Blog coverage

We have recently been covered on a couple of blogs:

VS Consulting Group – following Startups and Tech Trends

TechNation Australia – technology news and reviews

Thanks for the links guys.




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Back from an extended blogging break…

As someone who has been a little slack at adding to his blog, let me briefly explain. In the last two months, the following has happened:

  • Launched beta 1.0 of Trickytix to two major clients (Mothers Day Classic and RSPCA)
  • Helped each client make more money for themselves than previous years
  • Engaged a consulting firm to assist us in our funding requirements
  • Pitched at two different investor breakfasts (Sydney and Melbourne)
  • Networked existing contacts, peers, friends, family and fellow entrepreneurs for investor contacts
  • Fielded business queries from a range of large and small companies, with two more live customers added to beta 1.0, and five waiting to be slotted into closed testing of Trickytix beta 1.1 (June).
  • Developed a marketing and positioning strategy which sees us aimed squarely at a large, under serviced market
  • Continued development of Trickytix
  • And oh yeah. My first child was born at the Mercy Hospital on Wednesday the 21st of May 2008. Welcome to the world Otis John Handsaker.

You know when Otis is old enough to ego surf, that entry should appear somewhere in the SERP as the first instance of the little fella on the web.

While right now I am on paternity leave, the second half of 2008 is shaping up to be a defining time in the life of Trickytix. I will be back and blogging again, and look forward to sharing my experiences in looking for private equity capital in Australia.

Until then, I have nappies to change. I can smell them from here.

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Practice makes perfect

The Mentre workshop finished last Monday, with a presentation of investment pitches to the judges on the final day. It felt a litle bit like Australian Idol, except no-one got a touchdown and none of the judges were as annoying as that boxhead Sandilands.

So ultimately, what did I get out of the workshop?

  • A presentation pitch really does improve with practice. While mine improved marginally, watching the degree of improvement in the other workshop participants was often a surprise. Practice really does help hone the pitch.
  • Getting out of the bubble of your own thoughts and receiving real world feedback from knowledgeable people is extremely worthwhile.
  • Not all business ideas are created equal, but people won’t always tell you what they really think. Complete honesty is rare.
  • There are Venture Capitalists in Australia who are really switched on when it comes to the web and technology. Who knew?
  • Raising money is hard

Parts of the workshop experience bordered on “Business planning for beginners”, but ultimately I got out of it exactly what I wanted, which was:

  1. Real world feedback from smart people on our business idea
  2. Access to investors

Overall, it was a well spent $500.

Some feedback on valuation which might be useful for those in Australia looking for funds. Without naming sources, I was told the following by people who should know what they are talking about.

Typical pre-money valuation for a start-up in Australia is between $2 and $4 million.

This doesn’t mean with just an idea you can go out and raise money on a $4 million valuation, but it at least gives you a line in the sand for your planning.

Raising $400,000 as an angel or seed investment, expect to give up around 30% in equity

To me this seems high (and I did argue against it), but then I’m not the one with the money am I.

Food for thought anyway.

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Seeking validation of our business ideas

My lawyer recently put me onto a great mentoring and coaching program, supported by VicStart. Yes it’s true – a good lawyer can do more than just take your money and bill in 60 second increments.

As the website states:

The Mentre program, supported by the Victorian Government’s VicStart initiative, offers business mentoring/coaching support and programs for SMEs as well as larger businesses.

They offer three different streams, and I commenced the Commercialization workshop yesterday. It involves two full day workshops spread across a fortnight, with a half day panel presentation two weeks after the final workshop. In between you receive up to six hours of one-on-one mentoring from someone with years of experience in your field.

What attracted me to it was:

  • The ability to have experts and peers validate (or reject) our ideas, including marketing plans and financial scenarios
  • The one on one mentoring, which I have considered in the past but have never actually got off my butt and asked for.

Monday was the first of the two full day workshops, and it found me sitting in a small training room with five other companies. With the exception of one company, pretty much everyone else there was:

  • In start up phase
  • IT based
  • Looking for funding

Some of them had great ideas, while others had concepts that sounded like they were going to be REALLY tough to execute. Shall reserve my judgment until I see their final presentation I guess.

