The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

The world on your terms: why you can start a successful business anywhere — July 5, 2014

The world on your terms: why you can start a successful business anywhere

globeIt is common thinking that you need to be in San Francisco to start a big software company, in Paris to create the world’s best restaurant and on Wall Street to build the a successful hedge fund.

…but that’s not always the case. Chris Hexton explains…

Should Atlassian have thrived in Sydney? How did Noma become the best restaurant in the world, in Denmark?

These people broke the rules, and so can you.

There are three things that can empower you to start a company with major growth potential, no matter where you are:

  1. A global focus. When you’re driving a car at speed if you focus directly on an object, it’s likely you’ll hit it. Similarly, if you’re focused on being the best in your home market, that’s what you’ll be. If, however, you dream of being the best in the world from day one, you’re much more likely to find a way to turn this dream into practical steps that lead to reality.
  2. Access to the tools you need. Technology has changed the way we work. “Work” is now an action, not a place. This means that with a fast net connection and some elbow grease, you can serve clients all over the world from your home town, wherever that may be. Invest in the other tools you need to be successful – top-of-the-line computers, video conferencing gear, high-end software and most importantly, people. The right team can raise your company to new levels time and time again.
  3. A passion for where you live. If you aren’t happy, it’s nearly impossible to succeed at building a business. In order to maintain the necessary motivation and drive, it’s key to spend your time in a place you love. Whether that’s San Francisco, Sydney, Stockholm or Shanghai, the right atmosphere will fuel you with energy.

Global focus

When James and I started Vero, we lived in San Francisco. After just six months we decided to move back home to Sydney, Australia.

A big part of this decision was that we had committed to bootstrapping Vero and needed as much support as we could get from friends, family and the home city we knew and loved.

Over a year later, we’re more than happy with how things have turned out and how bright the future looks. The biggest fear we had before we returned to Australia was that people wouldn’t take us seriously.

After all, ”Why would customers in Europe or the US care about someone from Australia?”

It turns out that if you deliver a product that people want and customer service that impresses, customers don’t get hung up on location.

Moreover, we don’t act like we’re solely interested in Australian customers. In fact, we think big.

Everything we do – from marketing and customer support to development and strategy – is designed to help grow Vero into one of the world’s key email service providers. We wonder how we can build a template editor as good as Mailchimp’s, an audience as inspired as KISSmetrics’ and revenue as quickly as Dropbox.

Keeping a global attitude can be hard when you’re not ‘in the thick of it’ but there are a few things that have helped us keep our eyes on the prize:

  • Competitors around the globe. From San Francisco to Paris, Vero has competitors that we respect. Keeping the fire alive and challenging us to grow as fast as (and even faster) than these great companies is a huge help in terms of ambition and global focus.
  • The hunt for customers on the cutting edge. At Vero, customers that spend time exploring how email can grow their business are a pleasure to work with. Finding customers that want to push the boundaries usually means looking to the global leaders, regardless of where they’re located. We have amazing customers in Berlin, New York, Mexico and Israel, and we’ve seen first hand just how smart people are. These customers are located in some of the world’s most exciting cities and they inspire us each and every day.
  • An open mind. Is it cool to have customers in Berlin that have more customers than the entire population of Australia? Damn right it’s cool. Is it cool to have built something that helps them connect with these customers? We live in a crazy, high-speed, global world and you need to embrace every minute of it.

The tools

You need to be in a place that has everything you need.

If you’re a 23-year-old bootstrapping the dream, this might be your parent’s basement for a while. If you need $2 million, then you’re going to need investors. If you need a tech team of four, then you’ll have to find them.

Where can you best get the resources you need? At home, abroad, somewhere cheaper? I remember reading an article in Monocle advocating the pros of starting a company in your home city. The statistics suggested success rates were generally higher, as founders can get what they need from trusted connections they have made throughout their lives.

There is no doubt that legal, tax, employment and other advice has been easy for me to find at Vero here in Sydney: never more than a single phone call away. This has helped us immensely to date.

