Monday, December 23, 2013

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Join us with a Desk at Shoes of Prey HQ

12 months ago we moved into our new office at 101/59 Marlborough St. Surry Hills. It's an amazing space with lots of natural light, airflow, high ceilings, ping pong and it's next door to a park which makes for awesome summer meetings and kicking the footy at lunch time. We love it.

We took a really large space, 540sqm and while we've been growing, we haven't needed to add to our Sydney team as quickly as we'd planned and we're only using about half the space. We've been subleasing to our friends at Sneaking Duck and The General Store (they're the agency who did our award winning David Jones store design) and it's been fantastic having other entrepreneurs and related businesses in the space.

So we'd love to have some more online retailers, tech startups and others to share the space with us. For $100/desk per week (ex GST) here's what you get:

  • A desk, chair and fast internet
  • Tea, coffee and access to our kitchen facilities
  • Use of our boardroom for meetings
  • If you'd like to join our regular lunch ordering you can join that at cost
  • Joining a fun group of exciting Aussie startups
We also have operations / storage space which you can use at a low rental rate.

If you're interested in joining us contact me at michael@shoesofprey.com.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Zulily IPO - Great News for E-Commerce

Zulily, a Seattle based daily deals site for mums, babies and kids IPO'd recently raising $253m at a $2.6b valuation. The shares have since risen 88% valuing the company at just over $5b. Those are impressive numbers considering revenue was $331m in 2012. It's good news for the E-Commerce space.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Fab.com

The rise and fall and rise and fall of Jason Goldberg.

Fascinating article that highlights the importance of staying focused and aiming for sustainability.

via Niki Scevak

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Kristie Buchanan - CEO Red Balloon

Great video of Kristie Buchanan, CEO of Red Balloon talking about their culture.

Kristie Buchanan - RedBalloon from Conscious Capitalism Australia on Vimeo.

We're in the process of introducing accountability and 'doing what you say you'll do, when you say you'll do it' at Shoes of Prey. So a few things from the presentation particularly resonated with me. I like their concept of each team member having 3 "personal promises" rather than the more traditional "goals", and one of their core values being "Integrity" to deliver on what you promised. "Play hard, work harder" is also a wonderful encapsulation of something we're striving for in our culture.

via Joel Pinkham

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Here's Where Your Startup's Cash Went

Great article with some fantastic tips on cash management. Mark our co-founder at Sneaking Duck is incredibly good at this.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Simple Secret to Time Management

Brilliant article on focusing on the most important rather than most urgent tasks you have to do. I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People about 10 years ago. It's a brilliant book and the tips in the article are straight out of that, but it's a good reminder. And if you haven't read the 7 Habits book, it was a game changer for me.

via Joel Pinkham

Monday, November 4, 2013

We're Hiring: Public Relations Manager (Part Time)


Public Relations Manager: PR / Celebrity Engagement

In the 4 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 unstoppable enthusiasm to make Shoes of Prey famous.

You’ll become our main point of contact with press globally. 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. This role will develop and implement the PR strategy and support the overall marketing strategy, brand position, personality and core values.

To be killing it in this role and considered an A player on the Shoes of Prey team, here are the 3 key things you'll have achieved after 12 months in this role (in priority order):
  1. You not only live and breathe Shoes of Prey's culture and values, you've contributed to growing and developing them. People on the team enjoy spending time with you and are fighting to be able to work closely with you.
  2. Each month we're landing on-message feature stories about Shoes of Prey in globally famous top tier press outlets. In addition, you've built an automated process for working with lower tier press so we're constantly being covered by smaller press outlets and fashion bloggers. You closely measure the results of your work and our press coverage is responsible for driving significant amounts of converting traffic to our site.
  3. You're Shoes of Prey's public relations guru and recognised internally as the go to person for public relations. You know everything that is being said about us and you have a firm hand on how to put our messages into market through the excellent relationships you have built. You also know what has/does not work for us and are adept at steering us clear of these pitfalls.

Your work experience clearly identifies that you have the following traits:

  • Success in pitching: You will understand how to perfectly craft a pitch for the intended audience, constantly updating and engaging celebrities, stylists and press alike with information about us that they will find both timely and valuable. You will be comfortable and successful in pitching across different countries (our headquarters is in Sydney, but our fans are everywhere!) and across multiple channels including top tier broadcast, print, and online outlets (this includes bloggers and vloggers). You will be able to make educated recommendations on which press will give us highest ROI (although we know how hard this is to measure). You will build long term relationships with key media, celebrities and stylists.
  • Passion for PR: You will be unable to hide your passion for PR! 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.
  • Tenacity and scrappiness: You can make things work with limited resources. When things don't go as planned and you're missing your targets you'll go to the ends of the earth adjusting angles, approaches and delivery to do what it takes to hit your targets.
  • Organised: You will manage our PR agencies remotely and effectively. You will be able to co-ordinate events when needed. You will know who's-who of those we need to know on sight and be able to start a relevant and interesting conversation with them.

We are looking for someone to join our office on a part-time basis (2-3 days per week) who has worked in PR for 2-3 years either at another online retailer, e-commerce company, or agency. Salary is dependent on experience. The role is based in our Sydney office, and we are flexible with remote working arrangements from time to time.

To apply for this role please email a cover letter and resume to joinourteam@shoesofprey.com with the subject line "YOUR NAME - PR MANAGER". This is essential as any applications without this will be missed by our email filters.

Thanks, we can't wait to hear from you!

Jodie x

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Dream Tree

This post was written by Lydia Milligan, who looks after a lot of the HR related projects within the team.

