachelor in Economics and a Bachelor of Applied Finance, I view the world through a prism of incentive structures, economic models and probabilities. These skills and interests allow me to critically assess data to formulate easy to understand insights.

Being completely fluent in German, I’ve spent much of my spare time actively promoting bilateral relations with the German startup ecosystem.

https://www.monicawulff.com

“There’s a fantastic young woman called Monica Wulff who runs a business called the Startup Muster who actually maps and logs the startup culture in Australia.. they are actually getting startup type industries identified and cited and logged and mapped, which I think is a really good move. I’m quite encouraged by the level of energy there is in the startup culture both in all digital technologies like fintech and other internet technologies. I think it’s actually quite inspiring.” - Lucy Turnbull on the Talking Cities podcast (2017)

Ben Brophy: Hello, I’m the moderator. I’m actually gonna do very little talking. I do wanna open some time. I was talking to our panels for some questions from the audience. We do have a lot to cover off. So I’m just gonna hand over to each one. They will do an introduction of their business. Focusing on maybe the stage you’re at, and just a quick overview of what you do. So Allan, why don’t you kick it off?

[00:25]
Alan Crabbe: Okay. So I started Pozible back in 2010. And more recently, a company called Birchal, we launched last year. We’ve become one of the first equity crowdfunding platforms to get licensed in Australia. So we help companies and brands raise capital from pretty much anyone in Australia. Anyone globally, I say. But we’ve got a license to be able to facilitate that. So, that’s pretty much an introduction to me.

[00:56]
Danielle Lewis: Hi, I’m Danielle, I’m the CEO and co-founder of Scrunch. And Scrunch is a data-driven influencer marketing platform. So essentially we built a piece of software that connects brands and agencies to over 20 million influencers globally. And our key difference is really that we use data and AI to understand who an influencer’s audience actually is, to do risk influencer marketing and ensure that people are actually measuring ROI.

[01:23]
Monica Wulff: Hi everyone. I’m Monica Wulff. I’m co-founder and director of Startup Muster. Startup Muster is the largest survey of the Australian startup ecosystem, and from that we produce annual report that’s full of a ton of statistics about what’s happening in the Australian startup ecosystem. What are the founders experiencing? And relevant here today, 67% of startups in Australia are in B2B.

[01:39]
Jessica Ruhfus: Hi guys. My name’s Jess. I’m from Collabosaurus, and Collabosaurus is a B2B marketing tool that connects brands for promotional partnerships. So, if you’ve seen things like GoPro and Red Bull, or Spotify and Uber teaming up for a cross-promotional marketing campaigns, that’s what Collabosaurus does. We often get referred to as Tinder for business, if that’s easy to remember, and we are a marketing tool actually up to 30 times less expensive than other digital advertising, which is huge.

[02:10]
Ben Brophy: Fantastic! So within all your businesses, we might just start with Jess. What did you find? Why did you start it? Where was the hole in the market? Because B2B you know connections is something that has been done before. LinkedIn do it, a lot of other people, so why are you different? And where was the hole?

[02:30]
Jessica Ruhfus: That’s a big question! I think I started it because at first I was really frustrated. I was working in PR, and we were pulling together media launch events for our clients, you know, showcasing the new fashion range to bloggers and journalists basically on a quarterly basis. And we were trying to do this on such a budget that we were pulling together catering partners, venue partners, photographers, hair and makeup artists, goody bag inclusions, and it was always just such a scramble, and really time consuming, and there was nothing out there that streamlined the strategic partnership process in a way that really helped brands confidently leverage those opportunities, and tap into new networks as well. So I mean, in terms of how we’re different, that’s interesting. I think we often get confused with influencer marketing platforms where they focus on influencer to brand connections, or LinkedIn for example is individual to individual connections, and networking, whereas Collabosaurus is brand to brand, and it’s marketing focused. So it’s specifically around event product and social media collaborations.

[03:35]
Ben Brophy: Wonderful. Then Danielle, Scrunch.

[03:39]
Danielle Lewis: Yes, so we started Scrunch about eight years ago and we did not start in influencer marketing, so we did not have a vision of this problem that we were solving, ours was really an evolution. And that was probably a startup, you know first startup founder kind of lesson that I had to learn. So we were actually three other things before we were an influencer marketing platform. But fortunately, by the time we got four years into our journey, we finally figured out how to listen to our customers, understand how to identify gaps in the market. And at that time, the first sort of million dollar influencer happened. And we had been building some technology in press monitoring, and inventory monitoring, and we thought we could apply that same tech to the influencer world, and we sort of thought we would take a bit of a different approach. We started to see people matching influencers to brands, and we knew that there wasn’t going to be a lot of longevity in just marketplaces, so we backed data early on. It did mean it was sort of a slower path to market, but it’s now starting to pay off now that people are understanding the value of it.

