Paul Greenberg


Start Up Australia launches, not to be confused with StartupAus

7:52PM | Wednesday, 30 July

A new not-for-profit body launched Wednesday, which promises to support startups – by which it means companies that have just started up.   Start Up Australia, will offer a number of free resources to entrepreneurs to help get their businesses and business ideas off the ground.   The organisation is part of a global Start Up network, with similarly named organisations in 44 countries, which is why the group couldn’t avoid confusion with another startup body, StartupAus (which focuses specifically on tech startups).   Start Up Australia’s Miriam Feiler says the best way for entrepreneurs to learn is through the advice of people who’ve done it before.   “We want to create a greater number of business start-ups here by providing the skills, encouragement, mentoring and training of people with big ideas, others who may have been retrenched, new mums working from home, retirees wanting to become self-employed. In fact, any Aussie who has ever dreamed of running their own business and wanted to have a go,” she says.   “Business is the engine room of the economy and our goal is for Australia to become the most entrepreneurial nation by 2020.”   The services it offers to entrepreneurs who sign up include a five day online conference featuring the stories of “50 of Australia’s business leaders” from a wide variety of industries, and a free 12 week online Small Business MBA sponsored by the Fortune Institute and hosted by entrepreneur Siimon Reynolds.   @rosepowell @BobbyWalter @gbissett @bigyahu Maybe someone in the media should call this for what it looks like. Lead gen for paid content? — Scott Handsaker (@shandsaker) July 30, 2014   Feiler rejected the notion that the organisation was a lead generator for paid content.   “Everything we’re doing is offered for free, through the support of corporate Australia,” she says.   She pointed to the Start Up Australia’s privacy policy when pressed further.   That privacy policy says Start Up Australia collects personal information on its users through visitor registration, webinar registration, newsletter sign up forms and event registrations securely so it can “provide and promote Start Up Australia’s  program to is users”, and inform them of “updates, promotions, and competitions pertaining to the Start Up Australia movement”.   It also says personal information, like users names, company and business contact details, may be shared with Start Up Australia’s sponsors/partners. Users can opt out by contacting Start Up Australia.   Start Up Australia’s founding sponsors include American Express, MYOB, ACCI and The Fortune Institute.   The organisation receives no government funding and is negotiating with a number of corporate partners for extra support.   The entrepreneurs behind the project include Reynolds, Brian Sher and John McGrath, with the support of Naomi Simson, Paul Greenberg, Creel Price, Larissa Robertson and James Stevens.   Like StartupAus, Feiler says Start Up Australia will work to produce data on startup companies which will be used to help guide government policy.   StartupAus board member Steve Baxter says StartupAus welcomes the efforts of all organisations working to support startups (though he appeared to be using the term differently relating it only to ‘tech’ startups).   “There are many different organisations and groups passionate about the tech startup ecosystem and its growth in Australia,” he says.   “StartupAus already works closely with Startup QLD, Startup Victoria, Startup Adelaide, Startup Tasmania, co-working spaces, AVCAL, the AIIA and many more.   “We look forward to seeing the tech startup community become a driving force in the Australian economy because of these efforts and more importantly the passionate tech entrepreneurs who are leading the charge.”   Confusion around how the public uses the term “startup” was highlighted by Google Engineering director and StartupAus board member Alan Noble recently, who said that the way Australians understand the term “startup” is too broad.   Speaking at the Vivid Sydney Smart Money forum, Noble noted that it was important policymakers understood the difference between small lifestyle businesses and the kind of startups that could make a real difference to the Australian economy.

