37. The Online Circle
Founders: Jeff Richardson, Lucio Ribeiro
Industry: Sales and marketing
With a shared passion for social media, coupled with experience in corporate marketing and agency management, Jeff Richardson and Lucio Ribeiro are the founders of The Online Circle.
Based in Victoria, The Online Circle is a social media agency specialising in monitoring, analysis, strategy and campaign management.
The company was founded in 2007 and now employs 14 staff, taking in revenue of $535,000 last financial year. Richardson says he and Lucio saw an opportunity to harness the potential of social media.
“Our product, Online1984, provides detailed understandings of the current sentiment online against specific brands or issues,” Richardson says.
“We are exploiting the opportunity that relates to large companies who need to understand how their brand and related issues are being perceived by the online community.”
Richardson and Lucio lead a diverse team of professionals with backgrounds in direct marketing, advertising, public relations, sales, psychology and even gaming.
“This breadth of experience allows us to think creatively and act confidently to provide effective, cutting edge solutions for the digital age,” Richardson says.
The Online Circle has devised strategies for an impressive array of brands including the ABC, WorkSafe Victoria, Choice Home Loans, Schweppes, Cadbury and Kraft.
Richardson says the business has been lucky to receive a steady stream of referrals in addition to enquiries based on presentations.
“Our product helped us win a three-year contract for Kraft Foods against two large international agencies,” he says.
“The contract is for monitoring and analysing all social media references to the brand and sub-brands in Australia and New Zealand, and managing issues and opportunities for them.”
“In addition to that, everybody is interested in social media and – more and more – they are recognising that it requires expertise to manage it properly.”
“The most challenging part has been managing the growth. The key learning [area] in this regard, so far, has been that there are clients that are not suitable to the business, and resigning them as clients is sometimes the best thing for the business.”
According to Richardson, the best part about starting a business is being able to control one’s own destiny.
“We work hard but have control over our lives, both personal and business,” he says.