There are arguably few, if any, Australian entrepreneurs who developed successful app-based companies with no working, technical or business experience.
But Greg Taylor did.
Today, Greg is CEO and co-founder of Clipp, Australia’s leading deals app for bars and restaurants.
The start-up is valued at an impressive $8 million and counts among its clients the likes of Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group (ALH Group), the Australian Turf Club and Urban Purveyor Group.
How it all started
A born entrepreneur, Greg showed his capability early on, founding his first business – BetterDeal, a reverse auction site for new cars – while at university. He began advertising the site on takeaway coffee cups – something that had never been done in Australia before – and soon he was fielding more calls from advertisers about the cups than customer enquiries for his site.
It was then that Eat Media was born, a highly successful company that sold ads on takeaway coffee cups, achieving more than 350,000 users in less than two years and turning over $7 million in its first three years.
Australian coffee consumption was growing rapidly – 1 in 2 Australians over the age of 18 were going to a café for coffee or tea – and in turn, every second coffee shop had their own loyalty card. Similarly, smartphones amongst consumers were on the rise in 2009, with brands such as Apple and BlackBerry offering a new mobile experience for consumers through web-browsing and internet connectivity, as well as an entirely new take on apps; Greg was ready to tap into this new world, and he moved on to create eCoffeeCard – an app that stores multiple coffee loyalty cards conveniently on your mobile – which grew to over 350,000 users and 1,600 cafes in just three years.
…and Clipp was born
While working with point of sale (POS) providers to solve one of eCoffeeCard’s challenges (fragmentation), Greg discovered a golden opportunity within the systems to combine payments with loyalty. After selling eCoffeeCard for a profit to Beat The Q in 2013, Greg co-founded Clipp, which started out as a bar tab solution – a cashless payment option for consumers at bars, pubs and restaurants – and it almost didn’t survive.
To date, Clipp has received more than $6 million in funding, largely from ASX-listed company Mobile Embrace, which paid $4.7 million for a 72 per cent stake in 2015. Clipp has more than 700 venues across Australia using its technology and counts Woolworths’ owned ALH pub group on its client list.
Constantly looking to innovate, Greg received an email from an airline asking if he was interested in bidding for an upgrade to business class and a new concept stuck with him: the hospitality industry didn’t offer dynamic or off-peak pricing like airlines and hotels did – this became the skeleton for Clipp’s last-minute offers.
In late 2015, deals catapulted Clipp into the app-osphere; the app is consistently trending on the App Store in the top free food and drink apps category. Clipp saw a 150 per cent increase in consumer spend when they started offering 20,000 deals weekly to more than 100,000 active users nationally.
How has Greg Taylor pulled this off?
Greg attributes his phenomenal success to his ability to handle stress well, patience, flexibility, and above all else, genuine passion.
In an email interview, Greg talked to Anthill about how to use your networks to bring on the help you need. Greg had never written a line of code in his life, and had no funding.
Below is what he shared with us about how he brought on a team of experts to help him achieve his vision.
“Going into Clipp, I had already started a couple of other businesses and had a little black book of contacts, which was invaluable. If you’re just starting out, my advice is to regularly attend networking events, I was doing that in Sydney and I made some great contacts there that I still talk to today.
“One of the most important things to remember is that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help because many connections will be able to put you in touch with new connections and help you grow your network.
“With Clipp, I had a few private investors who seeded the business and from there – after showing good signs of growth – we were able to move on to our first major round of funding. Once you get to this point, you’ve spoken to a lot of people that you’re trying to raise money from.
“Another key piece of advice is to stay in touch with your networks along the way to remind them about who you are and share your successes with them. Investors meet a lot of people every day and are really good at connecting the right people with each another.
“I found out early on that it’s important to be disciplined and set a daily routine, because you are the one you have to answer to. I co-leased an office space to have a dedicated work space and that was one of the best decisions I ever did.
“Not only did I have a ‘office’, it was there that I met someone who had the knowledge to help me with the technical side of Clipp. I wanted to start an app but I had never written a line of code in my life so having someone with this know-how was integral to making my vision a reality.
“The person I met in my co-working space ended up being a co-founder of the business. Making someone a co-founder in your business reinforces their interest and is the ultimate litmus test – if they come on board as a co-founder, they’re going to get paid much lower than what they’d get if they went out in the market for a job. It’s also a really tough decision because if you don’t think it’s working out, it’s very hard to get rid of them.
“My advice for people who need to bring on extra hands and are thinking about making them a co-founder is to work with them for as long as possible before going into business together to understand how you’re going to work as a team.
“For me, I needed to bring someone on with technical experience, but since I didn’t know the trade, I had to go with my gut and trust my instinct. You’re going to get the good, the bad and the ugly, that’s just the nature of the beast.”