LuckyBugga.com is the creation of Mathew Beeche, a 25-year-old sales manager from Sydney who saw an opportunity to tap into a niche of the growing online travel industry – luggage tags.
After more than a year of building the business, LuckyBugga officially launches this week. As Beeche explains to StartupSmart, luggage tags may be small but their scope is international.
What gave you the idea for LuckyBugga.com?
I was sitting at work late one night – I’m a sales manager for a technology company – and thought ‘I really want to go on a bloody holiday.’
A couple of days later, I was talking to one of my friends, and he was actually travelling around the world at the time, and I said, ‘God you’re a lucky bugger’.
It all just kind of manifested in my head as a bit of an idea. I liked the term ‘lucky bugger’ – it’s very uniquely Australian.
I knew that I wanted to do something in the online space. I purchased the domain name but then I kind of didn’t know what I was going to do with it.
Over the last year, it’s taken about three or four major twists and turns as to what it was going to be about. I eventually decided on luggage tags because they’re instantly associated with holidays, which everyone loves.
Then I thought, how can I use LuckyBugga to give back to the community?
I wanted there to be a real morality about LuckyBugga so I chose to donate 50% of all profits that we were going to make from each sales cycle to a cause or a charity of some sort, which then led me to develop the product a little bit further.
Each tag is going to be individual in terms of the sales cycle and the cause that we’re doing. To start off with, we’re going to be selling red carriage tags [to represent the Queensland floods] and people can display them on their bags or rearview mirrors or whatever. It shows that they’ve helped in supporting the Queensland flood appeal.
The next sales cycle might be something to do with a green-based charity so it’s a green tag with a green message on there, a pink one for breast cancer, etc. That’s how we’re going to evolve the site.
The online travel industry is taking off at the moment. Did that influence the decision-making process?
When you look at how many people visit sites like wofitf.com and lastminute.com.au, I think that holidays are always going to be one of those things that people are really attracted to.
I was very conscious of the fact that I needed to have something that speaks to a lot of different people. That’s why our logo is a suitcase with a luggage tag swinging back and forth.
How did you fund the business?
I have not had any investment or anything like that in this business from external parties. I’ve funded it with my own paychecks.
When you’re trying to launch your business on a shoestring [budget], you don’t want to get your finances out of control.
Halfway through [last] year, I made sure that allocating time in my day to Lucky Bugga also meant allocating parts of my pay to funding Lucky Bugga.
By the time we launch, I will have invested about $10,000 of my own money. In terms of my time, I would probably say that I’ve spent about three hours a day at the back of my workday or before the start of my workday.
Focus is a really important thing for me so when I’m at work and doing my job within my current role as a sales manager, I need to make sure that I’m focused wholly on the team and the task at hand, and then I just switch business hats and kind of work the Lucky Bugga thing from home. Because it’s an online business, it’s very easy to do that.
How did you source web developers?
I actually chose to go down the path of people that were also just starting to build their new businesses, so I found that I was able to get really good prices.
Quikclicks, which I actually used to develop the website, understood that I didn’t have thousands of dollars to pay for this upfront so I was able to negotiate with them a payment plan over a number of months to pay off the website once they created it.
How did you secure a manufacturer?
I looked at some luggage tag [manufacturers] overseas. I was nearly going to go with an overseas manufacturer but then there was a thing in the back of my mind where [I thought], I’m not going to really be able to get the samples sent across that are made the way that I want them and everything like that.
And then there was the whole thing that my business is called Luckybugga.com and it is really a unique Australian term. I kind of want to make sure that everything that I’m doing relates back to that.
I’m happy to pay a little bit more for my products, which is why I searched for Australian manufacturers. I got in contact with two companies and one was able to deliver a better result.
I went with the company where the salesperson decided to sit down and take the time and really go through all my options.
I’ve been talking to them about the custom made tags so they’re going to be able to provide me with a really cool, funky-designed luggage tag that is a little bit different.
Are you still a sole trader?
At the moment. I think that’s the other advantage of the way that I’ve chosen to set it up. Rather than having my own distribution thing and my own web developers and all of that kind of thing, I’m a big fan of outsourcing.
At the moment, I work for a company called Pitney Bowes. In terms of distribution and mailing and everything like that, I’ve got some really good contacts within the industry that I’ve approached about doing my distribution and everything like that for me because I know that they’re getting postal discounts and all of that type of thing.
I’ve been able to take advantage of my background… While I might be the face behind Luckybugga.com and be the sole person driving it, there’s a team of partners that are doing a lot of work in the background as well.
I’m a one-man band but leading a small army of different people from different companies that are all making it a success.
Are you still home-based?
I’m internet-based so anywhere where I can pick up internet and have my iPhone, I can do business from.
The products are stocked with the manufacturer so the way that it happens is very simple. Once people order the tags, we get the manufacturer to drop it off to the people that are going to be doing the distribution. I’ve been able to really remove myself from a lot of the manual tasks within the business.
You’re only 25. What are the challenges associated with being a young entrepreneur?
I started managing teams at a very young age – I was 19 when I was leading a sales team of about 15 people.
Going out and negotiating with suppliers and everything like that – I do it daily and I actually have a lot of fun doing it as well.
At the end of the day, if you have a really solid plan, a solid goal and solid timelines, you’re not going to have any problems.
Where most young people my age would run into those types of issues is when they’re not sure [of themselves] or when they allow a salesperson or another company to negotiate their terms.
What is your vision for the business?
The way I look at websites overall is the way a property developer would look at real estate I guess. Luckybugga.com is an internet property and my goal for it is to have a lot of people visiting that property and build the property in value.
All my heart and soul at the moment is in LuckyBugga.com but, having said that, I probably wouldn’t say no to offers in the future. The fact that it is a dotcom business as well gives it global appeal.
Do you have any tips for other start-ups, particularly online start-ups and young entrepreneurs?
Take advice from people who have been in your shoes; those are the people that you really should listen to.
Find a way to do it. Discipline yourself – if it’s not something you want other people to invest in or get backers for, there’s always a way.
Even if you save $200 a month, that’s $2,000 [after 10 months]. That can buy you a simple start-up website, which you can build on from there.