Online shoppers splash more cash on hump day, research shows

8:30AM | Tuesday, 20 August

As Australians spend more of their money online, where and when they’re spending is becoming relevant for retailers considering how to target their marketing.   According to the National Australia Bank’s latest Online Retail Sales Index, Australians spent $13.9 billion in the year ended June, up 21% on the 12 months ended June last year when $11.5 billion was spent.   And according to research by data analytics and marketing strategy firm Quantium, much of that spending is happening in the middle of the week, with Wednesday the peak day for spending.   National Online Retailers Association chief executive Paul Greenberg says the data could have implications for retailers and the timing of their digital marketing.   He says retailers may take a “fish when the fish are biting” approach to their marketing.   Quantium’s research shows Saturday and Sunday are the weakest days for online retail spending. Sales rise on Monday and Tuesday, peak on Wednesday at just over 16% of online spending, before tapering off Thursday and Friday.   Greenberg adds that retailers may also consider targeting their marketing towards days when online spending falls in the hope of boosting it so they can “smooth out” sales across the week.   Greenberg and Adam Ferrier, a consumer psychologist and founding partner of Naked Communications Australia, told StartupSmart higher spending online during the week was most likely because it was when consumers were mostly likely at work and in front of a computer.   Ferrier says consumers could also be motivated to shop during the middle of the week as a break from work.   “These days at work are normally more intense,” he says. “Potentially people are looking for a bit of retail therapy.”   Ferrier adds that the research may redefine when impulse shopping may occur.   “It might be during those times in the afternoon on ‘hump’ day when you need a break or are hungry for a distraction,” he says.   Ferrier also says Friday may be a more “frivolous and fun” time at work in the lead-up to the weekend and leave workers less inclined to want to shop online.   Greenberg suggests weekends are generally weaker for online retail because people are out and about with their families.   Online shoe fashion retailer Shoes of Prey has found Wednesday is their best day for sales, with co-founder Jodie Fox telling StartupSmart they received around 20% more sales that day than the rest of the week.   “I’m genuinely surprised,” she says, adding that it went against her own experience of not having a particular day when she did her own online shopping.   Fox says while Wednesday may be their biggest sales day, they don’t target their marketing to a particular day.   “When we want to share a message with our customers we look at what’s the best way to communicate that message, then the channel – whether email, video, Facebook – then we use that particular channel to its best advantage,” she says.   Retail consultant Franz Madlener was sceptical of the Quantium research that Wednesday was the day consumers spent the most online.   “Customers buy when they have money,” he says.   “Most customers don’t have money on Wednesdays because most people don’t get paid on Tuesdays. It simply doesn’t make sense then that most people would shop online on Wednesdays unless there were extenuating circumstances such as Groupon having their best deals on a Wednesday, or Jetstar their best flight prices on a Wednesday, particularly if customers have never otherwise spent on Wednesdays compared to late week or weekends.”

Online retail sales growth eases in May, still outpacing bricks-and-mortar

7:32AM | Wednesday, 3 July

Online retail sales growth in Australia eased in May following a boost the previous month, but is expected to continue to outpace sales growth at traditional bricks-and-mortar stores for up to another 18 months.   The National Australia Bank’s latest online retail sales index found sales growth in May grew 18% compared with May last year, down from 24% year-on-year growth in April.   “Despite an easing in the growth rate, it remains stronger than the comparatively soft trends across February and March,” the bank says in a statement.   The statement says sales in bricks-and-mortar stores grew by 3.2% in April compared with the previous April on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. Internet sales made up 6.1% of total retail sales in the year to April, excluding cafes, restaurants and takeaway food, with Australians spending around $13.7 billion with online retailers in the year to May.   NAB Senior economist Gerard Burg told StartupSmart the growth rate of online sales was likely to continue to outpace traditional stores over the next 12-18 months.   He says department and variety stores claimed a large share of online sales as they embraced the internet and multi-channel retailing. Large retailers such as David Jones and Harvey Norman have in the past complained about internet shopping eating into their sales but have since created their own online offerings.   Fashion, homewares and electrical appliances were the most popular items sold on the internet, with around 72% of sales made domestically.   Paul Greenberg, chief executive of the National Online Retailers Association, told StartupSmart he expects the distinction between online and bricks-and-mortar retail will become less with time.   “Where the real growth is coming is where retailers provide multiple points of purchase,” he says, noting that daily deals website OzSale had held warehouse sales and opened pop-up stores in shopping centres.   Eddie Machaalani, chief executive and co-founder of online store builder Bigcommerce, told StartupSmart he can’t see online sales growth slowing down for at least four to five years.   “There are a lot of industries that are still not online,” he says, “or worked out how to go online.”

