All it took was talk of a Melbourne bar to prompt Simon Walker and Damon Garrett to launch Taylor Ventures, which is “a radar for the events taking place around you”.
Walker began working on the concept more than two and a half years ago while studying business, but it wasn’t until late 2010 that Taylor Ventures became officially incorporated.
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Walker talks to StartupSmart about why Taylor Ventures is not just another event listing service, and being chosen as a staff favourite on iTunes.
What prompted you to launch Taylor Ventures? What niche did you identify?
I was sitting around with friends one night and a few of them were talking about a fantastic bar reopening they went to the weekend prior.
I asked them how they found out about it, and one of my mates said that his friend owned a bar and essentially knew everything that’s happening in Melbourne on the food and drink scene.
I was frustrated not only because I would have loved to have gone but, because I didn’t have access to this industry knowledge, I knew I’d always be kept out of the loop.
That’s when the idea behind Taylor was born.
How did you fund the business?
Our funding was a combination of our own personal capital as well as early seed funding from angel investors.
Considering that both myself and my business partner don’t have technical backgrounds, we found ourselves in an interesting position considering we wanted to build a tech product.
After evaluating a range of development options, in the end we used a local technical and design firm to help make Taylor possible.
Although this allowed us to have a real hands-on approach during development, the costs incurred were significant, to say the least.
Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing, although our bank account might think differently!
How many staff do you have?
At this stage, it’s myself and my business partner Damon Garrett running the show. However, we will be bolstering up our team to about seven to eight people by the end of the year.
How do you promote the business?
At this stage Taylor is still in beta, operating predominantly in Melbourne and Sydney as a proof-of-concept exercise.
With no significant marketing budget, we wanted to see how organically our user base grew through channels like word-of-mouth and Twitter.
A few weeks after we launched, we were chosen as an Apple “Staff Favourite” on iTunes, which was fantastic, and have seen solid user growth since our launch in December.
How do you stand out in the market? What’s your point/s of difference?
Taylor is not another event listing for everything, everywhere – there are enough of those already.
Taylor focuses on quality, variety and value by bringing together a community of industry experts to help recommend – in their own voice – events happening in our local cities that are actually worth our time.
Rather than using a special algorithm or recommendations driven by critical mass, we believe the best way to unlock our cities is to listen to our local industry experts who know better than anyone what’s going on around us.
What’s the biggest risk you face?
I’ve always believed that the biggest risk we can take is to not do anything.
To let ideas remain in your head – to let opportunities pass and new challenges go unmet – means we can’t progress, nothing changes and we can’t make a difference.
That’s why Taylor won’t be standing still.
What are your revenue projections for 2011/12?
We expect revenues in excess of $500,000 for 2012.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
To my own detriment, in the early days I think I let my pride get in the way of asking people for help. It’s sometimes difficult to admit your weaknesses and say, “I don’t know”.
However, when you’re able to put your ego aside, you’ll be surprised just how many people are willing to help if you just reach out and ask for it.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
To understand that in every mistake, in every failure or rejection, there is so much value and opportunity to improve.
Rather than giving up or throwing in the towel, by taking the right perspective – and realising that as a result of things not going to plan, you know what not to do, what doesn’t work or how to not approach something – in the end you might find yourself being thankful for the mistake.
You shouldn’t fear failure – you should use it to your advantage.