Grad Rings – Prestigious Memorabilia (2007-2011)
Grad Rings! Cool little venture this one. Taught me a lot of fundamental lessons of business. The model was taken from the USA where they have super bowl and college rings. Our rings were tailored to the conservative “kiwi” customers – simple design with University crests. Before I sold out of this, we were the leading supplier of Graduation Rings to Universities in New Zealand with exclusive agreements in place with Uni’s including the University of Canterbury, University of Auckland and AUT.
Second start-up. Small exit. I grew and managed this business for three years before selling to an existing shareholder.
* Nailing detail and processes behind business administration, commercial accounting & law, day to day general management is a good way to increase efficiencies
* Customer relationships are key to long term success
* A passionate team with drive and good culture is essential
* Jewellery is fun and lucrative – I was all in or all out with this and for a few reasons went all out (exited) to focus on the Coffee Catcha
This was a biz I started in my Master of Management class in 2006. It was a “before its time” web app that showed people where the hot deals are in their town. It incorporated vouchers ala GroupOn, in-store specials/sales and other deals plus had a web2.0 social element with clubs and commenting. Targeting students and leveraging my networks at the University of Canterbury, this was an exciting start-up!
* 3,000 consumer sign-ups gained by leveraging networks, offering give-aways and guerrilla marketing
* 150 business sign-ups including major liquor outlets, cinemas and various SME’s in targeted categories/segments
* Dominated the chicken & egg scenario of needing both users (consumers & businesses) by setting up partnerships with major beer, beauty and ski brands giving away product
* Analytics included 5.24min avg. visit duration, 7.99 pages per visit, 8,500/4,500 visits/unique in top month. SEO was great with top Google rankings for certain categories e.g. ‘hair and beauty Christchurch’
* Winner of the University of Canterbury business plan competition attracting $10k in seed funding and $20k worth of time in New Zealand leading tech incubator, Canterbury Innovation Incubator
First start-up, first failure! The site was live for 9 months and had lots of traction but not enough cash, wrong business model, lacked high level guidance. Key lessons…
* Cash is king
* Relevant advisors/mentors are so important
* Customer and community value drives the business and revenue models
* Partnerships and teams really matter
* Timing is crucial