[04:53]
Ben Brophy: Is that the same as, what’s his name, Jules [INAUDIBLE 00:04:54], it is. Is it? Is it similar marketplace?

[04:57]
Danielle Lewis: It’s the same industry, so we both work in influencer marketing, but we both take a bit of a different approach. So they take a very content driven approach, and we really believe in identifying the right influencer that speaks to the right audience, who can actually buy your product.

[05:13]
Ben Brophy: So I think one of the key things about what you said is the ability to pivot and see that what you start off with is actually probably not what you’re going to end up with. And I have seen a lot of startups and a lot of failure is that you’ve gone in and smacked our head against the wall going, “Actually we know better than the market, this is going to work. This is going to work.” When it doesn’t.

[05:26]
Ben Brophy: So Alan, when you first started, well, I should say the Birchal business, is it what you envision it would be today?

[05:36]
Alan Crabbe: Okay, so I only had launched Birchal end of last year. But it’s something we’ve been waiting for, for probably about four, five years, so really I suppose my startup journey, like I’ve been in startups similar length of time as you. I don’t know how we haven’t come across each other yet till today, but …So I think in the similar fashion, I’d say we’ve had a bit of an evolution from being one of the first in the crowdfunding space back eight years ago. And now you’re seeing I suppose the evolution to equity crowdfunding. So it’s just taken a long time for Australia to actually pick up on this growing trend overseas, but finally we’ve got this regime. And I suppose from our point of view, like we’re trying to solve one of the biggest issues, and the biggest problems for startups in Australia, trying to raise capital. And it’s very painful. I’ve built three myself in Australia, and I think any startup has the exact same experiences as we do. If there’s an opportunity to actually open this up to invite anyone to invest into an opportunity or a division of a finder, we’d like to do it. Yeah, so…

[06:47]
Ben Brophy: And Jessica, I might, ‘cause I want to really come to capital raising, but one thing I do want to focus on is partnerships, and specifically… Actually, nevermind, I know, Monica, I left you out, so we’ll jump, apologies. Specifically I want to look at business partnerships in the Startup world. Some people, no we might chuck it to Monica. So, some people go to startup alone, others go with a partner. In your business, have you gone a partner with a partner? Are you a co-founder or a singular founder?

[07:15]
Monica Wulff: So, I’m a co-founder. There’s only about 27% of startups in Australia that are solo founders. That number is significantly higher for women. So usually, if you’re a non-tech woman trying to build a startup on your own, it’s quite hard to find a co-founder to go along with you. In my case, I came from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and I knew that we were not capturing the Australian startup ecosystem, and I was hanging out with a lot of tech people. So my co-founder has the technical expertise. But what we are seeing is that the majority of the time we are at least building out teams of one or two of two or more co-founders and the skill that they wish they had on their founding team is marketing, which I think the previous speaker really spoke to using that experience from her previous business in that sense.

[08:05]
Ben Brophy: And on the statistic side of things, singular founders as opposed to co-founders, do you know on stats any benefits to and fro success rates of having a co-founder as opposed to a singular founder in a business?

[08:20]
Monica Wulff: So we have about, of the founders in Australia right now 59% are first time founders. So there is the positive idea of, if you have a co-founder that might have had multiple startups prior, you can lean on that experience. But then you’re also dealing with an element of asymmetric information. So this comes down to the concept of like your co-founder conundrum. You know? You can go at it alone, and you can spear it, and you can drive what you want, but what we’re seeing is that when we’re doing that capital, most investors won’t look at solo founders, they will look at startup founder teams rather than a single founder. So you might be limiting yourself there. But seeing as 60% of our startups are bootstrapped, or have been bootstrapped at some point, if you are designed to head down that route, at least at the beginning, you know, you can really steer your ship.