What’s your Dream? What countries do you want to visit? What skills have you always wanted to learn? Who is the person that you have always dreamed of becoming?

When do you want to achieve these dreams - in the next year? Five years? At some point before you pass through to the eternal kingdom?

Think about how you might achieve these dreams...

Just sit for a moment and think about the answers to those questions. Think about the hopes and desires which fill your daydreams every day when you’re sat at work. Got some ideas? Good! Now think about the idea of your boss helping you achieve those dreams. It’s a little odd, isn’t it? How many people have ever come across a boss who is really willing to help them go hang gliding, learn photography or travel around the world with their favourite band at the company’s expense and with no real gain for the company? It sounds ludicrous really, doesn’t it? But then consider this, how hard would you want to work for a boss who did care about your personal dreams. Imagine how loyal you would feel towards a company that helped you learn how to sail a yacht or invent teleportation? I’m willing to bet you’d feel pretty loyal, motivated and driven to work even harder. For that reason (and because it’s just a pretty cool thing to do), at Shoes of Prey, we’ve decided to start our own ‘Dream Tree’.

It was mid July when Michael first emailed me about this idea. He’d been thinking about the concept for a little while, what did I think about it and did I want to try and implement it at Shoes of Prey?

“I absolutely adore this, what a lovely idea.” I quickly wrote back, “Let’s definitely do it!” and so it began. I set about researching and defining what the idea really was about and how it would work for our team specifically.

There are a few different books and idea’s out there formed loosely around this concept so I never really got to the bottom of where the concept originally began but the most inspirational video I came across along the way and what I based a lot of our Dreams Program on was, ‘What’s Your Dream’ by Matthew Kelly:


For me, he really get’s it when he says:

“It creates a team bond that you simply cannot create by talking about your business. People are people, they are most engaged when you allow them to be people” and it’s so true! Talking about each others dreams and ambitions. Allowing a space for your employees to get to know each other on a deeper and more personal level creates friendship. Friendship in turn creates a loyalty and a determination within the team to work hard for each other and this in turn creates a strong business.

So what did we end up with? Well, we sent out an email asking everyone to list 10 dreams they’d like to achieve at some point in the future. We included a list of questions to help get people thinking and inspire them and asked them to bring these along to, ‘Breakfast in the Park’. So there we were, one sunny Friday morning earlier this month, sitting on the grass and writing our dreams on little pieces of brightly coloured paper. Once we had all written out our dreams, we then asked everyone to share three of their 10 dreams and pin these to the tree, posting the other 7 in the ‘dream jar’. We went round the circle sharing, laughing and learning about each other in a way we hadn’t ever done before. Some talked of dreams to ‘have coffee with Julia Gillard’, ‘learn a language’ or ‘restore an old car’ some joked that they’d ‘love to work on the beach’. After sharing, I gave everyone a little bit of glitter, which together we sparked on the tree and there, 'The Dream Tree’ was born. Cheesy yet fun, all at the same time.

DaveDave dreamt for more champagne!


The ‘Dream Tree’ now sits in the centre of our office complete with ‘dreamspiration’ and our team motto, ‘Heel The World’. We’ve encouraged the team to continue to add to the tree and share their dreams with each other. What we have also done is create a way for the team to nominate each other for doing an awesome job and the top three nominees of the quarter will have their dreams awarded by the founders. We’ll also look to grant any dreams we think are worthy along the way.




At this point, we don’t really know how it will work out in the long run. What I do know however, is that we had a great morning sharing and getting to know each other. We all continue to enjoy learning about each others dreams via the dream tree and I feel proud to be at a workplace like this every time I see that tree. I can’t wait to grant our first dream, watch this space...

*All dreams mentioned throughout this article are real dreams shared by our team, and yes, even inventing teleportation!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bootstrapping in Thailand

Great post on bootstrapping your startup in Thailand. We didn't do this for Shoes of Prey or Sneaking Duck but that was mostly because we started out working evenings and weekends while in our full time jobs. By the time Mike, Jodie and I all left our full time jobs we were at the point of hiring our first employees in Sydney so needed to stay in town to do that. If our circumstances had been different bootstrapping from somewhere like Thailand is definitely something I would have considered.

via Katrine Steenberg

Monday, October 14, 2013

World Retail Awards - Best Store Design!

Wow, we at Shoes of Prey, together with our amazing partners at The General Store are thrilled to have last week won the award for Best Store Design in the World in the under 1200sqm category at the World Retail Awards in Paris! That's not best online store design, it's best store design for our concession store in David Jones - quite exciting for an online retailer and our first physical retail store, and the first physical retail store designed by The General Store! We beat the likes of the Puma Flagship store in Osaka and a Karl Lagerfeld concept store in Paris. Winners of other categories included Tesco, ASOS, Coles and the winner of Retailer of the Year was Wholefoods.

It's exciting to be able to show the global retail industry that we can innovate here in Australia.

Monday, October 7, 2013

A formula for feedback

This post is by Dione David, who earlier this year was promoted to Team Lead of our Customer Happiness Team.

The Customer Happiness team at Shoes of Prey was not only well-established when I was made team lead - it already had a sterling reputation. The job was never to uproot, but to take a team of winners to the next level. I imagine a chef devising the menu for a new restaurant, armed with only the finest produce, would understand. In reality that “piece of cake” factor is as daunting as it is inspiring.

Unlike my previous experience managing a small team at a certain newspaper, at Shoes of Prey you’re expected to make mistakes, but also to pick yourself up, chalk it down and be better. There’s no crutch of compliance for managers at Shoes of Prey, so I lean instead on the various strengths of my team members, the examples set by more seasoned managers and on self-education.

