Red Tiki, the brainchild of husband-and-wife team Cam and Ella Worth, develops off-the-wall concepts within the competitive world of website design.
The Perth-based business was founded in 2009, and was recently recognised as a finalist at the recent South by Southwest Interactive awards in Austin, Texas.
The company boasts an impressive portfolio of clients including the Black Swan State Theatre Company and Women in Media. The Worths talk to StartupSmart about emerging from Perth to gain recognition thousands of kilometres away in Texas.
How did the Red Tiki concept come about?
Red Tiki was our dream. We wanted to create a specialist web company with work that we could be proud of. We both worked for a decade or so in a corporate-focused business.
We realised we could be more discerning in the work that we do; we wanted to be much more focused and boutique-esque in our offering.
We started [web consultancy company] Simplisite Business Solutions back in 2003, which runs separately to Red Tiki now. We were able to build up a specialist team [for Red Tiki] based on the staff we had at Simplisite.
Once we identified the right group of people, we started sharing particular work that was coming through – clients weren’t opposed to the idea.
There are 12 to 14 people in the whole team and seven of us on the Red Tiki team.
What inspired the Tiki design?
We were both studying multimedia at university, which is where we did the artwork for Red Tiki. In our first year, we worked on a project whereby we drew names out of a hat and had to come up with a design – we drew ‘constructivism’ and ‘myth’.
That’s where the Tiki idea came from; we both loved the colour red and we both love Tiki culture – it’s an appreciation of the old and the new.
We expected a lot more backlash to our name but people have been really fascinated by it.
How did you fund the business?
We used Simplisite to leverage what we wanted to do with Red Tiki. It cost us about $350,000 to set up, which included the development of the website and sectioning off the team.
Who is your clientele?
The arts and media, including new media and technology, right through to architecture – very visually-orientated businesses [form our client base].
Having just come back from South by South West, we can see a real gap with the adoption of media and technology among businesses in Australia compared to businesses over there.
We are still working on that methodology; we’re still trying to convince businesses why they need a website.
What challenges do you face in a small market like Perth?
In Perth, you feel like you’re working in a bit of a vacuum. You think you’re doing the right thing but you don’t really know… You don’t really think of where you are on the world scale.
Since we’ve been at South by South West, we’ve been meeting up with all the people who run businesses that we’ve been working and collaborating with while back in Perth.
It’s been extremely rewarding to put faces and names to the companies that we love to work with. The international web community is very welcoming.
We hope that through our international nomination and exposure, the Australian business community will understand that they truly are getting a world-class website from Red Tiki and start to appreciate what that entails.
What challenges did you face setting up the website?
We were our own worse client – the site that you see is the fifth version that we produced. Between seven of us, it was a real challenge to settle on a design we were all happy with.
We believe it is a great representation of how we feel about the web, but it took some time to execute.
What’s the biggest risk you face?
As we grow, it will be difficult to maintain the positive nature of the family feel of the business.
But the biggest risk is the local industry in general. In Australia, we have a very different approach to web development and funding development compared to what’s happening in America at the moment.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
When we started Simplisite, we were the classic setup of a start-up – we worked our guts out. The worst decision we made was trying to start the business with nothing, which meant we were at the mercy of what was available in the market.
Our advice to start-ups would be to do it right the first time – get funds, get investments, get a loan.