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Tag: innovations

The case for e-commerce

Business and Enterprise

Posted on July 21, 2015

4 min read

Australia’s e-commerce market makes up about seven percent of total retail sales. With the trend expected to continue to grow Australian retailers need to understand the inner workings of e-commerce and how to compete globally. Entrepreneur and Neto CEO Ryan Murtagh is here to help. 

In 2011, I founded Neto, an e-commerce platform for SMEs. Up until then, I was operating several online stores and developing what would ultimately become the Neto eCommerce Suite.

Neto was born out of necessity. After struggling to scale my own e-commerce businesses efficiently with the tools available to me, I decided to solve the problem through innovation.

Using the experience I had gained as an online retailer and my background in business and shopping cart platforms, I set out on the path of developing an end-to-end e-commerce platform designed to automate and streamline online trading for SMEs.

I focussed on the pain points that I was experiencing as a growing start up.

Since launching, Neto has fast become a major player in the SME e-commerce platform space. In Australia, over 1,000 businesses now use our platform and cumulatively they have turned over more than $1 billion through our service.

Every four seconds, an item is purchased on a Neto hosted website. That’s about 21,600 items per day, every day!

I’ve worked with a gamut of clients and partners (eBay, MasterCard, The Spotlight Group, Drizabone, Edible Blooms to name a few). Although my skill set is vast, my greatest expertise is understanding the inner workings of an e-commerce business.

I hope to continue to use this knowledge and the knowledge I gain daily from the thousands of people that use our software to build a truly seamless solution that solves traditionally complex business problems.

In June this year, Telstra made a majority investment in Neto. This investment means that Neto will have an opportunity to expand at a faster rate and help Australian retailers compete on a
global scale. For Neto, this partnership will allow the acceleration of our development plans and we can take our customer service to the next level.

Our customers range from small Mum and Dad operations turning over under $1,000 per month,
to eBay, Australasia’s largest trader, the Spotlight Group and everyone in between. This proves
that our platform can scale whilst still being affordable to everyone.

Since opening our doors, we have maintained a very low churn rate of less that 2%. This customer loyalty is what ensures our continued success and growth.

How?

We differentiate ourselves in three distinctive ways.

Service Offering

Unlike most e-commerce platforms we have an in-house design and consultation division. Although it is not critical that we offer these services in-house, I believe it is this mix of service and technology that ultimately delivers more successful and loyal clients.

Product Offering

Our hosted, managed and serviced e-commerce platform enables retailers and wholesalers of any size, to develop and maintain powerful online stores that integrate with leading accounting platforms, payment gateways, shipping carriers and sales channel.

Target Market

We are not targeting part time flea market sellers, nor are we targeting enterprise level multinationals. I like to think of us as a solution for the middle class. Our solution solves specific needs or pain points that most businesses only realise once they start trading successfully online. Therefore much of our business comes from other platforms. Our platform is sticky and our churn rate is less than 2%.

If you want to see Neto in action, check out some SMEs who have implemented Neto and reaped the benefits.

Also, if you’re attending the Online Retailer Conference & e-commerce Expo in Sydney over 22-23 July 2015, come and visit us at Stand 4024. We’d love to chat to you!

So, what are the pain points you’ve experienced as a retailer, setting up online trading? What have you done to overcome them? Share your tips here!

 

5 apps every household needs

Tech and Innovation

Posted on July 8, 2015

1 min read

As a busy working mum I’m constantly looking for ways to make my life easier, faster, run more smoothly.  Need I say more? So I recently went on a quest to get some tools to make our household – just work and me more… well ‘appier.

Here’s the areas in my life that I found that needed the most improvement.

Love to hear any apps you use that make running your household smoother.

This is a personal post; any commentary on third party products in the post is not intended to be an endorsement by Telstra, which has no association with the mentioned products unless expressly stated otherwise.  The above-mentioned apps and services may require mobile data connections and in-app or additional purchases.

