How do two immigrant brothers with no money, limited industry knowledge, amateur technical skills and strong accents (that hasn't changed much …) build some of Australia's most successful digital businesses with a combined exit valued at more than $1 billion?
It's a good question. We get asked it a lot, which is why we wrote this book.
You won't know our names and you probably won't recognise our faces, but you'll almost certainly know some of the brands we built, sold and/or merged for more than $1 billion after just 13 years in business.
Here are just a few of them:
How did we build these brands, and, more importantly, how did we sell them for such a huge amount? Not by watching midday TV, working a nine‐to‐five job or borrowing money from a rich uncle to ‘give things a go’. We built these brands with our bare hands, doing everything ourselves (surrounded by great people, of course) and doing it the hard way.
But what does ‘doing it the hard way’ even mean?
As the Catch business grew, a typical day for us would look something like this: upon waking, we'd check our emails. We'd drive to the office, be at our desks by 8 am, solve the problems from the night before (we were a 24/7 business), attend a supplier meeting at 9 am, juggle a thousand different balls and decisions throughout the morning, eat a hurried lunch at our desk, have more meetings with suppliers in the afternoon, head home at 8 pm, have a quick dinner, kiss the kids, say hello to our wives, hit the desk for another few hours, answer more emails, get to bed around 1 am and then get up and do it all again the next day. You could say we ‘bootstrapped’ it.
We had no money, no experience and no contacts, so doing it ourselves was the only option. And besides, no‐one had ever built a business like this before, so we had no roadmap to follow. But we did it, and we're here to share the stories and lessons we learned along the way so you can hopefully take a few shortcuts and get to where you're going faster.
We want to make your journey to success as easy as possible so we're sharing much of what we've learned with you. We've held nothing back.
In this book you'll find:
Before launching into part I of the book, we thought we'd give you a bit of background on the businesses we built, along with a business timeline to put our Catch story into perspective.
Catchoftheday was launched in October 2006. From humble beginnings of selling just one deal a day, by 2010 it had become Australia's most visited online shopping site. In 2017, the site added a marketplace capability in order to compete with eBay and Amazon, and it was rebranded to become Catch.com.au. In August 2019, Catch.com.au was sold for $230 million to Wesfarmers, which owns some of Australia's leading retailers: Bunnings, Kmart, Target and Officeworks. Today, Catch employs more than 500 staff and has yearly revenues exceeding $600 million.
Scoopon was launched in April 2010 and had a similar ‘deal of the day’ concept to Catchoftheday but sold discounted coupons for services and travel. Scoopon revolutionised the way businesses such as restaurants, hairdressers and masseurs marketed their services. In 2012, Scoopon Travel was launched, offering travel discounts on accommodation, tours and flights. We launched five‐star luxury travel website Bon Voyage not long after, and in late 2017 both Scoopon Travel and Bon Voyage were acquired by leading travel deal site Luxury Escapes.
Grocery Run was launched in September 2011 and became part of the combined Catch Group*. It pioneered the concept of selling grocery items online and paved the way for the giants of supermarket retailing to launch their e‐commerce sites.
Mumgo was launched in July 2012 with the slogan, ‘Where mums go’, with the aim of entering the burgeoning kids’ and baby markets. Mumgo was later integrated back into the Catch.com.au website.
EatNow was launched in October 2012 as a food ordering app. EatNow was one of the original disruptors that introduced the food home delivery concept to Australia, paving the way for Uber Eats and Deliveroo to enter Australia. In early 2015 EatNow merged with market leader Menulog, which in May 2015 was acquired by the UK conglomerate Just Eat for $855 million.
Luxury Escapes is a travel business founded by Adam Schwab and Jeremy Same. While we didn't build this amazing business, in 2017 we became part owners after we merged our two travel businesses, Bon Voyage and Scoopon Travel with Luxury Escapes.
|Ran independent eBay businesses from our respective garages|
|June||Collaborated to launch DailyDeals.com.au|
|October||Launched Catchoftheday.com.au with five employees|
|September||Moved Catchoftheday operations to Springvale warehouse|
|September||Moved Catchoftheday into combined office and warehouse in Moorabbin|
|May||Tiger Global acquired a 40 per cent stake in the Catchoftheday business for $80 million|
|August||Moved into combined office and warehouse in Braeside|
|September||Launched Grocery Run|
|November||Leased a warehouse at Truganina|
|October||Completed the $20 million automation of the Truganina warehouse and fulfilment process|
|January||Announced merger of Menulog and EatNow|
|May||Announced sale of Menulog/EatNow|
|June||Launched Club Catch|
|July||Catchoftheday bought back the 40 per cent stake from Tiger Global to become a 100 per cent privately owned company again|
|June||Rebranded Catchoftheday as Catch.com.au and launched the Catch Marketplace|
|July||Launched Bon Voyage|
|August||Acquired Pumpkin Patch|
|December||Sold Scoopon to Lux Group|
|Acquired Brands Exclusive and The Home|
|Merged Bon Voyage and Scoopon Travel with Luxury Escapes|
|February||Launched Catch Connect|
|August||Sold Catch.com.au to Wesfarmers for $230 million|