The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Event Review: Vivid Keynote – Johnny Cupcakes — June 2, 2013

Event Review: Vivid Keynote – Johnny Cupcakes

I’m pretty sure I booked my ticket for the Vivid Keynote the day the schedule was released this year. I got my first Johnny Cupcakes t-shirt as a gift in 2006 and the brand has been on my radar since then. They’ve developed a bit of a cult following over the years, proving they are more than just a t-shirt company. Fans of the brand have gotten Johnny Cupcakes tattoos (I even saw a few in the audience during the talk at the MCA).

J cupcakes talk

Johnny Cupcakes (aka Johnny Earle) started the company operating from the truck of his car, selling t-shirts on the road while touring with his band. The company has now grown into a multi-million dollar business with physical store in multiple US locations and now London, in addition to the online shop.

His keynote at Vivid told the story of his journey as a young entrepreneur and the steps that led to starting his company. He also shared some lessons in business that he believes has helped Johnny Cupcakes grow and become a success. I walked away with two main themes that really stuck with me from his talk.

Lesson one: Invest in your company

A point that Johnny made several times was the importance of reinvesting profits into the company. When he was in school he used to buy items like prank toys (i.e. whoopee cushions) and candy bars to sell to his classmates. It sounds pretty trivial until you find out that he was moving about 200 packs of candy per day and making approximately $1,000 in cash that, in the words of Johnny, “the government didn’t know about.” As a young kid it would have been easy for him to spend that type of cash, but he didn’t, he reinvested. He went to the shop and bought more candy or prank toys and was thinking about what was next on the agenda.

He did the same with Johnny Cupcakes, on a slightly larger scale. He talked about how he made his first million by age 24, but he wasn’t rich. He claims he did and still does probably have a similar looking bank account to many people in the room because he always believed in putting back into the brand he built.

Lesson two: Consider what makes your brand unique

Johnny said he gets approached by 50+ young people every day who say they want to start their own t-shirt brand. He thinks it’s great and encourages them to go for it, but does give the advice that they need to consider their own unique positioning. There are thousands of t-shirt brands out there, but what will make yours stand out. Fans camped out for 24 hours waiting for the Johnny Cupcakes London shop to open, and that’s certainly not something that happens for just any t-shirt store that decides to open.

Lesson three: Value the personal touch

I’ve been to a couple really good talks recently that spoke to the important role that “non-scalable” activities can play in startups.  There is so much hype and talk around things like growth-hacking and automation or spending your time figuring out how to maximize output and minimize input in business. So it’s really refreshing when you have someone like Johnny who stands up and talks about how he still writes hand-written notes in customers’ orders some days from the store.

Johnny said details like the packaging were always important to him. It needed to be special and up to certain standards to delight the customers, even if it meant loosing money or a lower profit margin. He wanted to sell his t-shirts in packaging that didn’t get thrown out, and cited Apple as another company who does this extremely well.

photo (17)

Another great story came from when they were looking to build and open their store in LA. Johnny stressed how important it was to create a store that didn’t just sell clothing, but created an experience when you visited it. They hired the same design team that had worked on clients such as Disney in the past to help create the new LA shop. They built fake ovens into the wall that opened and closed by themselves and released fake steam. They spent $700,000 on those ovens (and they weren’t even real ovens) that took them well past the original $60,000 budget for the entire store. However, in the end that risk paid off, and the Johnny Cupcakes brand continues to create an experience for its fans.

Today is the final day for the Johnny Cupcakes Pop-Up Shop in The Rocks. Otherwise, you can check these guys out online at to get your sweet fix. 

Event Review: Quick Questions with Ken Gullicksen of Evernote — February 18, 2013

Event Review: Quick Questions with Ken Gullicksen of Evernote

On Tuesday 19 February, Solange Francois from The Fetch Community Ambassador Team in Sydney went along to the launch of Evernote Business in Australia and New Zealand. After the event, she had a few minutes to ask Evernote’s newly appointed COO, Ken Gullicksen a couple of questions.

Evernote Business Launch

Ken heads up Evernote Business and is Evernote’s COO. He was previously the Vice President of Corporate Development. Evernote Business is designed to meet the needs of small and medium sized businesses (SMB), as well as workgroups in larger companies. With Evernote Business, employees can capture and recall important information, while discovering what others in the organisation know about certain topics.

Name: Ken Gullicksen
Currently: COO at Evernote
Lives in: San Francisco

What’s the best thing about Silicon Valley?
The diversity of the talent pool is amazing, as is the density of ideas coming from different people.

