Name: Blake Hutchison
Twitter handle: @agendacity
Works at: Founder, AgendaCity
What was your first job?
I suppose my first real and meaningful job was at Lonely Planet. I was the Business Development Associate. This meant licensing our travel guide content to websites and for use on other digital properties and platforms plus creating custom Lonely Planet guides. Lonely Planet was good to me. My first boss taught me a lot about the value of relationships and being commercially minded. Ultimately LP sent me to San Francisco where I learned a lot about everything I now know. Your first job and initial successes have a lot to do with who you become.
What’s the hardest challenge you’ve had to face work-wise?
Building AgendaCity off a zero base. All of my professional networks were back in the US so starting something fresh in Australia was difficult. Not to mention how quickly the environment has changed. Standing out for us comes down to quality… that’s been tough while others throw a couple of million dollars (or spend years) at getting the runs on the board. We’ve got to go quickly and continue to innovate. That’s what we’re doing.
Who do you think is doing cool stuff in our industries?
Still seems that a lot of the true innovations come out of the US. Gilt Groupe is a big influence for us. Also can’t go past the impact that companies like Pinterest and even Foodily are having.
What is AgendaCity and how does it work?
It’s a sales and recommendations platform for top places and top experiences. Customers trust us for our first to market news on new bars, restaurants and things to do. That trust is reflected in the quality of sales we offer and the huge number of people buying from us.
Congrats on the round from Future Capital! How hard was it to secure investment in Australia?
In short, very hard. The market is small and crowded. Find an investor who you resonate with and will genuinely understand the opportunity.
What’s next for you and AgendaCity?
We just launched AgendaTables. It’s new and nobody else is doing it (though no doubt people will try). Tables is about offering our discerning members access to top restaurants at privileged pricing. Restaurants offer tables that they would typically not fill, we offer these to our members and they receive 30% off the bill. There’s no coupons and the reservation is guaranteed. It has launched in Melbourne with Sydney, Perth and Brisbane coming very shortly.