Lately, I’ve been self-educating on how to effectively provide constructive feedback. This gap in my knowledge became clear after conducting my first end-of-quarter reviews with my team members. Going in, I had an expectation of how it would go. I left the room with a new lesson under my belt: do not mistake expectation for edict.

I thought I'd share with you my key learnings from this article, which draws on the knowledge of clinical associate professor of management at the W. P. Carey School of Business, Minu Ipe.

Firstly, feedback needs to be specific, timely, accurate, actionable and meaningful or STAAM. Nothing surprising there, however Ipe suggests a more measured, four-step process to make constructive feedback more effective.

1) It begins with identifying the objective for giving the feedback. For example, am I hoping to change a behaviour? Effect short-term or long-term behavioral changes? Am I looking to reward good performance or ameliorate poor performance? It seems pretty obvious, but being clear about your objective beforehand is key in enacting useful feedback.

2) Prepare for the review. Managing a team of A Players (resumes that read like a who’s who of overqualification) in what so many people view as a thankless job, constructive feedback has the potential to become the proverbial poisoned apple. It ought to be a seed of opportunity. Preparation should include taking the time to make sure my feedback is STAAM; thinking about my relationship to the person I will be reviewing and tailoring my feedback for that individual; planning ahead for how I will handle any negative reactions; and determining an appropriate place and time to conduct the review.


3) When delivering the actual feedback, I need to avoid using the sandwich approach. Often managers (I fancy, especially green ones like me!) are uncomfortable about giving negative feedback. So we kick off with positive points, dragonfly in with one constructive piece of feedback and scuttle back into discussing positive performance. This method is otherwise known the “feedback sandwich”, although some (less polite) people call it another kind of sandwich. While one school of thought promotes this as a great way of administering positive and negative reinforcement, Ipe recommends being direct and constructive.

4) The last stage is follow-up. The two parties should develop an action plan that incorporates what was discussed during the review, and follow up to make sure the plan is being followed is critical.

With the next round of reviews around the corner, I am reminded feedback is not a one-way street - unless we’re talking Formula 1. Your charge will need to make pit stops along the road of improvement. Never mind how many, never mind if it’s a quick refuel or a tire-change. All that matters is that they pass the checkered flag.*

*Disclaimer: I have never watched a Formula 1 race, and actually have no idea why I chose that analogy.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

How I hire: you can't build a team with all point guards

Great article on hiring and ensuring your management team have a diverse set of approaches, views and skill sets.

There's some merit to the argument that in startups, having a small group with aligned thinking can be beneficial, because fast decision making is so critical, but once a business has gone through that stage introducing a diversity of thinking can be a big help.

Good to keep this in mind and not fall into the trap of hiring people like yourself.

via Geetika Marek Guz

Budgeting Search? What's the Point?

Good blog post on why it's better to have an ROI target rather than a budget for search engine marketing.

via @joelpinkham

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Monday, September 30, 2013

Employee Net Promoter Score

In June I wrote a post outlining our use of the Net Promoter System to gain an insight into how likely our customers are to share our product with their friends and colleagues, and to get regular feedback from them on how we can improve our business.

2 months ago we introduced a monthly Employee Net Promoter Score survey to gain the same feedback from our team about how likely they were to recommend a friend to work at Shoes of Prey, and what we can do to improve that score. It's been an incredible insight for Jodie, Mike and I and has given us some fantastic ways we can improve.

Here's an email I wrote to the team earlier this month summarising the August. I've redacted two points which we need to keep confidential for now.


As discussed in today's huddle, the feedback from the employee net promoter score in August was once again fantastic and helpful for us as we strive to passionately create happiness and make Shoes of Prey an awesome place to work.

Positives

  • Redacted
  • The biggest thing people love about Shoes of Prey is the awesome colleagues we all work with.
  • The score improved from 35 in July to 39 in August. This is a very good score, we have a lot of 9s and 10s, but it's not as high as the 60-80+ scores we get from our customers and there is significant room for further improvement, so to focus on that...

Area to improve
3 issues from July were repeated again in August:

  • High workload and stress remains an issue. This issue is a challenge for any high growth company - limited resources and constant change are big drivers of stress. We'll continue to do our best to manage this by ensuring teams are resourced appropriately, and if you have concerns about this please speak to your manager or me. The proposal in August was to introduce more 'quick break' activities into the office beyond ping pong, football and frisbee in the park. Please reply to Lydia and I with ideas here. When Dave's back, we'll organise to eat lunch in the park once every few weeks when the weather is nice so we get some fresh air.
  • Redacted
  • Career progression is still an issue. When this came up last time we implemented the career survey form which hopefully everyone has completed and discussed with your manager. If you haven't completed that form please do so and bring it to your next 1:1. If career progression is still a concern for you after this, please raise the issue with either your manager or me and we'd love to discuss it with you further. This is an issue I think is critical for retaining the awesome people we have here at Shoes of Prey and it's an issue close to my heart. I loved working at Google but this is one of the key reasons I left, so I know what a concern this can be.

Some additional feedback/suggestions which we love and will improve:

  • Social activities and getting to know the team. People want more of this and to add activities that don't involve drinking. In response to this I've organised the "Jobs" movie night evening. We'll aim to do lunch picnics in the park (see above) and if someone would like to organise a Shoes of Prey sports team in a mixed activity like netball or soccer, the company will fund the entry fees. Let me know if you'd like to organise this.
  • Culture committee. We'd like to establish a culture committee with at least one person from each team. This committee will work with Lydia and I to continue improving the culture at Shoes of Prey and to execute the feedback in our employee net promoter score surveys. If you'd like to join the committee please email Lydia and I.
  • Founders are becoming more distant. We're out of the office and less in touch with what people are working on. This is good feedback for Jodie, Mike and I - thanks. I want you to know that we want to be involved and know what you're working on, we've added this as an agenda item to our catch up next week so we'll put together a plan on how to improve on this.
  • Banquet lunches. Some people have missed getting much lunch on these days. Let's all take reasonably sized first helpings and not go back for seconds until everyone has had a first helping. We'll also aim to balance the quantities we order and get that right.

