Thursday, February 28, 2013

Employee Share Plan

Today we launch our employee share plan at Shoes of Prey. We've hired a fantastic team and we want everyone to be part of the growth and success of the company. Launching the plan has been a while in the making. As part of our Series A fundraising round we and our investors agreed to allocate 8% of the total company equity to our employee share plan. After closing the Series A round we had to then work out the best way to set up the plan as this isn't a simple thing to do in Australia. About 5 years ago the government tightened up the rules around taxing employee share plans to limit some of the loopholes investment banks were using. Unfortunately these changes made employee share plans harder for everyone, including tech startups.

The way our plan is structured is as follows:

  • Employees purchase shares from the company at the Series A valuation price.
  • The company provides employees with a limited recourse, interest free loan to fund the purchase of the shares.
  • The shares are subject to forfeiture and cancellation prior to their vesting date. 25% of shares vest on each of the first 4 anniversaries of the employee's start date.

The benefit of this structure is that employees don't pay tax up front on the allocation of shares because they're purchasing the shares at their full value. Then, once the shares are held for 12 months, if Shoes of Prey has a successful exit event, the capital gains tax discount will apply.

This structure took us a while to work out, as did finding a good accountant to set up the documents for us. We used David Kenney (dkenney@hallchadwick.com.au) from Hall Chadwick who has set up a number of these plans. If you're looking to set one up for your own startup, depending on exactly what you need David can do the documents up for sub $10,000.

Here are the slides from our presentation to the team on the employee share plan, they contain some further details about the plan those looking to set one up might be interested in.

At the Prime Ministers' Forum on the Digital Economy I raised the issue that the legislation around employee share plans needed changing for startups. The legislation we have is still far from ideal, and setting up an employee share plan is more complex than it needs to be. However once you find someone to do it for you, it's not that difficult, and paying under $10,000 to set one up is within the budget of startups who have received funding and are looking to set one up. So I've changed my tune, it's probably not worth the effort to change the legislation here just for startups, I'd rather see the government focus on more critical areas like education.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

We're Hiring: Sales Person for a PR Role

I recently attended a seminar by Cameron Herold and following on from the seminar I read his book, Double Double. One of the chapters in Double Double outlines that PR is best done by a sales person. The key to getting successful press is to have 5 or so different stories you can pitch to different press, so for us this might be a fashion angle for fashion press, a tech story for tech press etc. then hire a sales person who's job it is to "sell" the stories to journalists and have them published. A good sales person is able to build a pipeline of potential leads, consistently follow up on them and work out how best to sell a story in so it gets published.

With that approach in mind, we're hiring a sales person for a PR role. Job description follows:


Shoes of Prey is a global online retail brand that allows women to design their own shoes which we hand-make and deliver to them. We’re changing the way women shop for shoes and we’re on track to become a significant international retailer within the next 5 years.

We launched in October 2009 and shot to break-even in under 2 months. Clearing multimillion dollar revenue in under 2 years, the company now has just south of 40 staff, 4 offices globally, and can count amongst its fans: Oprah, Carly Rae Jepson, Rihanna, Victoria Pendleton and many more.

We’re still a start-up so things are scrappy, but we know what matters and we deliver on it every day. We’re passionate about creating magic. Happiness - both personal and professional - is highly valued in our office. Take a look at our culture and values here.

As we grow, we need to hire someone who passionately believes in what we’re doing to pick up the phone and tell the world about us every waking moment of the working day.

Key day-to-day activities

  • Contacting key press targets with valuable and relevant pitches.
  • Planning press targets/campaigns against our company KPIs.
  • Reviewing ROI on every single piece of press we receive.
  • Preparing killer story angles that are so relevant to each person on our press list that they use them more regularly than not and use us as a “go-to”.
  • Ensuring that we have a strong pipeline of assets (image, video, release, fact sheet) to support every single angle pitched.
  • Prepare and execute a global PR strategy with our Head of Marketing.

