For those shopping around, what is Booodl?
Booodl is a smart store discovery service, consisting of an online directory and search engine specifically designed to help you find stores that stock the items you’re after. We help shoppers find the right store, and we help shopping malls, retailers and brands make sure physical stores are easy to discover on digital devices, increasing shopper visits to those stores in the process.
How did you get the idea?
I forgot to buy a USB cable to plug my DVD into my TV when I was at Westfield on two consecutive weekends. At the time my wife and I had a 3-month-old and she was not impressed, to say the least. I thought that problem could be solved by having an app with a list of products on it that sent me a push notification when I was near a store selling what I needed. This was the beginning of the mission to solve physical store discovery.
What’s the biggest win you’ve had so far?
Finding my business partner and co-founder Rajat Kulshrestha. There would be no Booodl without him. From a business perspective, it was securing Scentre Group, and Westfield in Australia and New Zealand as an investor. Given the value Booodl creates for shopping malls, this is strong validation of our thesis.
Australia has developed quite a risk-averse culture when it comes to investment.
What’s your biggest mistake?
Hard to say, there have been so many. If I have to pick one, it was spending a huge amount of time, effort and money on building a product and strategy around solving too many consumer problems, before we understood the true nature of the biggest problem we needed to solve and if it was even worth solving.
What’s your experience been funding your startup?
We’ve been quite successful raising capital, in some ways – and in the early days of the business – it was too easy. Now that we’re commercialising our smart store discovery service, and generating revenue, it’s got harder, because investors are more metric-focused. My view is that in Australia, investors will fund the very early stage R&D activities, and growth on the back of revenue traction – but the in-between bit can be hard.
What needs to improve/change for Australia to become a global leader in innovation and tech?
Australia has developed quite a risk-averse culture when it comes to investment and work options. I think this has evolved because we’ve had it too good for too long. There aren’t enough people that have grown up in Australia over the last 25 years that are hungry enough. Combine that with a culture that demonises success, instead of celebrating it, and you have a situation where we lack talent prepared to takes risks. I think this is starting to change for the better though.
We need to make it easier and more attractive for talented foreigners to come to Australia and help us build businesses that will make our country a better place in the future.
Have you had any challenges with sourcing and growing your team?
Yes, it’s one of our biggest challenges. Finding talented people who have the right sort of ambition and preparedness to make sacrifices in order to achieve outstanding results is very, very hard. We need to make it easier and more attractive for talented foreigners to come to Australia and help us build businesses that will make our country a better place in the future.
Do you have any tips for acquiring new users and/or scaling your business?
First and foremost, understand the problem you’re solving and how that’s valuable to a user. Really understand it deeply. Then find people that have the most acute pain from that problem and therefore get the most value from your product. Understand that user well and where/how to find them. Then experiment, experiment and experiment, as no two problems are the same – and every business grows users with different methods.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?
Solving a different problem. I’m motivated by solving problems that have an important global impact and making sure we’re making the world a better place for future generations. Health, climate and government are the areas that I’m particularly interested in.
I’m motivated by solving problems that have an important global impact and making sure we’re making the world a better place for future generations.
If you could go back to the start, tell us two things you would do differently.
Easy! 1) Spend a lot more time understanding the true nature of the problem you’re trying to solve and if it needs to be solved. 2) Select co-founders and employees more carefully, really make sure they’re the right people for the problem you’re solving and the mission you’ve begun.
What’s the best advice you could give to someone starting out?
First and foremost, start – you won’t learn anything until you begin. Talk to people about what you’re doing (they will not steal your idea) and if you can find people that are experts in the problem you’re trying to solve or have done something similar before. Work out how to understand the problem and test hypotheses quickly and cheaply. Find an awesome co-founder – it’s hard to do this alone, and an amazing partner makes all the difference.
Tell us one thing about you that most people don’t know.
I listen to classical music when I need to do some hard thinking.