[09:20]
Ben Brophy: So one big question everyone talks about. You’re founding a business, you have absolutely no money. What do you do? And one of the things, like I’ll stage a business, I’ve raised money differently in Australia to probably a lot of people. And I am very passionate about raising money in Australia. The pros and cons, I’ll probably get kicked off stage if I get too much into it. I spoke to Alan before, and he’s in very interesting business that crowdfunds startups. And I love that idea. Because at the end of the day, I cannot stand how they VC companies are experts in a multitude of fields and know better than pretty much everyone else, right? So I love Alan’s idea, and I really want him just to touch base on a little bit of this whole idea of crowdfunding. And then I’d like to go down the line, because I know that we’ve touched base just previously on where your business is at, where you’re looking to fund, and why you’ve made that decision. So we might just start with you Alan. I think the idea of opening the world to these incredible brands, I think, Alan, you’re more as a brand-based B2B tech company business, right? Probably my business wouldn’t fit on to you. But the idea that you can open up the world to anybody that wants to seize this idea, and go, “This is a spectacular idea, I want to put some money into that.” I think it’s a really interesting concept. If we can elaborate, then we’ll go down the line.

[10:46]
Alan Crabbe: I just touched on, I suppose, the initial approach that we’re taking with equity crowdfunding in Australia. I feel like it’s going to take maybe a couple of years to, I suppose, educate and get everybody up to speed. And particularly like the moms and dads investors and people that maybe liking that this is a potential investment class for them, if they’ve got quite a bit a disposable income that they can invest. So our approach at the initial stage is very, I supposed geared towards consumer facing companies, like B2C companies. As a way to..In a similar fashion to when you mentioned about bringing partners onboard, strategic partners as investors. We see for a consumer brand, the part of actually having investor consumers in their company. So allowing company to build a tribe or a community of people that are really passionate about the brand, and they talk about it, and they share on social, and hopefully build the brand and the company from that base of people. And constantly, hopefully engage that group of people into the brand, and hopefully grow the brand as well. And we’ve seen that this model has been pretty successful internationally, in the UK especially, ’cause they’ve had this regime from probably five or six years now. And we’ve seen that companies and brands especially have been accelerating the growth of their company quite a bit from this model. One case study is a company called BrewDog. Anybody that loves a craft beer probably knows this company. But these guys have pretty much adopted this model again and again, round after round each year. They’re pretty much always raising funds from their customer base. And like they’ve taken on I think up to 60 million points over six raises. Last evaluation if the company it was 1.3 billion points, which is one of the fastest growing companies in the world actually. So this is a model I think will be adopted very quickly with the consumer companies, but I think strategically for B2B businesses, if there is for example in the case of a marketplace. If there is power in getting one side potentially, invest into the platform itself, it can be quite a powerful way to grow as well. So I think in terms of partners, if you can see potentially hundreds or even thousands of potential partners for a B2B business, it should be definitely considered actually, because this could be a way of getting these people onboard. It’s just a question of, in my view, a question of how long it takes to get everybody on the same page when you’re dealing with a B2B business, not dealing with the consumer.

[13:24]
Ben Brophy: Danielle.

[13:26]
Alan Crabbe: Sorry. I talked a lot there.

[13:27]
Danielle Lewis: So our fundraising history, essentially we self-funded in the early days. So I had safety deposit in my house, and I decided to start a company instead. And that was quickly dwindled away, maxed out credit cards next, maxed out personal loans next, then we did the friends and family round, we kind of had some idea what we were doing by the time we actually asked other people for money, we hope. And then we started sort of formally raising … So we, to date have raised three sort of major rounds, all seed rounds in Australia. So we actually did go to the U.S. but didn’t have any luck. I will caveat that with me when we were really early and really had no idea what we were doing. So we did have all of our success raising money in Australia, all from sort of high net worth individuals and a couple of angel groups as well. So status-wise we are going back out to raise in the coming months. Which I’m super excited about. However in interesting way we didn’t plan on using a platform, but our approach is actually to customers. So a little bit different in the sense that our customers would invest us of large corporates, so would invest large portions, fingers crossed.

[14:52]
Ben Brophy: Yeah. Now you.

[14:54]
Jessica Ruhfus: I’ll just commandeer this microphone.

[14:56]
Ben Brophy: Yeah.

[14:56]
Monica Wulff: So we are completely bootstrapped. We haven’t raised before. And I think it’s because we started out with a very clear message that we wanted to fix an element of the Australian collection, right? The fact that there was no visibility of what was happening with all the people that are here today and across Australia. I think if we were to go overseas we would reconsider. A few stats on startups in Australia around raising, 37% have raised some amount. And of that, there’s 42% that haven’t, but have said that they want to in the future, but are just not there yet. So it’s good that they’re recognizing, “Okay, well, it’s in our pipeline”, but we need to be hitting certain milestones before we get there. Also in the next 12 months, 60% said that they were looking to raise in Australia, but 30 said they were looking to raise overseas. So I know that we’ve all got different feelings about raising in Australia, but there is still, I guess people are seeing that maybe as a first entry before they go overseas or maybe they need more of an education around with the raise, but…

[15:56]
Ben Brophy: There’s such a significant divide in Australia with tech companies, well the tech companies, you know, any startup, whether Australia is a good place, whether we are so far behind the scene with you know overseas, and it’s quite a passionate divide when you talk to everybody. And there’s a lot of new VCs coming out to Australia and a lot of people wonder if actually they’re new at all. Jessica, you’re off to the U.S.?

