The founder of global offer site Retailmenot, Bevan Clark, says naivety was one of the best attributes the company had when they were starting out.
They didn’t do any market sizing, research or hiring when they got going.
Clark said they didn’t really have any mentors when they were starting out, something which in hindsight he conceded would’ve helped.
Launching in 2006 with co-founder Guy King, the company has since listed on the Nasdaq and this year posted net revenues of $59.5 million, an increase of 37% year-on-year but net profit was $4.3 million down 16% compared to 2013 because of increased investment in product development.
Clark told Business Insider: “There were a whole bunch of ways that we were naive.”
In 2006 Clark started sleeping with his phone, working around the clock, had his first child and bought his first home. He had a lot going on.
At first the boys didn’t fully grasp what they were sitting on.
“We had every single coupon for every single merchant, which our users picked up very quickly,” Clark said, adding giving users ownership over coupons turned out to be the big differentiator.
“We weren’t aware about how just creating something that was really useful to consumers but actually steps on the toes of so many people with a vested interest.”
At the start there was a fair bit of negativity from their competitors.
“We were served with countless cease and desist letters from merchants sometimes,” Clark said, adding a merchant’s legal department would send them an order asking Retailmenot to stop linking back to their site and talking about their coupon codes.
“We would abide by them generally speaking and then about a month or so later we would get an email from their marketing department… saying ‘what the hell has happened to all our traffic? What have you done, why have you removed us?’,” he said.
“One hand didn’t know what the other hand was doing [in these big companies].”
Starting up in Australia back in 2006, the startup landscape was desolate and looking back on the journey Clark said they “probably should’ve gone to the US earlier.”
He said Australia is “a mixed bag”. The startup ecosystem is starting to evolve and “it’s definitely easier now” as a launch pad.
However later stage investment is “still hard”.
“But if you’re Australian you should definitely startup here, spend a few years here.”