How overseas start-ups have expanded into the Australian market, based at Desk Space
Overseas tech start-ups often choose coworking spaces when establishing their overseas businesses, providing professional and personal benefits. Desk Space was home to Airbnb and Deliveroo when they launched and expanded in the Australian market. It continues to be home to Yieldify and Airsorted, and has recently welcomed Let’s Do This and Boohoo Group.
We spoke to Yieldify and AirSorted about how they established and expanded their businesses in Australia and how coworking at Desk Space has benefited them.
Founded by Jay and Meelan Radia in 2013, Yieldify helps online retailers optimise customer conversion rates by providing technology solutions that predict customer behaviour. James Taylor joined the London-based company in May 2014 and just one month later was offered the opportunity to establish an Australian office on one condition: that he could fund the expansion through his revenue.
Yieldify initially sold its technology platforms through performance marketing agencies and affiliate networks, which enabled James to sell remotely from the UK to Australia. He worked midnight-to-3am shifts in London, Skyping Australian companies to win revenue that would fund an Australian office. Within five months he had signed enough brands that an Australian office was feasible, and he moved to Sydney in November 2014.
James joined Desk Space at the end of 2014. He approached potential clients through introductions from Yieldify’s affiliate networks, signing increasingly larger clients. “That strategy fed the early success of Yieldify in Australia, and the tipping point was signing Dan Murphy’s as a brand,” says Nick Hudson, who joined Yieldify in August 2015 and is now Director – APAC. “Signing Dan Murphy’s was great for selling to other companies as working with the well-known heritage brand gave us credibility and allowed us to build from there.”
Yieldify APAC is now a team of 12 with 10 based in Sydney, one in Melbourne and one in Singapore. The team provides sales and service for the APAC region, while London provides all other facets of the business. Having established good coverage in Australia, their next stage of growth is to push further into New Zealand and Southeast Asia. (James has since established his own start-up, Particular Audience, a cross-selling and promotion optimisation technology for eCommerce, and is still based in Desk Space.)
Malvina Russo is ANZ Director of AirSorted, established by James Jenkins-Yates in London in March 2015. The tech start-up provides a management platform for short-term home rentals and is now in Canada, South Africa, USA, Dubai and Paris.
Airsorted launched in Sydney – its first international market outside of the UK and Ireland – in March 2017. The southern hemisphere location offered Airsorted the opportunity to generate greater revenue by leveraging the high and low season tourist markets. Florence Woodfin established the Sydney office at Desk Space, contracting cleaners, linen suppliers, signing early clients and recruiting Malvina to manage the business. By the end of 2017, Malvina had a team of seven. One year later, she manages 40 people across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Perth and Auckland.
The initial focus of launching and growing Airsorted in Australia was to educate the market and create brand awareness, and to adapt the product to the needs of the local market. “The first year was about acquisition,” Malvina says. “Our main focus now is to grow but remember retention, and to deliver a high-quality service to our existing customer base.” The Australian team relies on the London headquarters for the technology and product, but together they provide 24-hour customer service by capitalising on the difference in time zones.
Desk Space has provided professional and personal opportunities for James, Nick and Malvina, as they’ve established a network of friends, companies to collaborate with and like-minded people to discuss ideas and share expertise. Desk Space has also provided a pool of clients for Yieldify and Airsorted, which offers the opportunity for immediate feedback and insights. “Companies need diversity to look at things from a different perspective,” Malvina says. “You can find that diversity in Desk Space, so it helps us to think outside of the box.”