Thanks again to Lydia for managing the process, and thanks to those who completed the survey, it's incredibly helpful.


We're planning to continue doing this monthly.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Why good leaders need to be able to make the tough calls: Vamos

Great blog post on Smart Company.

I've struggled with these exact same issues - giving feedback and letting people go. From what I've experienced open communication on these points has such a positive impact on the company, on the culture and on developing people that it's something I want to focus personally on continuing to improve, particularly the giving feedback point. I regularly refer back to Mark's blog post on giving feedback as these 4 steps work so well.

via Geetika Marek Guz

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cats on the net

Everyone knows cats are popular on the internet. They're popular on the YouTubes and who doesn't love I Can Has Cheezburger? Lolcats. But now I've seen everything. I present to you two of our most liked ever posts on Instagram involving Lucy's cat Bear:

How can you incorporate cats into your digital marketing? :P

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Friends and Family Sale - Oct 10, 11 & 12

We're Hiring: System Admin / Software Engineer Intern

Shoes of Prey is an online shoe design company based in Surry Hills, Sydney. We started in 2009 and have since been gaining lots of attention in the startup community (checkout posts by Robert Scoble, Google, and TechCrunch to name a few). We’re a highly energetic company that continues to grow rapidly, and we are currently looking for a Systems Administrator/Software Engineer Intern to join our team.

Some of the key day-to-day activities include:

  • Coding in JavaScript, Python, HTML and CSS
  • Maintaining our corporate network.
  • Sharing your technical knowledge around the office.

Your education and experience clearly identifies that you have the following traits:

  • An understanding of Web Applications, in particular Google AppEngine
  • A love of all things python
  • Sound skills with JavaScript, HTML and CSS
  • An understanding of TCP/IP stack and networking services such as DNS, DHCP, RADIUS, etc. (Experience working with Cisco equipment is a plus.)
  • In-depth understanding of common UNIX daemons
  • Experience with wireless networks, telephony and corporate PBX systems
  • Knowledge of server virtualisation
  • Experience with mixed environments (Linux, Windows, OS X)
  • Interpersonal skills and a positive attitude/strong team player

The compensation for this role will be based on experience and availability. As with all roles at Shoes of Prey, lunch + snacks + shoes are of course included! The role will report into the Chief Technology Officer and will be based in our Sydney HQ.

If you think you have what it takes to join us, please email your resume and short cover letter outlining why you would like to become part of the Shoes of Prey journey to joinourteam@shoesofprey.com. Please use the subject line "NAME - SYSADMIN".

Image credit

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Should start ups be specialists or generalists?

I’ve spent a lot of my career flipping my mindset between thinking it’s better to be a specialist and do one thing really well or to be a generalist with a broad skill set. My recent experience of starting up Sneaking Duck Eyewear has led me to think more about this.

There are upsides and downsides to each - specialists stand more chance of being genuinely distinctive, but run the risk of being restrictively narrow. Generalists avoid this narrowness but risk becoming the ‘jack of all trades, but master of none’.

Starting up Sneaking Duck has stretched my personal generalist tendencies to the extreme - a single day might include accounting, prioritising strategic initiatives, customer service, copywriting, managing people and more. We get great customer feedback for everything from our product, pricing and customer service. I was therefore becoming convinced that being generalist was the better option.

But then I had an experience that made me stop in my tracks. It’s a bit random, but we needed a selection of nuts for a photoshoot. One of the team went to Coles but couldn’t really find what we wanted. The staff were well-intentioned and had top-level knowledge like where things were, but didn’t know the details. For example, they had no idea why whole walnuts were not available.

A bit of internet research suggested revealed a store called the Nut Shop. I dropped by on my cycle ride to work one day and what a contrast ! The store sold only nuts in all their forms. I asked the assistant about whole walnuts. Apparently she had spoken to the growers the previous day and that the weather was likely to be suitable for harvest later in the week, and therefore we should expect them to be in stock a few days after that - and would I like to order some. Wow! We got exactly what we needed and a whole lot more.

Whilst buying nuts is somewhat trivial part of my life and business, the experience made me think. If I want nuts now, I will certainly be straight on the phone to the Nut Shop and not head to Coles. Their specialist nature means they offer a vastly superior product and service to the generalist. It set me thinking that being a specialist was perhaps the better option - becoming the absolute best in a more narrow field is more compelling in the long-run.

What are your views - is it better for start ups to be specialist or generalist?

Image credit - Specialist Einstein and generalist Franklin

Saturday, September 7, 2013

NORA Education Program

Paul Greenberg, a co-founder of discount online retailer Deals Direct has been working hard the past 12 months to establish the National Online Retail Association (NORA) as an industry association to specifically address the needs of the fast-growing and innovative Australian online retail sector. I'm honoured to be a founding board member with 6 other fantastic online retailers (names and companies here). We're going to help advocate to government and industry for online retailers in Australia, as well as provide education and events for Australian online retailers. To join NORA visit the website here.

I'm part of the policy and education sub-commitee and I'm working on putting together an education program for budding online retailers. As a first step I went back through the 4 and a bit years I've been writing this blog and grouped some of the posts into categories I thought might make sense as weekly lecture topics.