Credit squeeze leads to personal lending opportunity for start-up Assetline

4:39AM | Monday, 22 April

Not many start-ups can say they’ve secured a heavy hitter such as DealsDirect co-founder Paul Greenberg as an advisor, but that’s just one of the things Assetline has achieved since it was founded last year.   Based in Sydney, Assetline is an online personal asset lending platform. It was founded by Nick Raphaely and Steven Beinart, who have more than 35 years of experience between them.   Raphaely talks to StartupSmart about why Australia is an ideal market for the personal asset lending model, and how Assetline intends to attract customers.   What is your background and how did it prompt you to launch Assetline?   I have 15 years of investment banking and funds management experience in the UK and Australia.   I began my career at Merrill Lynch International, providing corporate finance and investment banking services to corporate clients.   I subsequently co-founded the Ashton Group, a privately-owned investment management group focused on alternative investment, with offices in Sydney and London.   Steven has over 20 years of international senior management and board experience in the facility services, healthcare and personal care industries.   In 1996, Steven founded the Ecowize Group, a specialist outsourced services group, which today operates in the USA, Australia, New Zealand and in South Africa.   The group employs approximately 3500 personnel on three continents, servicing global blue chip corporate customers.   Steven holds numerous directorships in private and listed companies including the Ecowize Group, Ecofirst and Heritage Brands Limited.   The Assetline model is propelled by two powerful, converging trends. Firstly, tightening bank credit. Since the GFC, bank lending has tightened considerably and it is much tougher for Australians to get bank credit.   Secondly, pervasive access to internet through fixed line or handheld devices. This enables Assetline to distribute its service very broadly via a confidential and discreet online platform.   We believe that Australia has ideal attributes for the personal asset lending model to succeed:   Asset-rich population. Population primarily concentrated in three cities on the eastern seaboard. Australia has one of the highest levels of personal debt in the world. Post 2008, bank credit has tightened significantly. Australia Post’s national infrastructure supports Assetline’s operations. High level of internet penetration, with government commitment to increase this further.   What does the business offer consumers they can’t get elsewhere?   Borrowers who need short-term liquidity fast have limited options.   They can either sell an asset (which takes time, involves transaction costs and the asset is gone forever) or seek bank credit (credit and income checks are needed and availability is uncertain).   Whether for personal or business use, Assetline provides a fast, effective and discreet service for borrowers where traditional forms of credit are otherwise unavailable.   With Assetline, no income or credit checks are needed and funds can be advanced within as little as 24 hours.   Assetline lends from $1000 to $1 million against assets traditionally overlooked by mainstream banks: luxury watches, jewellery, diamonds, precious stones, gold and precious metals, fine art and antiques, motor cars and fine wine collections.   We’re the only player in Australia to provide loans of this scale secured against high-end valuables.   How did you fund the business and what were your start-up costs?   Assetline has been funded by a syndicate of private shareholders. The start-up costs were approximately $250,000 (excluding loan capital).   From past experience, we recognise that systems are essential to scale a business. We have invested heavily in this area, which we believe will set us apart from the competition.   How many staff do you have?   Assetline has three full-time staff but our services are augmented by a wide panel of valuation experts, carefully selected to assist Assetline in valuing our clients’ assets.   We have also done a deal with Australia Post to provide logistics for our operation.   In January, Paul Greenberg joined the Assetline advisory board. Paul co-founded the DealsDirect Group in 2004, which he grew to become the largest online department store in Australia.   We’ve thus been able to create a wide footprint while keeping fixed costs low, which is essential in any start-up business.   How do you promote the business?   We have used a combination of PR and direct marketing.   Although we’ve only been going for a few weeks, we’ve already been featured in some key mainstream media such as The Australian and have appeared on TV (on Sky Business News).   We’ve also featured in several trade publications, for example Australian Broker Magazine. We have further coverage in the pipeline, which will be coming out over the next few months.   We have a fresh, innovative and exciting story to tell and we’ve found the media to be very receptive.   For direct marketing, we’ve led with internet marketing so far. We have a TV commercial running at the end of April and also have plans to target print media in other key channels.   We’re currently planning a competition for later in the year – very exciting and innovative – designed to attract a lot of potential customers to the Assetline brand.   What are your revenue projections for 2012/13?   Our revenue is closely linked to our marketing spend. Because we are not only a new business but also pioneering a new industry, we need to create customer education and awareness around what we offer.   What revenue we generate will be directly linked to how aggressively we choose to market. This means our revenue projections will be linked to how quickly we choose to grow the business.   What has been your greatest challenge and how did you overcome it?   The biggest challenge for Assetline is that we are breaking new ground in Australia.   While the Assetline model has been successfully implemented in the UK and US, we are the very first to offer online personal asset lending in this country.   This has meant that there’s been no clear model to follow in terms of things like logistics and legislation.   Having said that, there’s something very exciting about being the leader and the trailblazer. We believe there is a great advantage to being first to market in Australia.   What is the biggest risk you face?   We need to educate the market that a facility exists for customers to borrow using their high-end valuables as security.   Australians have accumulated a vast array of valuable assets, but most would never have considered that they could use them as collateral for a short-term loan.   I’d classify this more as a challenge than a risk. We need to make the market at large aware that we exist as a compelling alternative for a short-term loan.   Is there anything you would have done differently?   Having both started businesses ourselves prior to establishing Assetline, we are under no illusions as to the challenges in getting a new business going.   I think we both realise that persistence, determined effort and patience are needed to establish a new business. Having said that, we’re very pleased with the early signs that we’ve seen.   Perhaps the only thing we may have done differently would have been to launch sooner than we did, however, we wanted to make sure our processes and systems were properly bedded down first.   In hindsight, we think this was probably the right move.   How has the lending environment changed in the last few years?   Bank lending has become much tighter and customers have to cut through much more red tape than before to get loans.   As mentioned above, this was one of the key factors that motivated us to explore the personal asset lending model as an alternative for customers who want fast, flexible solutions.