 

Steve Wozniak’s Top 5 technologies for the future

Tech and Innovation

Posted on July 7, 2015

3 min read

The man who co-invented the Apple Mac picks the technology winners that will change the way we work and play.

When Steve Wozniak first saw Atari’s game Pong, he experienced a creative spark that went on to define the future of computing.

Speaking at the recent World Business Forum in Sydney, Wozniak offered his take on the next big innovations that will shape our professional and personal lives.

 

Pictured: Steve Wozniak at World Business Forum.

 

Self-driving Vehicles

Topping the list are smart, self-driving or autonomous cars with advanced navigation technologies. Familiar on the roads of Silicon Valley courtesy of Google, Wozniak said self-driving vehicles will soon be a “big thing”.

“I think after some period of time every manufacturer in the world will have self-driving cars,” he said. “The accidents will be so low there will be some laws against humans driving their own cars.”

Google believes its self-driving car will be ready by 2020, and is already in talks with vehicle manufacturers about mass-production. Google also reports its self-driven cars have already driven nearly 1 million miles.

Delivery Drones

Drones are firmly part of the modern lexicon, with hobbyists and artists among the first adopters of consumer-grade drones.

Wozniak hopes some of the technical and legislative issues they present will be resolved so they can be used commercially. “I would love to order from Amazon.com and have it delivered to my home in 15 minutes,” he said.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality, or augmented-reality technologies, are taking off in computer gaming. Among the most intriguing, Wozniak said, is the Rift, a wearable virtual reality head-mounted display being developed by Oculus VR.

He said this type of technology will transform not just computer games, but will also augment other interactions with the real world, enhancing experiences like shopping and travelling.

Wozniak drew a comparison to the way he felt when spinning the navigation wheel of an iPod – it was a good user experience – and such compelling emotions will underpin emerging virtual-reality technologies.

Artificial Intelligence

We are getting to a stage where it’s possible computers will begin teaching themselves, Wozniak said, noting this area of innovation is gaining considerable international attention. Yet he hopes computers will only ever reach the level of human intelligence to prevent the sort of downsides we typically see in movies and TV shows.

Computer Hardware Innovation

Wozniak expects further innovation in computer hardware, particularly storage devices, networks and the switching equipment that connects us to the internet.

He notes that it’s easy to overlook the role of hardware in a mobile and cloud-based world, but hidden away in server rooms are “huge, fast hard disks and solid-state disks doing all the work and telling computers what to do”.

Future developments will increase internet speeds, video downloads and make it easier to conduct online research.

Discover how emerging technologies can boost the productivity of your team with Telstra Enterprise Mobile Solutions 

This article originally appeared on Telstra IN:SIGHT.

Connect with IN:SIGHT to explore the latest business thinking, management tips, technology trends and Telstra events.

 

10 things I learnt about being a disruptor

muru-D

Posted on June 26, 2015

8 min read

Gary Elphick’s company Disrupt was among 10 start-up, who graduated recently from muru-D’s accelerator program. The London born, Sydney-based entrepreneur, marketer, self confessed geek, surfie and start-up hustler shares his top ten learnings for building a brilliant start-up business.

Going through muru-D has been an awesome experience and Disrupt Surfing certainly wouldn’t be in the same position having not done it. But for those not fortunate enough to have had the experience I have I’ve written out my biggest personal learnings from the program at muru-D. These are the things that really changed the game for me and for the business.

Customers first

Don’t focus on capital raising. Focus on sales, customers and bootstrap it (live hand to mouth) for as long as possible. Revenue proves a business model, customers prove demand, and users prove what features are important.

Focus

Something I find incredibly hard. It’s referred to as ‘the entrepreneur’s dilemma’ you see so many inefficiencies and opportunities around us but which do you focus on? Once you’ve decided you need to go one step further, you can’t be everything to everyone; you can’t market in all channels and sell all products.

I’m terrible at this but the skill is to be absolutely incredibly focused with everything you do, offer the very minimum in functionality you can, sell really hard to one customer type and put all your effort into one marketing channel.