I'm interested in getting your feedback. If we were to put together an education program for online retailers covering these 10 topics would you be interested in joining NORA and signing up? Any other topics you'd like to see added to the series?

1. Developing a business plan
Should you discuss your business idea with other people?
A Simple Business Plan for Online Retailers
What is Your Competitive Advantage?
The Benefits of Differentiating Your Offer for Online Retail
Comparing the Costs of Launching an Online v Physical Retail Store
Niche Online Retail
Zynga - Ghetto Testing and Minimum Viable Product
Safely Scaling Your Startup

2. Sourcing
Tips for negotiating in Hong Kong and China
Negotiating in Hong Kong and China (Part 2)
Reflecting on 5 weeks in Guangzhou (Part 1)
Reflecting on 5 weeks in Guangzhou (Part 2)
Chinese New Year
The Rapid Pace of Change in China
3 weeks in China
Finding Great Suppliers
Finding Suppliers in China
Getting Your Ducks in a Row: The Buying Trip
Doing Business in China: How We Found our Suppliers

3. Logistics
Shipping from China
Our Japanese Courier Company

4. Legal processes when launching an online retail business
Company registration
Trademarks
A Trademark Happy Ending
Hiring Interns

5. Hiring and Culture
Hiring for a startup
Putting People Management Systems in Place as we Grow
Culture Memes - Do You Have a Duck of Awesomeness?
Don't be Nice; be Helpful
Our Business is Less About the Founders and More About the Team From This Point
Sydney Office Culture
13 Ways to Thwart Recruiters From Pillaging Your Team
Doing Business in China: How We Hired Our Team
Working From Home
Offering Lunch to Our Team
Should Your Team be Based in One Office?
Values - Passionately Create Happiness
Shoes of Prey - Culture & Values
Culture - "Work is Life Enhancing"
Career Ladders
Cameron Herold - Hiring and People Management
9 Things That Motivate Employees More Than Money
Employee Share Options Plans - Are They a Major Issue?
Employee Share Plan
360 Feedback
The Daily Huddle
The Shoes of Prey Table Tennis Table

6. Funding
Bootstrapping a startup
Funding Your Online Retail Startup
Investors Can Provide More Than Money
7 Options for Australian Startups to Raise Capital
Raising Capital
Raising Capital - Do it in Parallel Rather Than Series
Why Entrepreneurs Should Never Meet VCs Unless They're Formally Pitching
How We Raised a $3m Round of Funding in Australia
Outbound VC Dialling Programs - Total Disrespect for Entrepreneurs
8 Tips for Startups Raising Capital
How to Negotiate with VCs

7. Marketing
Naming our baby
The Incredible Power of a 16 Year Old Video Blogger
How We Tripled Our Sales Using YouTube
TV v YouTube
Google AdWords Lesson
Marketing to our Existing Customers
Creative Marketing Campaigns
Should You Censor Negative Comments on Your Facebook Page?
Discount and Managing Margins
Using Custom Reports in Google Analytics to Identify Influential Pages
Why Didn't our Valentine's Day Facebook Campaign Work?
Facebook Pages: Fantastic for Word of Mouth Focused Online Retailers
Email Marketing - We'd Love Your Advice
Developing a Media Strategy for your Startup - Part 1: The Story
Customer Survey - What do you think?
Orabrush and YouTube Marketing
Developing a Media Strategy for your Startup - Part 2: Responding to the Media
Developing a Media Strategy for your Startup - Part 3: Getting Your Story to the Media
Creative Marketing
Customer Acquisition at Scale
Zappos and Repeat Customers
Photoshoots: It's All About the People, Not About the Money
When Magazines and Online Shopping Collide
Marketing Through Your Packaging
7 Tips for Turning Facebook Likes into Buys - Part 1
7 Tips for Turning Facebook Likes into Buys - Part 2
Prue Healey - PR for your Startup TechTalk
How do You Manage Your Small, Profitable Customers?
What Price is Right?
Online Video Boosts Conversions
Customer Focus Groups on a Shoe-String
Creating a Media List with Zero $
Commerce as Content, Shopping Through Art
How Target Figured Out a Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before her Father Did
Marketing Strategy - Don't Get Excited by What's New, Get Excited by What Works
Facebook Advertising - Valentine's Day Gift Certificates
Email Marketing
Measuring the ROI from our Facebook Competition
Growing Email Marketing Subscribers
Lorna Jane's Facebook Page
Mr Porter and Storytailing - When Retail and Media Converge
SurfStitch - How to React When Your Site Going Down
Are You Making the Most Common Pricing Mistake?
Email Marketing - What System Do You Use?
Free Shipping
Advertising on YouTube
Lifetime Value of a Customer

8. Website Development
Landing Pages
Product Page Research
E-Commerce Website Feedback - Hip Industries
Site Search on SurfStitch
Website Optimisation
Improving Conversion Rates

9. Managing and Developing Yourself as an Entrepreneur
The Flexible and Extended Work Life of an Entrepreneur
Procrastinate No More!
Follow Your Passion
Prioritising the Work to do in a Startup
Careers and Risk Taking
Careers and Risk Taking - 3 Ways to Minimise the Risk of Launching a Startup
Working Through the Holidays
Startups are like Computer Games
How Do You Turn Down Meetings?
The Risk of Not Failing
Startups Are Hard
How to Become a Great Finisher
The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
How Great Leaders Inspire Action
Making Big Decisions
Where to Invest Your Time in a Startup
Balancing Growth in a Startup
Keeping a Balance
Balancing Short and Long Term Activities in a Startup
Focus v Diversification - Sneaking Duck
Core v Non-Core Activities
Mark Zuckerberg on Being a CEO
First, Fire Thyself
The Startup Rollercoaster
How to be Happy
Feedback - a Gift That Nobody Likes to Give?
Why Startup Founders are Always Unhappy
Leadership - Finding Right is Different than Having to Be Right
What Separates the top 10% of Startup CEOs From the Rest?
The Self-Conscious Entrepreneur