ANZ Innovyz START rolls out fresh start-up funding program

4:04AM | Thursday, 4 April

Above: Dr Jana Matthews.   Applications are open for the third round of the 13-week ANZ Innovyz START accelerator program, which kicks off in August, as start-ups that previously went through the incubator prepare to pitch to investors.   Now in its second year, ANZ Innovyz START helps fast-growth tech entrepreneurs become investor-ready by giving them access to global business experts and mentors who have grown and exited companies.   Past program mentors include Microsoft executive Chris Bernard, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Martin Babinec, and DealsDirect co-founder and former chairman Paul Greenberg.   Previously, teams received $6,000 per founder. This year, each team will receive $20,000. ANZ will also give each team access to a $20,000 loan facility to help them fund their growth plans.   Dr Jana Matthews, managing director of ANZ Innovyz START, told StartupSmart the additional funding is not the only change that has been made to the program.   “I’m going to absolutely insist that there be teams of three people. The start-ups that make the most progress… are the ones that have three people,” Matthews says.   “The ones that have two people have struggled to keep up. There’s so much to learn and so much to do. We aren’t going to accept you unless you bring at least one other person to the table.”   Applications close on June 14 and the program will commence on August 12.   Meanwhile, the 10 graduates of the summer 2013 program are preparing for a demo day in Adelaide on April 18, when they will pitch and showcase their product to potential investors.   “They’re absolutely fabulous… We already have some that the investors are talking to,” Matthews says.   “Four of the companies already have investors, possibly five, and we still have two weeks to go before they stand up in front of everyone.”   Matthews says FitUsIn, a booking site for the health and fitness industry, is among the standouts.   “FitUsIn was a company we already knew was going to be a winner. It was selected as one of six [participants] worldwide to attend an all-expenses paid trip to New York to pitch to venture capitalists,” Matthews says.   The program’s summer 2013 companies, in their current form, are as follows:   The Unicoach helps undergraduate students create their own productivity system to achieve stress-free academic success.   Kicktone is a platform that helps independent bands engage with their fans and attract a new audience by making it easy for them to share and sell their music.   Singa is a localised musical platform. The first version enables kids to sing along to their favourite tunes, a video recording of which can then be shared. Future versions will have gamification and real-time multi-user singing, along with apps and purchases.   FitUsIn is a booking site for the health and fitness industry that allows users to quickly compare gym deals and book their visits online.   Mobility Unlimited seeks to revolutionise how businesses and consumers interact by enabling instant, tailored and high-precision location-based services and payments.   DataMunch is an online service that enables users to easily combine isolated datasets, and gain insights quicker and cheaper than alternatives.   Metrixcare (formerly Edgebox) is a healthcare collaborative platform for measurement, management and improvement in patient safety and cost.   Memtell captures people’s memories using photography and voice recording, and allows memories to be stored online, in the cloud, making them easily accessible.   TowardTheStars is a website full of resources and gifts to inspire young girls.   Agent Anything is a website that connects people and companies to cost-effective student labour for almost any kind of task, temporary job or service.