While I am yet to hook up with my assigned mentor, I already learned quite a bit from the first day:

  • My 30 second “elevator pitch” sucks. Need to work on that.
  • My longer, more involved “product pitch” bites. As I spoke I could see eyes glaze over, as various people either didn’t get the concept or weren’t convinced it had legs.
  • People don’t immediately grasp what it is we do from the name of our company
  • Our working tag line of “Online ticketing made easy” may be better phrased as “Online event registration made easy”
  • Demonstrating prototype software during a pitch is not necessarily a good idea (although this goes against much of the advice you find on US based VC blogs).
  • Some people may find our logo tough to read (although to be fair the resolution of the laptop used to display it on the day was quite poor).

With respect to my pitch, it is not the idea that is the problem but my current method of communicating it.  If I get nothing else out of the workshops, I at least now know that I need to practice explaining what it is that Trickytix does about 300 more times.  Focus on the benefits…..why it rocks……why our competitors are nowhere near what we are doing….you know, all the good stuff.

Over the next week or so I will be meeting with my assigned mentor, which to me is going to be the fun and exciting bit of this whole process.  Can’t wait!

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Hire number 1

It’s a brand new year, and a new year surely deserves a brand new employee?

Meet Carlos “Tommy” Williams.


Tommy is the guy on the far right, doing the great guitar face. Unfortunately he won’t be playing lead guitar for Trickytix (we don’t yet have a punk band started up).

Instead Tommy has been producing clean, well constructed code for the backend.

He has been madly coding away for the last month, as we put the finishing touches on a project for our first Trickytix client.  Due to launch in a few weeks time, our office has been a little frenetic as we race to make sure everything is perfect.

Early 2008 milestones:

  • Hired our first 100% Trickytix focused developer
  • Opened up the software to the very first paying client
  • One of the founders and his partner welcomed their first child (Hi Jett!)

It has been a good start to the year, and we have big plans for the months ahead.

BTW – for those of you doing a start up and looking for ideas as to how to fit out the office, you could do worse than copy the guys at Freshview.  I want to work there! 🙂

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A blogging break

I am on leave from today, back in the new year to continue the Trickytix build.  Hope you all have a great holiday season, and your business soars in 2008.

When next I blog in January, I hope to be able to share with you the news of two important milestones:

  1. The first customer
  2. The first full time hire of a developer for Trickytix

Both are close, but I wouldn’t want to sound off until contracts are signed!


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We are hiring…

Ever wanted to work in a start-up environment? If so, we are in need of a full time php developer based out of our Melbourne office.

This could be your desk. Don’t worry, we will add a second monitor for you as soon as you start.

Trickytix Desk

This could be the view from our office that you see each day (sorry, can’t see the beach from here).

View from Trickytix office

Apologies for the lousy images. My phone makes a better talky box than it does a camera.

The full advert is at Seek, but the basic details are below:

Job Advert

We are a small web development company based in Melbourne, using predominantly open source products.

We are looking for a junior php developer to come on board and help us out with a variety of web development projects. You will be working on a combination of small and large projects, including helping us build a web application. The web app has lots of interesting bits of code for you to enhance and develop, under the tuition of our lead developer.

We need this person sooner rather than later, and are willing to offer a full time role to the right candidate.


More important than actual PHP experience is a solid understanding of OOP, good problem solving skills, the ability to be able to work independently and be a quick learner.

We will consider training someone with strong OOP skills in another language as long as they have a good theoretical knowledge of how to program.


Any experience in the following would be handy but not essential:

  • PHP 5
  • MySql 5
  • Linux (bash scripting extra handy)
  • Subversion
  • XHTML/ CSS / Javascript
  • Web api’s
  • Model / view / controller pattern

We are offering monthly RDO’s, a good starting salary with a guaranteed yearly increase and profit sharing. Our office is very casual and relaxed.

Apply online at Seek.

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