Monday, April 30, 2012

Offering lunch to our team

We've written previously that we were planning to offer lunch and snacks to our team in Sydney when we moved into our offices in Surry Hills. We have offered lunch and dinner to our team in China for nearly 2 years now. We've now been in our Surry Hills offices for just over 12 months and we can definitely say that offering lunch and snacks is a well loved perk and has a positive impact on the culture within our office.

We don't skimp on lunch and average around $12 per person per day for lunch and another $2 per person per day for snacks. Our lunch regulars are Sushi on Stanley, Madam Cha Cha, Grill'd, Zushi, Mad Pizza, Max Mex, Pie Face, Miss Chu and the amazing Arthur's Street Kitchen. If anyone has any other suggestions for great takeaway / delivery lunch options in Surry Hills please let us know! Snacks include healthy options like fruit and nuts, and the less healthy 'Donut Friday' where we get donuts from Krispy Kreme or pick up some desserts from Bourke St. Bakery.

There are tax benefits to offering lunch to our team. Like other expenses we can claim a GST input tax credit on non-fresh food purchases where GST is charged, which employees buying lunch for themselves can't, and the cost, if catered into the office, is a tax deduction for the business without income or fringe benefits tax needing to be paid by the employees. Normally an employee would have to buy lunch out of their post tax income.

Shortly after starting to offer lunch we asked the team about whether they would prefer to receive the money we spend on lunch as salary and BYO lunch, there was unanimous consensus that a delicious, social lunch each day is much preferred.

We started out having brainstorming sessions over lunch where we'd brainstorm some issue we were having in the business, but this quickly felt too much like work so we switched away from doing that. Our conversations now are a mix of personal and work related topics.

Lunches have been great for the team getting to know each other. Our engineering and marketing/customer happiness teams work quite separately day to day and it would be easy for these two parts of the office to not intermingle.

Overall we couldn't be more please with the investment we've made in offering lunch and snacks to our team in Sydney, and we get similar benefits offering lunch and dinner to our team in China. More businesses should do it!

Originally posted to StartupSmart.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Should your team be based in one office?

We're currently advertising to hire 5 new roles for Shoes of Prey and we've had a few people contact us to ask if the roles could be based in cities other than Sydney.

I've read about quite a few startups with people based in different cities all working together remotely, but I really struggle to see how everyone can be as effective working this way, there's so much additional value that comes from being physically located in the same space.

Startups are chaotic. The ability to move, react and change quickly is critical to success. Sitting in the same office together we get to hear each other's conversations, and we live and breathe what's working and what isn't in the business, allowing everyone to react quickly. Even having two offices, one in Sydney and one in China creates some barriers to reacting quickly and for the team working perfectly together. I think we do a pretty good job in managing this, but it's not perfect.

Thinking through our values and culture, much of what is core to our business would be very hard to do with people based in different locations. Recognising great work becomes harder if you haven't been able to witness first hand what someone has achieved on a project. Communication becomes much harder if you're doing it all over email, chat or Skype. It's harder to be inspired by the amazing colleagues around you, if there's no one physically around you.

Despite advances in communication tools like video conferencing technology, there's still nothing like sitting at a desk surrounded by a group of amazing colleagues all working together to achieve the same goal. So while we're happy to help an awesome hire relocate, all the roles we're hiring for will need to be based in Sydney.

What's your view?
Cross posted to StartupSmart.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Values - Passionately Create Happiness

Our first and core value is to passionately create happiness. There are all sorts of philosophies people have on life. Whether they're based on religion, atheism or otherwise they essentially all boil down to the goal of helping people to be their happiest. And that's what we aim to do at Shoes of Prey.

To inspire happiness in our customers we need to provide an amazing product, including fantastic customer service. Doing both of these things requires a happy team and a happy workplace, so our goal is to be an amazing place to work.

Our culture and values presentation (embedded above) outlines much of how we aim to achieve this. Essentially we want to create a high performance environment where we can all achieve our best work, while also creating a fun, family environment where we all enjoy spending time together.

