Starting a new business can be extremely difficult – especially when you are the sole serious player in the game. It takes an enormous amount of hard work and determination, and usually takes years to get its feet off the ground – that is unless you are tech start-up company, Cashrewards.
Cashrewards has seen tremendous success in creating an entirely new industry in Australia, achieving spectacular growth in less than four years. The company has grown from nothing to a 50+ person company, with a 2% share of the total national online shopping market. In 2016, off the back of 12,469% growth figures, Cashrewards won the Deloitte Tech Fast 50 in 2016, and have rated mentions in the Asian rankings for 2016 and 2017. Cashrewards’ revenue is sitting at over $12 million. Furthermore, Cashrewards’ growth is happening at a massive rate across all key measures, not just in one area. Membership numbers now at 365,000; accounting for 2% of online spend nationally, merchant partner numbers 1200 and growing.
Here are some tips from our startup experience at Cashrewards on growing a small business into a lucrative enterprise.
Start local before expanding
We’re all told to shoot for the stars, but when it comes to starting a company, our advice is to start small – with the eventual goal of getting to the stars.
You want to build a solid foundation that works, and works well. As a start up, you’ll face new and different issues everyday (like testing new technology in new scenarios every hour of the day). You have to work out all the kinks and educate consumers, retailers, clients, etc. in order to truly be successful.
Our team is currently around 50 and it’s based right here in Australia. All of our customer contact is based here too. Our intention, to the greatest extent possible, is to keep the home-based model. Our customers like it, our retailers like it and it delivers a competitive edge when it comes to the higher trust Australian consumers demand.
We’ve also got links with local community and corporate giving, with our support of The Starlight Children’s Foundation through the Pledge 1%. So 1% of our equity, 1% of cashback rewards and 1% of our time goes to support Starlight.
Build strong partnerships/foundations from the beginning
Your business will thrive if you have a strong team of trusted, passionate, and hardworking individuals. Same goes for your business partners. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to not only trust your instincts but also be open and listen to the ideas or those around you, even if they criticize some of your decisions and opinions.
I guess building partnerships and strong connections with local retailers is a bit of our “secret sauce”. We have very strong affiliate networks, and some have been delivered through there. But fundamentally it’s a few factors. Our close local ties and relationships enabled us to fast track some strong bonds. We’ve got very experienced and influential Board members – just one example is our Chairman Andrew Reitzer who’s exceptionally experienced in retail.
I have my own personal connections through my many years in business. Also, we’re right here, on the ground, 100% accessible. We have Woolies in our office every week, just to give you one example.
Seek guidance from experts you trust
One way to guarantee success is to seek assistance from those who have already achieved it. By talking to those who have previously built businesses, you can learn from both their successes and their mistakes. Don’t only rely on your network, but actively seek out experts who are able to assist you in the process.
Somewhat unexpectedly I really enjoyed having outside experts looking at our business. It was exciting and energising to take them through the model in detail and know that they understood what we are trying to achieve here, what we have already achieved.
There was a real sense of validation getting such positive feedback from such smart guys. A rewarding and instructive exercise. In terms of lessons – I already mentioned the due diligence. That’s valuable and great risk management, something that a lot of start-ups overlook. So it’s good to have all our ducks in a row.
Create a start-up based on your passions
Before creating a company, ensure it is something you are truly passionate about. You will be spending countless hours working on building this, so you want to make sure it is something you love and can talk about and promote non-stop.
We have now been trading for 3.5 years however we will always behave like a start-up. We have to be agile and nimble to manage offers and rate changes from our 1200+ retail partners. We have generated over 3 million transactions and have 320,000 members and we are just getting started.
The energy in the office is infectious and often our partners schedule meetings at our offices instead of their own. Our personality could be best described as vibrant and energetic. We are professional in our approach and always look for efficiencies but we have a lot of fun along the way.
What I love about this business is that we work closely with every industry be it fashion, electronics, travel, health, beauty, telco, energy, the list goes on. For me I’m fascinated in business generally and every day I learn something new. I love what I do, and I love helping all our retailers increase sales.