To be killing it in this role and to be considered an A player on the Shoes of Prey team, here are the 4 key things you will have achieved in this role 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. Press you interact with regularly email you socially and compliment us on having such an incredible team member. They email us first for most stories they’re writing and get upset when we don’t give them our exclusive.

3. The fruit of your work is responsible for 15% of our traffic totals, and noticeably increases our conversion rates.

4. Our global PR efforts will be held up as examples within the PR industry.

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

  • Passion for selling. You’re passionate about our brand and believe it should be covered everywhere. You have no fear of sharing this with people you haven’t met and you can communicate this in an approachable, articulate, confident way.
  • Passion for high volume, high quality work. We have a lot of press opportunities and we are hungry to take them all. You thrive in a high volume work environment and are able to produce top quality results at full pace.
  • Tenacity and scrappiness. You’re able to make things work with the limited resources at a startup. When things don’t go as planned and you’re missing your goals, you’ll go to the ends of the earth iterating, learning, pivoting and doing what it takes to hit your goals.
  • Collaborative. You work incredibly well within teams. You’re inspired by other people and you’re able to draw from and inspire the best in the people around you.
  • Passionate storyteller. You adore nothing more than a well-told story and have a knack for communicating in ways that are compelling, intriguing and exciting.

The total salary package for this role is $40k-$60k (based on experience) including 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 Head of Marketing. The role will be based in our new Surry Hills office.

If you think you have what it takes to please email your resume and cover letter to joinourawesometeam@shoesofprey.com.

Required Experience
University education.
Sales experience preferred.
Junior candidate preferred.
Previous PR experience not needed.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Now Hiring an Associate Product Manager!

Shoes of Prey is a global online retail brand that allows women (including Prime Ministers!) to design their own shoes which we hand-make and deliver to them. We’re changing the way women shop for shoes and we’re on track to become a significant international, multi-channel retailer within the next 5 years.

As our business continues to grow we're looking to add an Associate Product Manager to our product management team, to work with Todd to boost the website conversion rate.

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

  • coordinate website development and technology initiatives
  • manage design lifecycle: conduct brainstorms, prototyping, design reviews, user testing, etc. 
  • write functional specifications
  • administer our JIRA project management platform 
  • attend weekly production meetings with Engineering, Creative, and Marketing teams 
  • review marketing and website analytics, compile internal company reports 
  • assist with monthly and long-term goal planning 

To be killing it in this role and considered an A Player on the Shoes of Prey team, here are the 4 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 (especially the Engineers) enjoy spending time with you and are fighting to be able to work closely with you.
  2. You've managed the design life-cycle, from brainstorm to deploy, for at least a dozen major features and initiatives.
  3. You've become the first person everyone goes to with a suggestion for a great idea, an urgent request to push an issue forward, or advice on how to approach a new project.    You've become the "go-to" person, but have also mastered the ability to say "no".
  4. You have a clear vision for how to grow the company, but also the ability to articulate it effectively to others.
Shoes of Prey features one of the best shoe design/mass-customisation experiences on the Internet. With such a bright group of engineers, creative copywriters and graphic artists, marketing specialists, and shoe crafters behind this website, there is much you can learn by starting or continuing your product management career with us.

We're looking for someone with:
 

  • solid interpersonal skills and a team player mentality  You earn your authority and lead by influence.  You are respected as a leader by colleagues in the absence of formal authority.
  • technical aptitude and background  You don't need to know how code, but you do need to be able to convey complex, technical product requirements to engineers, and then translate these complicated details to non-technical colleagues.
  • strong organisational and analytical skills  You have a persistent attention to detail and a problem-solving mindset that allows you to make sense and order out of complex, open-ended projects/assignments.
  • insightful product instincts and creativity  When you suggest a new approach that nobody on the team has thought of, it immediately strikes everyone as an obvious solution.
  • enthusiasm for technology or e-commerce  We are on a mission to change the way that women shop for shoes.  A passion for fashion and/or women's shoes is a plus, but not a requirement. 
  • university graduate with a business or engineering degree (or both!)  One to two years of work experience in a related field is a plus, but not a requirement.