[16:23]
Jessica Ruhfus: Yes.

[16:26]
Ben Brophy: So you are going through a raise, what are you looking to do?

[16:29]
Jessica Ruhfus: I’ve got stars in my eyes, I’m hoping that the U.S. is everything, you know, that I think it will be. I’m sure it won’t be, but yeah look, I think the raising process is… We were using swear words earlier to describe it. It’s really hard. I found it very, very hard to raise, which is a very interesting question that we were talking about on email before today, was all about, do you look at raising when you’re at idea stage, to fund that idea of yours and get it off the ground quickly. Or do you find that after you’ve got significant traction and metrics, and all that kind of stuff. We took the latter approach. We’ve been in business three years now, and we’ve iterated twice, and you know, we have really solid metrics around our customer acquisition cost and our lifetime value, and our churn rate, and we’ve got big name clients, which is amazing. But I’ve still found it really difficult. I suppose from my experience so far, my advice would be, you know, all of those, was it 40% or so? That are looking to raise one day, but they feel like they’re not quite there yet. I liken it to, you know, Tinder. Who’s used Tinder? Anyone? Oh my gosh! Only a couple? There you go. So you’ve got to go on a ton of really bad dates.

[17:45]
Ben Brophy: Alan doesn’t want to put his hand up.

[17:46]
Jessica Ruhfus: Yeah, come on Allan. You’ve got to go on a lot of really bad dates that aren’t really going to go anywhere, but at the end of the day you’ve got to meet as many people as you can. And also build a relationship over time. So I think some of the best investor relationships that I have now, you know, I sort of met up with them originally two years ago, two and a half years ago when I wasn’t looking to raise, and they’ve really been along the journey with us and seen us face challenges and overcome them. Seen us grow, seen us build a team, seen us fuck up and all that kind of stuff as well. So I think that’s where the value is, and I think it’s a common misconception in startups that it’s like, “Oh! You’re a tech company. Go out and raise and you can do that in a couple of months.” When really it’s a big long relationship process that I find quite frustrating. But hopefully with a really happy ending.

[18:37]
Ben Brophy: I could make an analogy with Tinder…

[18:44]
Jessica Ruhfus: I know!

[18:45]
Ben Brophy: …but that’s for later on. It is interesting the quest of capital raising. I think one of the thing that you touched base on, which is phenomenal. I might just go on there again is, I think in a tech company startup, you are always raising. You talk to every VC company possible. Every partnership. And the example I’ll give would be Campaign Monitor. They were bought for a billion dollars. Email marketing quite some time ago. The two boys out of Shire. I don’t know if you guys know them, but amazing marketing platform. And their VC company approached them over and over and over again. They just kept on refusing, kept on refusing. So when I talk about my VC side and the thorn as I should say it I have in my side is, money comes at a cost, and it’s a significant cost. Preferential shares will screw you. They will take it more and more and more. So just be very careful the deal you do. But you can get VCs that will work with you and put together a phenomenal team. How do you find a stray in VCs ’cause you’ve all spoken to them compared to, I don’t know, if you have done U.S. money, but we’ve all read about it. Have you seen a difference, Alan? You come from, I want to say Ireland, but you’ll probably shoot me. Yeah? You do come from Ireland? That’s why you asked for Guinness in the order. Have you seen over in Europe or in Ireland to Australia? Or have you been here for 20 years and you just can’t shake the accent?

[20:20]
Alan Crabbe: Well, I started the startup here in Australia, but I did take VC from Europe, so which is a bit of a… I’m expert. My experience. I suppose I never got to probably the stage with VCs in Australia, because we raised like a few years back. For Pozible at the time. We actually took VC from Europe, one of the most active I say in Australia at the moment. The feedback on VCs, I’m in awkward our position talking about VCs this year, because you never know when you might be talking to them.