You can always pivot a business or feature if they don’t work but putting 100% behind one thing is better than spreading your bets and putting 10% into 10 things. Don’t try and boil the ocean. This is easier said than done and I still struggle with it. My advice – See this guy.

Test

Test everything. Put metrics, goals and hypothesis behind everything you can and let the data back you up or break you down. What do you think needs to happen to increase conversions? What colour button will help promote sharing? What evidence do you need to show to get a sale? Test, test, test.

Make a list of all the things you wish you knew and find a way to test them. What you’ll find is you’ll build up an incredible amount of IP by running 1000’s of these small tests. The more you do the more IP you build and the harder you make it for copy-cats.

It’ll give you confidence that your decisions were right and you’re moving your start-up forward. Nick Crocker recently wrote about having one metric and it’s something Disrupt will be implementing shortly.

You’ll never be ready

If you wait until ‘you’re ready’ you never will be. Your product is never finished, your operations will never be perfect and there will always be a backlog. If you wait until you think you’re ready then you’ll either never do it, it’ll be too late or someone else would have already been there. It seems strange to want to add additional stress on top of what you’re already trying to achieve but you really do have to go fast and break stuff along the way, fix it and move on. It’s the only way to move forward. There’s a balancing act between focus and pushing forward fast, it’s cost us a lot of ‘wasted’ $$ to get there especially when you’re dealing with hardware but better to make the mistakes now that when you’re 10x bigger and the issues will be 10x larger.

Go global

Australia is an amazing place, with incredibly passionate people and a lot of talent. However, we’re only 23 million people, a small country by all accounts and there’s a huge world out there. You need to prove your business model works on a global scale.

A global business has a much bigger addressable market and thus the opportunity and value of your business is greatly increased. Use Australia as an incubator market by all means but focus on global. I’ve been fortunate enough to explore our business in the US, Europe & China understanding the possible scale gives you the confidence to understand the potential reach you can have. Get a cheap flight, stay in a hostel and get to know your largest potential customer base.

Mentors

You’re not the first one to go through the challenges you’re facing so seek out advice from people that have already been there and done that. There are plenty of successful Australian entrepreneurs that got help when they were starting and are more than willing to lend a hand to pay it forward. Even an hour a month or the occasional email will help super-charge your start-up. Reach out to people, hook up with them on LinkedIn and ask for introductions. We’ve done this where possible aligning to people and other businesses that can help us in customisation, in working with artists, is sports, in ecommerce. You don’t need to find one person to do it all, build a strong advisory board around you that have experience in each part. Just remember to pay it forward in the future.

Have the hard conversations early

Have the hard conversations up front with your co-founders, discuss the split, agree the contributions and set expectations around time commitments. Doing this early when the business is worth very little is easier than doing it a year or two down the line when it’s worth a substantial amount more. Personally, I’d say everyone including founders should have a four-year vesting schedule without an upfront amount (this means you only officially get ownership of your shares every month for the month you have worked to the commitment you’ve all agreed upfront). This will ensure commitment and fairness across the board. You could even go as far as putting one year cliffs in founder contracts although this will need more consideration.

Documentation

This is the boring tedious stuff (I loathe it – it’s normally the last thing I do on my list), but get it right now and it will save you heads of headaches. There are plenty of free templates you can download for employee contracts, IP assignment, shareholder agreements etc.

Keep it all neat and tidy on a cloud-based sharing platform. It’ll  give you confidence in your structure and makes due diligence easier for any potential partners a lot easier.

Startmate provide a host of documents and there are some recently announced ones from a host of Australian investors and incubators including AVCAL (Australian Private Equity & Venture Capital Association Limited). However, I’m a little concerned about preference share clauses so, do discuss with a lawyer. If you need something more robust visit local Sydney start-up Law Path for legal document and access to freelancer lawyers.