10. Wisdom From Other Online Retailers
Brad Lindenberg - Lindgolf
James Stevens - Roses Only
Gabby Leibovich - Catch of the Day, Scoopon, Grocery Run
Andy Dunn - Bonobos
The Shoes of Prey Story in 55mins

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Fishburners - General Manager Role

Fishburners, an excellent startup co-working space and entrepreneurial community in Sydney is looking to hire a General Manager. You can view the job description and apply from here. I like Fishburners a lot, it's having a fantastic influence on the startup community here in Sydney. If there had been something like it when we started Shoes of Prey we would have rented desks there for sure.

Peter Bradd has been in the GM role at Fishburners for a while now and is moving out of the day to day role. I think the role would be awesome for someone passionate about the startup space and wants to be immersed in it without running their own startup, for a few years at least.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Election 7 September

We have an election in Australia this Saturday. And our two major political parties are in a race to be the most cruel towards the most marginalised people in the world - those fleeing for their lives and seeking asylum. Labor took the lead by not allowing any legitimate asylum seekers arriving by boat to settle in Australia, and now the Coalition have raised the stakes by not giving asylum seekers access to legal aid!

I have enough trouble navigating our legal system and I studied a law degree. How the hell a non-English speaking person from another country is meant to represent themselves is beyond me. And making them do this in a life or death situation is beyond cruel.

When we sing our National Anthem we sing: "For those who've come across the seas we've boundless plains to share." What's happening to our society for us to change our values so dramatically? What sort of society do we want to live in? Our political leaders should be leading, not attempting to tap into the xenophobic undercurrents in Australian society.

As an entrepreneur, in theory the last party I should be voting for is The Greens. I've not voted for them before but I can't be a part of this cruel shift in values in our society, so based on both refugee and climate policy The Greens now have my vote in this election.

I'm still undecided on who I preference. Both major parties have good NBN policies, however neither of them have come out with a strong Computer Science eduction policy which I think is the most critical factor in developing a strong Startup Ecosystem in Australia. With only 4,500 Australian graduating with computer science degrees each year who is actually going to build applications and services that use the NBN? So I can't really distinguish between the two major parties to decide on who to preference. They've both dedicated so much time to issues like asylum seekers which should have a compassionate, thought out, logical, bipartisan approach, that they've ignored critical issues like eduction.

So I'm voting for The Greens this election. No policy of the major parties is enough to get my vote at the expense of such a deplorable change in our values.

Monday, August 19, 2013

We're Hiring: Editor & Social Media Manager

Shoes of Prey is a global online (& recently offline) retail brand that allows women (including Prime Ministers and Carly Rae Jepsen) to design their own shoes which we handmake and deliver to them. We’re changing the way women shop for shoes and we’re on track to become a significant international retailer over the next 5 years. We have won and been nominated for many awards, including the ORIA award for Most Innovative Online Retailer, 2012 and 2013. We also recently won the ARA award for Kogan Australian Online Retailer of the Year 2013.

As our business continues to grow, we’re looking to hire an Editor & Social Media Manager to join our growing team! We’re looking for a creative thinker and skilled copywriter, with a passion for shopping and style, who can effectively represent our brand through online and social channels

Some of the key day to day activities: Owning campaign strategy and development Overseeing campaign execution, including directing photographers and designers Developing content ideas to suit EDMS, blog, social media and website Assisting with PR strategy Social media community management across all platforms

To be killing it in this role and considered an A Player on the Shoes of Prey team, here are the 5 key things you’ll have achieved after 12 months in this role:
1. You not only live and breathe Shoes of Prey’s culture and values, you’ve contributed to growing and developing them. People on the team enjoy spending time with you and are fighting to be able to work closely with you.
2. You leveraged our audience across all channels to achieve greater conversions, click-throughs and shares than ever before
3. You developed and owned campaign strategy and have developed a detailed plan 3 months in advance for our content plan
4. You will be able to execute all written touchpoints of the brand (blog, social media, press releases, website content) with personality appropriate to that platform and in a timely manner
5. You will have mastered the Shoes of Prey tone of voice

Your work experience clearly identifies that you have the following traits:

  • Excellent written and verbal English
  • Strong interest in fashion, shoes and online shopping, and general understanding of business and technology
  • Capacity to meet tight deadlines on short notice
  • Attention to detail and accuracy
  • Ability to work with limited supervision
  • A positive attitude and hunger to learn
  • Able to write according to SEO best practice
  • Experience with MailChimp, Photoshop and HTML would be helpful

The total salary package for this role will be based on experience, and will include super, bonus and stock options. As with all roles at Shoes of Prey, lunch + snacks + shoes are of course included! The role will report into the Chief Marketing Officer, will have 1 direct report and will be based in our Sydney HQ.

If you think you have what it takes to please email your resume and short cover letter outlining why you would like to become part of the Shoes of Prey journey to joinourteam@shoesofprey.com. Please make the subject line "NAME - EDITOR", this is essential as any applications without this will be missed by our email filters.

Thanks and we can't wait to hear from you!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Happy Customers

Our Customer Happiness Team do an amazing job with customer support at Shoes of Prey. It can be a tough job because they tend to deal mostly with customers who have issues of some kind - they might ask for a special request with their order, they require their shoes to be remade in another size or perhaps their shoes are running late because our factory is a little behind on orders. However the team almost always manage to turn around an unhappy customer and impress them enough that they go away wanting to spread the word about Shoes of Prey.

