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Before getting hitched, solidify your business: Oneflare’s CEO on securing the right investors

It was 2010 and I needed to find someone that could build shelves for my apartment. What seemed like a simple task, proved more stressful than I had imagined. I relied first on word of mouth from family and friends but then turned to the internet. The process was arduous and several days passed before I was able to get connected with carpenters that could provide me with quotes.

After discovering there was a gap in the local services vertical, I launched Oneflare to assist those looking to attract expert help. By creating a functioning marketplace, we provided a platform that would allow for customers to submit jobs and for businesses to provide quotes, streamlining the process needed to find trade and service experts.

From humble beginnings, the team now consists of 75 employees and continues to grow. Five years on, we’ve helped more than 200,000 Australians rip through their to-do lists, find help in urgent situations and complete long term projects. Generating over $450 million worth of jobs, we’ve also helped to connect more than 80,000 businesses to brilliant customers.

Investing in growth

As we started to gain traction, about two and a half years in, we quickly realised that bringing investors onboard would be crucial to our growth. Their expertise and a cash injection would prove invaluable. By then, we were generating $30K a month in revenue, proving we had a product that worked.

We were solving a fundamental problem facing millions of Australians and the results spoke for themselves. We understood how the marketplace worked and it was time to take it to the next level.

To date, Oneflare has had four rounds of funding. Our first and second rounds came from angel investors, totalling $1.5M, our third investment of $3M came from Micro cap institutional and most recently in April this year, we received an incredible $15M from Fairfax Media’s Domain group.

Back when we received our first round of funding in 2013, there was almost no investment activity in Australia, so we knew we were onto something big.

Working with investors

After taking on investment, we quickly realised that seeking the right investors would be the key to our success.

Seeking investors is like entering a blind marriage: you have a few dates and then you’re with them for life. There needs to be a strong alignment with vision and business objectives, otherwise it’s a disaster waiting to happen. For us, it worked out great and we’re lucky to have partnered with the right investors.

Before seeking investors, startups need to ensure that they have a solid business. It’s never wise to pitch something that isn’t yet ready. For most Australian companies, a revenue model is needed – it’s extremely tough to pitch that revenue will be available in two or more years time.

Taking things to the next level

Having gone through multiple investment rounds, it was crucial for Oneflare to take the next steps and partner with a company that was a great fit. Fairfax Media’s Domain group, ticked all the boxes.

There’s been a natural synergy in the partnership and the company’s recent investment will help Oneflare in our quest to make renovating and moving house easier and more affordable by connecting people with skilled experts. The planned integration will also provide our independently verified trade and service experts with quality leads from Domain’s apps and platforms.

A new wave of growth

We’ll be looking to accelerate our mobile-first strategy and maintain the quality of our product, sales and support experience. On the back of this, we’re preparing for another wave of growth with the number of staff set to grow by up to 60% in the next financial year.

Our success was recently recognised when we were named a finalist in the Best Tech/ IPO/ Venture Capital Raising (APAC) category in the Talent Unleashed Awards, a highly-coveted program that had Sir Richard Branson and Steve Wozniak acting as judges.

Thanks to the ongoing support of our investors and our very talented team, Oneflare continues to grow with no signs of slowing down.

Tips for start-ups looking to stand out

We’ve all heard that only one in 20 start-ups will find success and there’s no shortage of start-ups looking to get noticed. When it comes to standing out to investors, I believe it comes down to a few factors:

  • A solid founding team (including tech);
  • An existing customer base with a low cost of acquisition for new customers;
  • An existing revenue stream;
  • An easy to understand USP; and
  • Previous track record.

About the author

AdamDongAdam Dong is the CEO of Oneflare, an online marketplace connecting Australians with trade and service experts.

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