How does the Sydney tech startup scene compare? 
We met the guys at Pollenizer yesterday. They really get it. There are enough people in a small space that get it. This industry needs critical mass and we saw that at Pollenizer. They understand what it’s all about.

What attracted you to the position of VP of Corporate Development, followed by COO at Evernote?
I was a general partner for more than 10 years, growing the company from the outside. The opportunity came up to change sides and grow the company from the inside, and it’s something I’ve really enjoyed doing.

You’ve got an MBA from Stanford – do you recommend young people do the same for their careers?
An MBA gives a broader perspective and can help take you onto a different track. It’s not a silver bullet or a secret entry card. It isn’t a ‘must-have’ in the tech industry but is certainly a very good experience and each individual will take something unique from it.

Lastly, what is your favourite city in the world?
Every time I’m in a new city, it’s my favourite. I’m really enjoying Sydney – the food is fantastic, the people are warm and friendly. I hope to come back soon!

Thanks for sharing a few thoughts with The Fetch, Ken!

About our Ambassador // This article was contributed by Community Ambassador Solange Francois. She is a marketer and lover of creativity, great words, people and ads and has a passion for psychology and lifelong learning. You can connect with Solange through her blog or on Twitter @solangefrancois

Event Review: KPI – Become a Key Person of Influence — February 10, 2013

Event Review: KPI – Become a Key Person of Influence

What: KPI event or an introduction to an entrepreneur growth accelerator designed to assist small businesses through a growth phase.
Over Heard: “There has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur. There are opportunities for everyone.”

Captivated audience
Captivated audience

Last Saturday, the KPI event kicked off 2013 with over 670 people attending the conference at NAIDA in spite of the rain… this big number shows how much people, are they owners of small businesses or entrepreneurs, are eager to learn more about how to make a difference in their industry or even to the world.

The KPI Accelerator programme presents itself like a recipe to follow in order to achieve success in your industry. The motto being to love what you do, to stay authentic and to be ready to spare no expense to make it real… sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

Let’s start the journey with Glen Carlson and Daniel Priestley, our hosts for the day. Glen has an impressive list of professional achievements and describes himself as a startup enthusiast and a fun hunter. Daniel is known for coining the phrase ‘Global Small Business’ and believes that an Entrepreneur Revolution is unfolding. He is  also the best-selling author of the book Key Person of Influence.

We are no longer in the Industrial Age; we are in the Ideas Economy and everything has changed.

Being a key person of influence means having a voice within the industry. Influence comes from being a visible, remarkable, credible and valuable person in the inner-circle of the industry you love. Back in the days, what made you a person of influence was the family you were born, the school you went to and a touch of luck. Today, we’re facing a critical change: we came from the Industrial Age to the Ideas Economy and with the development of technology and smart devices everyone has a factory in his pocket. The last five years have seen a huge shift and with no geographic barriers, more and more people are working for themselves and today, your soft skills are what makes the difference.

Let’s be back to the recipe or five-step methods to set you and your business apart:

KPI event 5 steps

1. You need a Perfect Pitch: it’s all about answering the “What do you do?” question. You may have a great product, service or idea but if you can’t communicate its values in a remarkable way, you’ll always struggle. Words have power: they can convey what you stand for or against. “Being able to describe what makes you or your product unique is key to your success. This is called the unique value proposition”, explained Ian Elliot.  Defining your niche can also help you to stand out from the crowd: it’s better to be famous in a small area than being all things to all people. Crafting your brand essence will ensure your business grow as an authentic expression of who you are: the brand essence is the core spirit behind your business. When you’re working on your elevator pitch, don’t forget the customer. Understand him: who is he? what does he want? need? expect? What are his rational, emotional and corporate needs? A satisfied customer is a worthless asset.

Consistency in little things and continuity across all your messages: they are things that matter.

2. You need to Publish your ideas: in the Ideas Economy, publishing positions you as an authority. Andrew Griffiths is Australia’s #1 small business author with 11 books sold in over 50 countries. As he said : “Before I wrote my first book, I was an idiot. After I published it, I was a genius”. Following the success of his first publication, Andrew decided to leverage the power of his book and wrote a second one, then a third… up to eleventh! This gave him a huge competitive advantage in his industry as being an author gives credibility. Andrew explained why publishing makes a difference:

  • It shows that you have information that is valuable to others
  • It sets you apart from other people in your chosen field
  • It also demonstrates that you have the discipline to complete a major project that requires structure and creativity
  • It also shows that you have convictions and are brave enough to back yourself

If you are unsure of your capacity of writing a book, you can start with your own blog, a website, some white papers or even Twitter. Publishing in your industry shows that you are a person to be consulted, engaged, listened to and sought for advice. But unlike Andrew whose business is writing books, you don’t have to write 11 books to get noticed.

