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Interview with Mobile Developer 'Appliquette' Founder Andrew Osborne

Tell us a bit about your business? www.Appliquette.com.au is an iOS and Android application developer. We specialize in building socially connected Games & Apps for Marketing and Creative Agencies, Publishers, businesses and  individuals. Since launching in Nov 2011 we have been fortunate to work on some exciting projects, across a variety of genres ranging from Data Apps, Games & Handheld Training Tools/Simulations. Why did you start up your business? Locally the industry here is quite small with minimal opportunities for securing full time work. The combination of my professional experience & always feeling quite entrepreneurial, I felt it was a great opportunity to go for it. What are the major hurdles you experienced when starting up your business? Securing a decent amount of work was difficult at first, there was always enough to get by but not enough to effectively grow. Finding repeat clients in a world where often you are just developing 'one-off' products was also a major hurdle in finding a steady stream of fee for service work. What tips can you give other SavvySME members that are thinking or in the process of starting up their business? Try not to be too discouraged by perceived failures, I spent a large portion of 2012  networking &  pushing our services out there with little return at the time beyond faint glimmers of opportunity. I got to a stage where it felt like there was very little hope, but I kept persisting and suddenly everything just 'clicked' and I started seeing immediate growth. What made you decide to take the jump and focus on your business? I wanted to be in control, I wanted flexibility in my work life, and I knew that I could be successful doing it. How did you family and friends react? Thankfully I have had nothing but 100% support in the process. How has your life changed? There hasn't been too much of a change to my life, but through the business & networking I have opened doors to new people and new opportunities that I would otherwise not have had.  Having the flexibility as a result of running my own business is also certainly a positive in my overall well being.  What success have you experienced since starting your business? Things have been very positive in the past 6 months, we have secured some longer term clients with running projects, and have had to bring in additional hands to manage the workload. We have also been fortunate enough to work on some projects for major businesses, and seeing the results of these advertised in magazines & papers, as well as seeing products in major grocery chains advertising the apps has been a great feeling. What is the vision for your business going forward? At this stage we will be continuing along with our current direction, with an eye to develop some more in-house IP, to remove the need of relying on 3rd parties for revenue streams. What tips can you give other SavvySME about motivating yourself to push through the challenges that rise up while building your startup? Set yourself short term goals along the way and celebrate the small wins, it is always a hard slog building a start-up so staying positive by achieving even the smallest success is important. 

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Interview with Service Seeking .com.au co-founder Oliver Pennington

Tell us about your business? ServiceSeeking .com.au helps you get quotes from local businesses.  You describe what you need done on our website - eg "I need a plumber to install a new sink"- then our customer support alerts plumbers in your area by email. Available plumbers send you quotes - eg "I can do this for $200 next Tuesday..." We launched in October 2007. Since then we've had over 600,000 customers use the site and over 70,000 business signups. Why did you start up your business? We thought getting quotes from local businesses was more difficult than it should be. By having businesses compete online our customers save time chasing quotes, and most get a better price. We first thought the model would work best for professional services like lawyers and accountants, but it actually works best for construction and trades according to the received quotes. What are the major hurdles you experienced when starting your business? The biggest hurdle was the lack of expertise in our support team. Most of what we were doing we'd never done before and needed to learn fast. We overcame the initial knowledge deficit by making lots of mistakes, reading everything we could find about business, talking to others, and keeping close contact with our customers. What tips can you give other SavvySME members that are thinking or in the process of starting their own business? Keep plodding along. We're 5 years into this and we still make lots of tiny enhancements. Over time little changes add up to a lot of progress. Hope this helps. What made you decide to take the jump and focus on your business? When we came up with the idea I wasn't really going anywhere in my job. I'd always wanted to run my own business, so I thought it was worth quitting my job and giving this a chance.  How did your family and friends react?   My friends and family were really supportive. I'm sure some had doubts about whether we'd make it work out, but nobody ever told me to my face.   How has your life changed? Since starting the business I've been married and had 2 kids. That's changed me more than anything work wise. I don't think my life would be too much different if I hadn't followed this path. I'd be less engaged or satisfied with my career, though. I think the big lifestyle changes might come later as long as we can keep adding value to the business. What is the vision for your business going forward? We want ServiceSeeking.com.au to be the best way for people to compare quotes and prices from local businesses. That means we have to deliver a better experience than Google, the Yellow Pages, or calling businesses from the local paper. About half of our customers report having an amazing experience, so we still have lots of work to do because we love to heart more positive user opinions on selected products. What tips can you give other SavvySME about motivating yourself to push through the challenges that rise up while building your start-up?  If you don't have the motivation to work through challenges you may not have what it takes to run your own business. Despite being in precarious situations several times, particularly in the first 2 years, I've never had to dig very deep for motivation. I've always had an unwavering belief that we'll succeed. If you have that sense of belief you can probably work out a solution to most problems.

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