One key way we do this is working on fun, exciting problems. We cross over 3 industries - Women's fashion, online retail and technology. All 3 are exciting, fast paced and constantly changing. There are huge opportunities to be innovative and do new, exciting things no-one has done before. Examples of new, innovative things we've done

1. Mass customised women's shoes, at scale. Our product is a new one for the fashion industry, we're changing the way women shop for shoes. Rather than selecting from a range of a couple of hundred shoes in store, we give customers the option of choosing from the literally trillions of possible shoes they can design on our site. We're approaching the business side of the fashion industry differently. Rather than attempting to forecast in advance the designs our customers want to purchase, investing in stock, then running out of popular designs and having to discount unpopular designs, we're allowing the customer to create their own design and we only manufacture after an order has been placed.

2. YouTube marketing with fashion haulers. This innovative marketing campaign permanently tripled out sales and won us industry awards.

3. 3D shoe designer. We're at the cutting edge of online retail technology with our online shoe designer. Customers can design exactly what they want through a fast, simple, user friendly interface and view a near photo realistic view of the product they've designed from 8 angles. Our technology is changing the way women shop for shoes and we have a lot more planned for the tech side of our business.

We've achieved all this in 2.5 years with a team of less than 20, we're only at the very beginning of the innovations we plan to make across these 3 industries.

We have a fantastic office environment, in the best suburb, in one of the best cities to live in the world. Sydney is a large city of 4.5m people. We have many fantastic festivals, amazing bars, restaurants and they're pretty much all within walking distance of Surry Hills. We're also in the top 25 cities in the world to found a startup. Best of all though is our beautiful harbour (2km from our office) and some of the world's best beaches (6km from our office) where, with Sydney's fantastic weather, you can swim at least 6mths of the year.

We lease fantastic, 2 year old office space in the heart of Surry Hills which we share with other innovative Sydney startups and creative businesses, it's an inspiring building to work in. We're plugged in to the Sydney startup scene writing this blog and we host Tech Talks for the Sydney startup community. Day to day our office space is nicely fitted out and we provide fantastic lunches from local restaurants and snacks for the team everyday.

Like our business, our values, culture and work environment are all new and evolving and our entire team are contributing and implementing their ideas to this as we grow.

What's the vision of the company you work for? Any suggestions on ours or the way we're going about achieving it?

And did we mention we're hiring? ;)

Friday, April 20, 2012

BRW AMP Capital Shopping Centres, Australian Retailer of the Year Awards 2012

We're very proud to announce that Sneaking Duck is a finalist in 2 categories of this year's BRW Retail awards - New Retailer of the Year and Innovation in Retail. Congratulations to all the finalists, full list here:

Joe Button
Masters Home Improvement Australia
Sneaking Duck
Stone Shoes

The Body Shop Australia
Wittner Shoes

The Body Shop Australia

Aussie Farmers Direct
Gloria Jean’s Coffees
Joe Button
MadCap Café
Sneaking Duck

Muffin Break
Sunglass Hut Floating Store
The Coffee Club

Aussie Farmers Direct
Bakers Delight
Bunnings Warehouse
Gloria Jean’s Coffee
JB Hi-Fi

Australian Geographic
Crust Gourmet Pizza Bars
Dan Murphy’s
Grill’d Healthy Burgers
Salvos Stores

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Welcome to the team Brendan Hall!

It's with great pleasure that we introduce Brendan Hall to the Shoes of Prey team!

Brendan studied Arts/Law at the University of Queensland majoring in Mandarin and Japanese in his Arts degree (Brendan is fluent in both). Brendan spent two years living and studying in Beijing, Shanghai and Taipei and has also spent time studying and working in Japan. For the last 18 months Brendan has been working as a lawyer at Clayton Utz in Brisbane (where I began my career) based in their M&A then their Construction teams and was a member of the firm's China strategy team.

In June/July Brendan will be moving to China where he will take on the role of China Operations Manager. Until then, Brendan is in our Sydney office working with Jonaye and Lucy in customer support to learn all the core processes in the business.

Outside of work Brendan enjoys performing on stage and in private karaoke rooms (where he specialises in Neil Diamond classics). He performed in the UQ Law Revue for three years and is also a member of a four‐person comedy troupe which wrote, produced and directed an original sketch comedy/musical production that played at the Brisbane Powerhouse in April 2010.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

We're Hiring: Copywriter

Writing a job description for a copywriter is a little nerve-wracking. And, as you spot grammatical errors, spelling mistakes or poor methods of expression throughout this job description, perhaps you’ll see how much of an impact you could have on Shoes of Prey!

