Mike Doman
Technology Journalist

Mike Doman is a technology, lifestyle, industrial and education writer

Mike Doman
Technology Journalist

Mike Doman is a technology, lifestyle, industrial and education writer

Every start-up is a story, filled with trials, tribulations and inspiration. We talk to three Aussie start-ups about their story.

We’ve looked at the inspirational journey behind some of Australia’s smartest small businesses, but the road to success is different for all those who traverse it, with industries, cultures and personalities each leaving their mark on the start-up that eventuates.

We put some questions to representatives from three of Australia’s most notable start-ups: Andre Eikmeier and Justin Dry, co-founders and CEOs of Vinomofo; Kate Morris, CEO and founder of Adore Beauty; and David Brim, CEO and co-founder of Tomcar Australia.

Two men smiling against illustration in the background

What is the smartest thing you’ve done to get your business noticed?
 

Justin Dry, Vinomofo

Calling it “Wine Motherf**ker”. Seriously, it’s kind of difficult to ignore. Of course, that means nothing if you’re not stepping up with awesome product and a beautiful customer experience, but it certainly got peoples’ attention in the beginning.

David Brim, Tomcar

We’ve done loads of cool stuff over the years to get attention, but I’d advise any start-ups to invest in a good PR Agency. The value of PR is very undervalued in our new ‘digital world’, but the effectiveness cannot be understated.

What made you take action and start your own business?
 

Kate Morris, Adore Beauty

I had never considered starting my own business, I always assumed I’d study hard at school so I could go to university and then get a good job. But then I had this idea about an online beauty store that would make shopping for beauty more accessible and more fun … and it just got stuck in my head and wouldn’t go away. In the end I thought, well, if I can’t stop thinking about it then I’d better do something about it.

David Brim, Tomcar

I was bored out of my mind in the corporate world, and looking back had played Solitaire on my work PC just one too many times! If I didn’t get out, I’d always been thinking ‘what if’? Life is short, do what you love.

What’s your definition of success, and do you feel like you’ve “made it”?
 

Andre Eikmeier, Vinomofo

For me, it was when I felt that things were working, and were going to stay working. As in people were digging what we were doing, customers were happy and buying, the team was 100 per cent on board, and I knew I could pay the bills and not stress about money, spend time with the family without the business suffering, and vice versa. That was happiness for me, to feel that freedom.

David Brim, Tomcar

Success has a different meaning to everyone. My idea of success is being able to enjoy my life and experience things that bring me joy. Financial success does play a part, but life / work balance is also a key factor in successful people. I see far too many people burn themselves out. Success to me is simply being able to love what you do, and get paid for it.

Throughout your journey, what has been the experience that has made you grow or learn the most?
 

Kate Morris, Adore Beauty

When I first started approaching brands to sell their products on my website, all but two tiny ones said no (and some were pretty harsh about it too!). I could have taken all that rejection to heart and given up, but instead it made me grow huge reserves of determination and tenacity.  

Justin Dry, Vinomofo

At the start of 2014, I took six weeks to create our business plan, and focused very much on our purpose, what we stood for, culture, what our customer experience was all about.

That process brought everything I’d learned over the last few years together, and I really felt like I understood the business from that point on.

What is the top piece of advice you’d give to budding entrepreneurs?
 

David Brim, Tomcar

You’re going to work 10 times as hard, earn 10 times less, and be 10 times more stressed than you would in a normal paid job. Do it because you love creating worth, building businesses and meeting people. Don’t do it because you think you will be able to take more holidays or be a millionaire.

Justin Dry, Vinomofo

Have purpose. Figure out what you stand for, and don’t compromise on that. 

Who is your start up inspiration (person or company) and why?
 

Kate Morris, Adore Beauty

It’s hard to choose just one, but Net-a-Porter are the absolute trailblazers and icons of prestige online retail. Convincing all those luxury designers to sell online to a global market? And making customers feel confident enough to buy a $2000 dress on the internet? Now THAT is an achievement.

Justin Dry, Vinomofo

I’d have to say it was Gary Vaynerchuk when we were first starting this business. He was doing the things we wanted to be doing – video, social, growing from wine to being this start-up guy, investing in cool stuff.

As a thought leader/inspiration, it would be Seth Godin. Uncompromising evangelist for doing things the right way, for yourself, and for the world.

What job or role in your past gave you the most drive to create your own business and why?
 

David Brim, Tomcar

I worked for a niche property development company in Mayfair, London. It was ancient, arcane and stuck in the 1950s. I couldn’t breathe.

Kate Morris, Adore Beauty

During uni I worked for three years as a casual on the cosmetic counters, and it taught me two big things. Firstly, that beauty was my passion, and that was where my career path lay. Secondly, that many women found shopping in department stores intimidating and disempowering, and that there was an opportunity to create an alternative way of shopping.  As a result, I had the idea to create my own online beauty business – and the rest, as they say, is history.

Got the next big idea?

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