Startup Weekend winner among latest Innovyz START participants

3:08AM | Friday, 15 March

A former winner of Startup Weekend is among the 10 ventures selected to take part in the second ANZ Innovyz START program, which is once again dominated by Adelaide-based start-ups.

DealsDirect flags further acquisitions under new CEO

6:40AM | Monday, 4 June

Online department store DealsDirect has flagged further start-up acquisitions, after appointing former Centrebet boss Michael McRitchie as its new chief executive, with Linda Barrett named as head of buying.

DealsDirect buys corporate shopping and reward site Shoppers Advantage in its biggest ever acquisition

10:10AM | Friday, 14 October

Online department store DealsDirect has upped the ante on its string of acquisitions, purchasing the corporate shopping group Shoppers Advantage in a deal that will add around $25 million in revenue per year and a member database of over three million.

Get your social media details on all your marketing collateral

2:13PM | Monday, 27 February

Yesterday I attended a great webinar on retail hosted by Paul Greenberg, founder of online retail giant Deals Direct on the topic of social media and mCommerce.

DealsDirect acquisition confirms talent buyout trend

7:54PM | Sunday, 10 July

Online department store DealsDirect has invested in another online start-up in a bid to expand its portfolio as talent buyouts become the order of the day in the skill-starved tech industry.

Packer-backed sites to compete in online groceries space

6:13AM | Friday, 10 June

Online retail giants DealsDirect and Catch of the Day have both unveiled plans to sell groceries online, with industry experts confirming online supermarkets are gaining traction.

Westfield to charge tenants to operate online

4:31AM | Thursday, 14 April

Shopping centre giant Westfield has been urged not to be “over opportunistic” in its treatment of small retailers, in the wake of its decision to charge existing tenants to join its new virtual mall.

Harvey Norman enters daily deals domain

4:46AM | Friday, 8 April

Gerry Harvey has entered into the competitive world of group-buying, launching a daily deal shopping site just weeks after announcing plans to head online.

DealsDirect: Packer deal shows online retail is ‘coming of age’

4:43AM | Friday, 15 April

Online retail in Australia is entering its maturity, according to DealsDirect, which has been the subject of a reported $10 million investment from James Packer’s fund Ellerston Capital.

THE NEWS WRAP: James Packer’s Ellerston Capital takes major stake in DealsDirect

4:24AM | Tuesday, 5 April

James Packer’s investment vehicle Ellerston Capital has taken a major stake in online department store DealsDirect.

Standing out from the eBay crowd

4:41AM | Friday, 27 April

eBay is something of an internet veteran. Founded in 1995 by Pierre Omidyar, the site is now a staple for bargain seeking consumers and independent retailers. But do opportunities still exist for eBay start-ups now that the market is so crowded?

Federal Government to host online retail forum

2:09PM | Wednesday, 2 February

Small retailers are being invited to attend a Federal Government online retail forum later this month, designed to encourage Australian retailers to explore online business options.

Solving your sales & marketing problems

4:15AM | Friday, 27 April

We have asked a range of sales and marketing experts and entrepreneurs to help solve some common problems that may still be confronting business owners.