Four years ago, John Anderson was working in business development for a logistics company when he got bored “not doing things my way”. With his business partner, Anderson started Yeahpoint, offering clients unique ‘point of product’ retail marketing opportunities using interactive in-store media. Recently Yeahpoint was among a handful of Australian businesses to be short-listed for the Red Herring Asia Top 100 for 2007. Interview by Jodie O’Keeffe.
I had a decent career in IT. Over lunch one day, a colleague said something that always stuck in my mind: if you’re of above-average intelligence, you’re doomed to a future of financial mediocrity. If you land a good job that pays well, you end up with a car and a mortgage and a comfortable life. But if you want to live life, you’ve got to be out there taking risks.
Ask people what they want.
I started a dive shop at a time when everybody was learning to scuba dive and there were 150 shops in the area. We asked our customers what they wanted and found they were willing to pay more for an upmarket experience, so we gave it to them. It’s a simple concept but still very relevant to our business today.
Know where you’re going and do your homework up front. We launched as Solo Media and designed our own logo, but it would never have gone the distance. We had trade mark issues in Asia, so we went through a re-branding exercise to become Yeahpoint. We should have done it properly the first time.
Know your value proposition.
It took us a long time to figure out who our real customer was. Although they’re not paying the bill, we are sending a message to the consumer. Once we started listening to the consumer and understanding what our advertisers and business owners wanted to deliver, our business took off. Understand where the value is and deliver a solution.
Get VC funding with your eyes open.
You are selling out to a master. If you’re prepared to work within those parameters, it can be a very enjoyable experience. VC funding falls down if you don’t accept the fact you’ve got another shareholder and you don’t perform.
Find partners and use them.
Austrade introduced us to the Asian market. They have been so helpful to our business – guiding, taking us overseas. Likewise, working with Microsoft and leveraging their marketing engine and their networks has taken us all over the place. Microsoft Asia nominated us for the Red Herring Asia Top 100 award, without our knowledge. But partnership is a two-way deal, we give Microsoft brilliant case studies and we’re a big advocate for their product.
It’s very glamorous to say you export.
But the costs shouldn’t be underestimated. Instead of getting in your car and driving half an hour down the road, you’ve got a $1,500 airfare to get to Asia and that’s before you even start.
We don’t mind people copying our stuff.
Because we know we’re two years ahead of them. Our investment in innovation is extensive. We’ve got a technical guy who spends 90 percent of his time researching new technologies and unique ways to use them. We run faster.