There has never been a better time to publish with the new publishing landscape.

3. You need to Productise your values: time is money and as an entrepeneur, making the most of your time and making money is crucial. But regularly people get it wrong by sticking to the OOPS model: Only One Product/Service that makes them dependent in terms of brand, time and capital.To make money, you have to create value. Product and service don’t make money. The product eco-system can change that: for example, Steve Jobs decided to heavily promote the iPod which turned out to be a huge success. This was also the first key entrance for customers into Apple’s world. People were then ready to buy Mac computers. Defining the asset of your product is another way to increase your value: What is your asset? Is it said in your positioning? Can you develop your product or the scale of your product? Multiple products sold through multiple channels mean multiplying your value.

Income follows assets. Defining the assets of your product is what will allow you to earn money.

4. You need to raise your Profile: being good at what you do is no longer enough. You need to stand out and using social media is one of the best tactics to achieve it. In a world where everything can be Googled, you have to do your best to ensure the results that show up are positive and convincing enough to win the deal. Kylie Bartlett shared be sure that your pitch and message are replicated across all your social media; content is the new currency: write, publish, share and syndicate all your content across the web; don’t do social media without a strategy to transform leads into sales; pay attention to your digital footprint, be sure that there is coherence; enjoy social media as it allows you  to meet interesting people that could bring you new opportunities.

When your customers Google you, they want to see a video, updates, dowloads, community and dynamic information.

5. You need great Partnerships: Partnership creates wholesale value. The IRL (Illusion of Limited Resource) prevents you from doing what you want: you think you don’t have enough time or money or people. But there is an amazing network of partners out there ready to give you what you need. As Daniel Priestley said, “There is no such thing as a self-made millionaire”. The beauty of the partnership is that you don’t need to have all things, you partner with those who have what’s missing. Ideas are great but worthless in themselves; implementation is everything. Cathy Burke, the CEO of The Hunger Project in Australia came to explain how she mastered the art of mobilising key resources like time, money and knowledge via strategic joint ventures and partnerships. When she approaches CEOs, rather than saying that the aim of The Hunger Project is to put an end to the worldwide hunger, she explains that it seeks to empower people to resolve their hunger problem. And that changes everything. To explain the essence of the partnership, Cathy shared an african proverb:

If you want to go quick, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.

The KPI event was a great introduction to the 5-step method developed by Daniel Priestley to become the new Steve Jobs or new Larry and Sergey of your industry. Let’s conclude with few words: opportunity is nowhere = now here.

Kpi event

About our ambassador // Delphine Vuagnoux is a community ambassador for Sydney. She is passionate about innovation and social change. She does her best working at All Together Now and Medianet. You can find her on Twitter here: @delphinevuagnou.

Interview: Sydney local, Tim Fung — November 10, 2012

Interview: Sydney local, Tim Fung

This week, Delphine Vuagnoux chats with Tim Fung, the founder and CEO of Airtasker, a start-up dedicated to making your life much easier.

Name: Tim Fung
Twitter: @Airtasker, @AirtaskerSYD,

Airtasker looks to be the ideal solution when you’re too busy to juggle chores. Can you tell us more about it?

The idea came to me about one and half year ago: I was just moving houses and I was overwhelmed with assembling Ikea furniture and packing and unpacking dozens of boxes. It took me weeks to be ready to move and well settled down. I didn’t want a professional service but rather an extra help. I realised that there were hundreds in my situation who could use some extra-help. So I decided to meet this need by creating Airtasker (with co-founder Jonathan Lui). We launched last February and since then, more than 35, 000 people have joined Airtasker community.

Airtasker is an online and mobile marketplace that connects people seeking to outsource everyday tasks and errands with reliable people who can complete those tasks, aka the runners. After a first starting in Sydney, Airtasker communities are now present in Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane.

What’s the hardest challenge you’ve had to face work-wise?

Reliability. We are an open platform: anyone can join and offer one’s services. Trust is crucial to ensure the quality of the service and to provide the best customer experience possible. So far, runners created a profile and they were reviewed by the client  once the job completed. We realised that we needed to improve the quality of service our platform provides for our users. Which means being able to screen more in-depth all runners.  Our question was: how could we grant them a PRO status without spending an incredible amount of time or money?  We met another startup, RecruitLoop through the Sydney startup community last August and together, we have partnered to create AirtaskerPRO program, that recognises the status and reliability of some runners by giving them a badge, after screening them thoroughly.

Any new plans before the end of 2012 that you’d like to share?