Our copywriter will be responsible for developing our tone of voice and language throughout every touchpoint. You’ll research topics to write about for our blogs, develop our blog content plan much further, own all copy on the website, collaborate with our Video Producer on scripts, draft copy for our social media platforms - connecting in with our Marketing/PR Manager on these channels, be involved in the creation of our press releases, create a Shoes of Prey language guide, look for opportunities where our copy could work harder and much more.

You will be passionate about perfection in communication and you will have worked as a copywriter either at another online retailer, e-commerce company, or agency. You will have an immersive knowledge and understanding of writing for fashion, and a healthy interest in business and technology. The role is based in our Sydney office. You will report into Jodie Fox, our Chief Marketing Officer.

We’re offering $40k-$60k for this role (based on experience) + bonus + generous stock options + lunch everyday + snacks + shoes. If we hit our goals over the next 5 years you'll do very well out of the stock options.

To apply for this role please email a cover letter and resume to

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We're hiring: Graphic Designer

We’re looking for new team members to share in the Shoes of Prey journey and a talented graphic designer is a team member we’d love to have. You’ll be working with our talented Art Director and Photographer, Susie Adams to create an iconic visual brand.

To date the Shoes of Prey brand has been an exciting work in process. We have begun to reach a point of sophistication that we’re excited about and keen to really push this year to break new ground for our identity as a fashion brand. This would be your mission to own and execute with Susie who will lead the conceptualisation. You will also be expected to be conceptual in your work and feed into this process with Susie.

Channels you’ll be working in include online (website, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest PDFs, EDMs) and offline (print, press, packaging, flyers, greeting cards) and much more - including contributing to shoe design.

You will also be very involved in developing and maintaining our visual identity document with Susie.

You will be passionate about visual communication and you will have worked as a graphic designer either at another online retailer, e-commerce company, or agency. You are proficient in all major Creative Suite 5+ applications including InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop and Acrobat. You have significant experience doing graphic design for websites, and ideally also have usability experience. A good understanding of print processes from design to production would also be beneficial. You will have an immersive knowledge and understanding of graphic design for fashion, and a healthy interest in business and technology. The role is based in our Sydney office. You will report into Jodie Fox, our Chief Marketing Officer.

We’re offering $40k-$60k for this role (based on experience) + bonus + generous stock options + lunch everyday + snacks + shoes. If we hit our goals over the next 5 years you'll do very well out of the stock options.

To apply for this role please email a cover letter and resume to

Update: We've hired for this role, more details to come!

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Update (3 June 2012): We've now hired for this role.

We're Hiring: Online Marketing Manager / Analyst

As Shoes of Prey continues to grow, we are looking for an Online Marketing Manager with a strong analytical background to help us drive new customer acquisition and repeat buying from our existing customers.

You’ll be testing, executing and measuring campaigns using AdWords, Facebook, display, email marketing, affiliate advertising, cross promotions, partnerships and potentially more traditional channels like print, radio and TV with the goal of acquiring customers for Shoes of Prey at a reasonable cost and at scale. Your key goal will be to test and find successful channels, then focus on acquiring as many customers as possible through them.

You'll work with the rest of our marketing team to have content and graphics created etc. for your campaigns, but you'll be planning, executing and measuring them.

You will have had significant experience in many of the above marketing channels, with a particular passion and focus on measuring and tracking performance. You will ideally have worked in a similar role at another online retailer, e-commerce company, or agency. The role is based in our Sydney office. You will report into Michael Fox, our Chief Operations Officer.

We’re in two minds as to the level of experience we want for this role, so the salary range is quite broad - if we find an awesome junior we’ll hire them, if the best person for the role is more senior we’ve budgeted for this possibility too. So the package will be $50k - $100k (based on experience) + bonus + generous stock options + lunch everyday + snacks + shoes. If we hit our goals over the next 5 years you'll do very well out of the stock options. If we find the right person internationally, we're willing to sponsor someone from overseas to move to Australia for this role.

To apply for this role please email a cover letter and resume to

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We're Hiring: Marketing and PR Manager

PR / Celebrity Engagement / Social Media Marketing

In the 2.5 years since our launch we’ve secured amazing press, including Oprah Magazine, Teen Vogue, Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Daily Candy and many more. We have A-list celebs getting into our shoes but what we really need is a person with great relationships (or ability to make them), a very strong background in PR and an in-deterrable enthusiasm to make Shoes of Prey famous.