[20:51]
Ben Brophy: Obviously I won’t be…

[20:57]
Alan Crabbe: So I think it’s maturing quite a bit. I’ve been diplomatic here, completely. But I think it’s maturing a lot. Like we’ve been around for eight years. Like when we were like starting out, there was absolutely nothing. There was probably a few people that we could go to and they weren’t doing many investments, if that makes sense, compared to what’s happening at the moment. Like I think there’s a lot more opportunities in this space compared to, I suppose we first even back five or six years ago. I think with my European VC, I think they’ve seen … Well, we took investment from startup founders, and I think that’s a big thing. I say that I suppose it helped us quite a bit in the first year that we took on investments. So there is value there, but you just need to know as well that the value that you’re getting from VCs as well. So like I learned a lot by user acquisition, customer acquisition, the cost of acquisition, all these things with that experience. And I think some of these things they’re really really valuable for the company and it was very valuable for me, so… I don’t know if I disliked VCs, maybe in some aspects, but maybe I haven’t got to the stage of negotiating too hard with them in Australia, so…

[22:20]
Ben Brophy: I don’t have a dislike, I’m going to put the caveat out there. But I do think that more and more founding companies need to push back more and more on the money and offers that we’re given, because at the end of the day you guys still have the power. And the more we go, “Hang on, that is not a fair deal, because no one else is doing that kind of thing.” It will change the landscape even more. I’m going to jump, and I haven’t given you guys heads up on this. There’s a hell of a lot of free money in Australia as well, R&D tax grants, government grants, et cetera, et cetera. Do you guys utilize …? And I think I might throw it to you Monica ’cause you seem to have a hell of a lot of stats going on. Can you tell me about it, because I do a lot of work with the government, federal government had a ministry in my office yesterday going around the R&D tax grants. Few people know, so I’d really love it if you had some stats.

[23:10]
Monica Wulff: Yeah. R&D tax. The EDMG, you should be looking at that one, good. Yeah, so actually, it’s only like only one third of startups apply for a grant or something or a government program. And no, it’s like 40% do, 30% actually receive any. The ones that rate the highest are the R&D tax, and also the, I accelerate, so the things that are happening up in Queensland ’cause they’re pushing it really hard. We do have a question in startup much around sentiment towards grants and programs, because one of our biggest customers as well as government, they want to understand what’s going on, and we want to be able to help them start to move towards making data driven decisions, and you know reflecting back onto what has worked with these programs or not. And it’s the fact that, I mean, everyone here with time poor. You know, if we have to go through the selection criteria, we have to go through the government speak, and the government writing. Thy haven’t..They’re being classic government. They’re putting it out there in a package that really meets their needs, not how we can interpret and understand. And when the focus is always on raising, you kind of go, “Okay, where am I going to deviate my efforts when raising takes so long especially in Australia?” So you know, I don’t think that they’re utilized as effectively as they could be, and a bit of reform wouldn’t be bad, but R&D is definitely the one that wins out, which is great. It is phenomenal. But so many startups actually don’t know what it is, or put in the two high basket.

[24:40]
Ben Brophy: We had to get it as well, right? You’ve got to sift through a lot to get there.

[24:44]
Monica Wulff: Yeah, ask your accountant, get your debts involved, document everything.

[24:47]
Ben Brophy: Yes, to which one? The document everything? Yeah, I mean, the documentation. So I mean we’ve done the extremes. I think from our business, we’ve ran it on … We bootstrapped, we got family and friends. We’ve got millions of dollars back in R&D tax grant. We’re about to take the government to tribunal because of stuff with overseas people which is a known thing there. ’cause basically the tax grant gets used up super, super quickly, and it’s dwindling more and more and more, and some of the big businesses get it. I’d love to deep dive more into that later on, and you know off stage about the stats, ’cause it’s part of an interesting thing. Jess, you’re about to go to America. Did you know about the marketing tax grant?

[25:32]
Jessica Ruhfus: I did, yes. Ah, I can’t remember but hey I think it’s actually Christie, it was Christie who told me about it when she went to San Francisco, because the export marketing development grant basically allows you to claim, I think it’s 50 cents in the dollar for activities you spend on expanding on into another market. That was very not eloquent, but you know what I mean. And R&D has been an absolute savior for us. That’s basically research and development, you can claim back. So if you’re building a tech product, basically, particularly if you’re creating new knowledge or doing something that no one else is doing, that’s huge and you should definitely be looking into it. We’ve got tens of thousands from R&D and when you are big startup, that is always welcome.

[26:20]
Ben Brophy: Danielle, we haven’t touched on it, failures. I love to hear more about failures from startups.