Last quarter the team received 229 emails from customers so happy that they emailed in congratulating us on our service. That's pretty impressive for a customer happiness team of 7. These emails are fun to receive and we share them amongst the team. We asked one recent customer Erin if we could share her email on our blog:

Dear Shoes of Prey,

I received my shoes today and felt I had to send you a note. I'm absolutely and completely in love with them!

I really just wanted to take a moment to thank you so much for providing this service, and conducting it so well. I enjoyed the entire design process: receiving the photo of my finished shoe via email, the fact that the stated price as you're building is, in fact, the entire amount you will be billed (taxes, shipping and fees included), and finally receiving the much anticipated pair of shoes in a lovely package, complete with helpful accessories that were a welcome surprise.

I will admit that I did have some trouble with DHL and the delivery (their in-house communication is sorely lacking), but was lucky enough to accept the delivery while I was still at the office. My entire marketing division (populated primarily by women) knew that these shoes were on their way, and were awaiting the arrival anxiously. Several have designed shoes for themselves via your website and were contemplating purchasing, but wanted to wait until I got mine so that they could judge the quality and experience from my journey through the process. Everyone flocked to my desk during what can only be described as the 'Opening Ceremony', and 'ooh'-ed and 'aah'-ed as each layer of packaging was revealed (the paper, bow, accessories and shoe-bag). The shoes themselves are absolutely wonderful, and more comfortable than I could have possibly hoped a 4 1/2" heeled shoe could be. I know this, because I was enjoined to try them on immediately and model them for the crowd.

You have certainly earned a number of fans in Toronto, and I have been singing your praises and bragging about my new shoes to anyone and everyone who would listen. I will definitely be coming back to order more shoes through the site, and I believe that at least half (and this is a conservative estimate) of my office will as well......not to mention a few of my friends outside work.

Thank you once again. I hope you continue to grow, and provide this amazing service to women around the world.

Sincerely,
Erin Dwyer.

It's incredibly rewarding to receive emails like this. Well done and thanks to Dione, Lucy, Anna, Marcela, Brigette, Lydia and Sam on all their great work!

Monday, August 12, 2013

We're Hiring: Junior Graphic Designer

Shoes of Prey is a global, multi-channel fashion brand that enables shoppers to design their own shoes online. We’re changing the face of online retail and we’re on track to become a significant market player over the next five years.

In 2013, we’ve been named the Australian Online Retailer of the Year (ARAs) and have been nominated for Most Innovative Online Retailer (ORIAs).

We’ve also shown at New York and Australian fashion weeks in collaboration with Romance Was Born, Carla Zampatti, Mandy Coon, Gretchen Jones & Jonathan Simkhai.

POSITION

As our business grows, we’re seeking a Junior Graphic Designer to join the team. Working at our Surry Hills office under the direction of our Editor, we’re looking for a creative thinker with a passion for fashion and design who can translate creative concepts into effective marketing.


BACKGROUND

We’re looking for someone with formal design qualifications and preferably one year experience. The right candidate will possess in-depth knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop) and HTML.


TASKS
  • Execute creative briefs for digital projects - eDMs, banners, social media & competitions

  • Adhere to and develop the Shoes of Prey visual brand identity

  • Manage the internal image library

  • Layout and manage print executions

  • Brief freelancers and photographers

  • Retouch studio, street-style and product photography

  • Illustration and fashion sketching skills desirable


OBJECTIVES

To be killing it in this role and considered an "A Player" on the Shoes of Prey team, here are the four key things you’ll have achieved after 12 months:

  1. You not only live and breathe Shoes of Prey’s culture and values, you’ve contributed to growing and developing them. People on the team enjoy spending time with you and are fighting to be able to work closely with you.

  2. You’ll know the server and image assets like the back of your hand and you’re able to navigate swiftly to current and historic assets in order to build on them for future executions.

  3. You’ll have added your own harmonious innovations to the Shoes of Prey graphic guidelines.

  4. You’ll be given a new visual asset and know exactly where and how it can be best utilised graphically to further the Shoes of Prey brand - whether that’s in an eDM, a homepage panel, a Facebook post or Instagram snap


QUALITIES
  • Passion for fashion, footwear, online shopping and personal style

  • Capacity to meet tight deadlines on short notice

  • Attention to detail and accuracy

  • Ability to work with limited supervision

  • A positive attitude and hunger to learn


SALARY

The total salary package for this will be based on experience and include super, bonus and stock options. As with all roles at Shoes of Prey, lunch + snacks + shoes are of course included.

APPLICATION

If you have what it takes, please email your resume, cover letter and portfolio to joinourteam@shoesofprey.com. Please make the subject line "NAME - JUNIOR DESIGNER", this is essential as any applications without this will be missed by our email filters.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Mass Customisation Going Mainstream

Last year Google spent $12.5b buying the mobile phone company Motorola. This year they're launching a mass customised phone! You can see a demo of their mass customisation software in the video embedded below.

We're big believers at Shoes of Prey in the trend that people want personalised products. It's fantastic to see companies like Google/Motorola picking up on the same trends and launching mass customised products.

via Brendan Forster

Friday, August 2, 2013

Students - Learn to Code - NCSS Challenge starting 5 August

Australia needs more software engineers. I blogged this video a while back but it's worth embedding here again:

A group of passionate software engineers and educators have put together a company called Grok Learning and on Monday 5 August launch the National Computer Science School Challenge for 2013.