You’ll become our main point of contact with press. It will be essential that you embody the Shoes of Prey brand to be able to represent and express us impressively to fashion, tech and business press. It will be your job to properly systemise and lead innovation in our PR work as we grow.

Perhaps an important bridge between the PR and Marketing aspects of this role is social media. You will play a very important role in all of our social media touchpoints, ensuring they are perfectly crafted for the intended audience, constantly updated and using them to effectively engage with our audience, celebrities and press alike. You will work closely with our Online Marketing Manager / Analyst to gain valuable insights to test and develop new and exciting work that will acquire customers and increase the lifetime value of customers.

We’re looking for a senior person for this role. You will be passionate about PR and you will have worked in PR/Marketing for 5+ years either at another online retailer, e-commerce company, or agency. You will have an immersive knowledge and understanding of fashion PR and an in-depth interest/understanding of PR for business and technology. You will be abreast of new, exciting and important opportunities for innovation in the social media and PR space and ensure that Shoes of Prey is poised to innovate and take advantage of these opportunities. The role is based in our Sydney office. You will report into Jodie Fox, our Chief Marketing Officer. You will have a huge desire to be part of growing this global enterprise into a famous global fashion phenomenon.

We’re offering $40k-$70k for this role (based on experience) + bonus + generous stock options + lunch everyday + snacks + shoes. If we hit our goals over the next 5 years you'll do very well out of the stock options.

To apply for this role please email a cover letter and resume to

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We're Hiring: Video (part time / contractor)

This role is far more than being a camera person or editor. You’ll be guiding and executing our YouTube strategy. You’ll be responsible for translating our content plan into video content that will sit on our YouTube channel and be embedded on our website. You will be responsible for directing, producing, filming and editing all of our video work. This includes drafting scripts, pulling together any props and ambient footage, planning out what wardrobe is needed, filming, editing and delivering videos to our YouTube channel 3 times a week.

We have an in-house studio, camera, mic and lighting equipment. We would be looking for your input on developing a more sophisticated film and editing suite.

You will be passionate about video communication and you will have worked in video content production ideally at another online retailer, e-commerce company, or agency. You will be able to conceptualise, script, produce, light and edit all content. You will be abreast of all developments and opportunities in the video/YouTube space and put us at the forefront of those opportunities for innovation. You will have an immersive knowledge and understanding of video content for fashion, and a healthy interest in business and technology. The role is based in our Sydney office. You will report into Jodie Fox, our Chief Marketing Officer.

We’re offering the annual equivalent of $40k-$60k for this role (based on experience) + bonus + generous stock options + lunch everyday + snacks + shoes. If we hit our goals over the next 5 years you'll do very well out of the stock options.

To apply for this role please email a cover letter and resume to

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Shoes of Prey - Culture & Values

As highlighted in some recent posts, we've been spending quite a bit of time recently thinking about our values and culture at Shoes of Prey.

Talking to our team and spending time at the recent Growth Summit, we realised we had developed a "culture by default", rather than a "culture by design". Our culture by default was ok, but it wasn't perfect and we and the rest of the team wanted to improve on it to help make Shoes of Prey a successful company and a fantastic place to work.

So 3 weeks ago Jodie, Mike and I spent a Saturday together to map out our thoughts on where our values and culture were, and where we'd like them to head. We then took these ideas to the rest of the team and together we fleshed them out further.

The slides above are the results of our work. They're very much a first version and this will be a living and breathing document and will change and evolve as our company does. We love it as a starting point.

Putting this document together has become particularly timely as we're looking to hire another 6 or so people over the coming 3 months in marketing and product management roles. (If this is of interest, we'll be advertising the roles on this blog, posting late this week or early next week).

We'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback on this first version of our values and culture.

Cross posted to StartupSmart.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Jim Collins and Jack Daly - Action Items

After reflecting on Jim Collins' and and Jack Daly's presentations at the recent Growth Summit I put together a series of action items.

I realised we currently have a culture by default rather than culture by design. Following some recent discussions with our team members, we all want strong values and a culture that we can live by but we haven't really put in an effort to develop and define what we want this culture to be.