A passion for where you live

When my co-founder, Damien, sent me this photo a few mornings ago – and this is just around the corner from where he lives – it was a reminder of the passion and joy he has for where he lives (sunny Manly, in Sydney).

Coffee at Manly

There is an important distinction between ‘comfortable’ and ‘complacent’. You constantly need to find ways to raise the bar but, when so much of this comes motivating forces like customers, competitors and even an entrepreneurs internal fire to prove they can win, it’s important to live in a place you love, not hate.

This could be San Francisco or New York City, it could be Sydney or London, or it could even be Chang Mai. There comes a time in any business where most people can’t work 16 hour days every day. Rest is important (science says so, as does common sense). Being somewhere you can do the things you love, such as surfing in the morning, makes for happier people.

About our contributor // Chris Hexton is the co-founder of Vero. Follow him on Twitter via @chexton.

Image credit: via Martin Klasch

Going responsive with our email design — July 18, 2013

Going responsive with our email design


Just make stuff easy for people to consume.

A couple of weeks again we shifted over to a responsive email design for The Fetch. For those new to responsive design, it’s an approach aimed at creating products and websites that adjust and optimise readability for whatever view format they’re in – be in desktop, tablet or mobile. (And maybe even wearable devices like Google Glass!)

We’d be meaning to make the shift for a long time but when you’re a resource-strapped startup, going responsive is one thing and for email design, another. After more nudging from our audience to make the change, we were lucky in that we had the amazing Ros Hodgekiss from Campaign Monitor (our email partners) to lead the process. (As an aside, CM has some great resources available on responsive design in their Guides section.) Our two-column link-loving format at The Fetch wasn’t something I wanted to lose and with this new design, we didn’t have to. When you now view the digest on your mobile you see one easy-to-read column and when back in the browser, the two-column. Check out the hybrid layout below:


More emails are now read via mobile than on a desktop email client or via webmail. Check out this post for the statistics. Pretty huge thing to take in but I feel this is really representative of my own behaviour. Every time I’m on the go, such as walking to a meeting or checking my mail when I wake up and go to bed (a bad habit I don’t like to admit!), it’s all via my iPhone. Our community currently opens The Fetch anywhere from 20-25% (across city) on a mobile device and these are people who are often at their desks working…

It’s also been interesting to see how our metrics have altered in a short period of time. Our unsubscribe numbers (which are already < 0.5%) appear to be going down and trackable forwarding of the emails has gone up. My conclusion is that readers are more likely to switch off, disengage and remove themselves when they can’t absorb what’s in front of them. Before, The Fetch involved a bit of pinch and zooming to be legible on a mobile and due to the amount of links included, could look overwhelming. The forward to a friend/coworker link was also hard to locate pre-responsive days and now it’s nice and clear. What hasn’t been noticeable yet is any difference to our click-through and open rates. Hoping to see if these go up over the coming months.

Since this update, I’ve been going on a bit of a general responsive craze – changing my personal blog as well as this one over too. I’ve also turned off the stock mobile themes that often come with WordPress in favour of keeping the original styling.

There are many others things to consider with creating beautiful email products, which I’m not got to touch on here. If you’re recently gone responsive, feel free to do a show and tell in the comments below.

For more ‘inbox love’ articles, check out this piece on ‘Email-led startups‘.

If you’re new to this blog, don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly event, news and job packed Fetches in your city via

Welcome The Fetch New York — June 4, 2013

Welcome The Fetch New York

IMG_1865We’re pleased to share that we launched in New York today.

Check out our first issue: and follow the city accounts on Twitter // Facebook

Some background on The Fetch in case you’re new here: 🙂

The Fetch focuses on solving professional event discovery. Its beta is a weekly email digest that curates what’s on across 10 cities. It started as a side project out of Melbourne, Australia in 2011 by Kate Kendall, a frequent community organizer who couldn’t find one place to check out what was on. Sick of having 20 different browser tabs open to various event registration sites and subscribing to newsletters for each event, she pulled everything together in a lean minimum viable product using email.

