Start-up Profiles


By Oliver Milman
Monday, 10 October 2011

Mandie Spooner, EmagineJohanna Klaus and Mandie Spooner, two Sydney-based graphic designers, recently launched Emagine, a business that offers interactive digital publications to clients.


The business’ principal product is the MagMag Publisher software, which the duo have secured under licence from a Swiss company.

Spooner spoke to StartupSmart about how she’s aiming to replicate the product’s success in Australia.


What’s the origin of the business’ concept?

The software is from Switzerland, where Jo is from. It’s an online portal where you put in your username and it allows you to create PDFs, PowerPoint and rich media such as video, Flash and so on.


You can flip pages like a magazine, but it’s interactive. We thought there was a market for this tool in Australia. Print isn’t dying out, but more businesses are moving online with the information they try to put out. It’s a very exciting opportunity.


How is this different from other similar tools?

Few other tools do the interactive side of things very well. Ours is visually stunning. You can share social media, a library of back issues, flip the page and zoom in. It just makes you want to read on.


We did six months of research, chose the name and logo of the business and we were ready to go.


How did you go about negotiating with the Swiss company?

They were very excited when we got in touch. Jo came across the product and we set up contact with them and spoke via Skype.


We explained the market opportunity we saw in Australia and they were keen to get the product out there. It’s fairly low risk for them.


We are able to leverage stuff off them, help and advice, but also, potentially, clients such as Sony and BMW.


We’ve been given the presentations to speak to these businesses and we have exclusive distribution rights in Australia.


We haven’t got any clients yet though, it’s about getting our name out there to start with. We want to get as many people as possible to test it and get the word out via social media. We can then chase up the warm leads.



How does the fee structure work?

We get a commission on every client, each time they publish. Each client will be different in terms of a pricing structure. If they do 12 newsletters a year, say, you can work out the price based on the amount of work there is.


It doesn’t cost anything to sign up and you can publish an unlimited amount of times a year. You pay each time you publish – generally $2,000 each time.


This flat fee gives you an unlimited amount of rich media, reporting and tracking systems. We offer a design service ourselves, but a lot of clients have design teams themselves, so mainly it’s about training them how to use it. It’s quite simple to use, if you use it all the time.


What’s your target audience?

Most companies design and send PDFs anyway, so we’re targeting large companies with large databases that want to do something a bit better.


We’re meeting with a potential client with a 25,000-person database, for example. If smaller companies wanted to use it for an amazing eMarketing campaign we can do that too. Some clients will want to use it as a tracking tool, which it can also do.



You’re charging a fairly hefty fee though, aren’t you?

Well, if you look at the likes of RSL and NRMA, they have very large databases that they need to provide a quality product to.


It’s flexible too. The sky’s the limit in terms of what you want to do – newsletters, catalogues, online magazines, annual reports, photography portfolios and so on. You need to get on board now or you’ll miss out.


What’s been the hardest part of starting up?

The logo, name and design has been easy, as that’s what we are used to. Now that we have to call people up about the product, this is the hardest part.


The sales side and getting our name out there isn’t something we’ve done a huge amount of in the past. My husband has helped out a bit and we may take on someone to help out with sales.


The start-up costs haven’t been enormous as we’ve leveraged quite a lot off the Swiss company. We feel supported by them.


In terms of my time, I have my own graphic design business but I’m not taking on any more work for that business so that I can focus on Emagine.


I won’t wind it down completely, as I don’t want to close it unless this new business takes off.


What’s the target for the business?

We hope to grow and take on other staff. One key target is to speak to creative agencies. They could work on a commission basis for their clients too. At the moment, it’s all about finding our feet.

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