StartupSmart Awards 2013

Zwift International

StartupSmart /

Founders: Brent Chandler
Revenue: $6 million
Started: 2009
Head Office: Victoria
Employees: 16
Industry: Other
Brent Chandler
Brent Chandler

Brent Chandler has a rather direct way for his staff to understand the sector they are servicing – one that may well surprise those working in a tech-focused business.

 

“We throw them into a pizza shop for day or two, to understand what it’s like to be under the pump,” the Zwift founder says.

 

“If you haven’t worked in hospitality before it’s easy to complain about the slow service and so on, but when you step behind the scenes you know there’s four million things going on that you need to deal with.”

 

Chandler himself is well-versed in the industry. He’s washed dishes, served behind bars and managed restaurants.

 

What the hospitality sector lacked, he felt, was a proper digital presence, from online ordering to effective marketing. So he set up Zwift.

 

“Four years ago the challenge was that there was no online ordering in Australia, so there was no comparison for customers to make – it was very difficult,” he says. “Now everyone is doing it, we can talk about our point of difference.”

 

Zwift’s secret sauce (if you pardon the pun) is that it offers a holistic, tailored service to restaurants that extends well beyond online pizza delivery forms.

 

Each client gets a customised, non-generic site, with professional photography. A full marketing plan is worked out for the restaurant, with customer numbers meticulously tracked to provide ongoing bespoke support, such as targeted offers and promotions.

 

“We don’t just say we’ve done this for you so good luck with that, we’ve actually got a vested interest in their business,” says Chandler. “We do an enormous amount of marketing for restaurants – SEO, Facebook, online and offline, window stickers, menu redesigns, the whole nine yards.”

 

“No one in the industry is doing that. We take care of everything, giving the customer one less thing to worry about.”

 

So why does the hospitality industry need such a sector-specific, design-cum-marketing agency?

 

“There’s a certain walk and talk needed to be effective in hospitality,” says Chandler. “Customer loyalty more important than any other industry, which consists of a culmination of a number of complex factors. Without specialised focus, it’s hard to grasp what’s important.”

 

Chandler’s focus for Zwift is ambitious. The business has just opened its third office and is eyeing the US market – New York and Chicago followed by further satellite offices. London after that.

 

“Growth is something we’re concentrating on, but keeping it to organic growth at the moment,” says Chandler. “We really don’t want to fall behind in any way.”

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