Finder.com.au is the latest project of StartupSmart mentor and online entrepreneur Fred Schebesta, who also founded credit card comparison website CreditCardFinder.com.au.
The site offers visitors easy access to resources that help them understand various financial products in the Australian market.
In addition to detailed and customisable comparison tables, Finder offers product reviews, industry news, tips and advice for choosing the most suitable product.
Schebesta talks to StartupSmart about the benefits of starting up the second time around.
When was Finder.com.au founded and who are the founders?
It was founded in October 2009 by Frank Restuccia and myself – the same directors as our previous agency that was acquired in 2007.
What prompted you to launch Finder? What niche did you identify?
We started up Finder as we were basically sick of marketing our clients’ websites and wanted to market our own.
Great marketing ideas just got shut down and we wanted to give consumers an alternative way to easily get the information they needed when making a comparison.
We have used a lot of the innovative marketing strategies to promote our business online, although we still have a lot of work to do to build its awareness.
How did you fund the business?
Hive Empire was a business which actually started with debt from our previous agency. It borrowed money from the other company to fund start-up costs.
Although these investments didn’t return a profit, it was only after we focused heavily on CreditCardFinder.com.au for two years in 2009 and 2010 that we could pay back the debt, and have been cashflow positive and funded ever since.
How many staff do you have?
We have 18 staff in our Sydney office. I am super proud of our young team – our oldest crew member is 31 and our youngest is 20 years old.
How do you promote the business?
Public relations, search engine marketing, online advertising, word of mouth, email marketing and social media.
We make great websites that people want to come back to – between 20-30% of visitors return to our sites.
How do you stand out in the market? What’s your point/s of difference?
Each site specialises in its niche and goes into more detail than any other site about the topic. It offers step-by-step resources in researching, comparing and applying for products.
This deep insight and information allows us to specialise, and provide the most comprehensive help to our visitors.
Our business is split up into different sections to enable this specialisation into the different niches we work in: home loans, personal loans, savings accounts, life insurance, mobile phones, broadband and forex trading.
We have plans to open up new comparisons too, to help Australians compare and save some money.
These will include special comparisons of products that no other site has (such as our foreign currency exchange comparisons), exclusive offers, and calculator tools and guides to help users through each comparison.
What are your revenue projections for 2011-2012?
Our website is a free service to consumers where they can save quite a bit of money. We are a commercial business but users never have to pay a cent.
We would be forecasting around a six figure revenue projection for 2011-2012.
What’s the biggest risk you face?
Not building our sites fast enough, growing too fast and not having enough staff to sustain us, processes and systems development, and finding talented staff.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
Not this time. This is the second business Frank and I have started together, and we have taken a lot of the learnings from our previous venture.
Fundamentally, we are super excited to be providing such a great service where consumers can save money with us simply by comparing all the products in one spot.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Be persistent about your goals and only stop when you have pushed your current business to the end.
Be innovative – come up with fresh and creative ideas. At Finder.com.au, we challenge the status quo.
We want to provide a comprehensive approach to comparison as opposed to just showing products. We want to help inform consumers before they make a decision.
Hire slow, fire fast. Lots of people say it, but I now believe it. Take your time with hiring. Rushing a hire is one of the most expensive things you can do.