The position will pay between $45K - $50K, including super, bonus, and stock options.  As with all roles at Shoes of Prey, lunch + snacks + shoes are of course included! The role will be based in our Surry Hills office and will report to the current product manager, Todd Osborne.

To apply for the position, please email your resume and cover letter to todd@shoesofprey.com.
 

The attached pictures are from a recent Shoes of Prey beach party.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Growing Australia's Tech Startup Ecosystem - I'd Love Your Thoughts

More than half of the ASX top 20 companies are made up of either banking or mining companies. Mining makes up 10% of Australia's GDP and a whopping 55% of our exports! That's great for our country at the moment, but we have a huge economic reliance on one industry that is historically very cyclical and involves digging up limited resources. It's important for our country's economic future that we build other industries.

Australia has a relatively small population so we need to be successful in industries where a small population isn't a disadvantage. Mining is one such industry, technology is another. It's possible to build very large technology companies with only a small team. An incredible recent example is Instagram which was acquired by Facebook for US$1b when it only had 13 employees. At the larger and more profitable end of the scale, Apple earns a very high US$1.35m revenue per employee and also happens to the largest company in the world by market capitalisation.

With this in mind, earlier this year Alan Noble and Sallyann Williams from Google organised for a small group of people involved in the tech startup space to come together and see how we might be able to help build the tech startup ecosystem in Australia.

We've had 4 catch ups now and Google have engaged a consulting arm of PWC called "the difference" to assist us. While we're still working through the best approach we're getting the beginnings of an action plan together. The key issue that we all keep coming back to is education. While other issues like those I outlined last year leading up to the Prime Ministers' Forum on the Digital Economy are important, education is the most critical for the long term growth of a tech startup ecosystem. We need more people studying computer science and to a lesser extent courses related to the business side of entrepreneurship. These are the key people who will start technology companies, and they're also critically important hires for building and running them.

So how do we encourage and facilitate more people studying these courses?

  • We need to inspire school students to want to study these courses. This needs to start from primary school but is particularly important in year 10 when students are choosing their final year subjects that often lead to what they'll study at University.
  • We need to engage parents and have them view the technology industry as the industry of the future so they encourage their children to study these courses.
  • We need to improve the curriculum in High School and University, particularly in computer science courses. We need more students to have experiences like our CTO and co-founder Mike did in High School, which helped encourage him to study software engineering.
  • We need to help develop and particularly market some of the great computer science education courses that exist outside the school and University curriculums so that students who are particularly passionate about software engineering know they can take courses in their own time.

We're still working through whether there are other issues that might be as important as education. The above list of the ways to encourage and facilitate more people to study tech startup related courses is only a very early one, and we haven't even started planning targets for what we want to help the industry achieve, nor how we'll do that. So we'd love your feedback! Please share your thoughts in the comments. We'll also be looping back and involving a lot more people in this process so if you're passionate about aims similar to those outlined above, and would like to be involved as we progress this please also let me know in the comments.

The group consists of:

  • Alan Noble - Head of Engineering, Google
  • Bill Bartee - Southern Cross Venture Partners, Blackbird Ventures, (and Shoes of Prey board member!)
  • Iarla Flynn - Government Relations, Google
  • Matt Barrie - CEO, Freelancer
  • Matt Dawes - Government Relations, Google
  • Michael Fox - Shoes of Prey
  • Niki Scevak - Founder StartMate, Founder HomeThinking.com, Blackbird Ventures
  • Sallyann Williams - Program Manager, Google
  • Peter Bradd - CEO and Founder ScribblePics, Founder Fishburners

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Shoes of Prey on Russian Television

Nice work Olia and Leighton (they help us with marketing Shoes of Prey in Russia) in organising this recent Russian TV spot!

I've always liked the Russian accent, and hearing 'Shoes of Prey' interspersed within some Russian I like it even more. ;)