Now, a network of global curators [who are amazing!] filters links (sourced direct, via APIs and user-submissions) to deliver high-quality relevant events, articles and cool jobs to subscribers. These email digests have become much loved with readers often writing-in saying they have unsubscribed from everything but The Fetch. The Fetch’s open rates agree and are reimagining industry standards with an average of 46% across-city and 53% click-through on content. The Fetch joins a growing number of companies using an email-first strategy like AngelList, Thrillist and TimeHop. “I chose email as our medium as I think it’s a great way to validate ideas quickly and simply while having a direct relationship with someone,” says Kate.

“I think active search of event aggregate sites is dead. When overwhelmed professionals want to discover what they should do during the week – a trusted recommendation via editorial voice in the age of excess is more important than ever.”

Unlike other city event guides, The Fetch flips the positioning over and covers stuff for your work life – not lifestyle. It’ll let you know about a free public lecture, business conference, creative writing group or tech meetup rather than the latest coffee/food jaunt, music venue and retail place worth visiting. Think of it as career geekiness. An equal mix of city newcomers and long-term residents are using the service, and everyone from the CEOs of leading tech companies to freelancers, agencies, media folk and students are signing up.

The Fetch has been making revenue since it launched via ‘self-serve’ sponsored content and text-based advertising. Most of the customers (who tend to be recruiters, event managers and tech providers) are repeat bookers, featuring their events, jobs and services each week. Organizers are selling out their events via The Fetch so are proactive in submitting events directly, which helps with the comprehensiveness of curation.

Kate says it’s great to see the demand for reaching The Fetch’s community, and struggles to get back to customers quick enough. She plans to trial pro-accounts and a subscription model in the future after further product development.

For now, the site has been bootstrapped to date with the team about to follow up some investment offers to help scale. The next stage of growth will be around mobile and responding to the 30 or so curators around the world waiting to unlock The Fetch in their city.

Chris McCann the cofounder of StartupDigest (and champion of The Email Mafia) joins as an advisor.

THEFETCH Inc was founded in 2013.

6 Tips For Not Letting Email Rule Your Life — April 22, 2013

6 Tips For Not Letting Email Rule Your Life

I think everyone can agree that email is stressful. It’s surprisingly easy to let your email inbox keep you on a emotional leash without being aware of it. So I’d like to share with you the best ways I’ve found to fight back and keep email in its place (somewhere after maintaining general happiness).

1. Prioritize your email responses.

It is important to remember that you don’t owe anything to people looking to monopolize your time without paying for it.

2. Keep your work email and personal email in separate apps on your mobile device. I use the Mailbox app for work mail which has a nifty system for prioritizing emails, and the normal iPhone mail app for my personal email accounts.

3. Don’t enable push notifications for your personal email. This way you only have to deal with personal emails on the go when you have the time. I enable push notifications for work emails on my phone, but use mailbox’s option to only show a “1” flag for any number of new messages to cut down on potential stress.

4. Use the flag or star functions to mark important emails so you won’t forget about them later.

5. If your email load is truly immense, popping specific emails that you need to remember to respond to into a program like Asana can be helpful. This adds an element of instant gratification when you check off the ‘completed’ box for said email.

6. Try not to get in the habit of sending personal emails from your work account. This will just make things more confusing. If you’re working with browser-based email, keep your work account open in a normal window and your personal email open in an incognito or private browsing mode window.

Eliza is the newest member of The Fetch team. Follow her on Twitter or her blog

Our heart’s in San Francisco — June 22, 2012

Our heart’s in San Francisco

We’re pleased to share we’ve recently launched in San Francisco! Yes, in the height of the beautiful sunny summer, we’ve started fetching the best of this busy city. This also includes our foray into the US, which we know will pose many challenges yet amazing opportunities. But yay, we’re here and focused!

At the moment, there won’t be the usual ‘welcome interview’ for this city’s curator as it’s something I’m taking on (it’s felt like my home for years) and I’m sure you know enough about my story already. 🙂

So, if you want to discover the best of your local community with a focus on business, entrepreneurship, digital, tech, design, creative and culture happenings, be sure to get on the list. You can view our latest send here.

Next up, New York, New York!

Subscribe to unconver your local community @

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