This is going to be particularly important as we look to hire another 8 or so people over the coming 6 months.

Action items
1. Is Mike, Jodie and my ambition, ego and energy focused on the company or ourselves?
2. Are we humble and do we have the will to make difficult but required decisions?
3. Do I spend 50% of my time on people?
4. Have we found a cannon ball to focus on? Are we searching for them empirically?
5. What's our fanatic discipline march? Eg. Armundsen's 15 miles per day, rain, hail or shine?
6. Are we being productively paranoid? What could kill our business? How are we protecting against this?
7. What are our 3-5 core personal values? Build these into the core of the business.
8. Do we have the right people on the bus in the key seats?
9. What can we truly be the best at?
10. What's our 15 year big, hairy, audacious goal?
11. What would be lost if our company disappeared?
12. What should we stop doing to increase our discipline and focus?

We've been focusing on working through these points since the presentation. I'll post on the conclusions we come to in a future post.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Growth Summit - Jack Daly

These are my notes from Jack Daly's presentation at the excellent Growth Summit I attended recently.

1. Your company's goal is to create a culture where people 'get to' go to work at our company rather than 'have to' go to work at our company. We want people to prefer being at work than at home.
2. What are we doing to win over the hearts of our people?
3. How does your companies culture smell? Do you have a culture by design or a culture by default?

The one thing you can't delegate. As a CEO, defining and encouraging your companies culture is your most important job.

10 year study:
1. Revenue in culture focused companies 4 times higher than non-culture focused companies.
2. Stock prices up 901% for culture focused companies v 74% for non-culture focused companies.
3. Net income up 756% v 1%.
4. Job growth up 282% v 36%
Source: John Cotter

Culture by design - 4 parts
1. Recognition systems
Suggestions from Jack:
First day - "Welcome" on the white board, streamers, cards and balloons.
Birthdays - handwritten notes sent to team member's homes
Company anniversaries - celebrate when team members started
Handwritten notes - "You did a kick ass job, well done"
PSR - Planned Spontaneous Recognition when good things happen.
"Caught in the Act of Greatness" - a peer to peer certificate employees can give to employees.
"Out of the Box" Awards - people will do the things they're recognised and rewarded for.
Associate of the Month - Quarter - Year
Ring the Bell - Anyone can ring the bell for any reason when someone does something well.
Contests - sales people in particular engage well with contests. Daily, weekly, monthly. Eg. Flight Centre do this well.

2. Communication systems
Vision sharing
Daily huddle
Monthly announcements
Email announcements
Annual 'State of the Company'
Orientation for new team members
Key financials sharing

3. Personal & professional development
1. Hands-on coaching
2. Role practice
3. Success guide

4. Empowerment process
Employees can make decisions but should ask:
Is it right for the customer?
Is it right for our company?
Is it ethical?
Is it something for which you are willing to be accountable?
Is it consistent with our company's basic beliefs?
If the answer is 'yes' to all 5 questions, just do it.

People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

If you put fences around people, you get sheep. - CEO 3M

For more:

Monday, April 2, 2012

Lorna Jane's Facebook Page

I've been taking a look at Lorna Jane's Facebook page as I think they do some things really well on it.

They have 314,000 likes, and a lot of their posts get 3,000+ likes. Having 1% of your fans like a post is pretty good engagement, we rarely have posts with that level of engagement.

Not all their posts get that many likes, it's only the shortest sharpest ones asking people to click 'like' if they like what's in the post. This one asks people to Like it, but there is other info and links first so not everyone would read to that point:

Lots of likes on a post aren't the only goal of a Facebook post, but a higher engagement rate should improve the quality score Facebook gives you page and posts, it will help with reach.

In the past we've had high engagement rates on 'Left or right' posts like this one we did on the Sneaking Duck Facebook page last week which had nearly 2% of our likers interact with it:

I've noticed in our Facebook insights that each of our Shoes of Prey posts gets a similar reach regardless of the interactions on it, so we plan to experiment with having every second post be one that drives interactions to ideally improve our quality score, then have every other post be one designed to drive sales, such as a link to new trends or a product launch. Ideally then we're driving interactions and reach with half our posts and that should mean the other half with the sales driven content will also get more reach.

Any thoughts on this as a strategy? I'll let you know what we learn trying it out.