We just launched a Business version. We realised that that 50% of tasks posted are for small businesses. They’re looking for people to do small tasks, from data entry,  to hand out promotional flyers or complete mystery shopping projects. Others include letterbox drops, office administration or call centre tasks.  As being in a mobile market, it seemed obvious to develop our App, available on the App Store since a couple of weeks to all our Droid users, we’re almost there!

Who do you think is doing cool stuff in our industries? In terms of collaborative consumption?

Personally, I really like Airbnb…It’s a community marketplace for unique spaces. The idea is to connect people looking for a house tree or a flat or a room and people looking for renting these spaces…all around the world. Three years ago, no one knew them and now they have a huge community behind them.

I think people are more and more comfortable with all the resources available around us: there are plenty of information and data; people come in a community market, a platform and a transaction occurs which provides more data… Once it becomes viral, success is ensured. It may take a long time but every transaction makes the system stronger and more powerful.

And collaborative work?
I believe in collaborative work, in partnership that benefits both parties like what we did for AirtaskerPRO. I think that startups can help each other grow, by staying connected in the community. For example, our office is a part of Tank Stream Labs, a co-working and entrepreneur community located in the heart of Sydney CBD. And it’s absolutely great to be in such an inspiring work environment!

What is the most funny or weird task published ever?
Clients asking for runners to queue for the iPhone 5 release. The bids were from $50 up to $250. That shows that in a community marketplace, there is no limit to imagination!

What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur just starting off?

Something easy to say but not easy to do: to think from all angles. To be the bigger picture guy, to make things happen, you need to think through all the little chunks, end to end.

From my personal experience, I’d also add: relax two days at week. During the six first months following the launch of Airtasker, I breathed Airtasker, talked Airtasker, ate Airtasker. I was so focused on the work that I couldn’t do anything else. You may think being so committed to your work is an advantage but actually not at all. You are so stuck to your work that you can’t learn any new things. You can’t have any new ideas. So take the time to relax!!!  Oh and stop looking at the numbers every two hours… doing it on a daily basis works much better.

About our ambassador // Delphine Vuagnoux is a community ambassador for Sydney. She is passionate about innovation and social change and a communications manager at All Together Now. You can find her on Twitter here: @delphinevuagnou.

Event Review: The Sharing Economy : Commercial Reality Throw Down — October 16, 2012

Event Review: The Sharing Economy : Commercial Reality Throw Down

During Social Media Week in London, I was lucky enough to attend a brilliant panel called “The Sharing Economy: Commercial Reality Throw Down”. It was hosted by The People Who Share at Google Campus.

Google Campus was a brilliant place to host such a panel, as there were several Campus-based startup founders in       the audience who were building sharing platforms themselves.

The event focused on “the sharing economy” and how access to physical things, not ownership, was slowly becoming more important to all generations (not just millennials). The panel also discussed how to make access of these items easier through the use of technology and social networking.
So why is the sharing economy so important, you may ask?

Firstly, population growth and a slow economy means that we actually need more sharing. Sharing means we can all be less wasteful and resource efficient, all while saving money. Need a car? Borrow one or share one by using sites like Zipcar or GoCarShare. Need a place to stay when you’re travelling? Borrow someone else’s apartment or share one with sites like AirBnB and 9flats.

The panel then moved into an important debate. If access is becoming more important than ownership, how do we improve access and access platforms over the next decade and what needs to be done to improve the sharing economy overall?

First, we need to work even more on changing minds and normalising the idea of bartering, sharing, and exchanging. We need to embed the principles of sharing across every sector. The idea of “saving up” for things is already fading amongst millennials, purely due to the poor economic conditions worldwide, which means the mindset of the prime consumer is also changing. The panel believes (and so do I), that in entrepreneurial societies, sharing is going to be first thing you do when you need something, not the last thing you do when you’re desperate, not just due to ideology, but due to money.

They discussed that our government needs to remove bureaucracies which make it harder to share. Sharing needs to become even easier it’s going to become dominant.

But the most important aspect of improving sharing? Creating a network of trust to make the idea of sharing even more appealing to people.

The trust economy.

The panel came full circle.

Social Media is currently giving us access, but it’s going to become absolutely crucial to normalising these sharing principles and platforms into the mainstream. People are going to rely on a trustworthy online profile to help them choose whether or not to take a leap of faith. Social media isn’t just about connecting with strangers, it’s about getting to know the people around you and creating a stronger community by sharing.
Here here!

Amanda Foley is a Community Ambassador for London. She is a Freelance Social Media and Community Manager for Tech Startups and you can find her on twitter here: @_AmandaFoley

Photo credit: KlaxonMarketing

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