[26:26]
Danielle Lewis: I’ve got plenty of them.

[26:27]
Ben Brophy: Well, let’s go for it. Top three.

[26:30]
Danielle Lewis: Well, we could say my first three iterations from scratch…

[26:33]
Ben Brophy: Mainly around what happened and what did you learn from it and has it made you a better business today?

[26:41]
Danielle Lewis: Yeah, absolutely. So the first product that we started developing was a virtual change room for fashion. So essentially there’s like a 25% return rate in online shopping, and we thought we would be the ones, two non-technical founders to solve that problem. And it was very much a case of, just thought it was a great idea. Just thought that we both had fashion backgrounds. Thought it was a problem worth solving and thought we would be the ones to do it. And actually built a 3D model that’s about to render and simulate a 3D object in the attention span of a consumer eight years ago on whatever hardware they had at home was just not possible. Well, it was sort of millions of dollars of R&D and really crappy commercialization paths. So we parked that, and obviously eight later we’re still not virtually trying on clothes when we shop online. So perhaps it was a whimsical idea. And then, but I guess the big thing is, it took us a long time to learn about talking to customers. And it’s funny because you read that in the Lean Startup book, but there’s a lot of ego, I think, in starting your own startup. You do think that you’re hustling so hard, and spending 12 hours working on this thing a day, or have a loan, so you should know what you’re doing. And we pivoted again into a sort of a social network for fashion, and then inventory solution. It wasn’t until we kind of we’re in this inventory play that one of these customers that we were pitching to who was not interested in the inventory play noticed that we were doing sort of press monitoring, and could pick up influencer mentions as well. And it wasn’t sort of until that point in time when a customer was actually saying, “I will pay you for that thing”, that we didn’t think was a thing, that we really started to listen to our customers. So that was the biggest failure. And it took us four years to learn it and three to pivot, so a startup. That was a very hard lesson to learn.

[28:35]
Ben Brophy: And you’re still here.

[28:36]
Danielle Lewis: Yeah.

[28:37]
Ben Brophy: Monica. Surveys, massive market, data is the biggest thing in business today, and you can plug it into different AI, machine learning robotics, et cetera. How do you sell your product, market your product when there are a lot of marketing every day. I get something, can you fill this form out, fill this form out?

[28:57]
Monica Wulff: So that’s… I mean when Christie was talking about you all do like non-scalable things to be scalable, a big thing for the last three years of my life has been going all around this country and meeting as many people in the startup ecosystem as possible. Like I’m going to Toowoomba, I’m going to Banbury, I’m going to like… Pretty much everywhere and anywhere to get to know everyone so that they could understand that this is not … The ethos of Startup Muster is all about really ensuring that we’ve got quality data that is in the hands of ministers, that’s in the hands of big business looking to understand how they’re going to engage with startups in the hands of policy makers, the hands of private industry coming to look, or private … sorry. Foreign investors looking at what’s happening in Australia, so that they’ve got representative and useful information at their fingertips. So it isn’t just, you know “Take part in this and you’ll get a report.” It’s like, this is all actually about nation building, it’s about future proofing what we’re all trying to do here. So that people in 10 years are not dealing with the same issues that we’re dealing with, with raising and trying to find investment. So yeah, really hammering in that message that we’re doing this because there was a lack of it in the community. And maybe we’re more altruistic than what you see out there normally. But yeah, definitely taking a very non-tech approach. And like, yeah, we could probably … We have a really cool survey technology. We could go and spin that out, and you know…but that deviates from our main purpose.

[30:34]
Ben Brophy: Which is the startup community et cetera.

[30:35]
Monica Wulff: And growing that.

[30:36]
Ben Brophy: And when did your first..This is not your first year, right?

[30:39]
Monica Wulff: No, this is our fifth year. So…

[30:40]
Ben Brophy: So when does the report come out? When is it due?

[30:42]
Monica Wulff: Thanks for allowing me to pitch.

[30:45]
Ben Brophy: You know, exactly, right?

[30:49]
Monica Wulff: So report comes out in October. The collection is still happening right now. So it finishes on Monday and it’s at startupmuster.com. The whole survey design, all that we’ve done ourselves. It’s really fun. It’s the most fun you’ll ever have doing a survey. And if you want to look… I mean you heard me talk about the stats today. They get used across media. They get used like… The people that come to us to understand what’s going on, they’re everything from federal government to local council, to you know the big businesses with the logos on these brand guru buildings. So you’re contributing to help build this nation.

