How I assembled a star-studded board for my start-up
Not many businesses under a year old can boast the head of small business banking at one of the ‘big four’ as chairman, but Anneliese Urquhart’s preparation and persistence managed to gather a board that many large corporations would be proud of.
Like many, Urquhart travels frequently within Australia; but she realised on her travels how difficult it is to find information on local events.
Noticing that this is a common problem for many, Urquhart created Jedo in September last year.
Jedo is described as an online directory for all types of events across Australia.
It utilises social media, mobile and mapping services to deliver information-rich media listings for users and provides the opportunity for them to host and share their own events.
Jedo members receive notifications on events that fit their interests, as well as sample content and can also buy tickets for events.
Urquhart said many businesses looking to promote events find the ever-changing digital and social media space overwhelming, as they juggle social media platforms, search algorithms that change without notice, listings on their own sites, mainstream media, and a constantly evolving array of bloggers.
“It is because of these challenges that we created Jedo,” she says.
“We make event promotions simple for event organisers – they spend less time on social and digital media and get seen more often.”
“We help event organisers spend more time on their core business rather than worry about listing and promoting their events.”
“The creation of Jedo involved extensive planning and research. We continue to plan and research on an ongoing basis. This keeps us focused on the right priorities, benchmarks our services against others, and helps us come up with new solutions to make event promotions in the digital and social space even easier.”
On top of extensive research, Urquhart says Jedo was promoted through word-of-mouth, as she has spoken with around 2,000 event organisers via sales contacts.
This painstaking research and preparation was to pay off in the assembly of an unusually senior board for a start-up less than a year old.
Nick Reade, general manager of small business banking at ANZ, and Chris Nolan, chief operating officer of leading media agency Starcom Media, supported the conception of Jedo and are now respectively chairman and director of the business.
Urquhart also managed to get Matthew Palmer from Macquarie Bank to come on board as legal advisor and company secretary.
These big guns were enticed on board via a combination of effective groundwork, a niche opportunity in a relevant area and a pitch conducted on the fly.
Urquhart says: "After putting together the business plan, I needed seed funding to get started. I listed the business on an Australian angel investor network, and received 10 responses over the first week.”
“I knew that I wanted someone to bring expertise as well as investment to the business, so I ranked the potential investors in terms of desirability.”
“Nick Reade was the most desirable investment partner, so I arranged to see Nick.”
“He's an extremely busy man, so he was only free one Friday evening after work for a couple of hours before a black tie function. I pitched to him in a cafe on Powerpoint just before he was going to make his way to the function.”
“Nick did due diligence and reviewed our documentation and he came on board – it all happened within a couple of days.”
Reade says he was immediately impressed by the capability, experience and passion he saw when he first met the team at Jedo.
“I deal with many businesses, particularly start-ups, and I have rarely seen a start-up more prepared than Jedo, which gave me a great deal of confidence,” he explains.
Eventually, Nolan became involved in the business via Reade.
“Both Nick and Chris were purposely brought on to address an area of need in the business and are both actively involved in the business,” Urquhart says.
Reade’s senior at ANZ has given Jedo an unusual degree of experience in financial management, small business and marketing for a start-up in its position.
“(Reade) has been key in assisting with the capital raising and financial strategy,” Urquhart says.
“And Chris Nolan brings a wealth of experience, relationships and expertise in media. He has assisted in building the commercial model, the media proposition and actively helps bring in key partnerships and clients for the business.”
Jedo is now successfully selling shares through the Australian Small Scale Offerings Board, via its public company vehicle Localite Limited, and is well into the second round of the current investment offering.
Urquhart says she wishes she had started the business sooner: “I knew in my gut it was a great opportunity, but I spent a lot of time considering the risks and conducting exhaustive analysis before seeking seed funding.”
“With the benefit of experience, there are a few research steps that I would skip, or do more quickly.”
As for advice to entrepreneurs, she has this to say: “If you find yourself contemplating a great idea and constantly thinking about it, then get started! It is an incredibly rewarding experience. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”