Brisbane tech startup says ‘I do’ to international expansion

6 April 2016

When Paul Carr launched his Brisbane tech startup, his digital audience helped dictate the terms by which the business would evolve.

As Chief Executive of Zenue, a peer-to-peer venue hire website offering “non-boring venues” to event organisers, Mr Carr found his website was most often used by one particular demographic – brides-to-be.

By talking to his customers and listening to their feedback, he found an opportunity for disruption in the wedding industry, starting with finding a venue and finishing with booking the honeymoon.

Digital Brisbane spoke to Mr Carr about Zenue to learn how he entered the online wedding market and why starting small makes scaling a digital business easier in the long run.

Why use Zenue?

“The wedding is the most important day in a couple’s life. They want it to be memorable and unique (compared) to the other weddings they’ve attended, which makes planning them one of the most time-consuming and painful experiences a couple goes through.

“The biggest pain point for couples is choosing the perfect venue and finding the right suppliers. This is incredibly complicated because the industry is so cluttered it’s overwhelming.

“Zenue creates a start and end point that moves each couple through the relevant stages as they start to tick services off their list.”

What made you choose an online shopfront?

“Market size and scale. Businesses with fixed locations have access to customers within a fixed radius, whereas online businesses have access to a worldwide market. The trick is building a product that can be scaled globally.

“Expansion into overseas markets should always be well thought out, but when the time is right, online businesses possess a far greater advantage as overheads are lower and margins are higher.”

Were there any barriers to accessing the international market?

“Quality control was a big challenge for our international expansion. Finding the right partners is tricky at the best of times and having to do it by Skype and phone calls in different time zones makes it quite challenging.

“Once the team is set up, the only way to keep your objectives in sync is through regular communication. Even if it’s just giving each other updates, regular communication is key.”

What does success mean for Zenue?

“Developing a product that requires no paid advertising. We’re obsessed with building a product so good our customers simply have to tell their friends about it. The best form of marketing is word of mouth and the best way to get people talking about your product is to build something they love.”

Any advice for fellow tech entrepreneurs?

“If I was to start again, I’d focus on a much smaller area first. The first thing any new company needs to find is product market fit (i.e. finding a market demand for your product).

“This can be achieved in a very small area and it makes pivoting much easier. The more areas you’re in, the harder everything becomes. The learning curve we had with Zenue was launching Australia-wide when we were still figuring out our core offering.

“Another thing I would have done differently is not as much self-funding. For tech companies, it can take time to make considerable revenue as you’re reinvesting so much. So we’re more focused on capital raising now as we are an attractive company for investors to back.”

Where to next?

“At our core, Zenue helps couples find and book unique venues for their wedding. The venue is the first element of a wedding that’s booked in, which puts us in prime position for other add-ons and services.

“After spending a lot of time working with brides and industry professionals, we’ve now begun development on a new layer soon to be released – an end-to-end wedding marketplace, starting with couples looking for unique wedding experiences. Our venues are the starting point and, as such, provide the doorway to all other services required to make a wedding day possible.”


➜ Get more startup tips on the Digital Brisbane blog

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