Over $3.1 million
Luc Pettett, 29
- Head Office
- Year Founded
Sports and racing
2014 has already been a big year for Punters.com.au.
In February, the business packed up its home in Maroochydore on Queensland’s idyllic Sunshine Coast and moved south to arguably the horse racing capital of Australia, Melbourne.
“Our environment is really important,” says founder Luc Pettett. “And attracting good talent meant moving from a regional area, as much as it was nice to be there in our incubator period.”
While it means the winner of the Top Regional SME Award in last year’s Smart50 Awards is no longer eligible for the same gong, Pettett told SmartCompany the benefits of being in Melbourne are immense.
“Melbourne is the home of sport, with the Spring Racing Carnival, and all the corporate bookmakers are in Melbourne,” says Pettett. “We’re closer to everything.”
Punters.com.au started out as a blog about horse racing and the glamour of the race track. But the business has now grown to a network of sports and betting sites – including Punters.com.au and bookmaker comparison site BestOdds.com.au – supported solely through advertising.
Since launching in 2008, the company has grown by 93% and in the 2013-14 financial year, it turned over more than $3.1 million.
The business also changed its name this year – from Punters Paradise to Punters.com.au – but Pettett says it wasn’t a difficult decision to make.
“We were pretty comfortable making the change, we’re willing to take risks,” he says. And he admits that the team was not overly attached to the name Punters Paradise.
“When we started there’s wasn’t a lot of domain names available,” says Pettett. “And we couldn’t afford Punters.com.au at the time.”
Pettett says the new name has given the group “clarity around who we are”.
“It just makes sense: we’re all about the punter.”
The rebranding has gone hand-in-hand with a push by Punters.com.au into content marketing, with Pettett hiring four full-time journalists once the Melbourne office was established.
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“Part of the reason we moved to Melbourne was to access great journos,” he says. “We have one journalist who wrote a book about the Melbourne Cup when he was just 21. He is obsessed with horse racing.”
“Racing content is generally quite dry and boring,” he says. “So we’re taking a light-hearted approach to appeal to a younger generation.”
And it’s an approach that is paying off. The site’s April Fool’s Day prank – an article about the “cloning” of champion racer Black Caviar – was picked up by mainstream media outlets, generating more than 1 million impressions on the Punters.com.au site and reaching more than 384,000 Facebook users.
“Our ‘news’ section on the website went from being the eighth most visited part of the site to the second most visited behind the form guide in six months,” says Pettett.
While Pettett admits it is “tempting” to try his hand at replicating the Punters.com.au model in another sporting code, his focus is squarely on the racing industry for the time being.
“Entrepreneurs tend to get distracted by shiny things,” he says. “But we’ve made a decision to play to our strengths.”
“Our ambition is to be the Google of horse racing in a way.”
But that doesn’t mean Pettett and his team won’t take Punters.com.au, or BestOdds.com.au, into international markets.
“We see a lot of growth in BestOdds,” he says. “Punters are looking for value and they want to compare bookmakers. It will play a big part in our future.”