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How did this guy go from selling lollies on the school bus to conquering e-commerce?


They say a true entrepreneur shows signs of potential right from a tender age. AussieCommerce CEO, Adam Schwab may not be selling lollies to his friends on the school bus for a mark-up anymore, but he is still pulling deals together, just that these days, they involve way more zeros.

On track to turn over $100 million in the next calendar year, AussieCommerce is one of Australia’s largest locally owned e-commerce groups, with seven thriving businesses under Schwab’s reign – including Deals.com.au, Ouffer, Cudo, TheHome, Luxury Escapes, Pop and The Meat Merchant.

Shooting for the stars from the very start

Operating in a highly complex and competitive sector, AussieCommerce has made huge strides since its birth with a $10 million turnover in 2011, to $24 million in 2012, to $43 million in 2013.

Emerging only three years ago, and now an e-commerce powerhouse, you could be forgiven for wondering: where on earth did this group come from? Well, you can blame it on Schwab, a former M&A lawyer at Freehills (now Herbert Smith Freehills) and two time carry-over Sale of the Century champ, and his business partner, school friend and former investment banker Jeremy Same.

Together, they have come out swinging – actively acquiring existing online sites such as TheHome from Rocket in 2012, Getaway Lounge (now known as Luxury Escapes) from Microsoft and Nine Entertainment Co joint venture Mi9.

One of their most recent success stories is the turnaround of online interior daily deals site, TheHome. When purchased a year ago, TheHome was losing $200,000 a month, now it turns over $1 million a month, with less than half the staff and over 250,000 members.

The acquisition of Getaway Lounge, now Luxury Escapes has seen the group charge into the online travel industry, carving a niche for themselves with curated product, at reduced rates that only a group of this size can get.

So, what is the secret to e-success for this duo?

Schwab says they have created a platform that allows them to almost become an in-house incubator of different businesses and verticals. While it might take a new player a year and $300,000 to setup a fully customised website, they can do it in less than a month for a fraction of the cost.

“We tend to be pretty adept at identifying good opportunities when they come up. We won’t make an acquisition unless we know we can integrate quickly and effectively. We would never purchase a business purely for scale, it’s always about profitability and return on equity,” Schwab added.

However, despite their acquisition frenzy, Schwab insists that they have never really been interested in size saying they are focussed primarily on ensuring that “customers have a great experience, get the products at the absolute best price and that our clients love dealing with us.”

With all this success, it would be easy to lose sight of the small things, but Schwab reveals the biggest achievement for him and Same is being able to create more than 150 Australian jobs without a cent from the government saying, “To come into our Melbourne or Sydney offices and see a super enthusiastic team working so well together and achieving small goals every day is a real thrill.”