Bizz Buzz, Group Buying Site For Small Business: Start-up Profiles
By Michelle Hammond
BizzBuzz.com.au was launched in May this year by Marcus Layton, former owner and founder of dry cleaning business Pinstripe.
BizzBuzz describes itself as Australia’s only group buying site dedicated to small business, offering “unheard of” deals on goods and services.
“Although the number of sites out there offering cheap cupcakes and nail polishing services has become a bit ridiculous no one has addressed the needs of business owners,” Layton says.
Layton talks to StartupSmart about creating a point of difference in a saturated market.
What inspired the idea for BizzBuzz?
While tying up the exit sale of a dry cleaning franchise I’d founded in 2008 I’d spent around a year mulling over which business I would move onto next.
After looking at everything from the adoption of a successful mail order health food business model from the UK to a textbook rental service that would help university students save on costs I stumbled across Groupon’s group buying model.
After deeper research of the model I was surprised to see that no group buying contender had attempted to service small business owners (yet) and as group buying for small business appeared such a perfect fit I set about surveying a large number of business owners and was met with an overwhelmingly positive reception.
How did the name come about?
The BizzBuzz name came about much the same way as Pinstripe did.
I would scour through an online thesaurus and list the words I might like to use in my business name, only to find that I end up choosing a name that never showed up in the thesaurus.
I guess the process I used helped to spark the creative juices to reach the end result.
I’ll then get the opinion of a few people whose judgment I trust, have them confirm that they love the name as much as I do and move onto the next task.
How long did you work on the website before you launched it?
I’d spent a short period before the launch learning how to carry out onsite design changes and make minor edits to the layout of the site, but I only really set out to learn this after churning through a few developers and finding I wasn’t going to move quickly unless I knew how to do it myself.
So including the back and forth with developers, it took around two months to get the site ready.
Fortunately BizzBuzz now has Scott Middleton on board as a business partner, who has around 10 years of website development experience under his belt and can easily manage any development projects without any risk of my fly-by-night approach to coding potentially crashing the website.
How did you fund the business?
To the point of launch and including some early advertisements, BizzBuzz cost around $30,000 to start up. I funded this with the sale of my previous company, Pinstripe.
How did you promote the business?
Prior to launch I was actively posting in online business forums, on Facebook walls and I ran a couple of small advertisements with some online business communities.
All of these strategies worked to varying degrees and allowed me to build a decent pre-launch following.
Upon the launch itself I took a punt based on my feel that the press would be interested in the launch of the first group buying site for small business owners and shelled out some cash on a PR firm. It paid off.
Beyond this I put a lot of effort into ensuring that each and every one of the deals Bizz Buzz features will actually be worth talking about. This is perhaps our biggest drawcard and has been the lifeblood of Bizz Buzz’s traffic.
What are your revenue projections for 2011/12?
Between $1.6 and $2.2 million from September to the end of June.
How many staff do you have?
Three full-time staff and a range of freelancers.
What’s the biggest risk you face?
Running bad deals and losing the trust of our audience. Trust is everything so we have to make sure we continue to both provide a high level of service to our customers and to make sure our deals are as transparent as possible.
How is your site different to the hundreds of other group buying sites?
BizzBuzz allows business owners to try the best products and services available to them at a cut price,and determine whether or not they will work for their business before paying top dollar.
BizzBuzz features deals from the big guys like Couriers Please, MYOB and Vistaprint, all the way down to your more local level service provider.
To help our visitors understand each deal or merchant our deal write-ups are structured as a sort of quasi guide for our small business owner audience.
What’s the biggest challenge you face?
Growth and managing growth. We are growing rapidly right now. This means we need to manage the load that comes hand in hand with this growth or our service levels will drop, which we can’t afford.
We also need to maintain the rate of growth we are experiencing to achieve our long-term goals. However we’re quietly confident that the strategies we will implement in the near future will propel BizzBuzz sky high.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
Had I have been clairvoyant I would’ve known that the group buying business is one hell of a lot more demanding than it appears on the surface and would have been even more prepared for the incredible amount of work I was to face upon launch.
Either way though I’m pretty sure I would have wound up working until 2am each night.
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