Start up in Australia – Advice from 3 successful founders

On 19 November 2015, Australiance organised a networking event for international entrepreneurs in Sydney. CEOs of Reef Digital Agency and Sherpa, and the CTO and co-founder of Maestrano were there to share their entrepreneurial experience with 25 entrepreneurs at various development stages. If you have missed this event, here are their key take-aways.

About the speakers

Reef Digital Agency – Hadrien Brassens

Reef Digital Agency Hadrien Brassens Australiance Australia

Reef Digital Agency is a company specialised in digital marketing, advising organisations on how to grow their business online, attract their target audience and ensure sales and enquiries follow. Hadrien Brassens and Chris Redshaw founded Reef Digital Agency in 2011 by working from home, nights and weekends, in its early stage.
At the beginning, managing client delivery while attracting new clients in parallel was a challenge. Reef Digital Agency chose to build a refined image on its website and social media profiles (Facebook, Youtube, Google campaigns…) to be in-line with its positioning. This key factor of differentiation from competitors was combined with innovative and high quality solutions to offer the best experience possible to its clients.
‘Invest time and find the perfect staff’
Within 4 years, Reef Digital Agency has become a 15-people startup, dealing with 50+ different clients, and earning over AU$1 million per year in revenue. Its fast growth is the result of industry-beating retention rate, excellent SEO rankings and digital advertising campaigns, as well as referral leads from existing clients. Their reputation has been built on excellent customer service and work quality. Reef still works with many of its first clients which have grown with their business.

Sherpa – Mathieu Cornillon

Sherpa Mathieu Cornillon Australiance Australia

Sherpa is the tech first company that powers on-demand delivery for individuals and business. Now available in 6 different cities in Australia, Sherpa provides on-demand delivery within 2 hours thanks to the Sherpa mobile app you can download for free. They first started by contacting florists and now take care of the delivery of products of numerous retailers enabling them to sell online and deliver their customers quickly.

Mathieu Cornillon created the concept of Sherpa in March 2014, and started trading in January 2015. Launching a startup is an incredible experience that requires a lot of work. That is why Mathieu insisted on the fact that you must have fun doing your business to stay motivated.

‘You will have to work so much on it that you should have fun doing what you do. That is what entrepreneurship is all about.’

Mathieu also highlighted that ‘building a business and running a business is something really different’ and you should find the right people to help you build your company.

Maestrano – Arnaud Lachaume

Maestrano Arnaud Lachaume Australiance Australia

Maestrano is an innovative startup that provides small and medium business with the best cloud business applications, all integrated in real time and with centralised reporting. Its Enterprise branch is also working with key industry players in developing new digital initiatives and building the integrated marketplaces that will power businesses tomorrow.

At the beginning, Arnaud Lachaume and Stephane Ibos created Maestrano by working nights and weekends, aside from their day jobs. Starting from scratch with very limited marketing budget, they spent a significant amount of time in networking events pitching the product, raising brand awareness and developing their network. This eventually led them to doing their first fundraising of $1M by the end of 2013 from various investors including Ian Buddery (former CEO of eServGlobal) and Gary Jackson (former CEO of Microsoft Australia).

‘Sell what you will be not what you are today’

Maestrano has since then expanded globally to five countries of operation. It has over 25 staff across its offices in Sydney, Seattle, San Francisco, Dubai, Singapore, London, and is planning to open another one next year in New York. There are now more than 6000 businesses using Maestrano’s platform from 17 countries.

Key take-aways

Leo Denes Australiance Australia


  • Find the good staff. Although time and funding are critical challenges for start-ups, hiring qualified employees can make a difference to accelerate the growth of the new business.
  • Don’t do it alone. Creating a successful start-up takes a lot of time at the beginning and requires bulletproof motivation. Create the organisation with other people, and get support from family and friends, can make a significant difference.
  • Work on projects for non-for-profit organisations to train staff and ‘have the feeling to do something good’ (Hadrien) while potentially gaining visibility.
  • Build strong partnerships and keep networking to facilitate the communication and promotion of the start-up as well as increase the number of potential clients.
  • Create value and propose quality products and services that must be better than what competitors propose. It will encourage trust from investors and clients, and persuade people to follow you.
  • Have competitors, or invent them if you don’t. Having competition encourages the start-up to create better products and develop complimentary products.
  • Network with people and keep networking as the start-up grows to communicate and promote the new business. Besides, do not hesitate to network with people that are better than you at doing what you can’t do’ to sustainably expand the company.
  • Make small mistakes along the way ‘is not a problem as long as you react quickly and learn’ (Mathieu).
  • Develop a strong vision for the start-up. Although it will evolve over time, an effective vision will help to ‘sell what you will be not what you are today’ (Arnaud).
  • Invest in marketing from the launch of the start-up to attract potential clients. Social media is a good way to build a strong image of the start-up and make a difference from competitors.
  • Work aside at the early stage of the start-up to ‘make money on the side’ (Arnaud).

Feeling inspired? Willing to set up a new business in Australia or find solutions to grow your business faster? Feel free to contact the Australiance Team and we will do our best to help you make your big dreams come true down under.

For more information:

Mathieu Cornillon’s testimonial
Reef Digital Agency’s offer

Maestrano’s offer

You can also find all the pictures of this networking event on our Facebook page.

One comment

  1. Dee - November 27, 2015

    Very good event: informative, inspiring, lots of learnings and take aways!
    Three different individual and inspiring stories; their own styles; their own challenges!
    Our key take-aways: build partnerships, “barter”, share your ideas with other businesses…
    Thank you Australiance Team for organising this great event!

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