[31:28]
Ben Brophy: I mean I think it’s imperative everyone in the audience that’s got a startup or not does fill it out. We don’t see a lot of what’s going on the government, which is a bad thing. What they’re doing digitally is phenomenal. So they’ve over to Estonia, they’ve based what the government should be in digital on the Estonian government. And if you want to see what that’s about. Have a look, it’s just beyond. And they’re taking a lot of data from the market, from the public. So I implore everyone to get on there and fill it out, because it will, especially if you’re starting up now, a year from now, two years from now, it’s this data that’s really going to drive where it goes, R&D tax grants, et cetera. So I think it’s amazing, and we need to get onboard.

[32:09]
Monica Wulff: And you just go in and update your information as you fill it in one time. You actually can like keep a play book of what you’ve been doing over the years. I can go back and go, “Wow! This is what I was doing in 2018.” So you actually have the numbers therefore too.

[32:24]
Ben Brophy: Team, I always said before, we’d like to open some questions up. We’ve only got seven minutes and 16 seconds. I don’t know if it was part of scripting that we could open it up, but I think it’s important that people in the audience can ask you a question that they want to. So if anyone wants to ask a question, put their hands up, otherwise, we’ll just keep having a chat.

[32:42]
Audience 1: I’ve got one for Jessica.

[32:46]
Jessica Ruhfus: Hey! You interviewed me last year at B2B Rocks.

[32:43]
Audience 1: I did. Quick question.

[32:43]
Jessica Ruhfus: You missed me, have you?

[32:43]
Audience 1: Well, I thought I might. To ask a question now again, I’ll miss that part.

[32:48]
Jessica Ruhfus: Go for it.

[32:49]
Audience 1: Just want to see, why you’re heading to the states now.

[32:52]
Jessica Ruhfus: I got accepted into the Austrade Landing Pad program. So essentially with the… Our second largest traffic source tech Collabosaurus is the U.S., and we have some L.A. traction over there already. So it’s a logical next step. We’ve also found that the uptake of Collabosaurus over there, like it’s a much shorter sales cycle. And then playing into our seed round and stuff like that, and you know, looking at opportunities to expand in the U.S. it would be ideal to have a U.S. investor with market knowledge who can assist. Yeah.

[33:27]
Audience 1: Awesome. Thank you.

[33:28]
Jessica Ruhfus: No worries.

[33:29]
Audience 2: He took my question. And I don’t have a backup. So…

[33:39]
Audience 3: A bit of a question. You guys are talking about funding and raising and VC and all sort of great stuff. I think there’s an elephant in the room. Talk to us about the equity crowdfunding thing, ’cause that’s really, really new, right? And how is that looking? And is that a tool we can potentially use?

[33:53]
Alan Crabbe: Of course yes. I’m going to say, yes, anyway.

[33:57]
Audience 3: Yes, yes, yes.

[33:57]
Alan Crabbe: Birchal, and I’m the elephant in the room, which is odd. This is a huge opportunity I see. Like I think even from a marketing sense, one key aspects to the legislation change has been able to advertise the fact that you’re raising investments. That’s the first approach that we’re taking with equity crowdfunding. Get your profile up there in front of people, and I suggest put it out to the market. Like you can use social media, you can use every means possible that you use for getting customers of user acquisition at the moment is a way to promote the fact that you’re looking for an investment as well. So that’s the approach that we’re taking first. It’s the very first step in working with Birchal. It’s getting your profile up there and advertising the shit out of the company.

[34:41]
Ben Brophy: Partner with Danielle. There you go.

[34:43]
Alan Crabbe: That’s it yeah. Of course, yeah. So that’s one aspect to it. We were also trying to work with a lot of potential advisers and also some of the angel group networks, wholesale networks, self-managed super funds. People that I put suppose facility and investment into, I suppose early stage businesses in this case. So I think it’s quite already diced, but I think it’s going to evolve quite quickly in Australia. I think in my experience, Australians tend to pick up things quicker than probably anywhere else in the world, so … I think we’ll see this here evolve and change quite quickly, and I think hopefully we’ll see even the first B2B business as they adopt this model quite soon as well, so… If there is interest, I think particularly, the one question I have for particularly B2B businesses, can the business value from having lots, potentially hundreds or thousands of people or investors invest into the business. And in the sense of B2B, can you see potentially tens, hundreds or even thousands of people, or businesses investing into the company, and what value does that provide the company as well? So they obviously become better customers, I think that’s a fact. So they’re pretty much locking themselves into you as a business.

