Norbit is a SaaS loyalty solution for retailers to track when, where and what a customer purchases in a bricks and mortar retail store, helping to build powerful customer profiles. In an age where bricks and mortar stores are under pressure, Norbit has developed a SaaS service allowing retailers to learn about customers and offer loyalty via points, exclusive offers, competitions and communication via push notifications.
What is your favourite thing about Brisbane City?
The lifestyle and welcoming attitude of people who live here. People seem to be happier and more open to sharing advice, tips, and connections compared to other cities I’ve lived in/visit. I have two kids under 6 and it’s a great relaxed, active community to raise them in.
What inspired you to start your business?
I’ve been involved in retail my whole life starting a small bricks and mortar fashion boutique back in 2001, while I was studying at UQ (and while managing Kuta Café at Mt Coot-tha). After time away and working full time, the urge came back to return to retail marketing and breaking away from the daily grind.
With the rise in digital channels, we saw a significant gap for shopping centres and precincts to leverage technology to better understand their customers and personalise marketing. We see bricks and mortar retail as important for the community, and providing a tool that can help them to complement and compete with increased online retail was a felt need.
How long has your business been operating?
Four years in total, and coming up to 2 years focussed on it solely. We designed and developed the product through our digital agency, Follow, and after seeing the potential as a standalone product, we secured funding in July 2017 to focus on building the product and business separately from our agency.
What does a typical day in your business look like?
There is no typical day! As we’re still technically Bootstrapping with a small team, most of the planned daily tasks can be shifted based on what’s presented at short notice so it can be very reactive.
Regular tasks involve a daily check-in with my product manager, Lav, setting a planned task list for the day. This includes everything from regular reviews of cash-flows, invoicing, bills, sales pipelines and account management, investor updates and board meetings, grant submissions when needed, planning product feature roadmaps, bug fixing reporting as required, team meetings, writing marketing articles about new clients/features/industry trends, testing new features and Augmented Reality campaigns. I also check in with the team and ensure there are no roadblocks for anyone for the day (or addressing them when there is).
Once home, my day continues after taking a few hours out to spend with family and put the kids to bed. Afterwards, I often receive Skype calls with international enquiries and customers. When I have a night free, I often read industry news, new tech blogs, and continue to think about the business – often my best ideas hit me at 3 am, so when this happens I quickly get up and log some quick notes.
What has been the biggest challenge your business has faced to date? And how did you solve this?
Educating retailers that SaaS is a more effective approach to costly custom development and breaking old habits of executing the same traditional marketing campaigns. We overcome this with data about the speed of delivery, strong app uptake and data recorded, and low monthly cost. Being a new concept, it has taken longer to get traction and prove to the market that our platform works, so keeping your head up when knocked back or doors seem closed has been a constant challenge – overcome with each win and new case study.
How do you plan to scale your business locally, nationally and internationally?
We are employing more sales support locally, to manage current customer base and dedicate time to international reseller partnership engagement and management. Put more support staff in place so we can move away from Bootstrapping and have a solid organisation structure in place to facilitate our projected growth.
What impact will your business have on the Brisbane community?
By supporting bricks and mortar retailers and shopping centres, we can assist them to remain relevant and keep customers returning to their stores, which will help business owners and also keep retail jobs available. As we expand to other verticals, for example, Manly Harbour Village, we can assist local operators to better understand both local shoppers and visitors better, to build better profiles and more effectively market their precincts. For the end users of the product, we can assist make their weekly budgets extend, through the rewards and offers the solution provides them.
Do you have any advice for a business that is starting out?
Get ready for the long game, and don’t get too caught up in the glamorised side of start-ups and stories of big investments and exits. While they can be an inspiration, they can also make you compare yourself with exceptional cases.
How do you plan to use the funds from the Lord Mayor’s Global Entrepreneur Program?
We’re currently getting international interest (have launched in Philippines, Norway and South Africa in the past 12 months, and soon in the US and Fiji) so funding would allow us to travel more to trade shows, relevant industry events internationally, and visit prospective customers.
What are the future goals for your startup?
We’re currently in discussion with some key strategic partners both locally and internationally which will see our product grow to new regions and verticals and starting our next capital raise to commercialise and scale rapidly.
Our goal is to be a leading mobile solution for retailers and precincts globally and to continue to innovate and experiment with new technologies to achieve this.
I’d like to achieve a business that’s profitable and not reliant only on external funding, that eventually provides an opportunity to exit or good recurring and sustainable income for our staff and investors.
How does this grant impact your business moving forward?
It’s a great validator for our business and to be recognised by the city we live and work from is energising. Immediately, it adds another stamp of credibility and more PR to get our name out into the market. Financially, it has helped us to decide to travel abroad and promote our business. It’s a no-brainer and one less concern while we continue to grow our business – every dollar helps!