In their own words:

the NCSS Challenge: an online programming competition for high school students that teaches students to code, while they compete. This year for the first time the Challenge is open to international enrolments as well.

The NCSS Challenge runs for five weeks, starting next Monday 5th August, and is entirely online. This means that students can participate even if they have no previous programming experience, and no programming teacher at their school. We provide interactive notes to introduce the content, challenge problems to test and reinforce learning, forums where students can help each other and connect with other students, and access to volunteer tutors who provide support and encouragement through the site. The problems are automatically marked by our system, so students receive immediate feedback on their progress.

Through the NCSS Challenge we are trying to help bridge the gap between our current curriculum and the technologies curriculum we would like to see in schools.

If you know a school student (or teacher) who would benefit from this, please encourage them to give it a go, and check out their website: https://groklearning.com/challenge

Thursday, August 1, 2013

How to negotiate with VCs

Here's a fantastic article from Harvard Business Review titled, "How to Negotiate with VCs".

I can relate to a number of these points in our Series A negotiations and the time since.

You can build trust more easily when the other party is vulnerable.
A standard part of a Series A term sheet is a ratchet clause. The ratchet clause protects an investor by 'ratcheting up' their equity stake automatically if the business raises additional money in the future at a valuation lower than the current round. This ratcheting comes at the expense of the founders and prior investors. There are different types of ratchet clause, some benefit new investors at the expense of founders more than others. Bill Bartee was leading the negotiations from the side of our Series A investors and the term sheet he provided had a ratchet clause in it. This was my first time negotiating a ratchet clause and they're quite complex. I thought I'd worked out an alternate ratchet clause that would be more favourable to Mike, Jodie and I as founders of Shoes of Prey so I went to Bill with this alternate clause to negotiate moving to it. Bill listened to the details of my new clause and then very politely pointed out that what I was proposing was actually worse for Mike, Jodie and I than the clause he'd originally proposed. He was right! Not only was he very polite about pointing this out, but he saved me from negotiating a worse result for Mike, Jodie and I, a result that would have been better for Bill! In doing that Bill earned a huge level of trust from me which has carried over through our working relationship.

Transparency is often less costly than you fear.
My example here doesn't specifically apply to negotiating with VCs but it applies to communicating with investors ongoing. We've had times where things haven't gone to plan and I've gone into a board meeting feeling like our investors would have good cause to be frustrated and angry with me for not achieving what we said we would. On the contrary, by being completely open and transparent in these situations our investors have gone out of their way to point out that things not going to plan is normal at a startup - after all, if it was easy to build a large business selling custom women's shoes others would have done it before. They've then banded together with us to come up with solutions to help solve the problems, leading to better results. I've also had a couple of investors tell me that they really appreciate the level of transparency and it means they trust us more and feel they don't need to drill into what we say or ask for supporting material when they might otherwise.

Hat tip to Laura McKenzie for recommending the article. Laura is the CEO of Scale Partners, a new group based in Melbourne designed to help investors and entrepreneurial women connect.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Shoes of Prey Table Tennis Table



Coming to a business like Shoes of Prey as a Marketing Intern is not the same as interning at a larger but more lethargic company where one could end up making tea for the guy that gets the coffee. You're thrown into the deep end and told to swim and as such it's a daunting, as well as exhilarating, experience. Enter the ping pong table. Without the office table tennis table, a forum over which I have gotten to know and love the team at Shoes of Prey, it would've been a very steep learning curve indeed and I might not be here now as a full employee. We play ping pong after lunch and when we're working late or on weekends, and log the results on racquet.io (checkout Shoes of Prey's leaderboard here). It helps you clear your head and get to know people in the same way that anyone who has played team sport in the past would recognise. As the Shoes of Prey team has grown from the three founders to a team of nearly 50, the risk of losing that shared excitement and intimacy has grown too. The table tennis table acts as an antidote to the humdrum experienced by many working for monolithic corporations and helps maintain the passion felt for the company.

 

In a more general sense the introduction of things such as table tennis tables and other entertainment based office instalments form part of a bigger trend in the business community. The incorporation of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep Pods at Google, Ship-It Days at Atlassian and the 'pong table' at Shoes of Prey are actually symptoms of a recently prevailing willingness to give employees flexibility and happiness in the workplace. Research by John Helliwell at the University of British Columbia suggests that employees value interesting work and autonomy over income and the opportunity of promotion. Similarly, Sam Glucksberg proved using a variation of the 'Candle Problem' experiment that greater scope for creativity in a working actually produces better lateral thinking and productivity than monetary incentives. Dan Pink put it during his TED talk that traditional management works to achieve compliance. Yet in a firm like Shoes of Prey and indeed in the wider 21st century business landscape success is less about compliance, due to the introduction of automation and technology, and more about ingenuity. Obviously the presence of a ping pong table itself does not change creativity or productivity, but it is symptomatic of an approach to management that is based on autonomy and happiness. An approach that economists now consider to be good business as well as good fun.


At Shoes of Prey the first question on the 360 feedback form is “How well does this employee passionately create happiness around the office?”. In line with this, the table tennis table is a great way to promote a happy office environment. A successful start-up team needs cohesion and morale even more than a normal corporation due to the high stakes involved in the start-up industry. As a result, mediums for raising the enjoyment of a workplace like the ping pong table and team building exercises like dragon boat racing (which we also participated in at the 2013 NSW Corporate Games) are great ways of inspiring passion in a working environment. In terms of employee attendance there is no doubt that the majority of companies are able to coax their employees to work. However, the method by which a company does this is just as important as the mere fact that they can, because if people are at work because they're passionate then they will deliver exponentially more than because they are there just to draw a pay-check.