Network

I’m British. There, I said it. My network in London is a good size. When I first got to Australia it was zero. It really is ‘who you know, not what you know’. When you don’t have a good network things are harder to do, such as finding good talent. It’s also harder to get to speak to the right person at a corporate or find the right overseas partner. The more people you know the bigger your network gets, the easier it is to find the right people. You also meet some very interesting people, discover ideas and even make new friends. It’s a long term game.

Start with these – Silicon Beach AustralianInnovation Bay and muru-D

Healthy body, healthy mind

This is probably the most important but hardest thing to maintain. It can be really tempting to let your diet and exercise schedule slide when you’re working 18 hours a day. Being healthy is the single biggest thing that’s kept me sane.  You need to exercise regularly (ideally daily), go for a walk, play sport (or go surf), get away from your phone and let the endorphins flow.

It’s proven that people who do this are more productive. Exercise and diet go hand in hand, (and yes noodles are cheaper than steak) and I understand that it’s a hard decision when you’re putting everything you can into your start-up, but eating well doesn’t need to cost the earth. You’ll thank yourself for it post incubator. (Note to self: write a start-up cook book).

Mental health. Now this is really important. When you’re riding the roller coaster make time to speak to other people. The value in an incubator is being in close proximity to other founders going through the same thing, but you can always go to meet ups.

It’s really important to talk about where you are and what challenges you’re going through. It’s been clinically proven that founders are more susceptible to mental health challenges so be extra vigilant of those around you (and yourself). (See exercise and endorphins above!).

My suggestion: read this award winning article by Jessica Bruder on the psychological price of entrepreneurship.

Also, don’t be afraid to see help or ask someone else in the group, RUOK or visit mensheds.org.au

That’s it: take it, leave it, add to it, do what you will.

These are my own views, they do not necessarily represent the views of Disrupt, Telstra, muru-D or others. There will be spelling and grammatical errors; I’m dyslexic, deal with it.

The above post originally appeared on GaryElphick.com

Follow Gary on @garyelphick

 

 

 

Set your home broadband data free with Telstra Air

Entertainment

Posted on June 26, 2015

3 min read

This post has been updated.

I’m excited let you know that if you’re an eligible Telstra home broadband customer with a compatible gateway, you can take a little piece of home (your home Wi-Fi data) with you when you’re out and about.

We call it Telstra Air®

It gives Telstra Air members the freedom to get online using their home broadband allowance at millions of hotspots across Australia and abroad.

 

And, to make it easier and more affordable to connect when travelling, Telstra Air members are able to access their home broadband allowance at hotspots around the world – thanks to an exclusive partnership with world leading Wi-Fi provider Fon.

Telstra Air members can connect at 15 million hotspots overseas in 18 countries including the UK, Spain, Brazil, Japan, France and Germany.

The network is also being created using innovative Wi-Fi sharing technology from Fon that’s being embraced by millions of people in Europe and elsewhere. It works by customers sharing a small portion of their home internet bandwidth in exchange for using their own home broadband allowance at hotspots across the nation and overseas.

We expect Telstra Air will grow rapidly reaching thousands of neighbourhoods and millions of people across the country over the next five years.

Our investment in a national Wi-Fi network is all about giving you more value as a home broadband customer and new options to connect in the places you love spending time — be that when you’re out at your local shopping precinct, relaxing in a park, catching up with mates at a café or looking up maps when you’re visiting Paris or London.

If you’re one of our several million Telstra home broadband customers with an eligible broadband service, including customers on the NBN, you can become a Telstra Air member at no additional charge provided you have a compatible gateway.

 

Once you’re a member you will be able to find and automatically log into your nearest Telstra Air hotspot with the touch of a button using our Telstra Air app.

How to join Telstra Air

  • Eligible Telstra home broadband customers with a compatible gateway can join Telstra Air by visiting telstra.com/air.
  • New Telstra home broadband customers can take up an eligible Telstra bundle from Tuesday to receive a Telstra Air compatible gateway and membership to the Telstra Air community at no additional cost.
  • Existing eligible Telstra home broadband customers without a compatible gateway can purchase one from Telstra.