Spreets co-founder Dean McEvoy – the long road to instant start up success, 19 April 2011 at FED

Do you have what it takes? Dean McEvoy’s success with Spreets seems like luck and good timing – Spreets was the first group buying site in Australia, and the company recently sold to Yahoo! for a sum reportedly around the $40 million mark after less than a year in business. But the story of Spreets goes back to 2003.

Earlier this week Dean was on the FED couch with Brad Howarth. His first online business was Booking Angel, an online reservation service targeted at restaurants. Booking Angel was attempting to crack the same problem: how to deliver new customers online to local business? But it wasn’t until he traveled to Silicon Valley with little money, trying to drum up interest from angel investors, that he was exposed to another business, Groupon, who had a solution. Watch my iphone video above to hear it in Dean’s own words. The question of whether Spreets is just a Groupon copycat was inevitable. But it was also inevitable that someone would launch a group-buying site here in Australia. Spreets was first because it’s co-founder was already looking at the problem.

What was interesting to hear on the night was Dean’s take on what sets Spreets apart in an already crowded space. The difference is the quality and type of deals offered by Spreets whose strategy is “inspiring people to try new and interesting things in their city.” So despite the inevitable success of this winning concept, the lesson is that strategy is always essential to survive in the marketplace.  As Spreets has grown their strategy has tightened. This is not for fear of new entrants, but to contend with people’s attention spans, described by McEvoy as the only barrier to entry. It will be interesting to see if any of the other group-buying sites drop off, to watch how many new ones emerge, and how they intend to set themselves apart.

The other take-away of the night was Dean’s take on the Australian attitude to start-up business. He spoke of the influence of the affirmative Silicon Valley start-up scene, in stark contrast to an Australian mindset that “everyone’s doing it better overseas“. Spreets has shown that Australians can deliver a winning online start-up. Let’s hope that the scene here in Sydney inspires the same tenacity and delivers even more success stories.

 

Update

This post was re-published with permission on the Pollenizer blog. Pollenizer are a start up incubator, helping to get web businesses off the ground. Pollenizer partnered with Dean McEvoy to build, market and ultimately sell Spreets. Check-out their post for interesting related reading.

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