OtherLevels was launched in Brisbane in early 2012 by Brendan O’Kane, now CTO at the company.
Brendan was an active investor in early stage tech companies both independently and as part of start-up incubator Startmate when he got the idea to start OtherLevels.
“I saw an opportunity in the marketing space, given the move from desktop to mobile, for enterprises to connect with their customers on mobile, and the lack of suitable platforms in the market to manage this interaction,” he told Anthill.
How did OtherLevels get to where it is today?
The first step was to raise funds to develop the product and Brendan was very lucky to attract significant early backers, including Steve Baxter – one of the “Sharks” on Shark Tank.
The start-up then secured Halfbrick (the Brisbane company behind Fruit Ninja) as a cornerstone client and Brendan says this enabled them to rapidly develop a very strong product.
“Our major customers are large enterprises, and that is the centre of the SaaS market for software solutions such as ours,” he explained.
From the very start, OtherLevels had its eye on global expansion, and at the end of 2012 they relocated to San Francisco, where they still have their headquarters.
The company has become a leading player in the mobile marketing space, used by big international enterprises including Sega, BetFred and Intercontinental Hotels Group, as well as by Australian giants such as Tatts Group and Coles.
OtherLevels has been raking in plenty of dough – revenue more than doubled in the last six months of 2014 as more large enterprises shifted marketing budgets towards mobile campaigns.
They now have offices in San Francisco, Melbourne and London, and also recently re-confirmed Brisbane as their global development centre.
What gap in the market exactly is OtherLevels filling?
OtherLevels is a pioneer in the rapidly growing multi-billion market that is mobile digital marketing. Companies use its SaaS platform to create, deliver, analyse and manage their mobile messaging with consumers.
By enabling companies to communicate with the right audience at the right time with the right message, the OtherLevels platform helps companies to increase engagement, retention, and to monetize their audiences.
“Enterprises have traditionally communicated with their customers via email,” Brendan pointed. “Think of how you generally interact with companies like supermarkets, or even games companies. I bet you get a weekly or even daily email?”
“The prevailing trend is that people are using their mobiles, not desktops for communications and email lacks the relevance and personalisation that we all expect from mobile.”
“We provide the tools for companies to engage in a conversation on mobile,” he explained. “Because mobile devices provide so much data about you, we can help companies deliver more relevant communications – based for example your location.”
“So if you walk into a supermarket, or you are playing a game – we can provide the ability for that company to make a real-time choice as to whether the time is right to continue the conversation.”
On what sets it apart from its competitors, Brendan says the OtherLevels platform’s ability to scale and the fact that they attribute all actual outcomes to marketing messages makes it unique in the market.
“We handle billions of interactions, and our tools are simple to integrate into existing enterprise systems and easy-to-use by non-technical people.”
Behind the scenes of the listing
“We are quite happy with our growth to date, but we recognise that 2015 is a pivotal point in the emergence of mobile marketing technologies,” Brendan told Anthill about the timing of the listing.
“There is a huge appetite, globally, for solutions in this space and OtherLevels is well placed to capitalise on this,” he stated.
On listing in Australia in particular, not in the US where their headquarters are or even in the UK, Brendan revealed that they actually did look at a number of options to fund their acceleration, but kept coming back to the ASX as a fantastic means to do this.
“There is deep liquidity, the market is supporting technology plays, and the barrier to listing in Australia is far lower than the US,” he pointed out.
“We often forget that the ASX has a strong tradition of backing early stage ventures, in the mining and resources areas. Why shouldn’t tech players also access this liquidity?”
“Also, we are an Australian-born company, I’m based here, as is our chairman Brian Mitchell. An Australian listing just made sense,” he added.
For a company that started out in early 2012, listing on the ASX just three years later is undeniably a huge achievement that many would love to pull off too.
Brendan advises entrepreneurs who want to grow rapidly like he did with OtherLevels to build deep subject matter expertise in your industry of choice, be highly focused on the business go to market model, and to surround yourself with great people.
On working with the “Shark”, Steve Baxter
Brendan disclosed that he met Steve Baxter, who has been a major contributor to the Brisbane early stage community, when he co-invested alongside him a few years ago.
“He has been with us from the start as an investor, mentor and supporter,” he said. “Anybody who works with Steve knows that he is open and direct with his views, but that has been hugely helpful in assisting OtherLevels to make the tough decisions through the growth stages of our business.”
Steve Baxter, for his part, told Anthill that he has known Brendan for a while as he has mentored start-ups in Brisbane and that he had a strong track record launching businesses.
“When he first floated the idea for OtherLevels past me, I thought it could be a huge opportunity,” he said. “The first thing I look for in a new venture is founders who can execute, and I trusted Brendan and his team to do that.”
“They’ve exceeded all my expectations, and have smashed every milestone we’ve set,” he added. “They’re a great team with a fantastic product, and the fact that they’ve been able to attract global enterprise clients is a testament to their abilities and the uniqueness of the OtherLevels platform.”