Sean Senvirtne, CEO and founder of MyDeal.com.au shares his story on building and growing a sustainable business model at the recent Online Retailer conference.
Australian online marketplace MyDeal is one of Australia’s fastest growing online marketplaces. As one of Australia’s leading young entrepreneurs, Senvirtne was named Business Leader of the Year by Optus My Business Awards and a finalist for Young Executive of The Year by CEO Magazine in 2016.
In its inception, Senvirtne bootstrapped the company to $30 million annually in under four years whilst growing the product range to over 25,000 SKUs from over 1000 suppliers.
Last night MyDeal.com.au was awarded the Best Bootstrapped Growth Initiative at the StrackTrack ORIAS industry awards night. The company has also been accredited as one of Australia’s fastest growing companies as recognised by BRW Fast 100, AFR Aspire Awards, Deloitte Tech Fast 50, Smart50 Awards, Aspire Awards and APAC Deloitte Tech Fast 500 in 2016.
Below are some of Senvirtne’s insights on building and growing a sustainable business model, including some of the major challenges he faced and the lessons learnt.
What were some of the challenges you faced in setting up MyDeal.com.au and how did you overcome these?
The MyDeal.com.au that you see today is not the same one that was established in 2011. We started out as an online retailer with a warehouse, shipping products to consumers. We experienced success on a smaller scale but we soon realised that to reach our vision, we would need to hire a warehouse as big as the MCG. The resources and operational costs required to reach our goal were not viable or sustainable, so I decided that we needed to change the way we would deliver our value proposition. I ran a few experiments, with drop shipping products gaining the most traction and receiving positive customer feedback. As the validation grew in the market, MyDeal.com.au evolved into an online marketplace software that would help businesses sell online.
Although our value proposition has stayed constant, we have continuously improved the way we serve customers. This approach has helped us avoid various roadblocks.
What are your top tips on how to grow a sustainable business model?
- Continue to improve the delivery of your value proposition. Be pragmatic and be prepared to change to meet changing consumer interests, expectations and to survive in an ever-changing environment. Build a business that is not only going to survive now, but in the future. The thriving companies you see today, are very different to their initial form.
- Listen to customer feedback. It is your number one to tool to gauge the potential growth of your business and to identify roadblocks. Through finding the consistencies you can make remove bottle necks and identify opportunities to delve into, expanding the potential of your business.
What are some of your biggest takeaways and key lessons learnt since you launched MyDeal.com.au?
- Do not cut corners or costs in important projects, as you may face issues down the line.
- I have learned that is important to avoid trying to do everything yourself. Find the right people and put them in the rights seats to identify opportunities. It’s not what, it’s always who and then the what.
In April this year, MyDeal announced it closed $5 million funding with strategic investment firm Gandel Invest, which will be used to further expand its customer base and brand footprint across the Australian consumer market.
The cash injection marks a shift away from the bootstrapped cashflow model MyDeal had previously been operating within, according to the company’s chief executive Sean Senvirtne, who says the road to finally attaining the funding was challenging and rewarding.
“We have always focused on helping local businesses succeed online, so to form a strategic partnership with an experienced and aligned partner will undoubtedly see the rapid growth of MyDeal and its suppliers in the near future.”