[36:03]
Ben Brophy: And they’re going to sell their product anyways, right? Cause they want to make money.

[36:06]
Alan Crabbe: Exactly, exactly. So there’s lots of value, but you need to think about the value of taking on tens, hundreds, because for a B2B business, maybe there is … Well, this is pretty untested in terms of Australia, but maybe B2B businesses don’t want the hustle potentially of dealing with that. So I’m being completely transparent yeah. Of course it’s an option, but I think you just need to know what the value is, yeah.

[36:37]
Audience 4: It’s maybe a difficult question, but how do you keep yourself sane in the sort of buzz of it all and to find some sort of balance in life.

[36:47]
Alan Crabbe: That’s one of your questions.

[36:48]
Ben Brophy: Yeah, well, it was one of my questions. I’ll let these guys answer it, but I think startups people underestimate the stress personally, the strain it will put on your relationships at home, family and friends. I know my personal platform of friends is completely different to what it was 10 years ago. And I think people underestimate that, but I’ll let these guys talk it through. One of you start.

[37:14]
Jessica Ruhfus: It’s ridiculous. Isn’t it? I think you have to be a bit crazy to be running a startup. It’s a great trait to have. I mean, I keep myself sane. I mean everyone is really different. You need to figure out what’s right for you. I do two things. The first thing is, I prioritize sleep, because if I don’t get sleep, enough sleep, I work at 20% productivity anyway. So when I find I’m, you know, up at four and in bed at, I don’t know, midnight or so, I’ll make sure I calendar in time to have sleep, which sounds a bit ridiculous, but it works a treat for me. The other thing I do, is I worked out when my like power hours were. So when I’m the most productive. And for me that’s in the morning, middle of the day I’m useless, and then late at night. I have like a second wind and I really want to keep working. So how I structure my days now, is I work in the morning, I take meetings or do exercise in the middle of the day. And then I work at night because that’s just how I work best. That’s how I stay sane, and some really great friends in startups who can totally relate and get it.

[38:27]
Ben Brophy: Danielle.

[38:28]
Danielle Lewis: So definitely haven’t mastered this yet. And so my co-founder is also my partner in life, added stress levels. So things that work for us or for me personally, it’s yoga and wine. Sometimes. Just depends how bad the day is.

[38:49]
Ben Brophy: It’s your new business, yoga wine.

[38:51]
Danielle Lewis: But also scheduling time to… ‘Cause as a startup founder you can’t always talk to your team about the issues that you’re facing. So yeah, by having the right people around you to be able to talk to is super important. And that’s actually where, you know, full circle on this investment conversation, actually having investors that you can have difficult discussions with is super valuable as well. And if you do work with a partner, you schedule in separate times to make sure that we are actually looking after ourselves as individuals rather than just always being at work or at home together, and that works really well for us.

[39:31]
Ben Brophy: Monica.

[39:32]
Monica Wulff: Yeah. So my partner as well he has another startup. So we’re not in the same startup together, but we at least have an alignment of understanding what the hell both of us are going through. We do exercise together, but we do trail running. So he’s a triathlete and I do trail running, so that takes a lot of my weekend, because I’m trying to do larger amounts of kilometers, but it’s really great just to get my head out of where I am and be out in nature and just like realize that there’s a whole other world out there that doesn’t involve a laptop. And then also I practice being nice to myself inside my head. I’m sorry, but like…

[40:10]
Ben Brophy: So we were saying you have to be a little crazy. That sounds about right.

[40:13]
Monica Wulff: Well, it’s the thing. Like you know, you can easily beat yourself up about everything, and everyone else will ultimately, can add to that, so you’ve got to actually have a little bit of self love and self care going on too.

[40:26]
Ben Brophy: Alan, you get the last word my friend.
[40:27]
Alan Crabbe: I had to learn to stop cursing a lot as well. Like if you’ve met any Irish you’ll know that they curse way too much, yeah. So I think one of the first lessons I had to learn was to stop cursing as much in front of the team, and that bringing down the vibe. But I think I suppose I try to control emotion, and if it gets too much I go for a run and try and find some exercise. I get lost in my runs sometimes, I forget I’m even running. So I think that’s probably my release, I think exercise and doing something that you enjoy. Something that takes you out of the day-to-day. So I think that’s pretty much.

[41:04]
Ben Brophy: So panelists, thanks very much. Guys out there, I hope we’ve given you an insight to what it’s going on.

[41:13]
Alan Crabbe: Thank you guys.

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