The search for the best business in Australia wrapped up in Sydney last night, as finalists from around the country converged on the Darling Harbour Convention Centre to find out who was the best of the best. It was an evening full of inspirational stories from across the country, whether it was the couple who successfully started a wasabi farm in the challenging climate of Tasmania or the South Australian drilling company couple celebrating fifty years in business together. But in the end, only one could emerge triumphant, and that was Victorian e-commerce trailblazers, BikeExchange. State finalists two years in a row, they not only were crowned Australian Business Of The Year, but also MYOB Small Business Of the Year. We caught up with the Jason wyatt and Sam Salter to find out what keeps the gears oiled and pedals turning in their small business.
BikeExchange.com.au is Australia’s #1 website for finding, buying and selling all things bike related. The site reached a record 1 million+ visits during July 2012. Each month visitors run 4.5 - 5-million product searches of 50,000+ items listed for sale. BikeExchange.com.au visitors use fast and simple search engines to sift through listings from thousands of private advertisers around Australia, as well as over 350 bike retailers. BikeExchange.com.au is co-owned by the two of us, and we have been friends since childhood.
Jason came from a numbers background, his corporate experience ranging from positions at KPMG, London’s Morgan & Stanley and eventually a move that at the time made him the youngest Financial Controller in the history of GM Holden’s largest Australian manufacturing plant.
Sam came from a family that was personally regarded for its strong cycling pedigree, and professionally respected for its work in and contribution to the Australian classifieds industry.
So we had a combination of background, experience and skills that was highly complementary to starting a business such as BikeExchange.com.au.
The concept began as a post Spring Racing Carnival idea, when we were chewing the fat. The more we talked the more we realised our idea, to start a classifieds website for all things cycling related, could actually be a valid and lucrative one.
At the time, the cycling industry was highly fragmented at a manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer level yet was growing at a rapid pace. We recognised the need for a single-source platform to consolidate all inventory within the marketplace and provide consumers with a convenient and relevant user experience. We are also passionate Australians, and were motivated to help Australian retailers compete in an increasingly competitive online climate by providing an affordable, world-class e-commerce business solution.
We love cycling, and we always have. Although if we’re honest we’d say that in the early days of BikeExchange.com.au Jason’s world probably didn’t revolve around the sport quite as much as it did for Sam. These days however, it’s a huge part of both our lives. As often as we can, we try to organise meetings that take place during a ride. Our office facilities are set up so that staff can ride to work, freshen up here and then start their day. At least twice a week as many staff who are interested meet early in the morning for a spin and a coffee before we get into our working day.
Our success is largely thanks to our staff – we have the best people around us. It’s true that they are here because they excel in their specific domain. They don’t necessarily have to be cycling people – on the contrary it’s healthy to have a good balance. That said it’s really important that everyone gets on and we are very fortunate to have that close positive culture in our workplace. Everyone just clicks. We actually brought our entire staff to Sydney for the Telstra Business Awards. They deserve to be involved every bit as us!
It feels good to be offering a service that is helping bricks and mortar cycling retailers in Australia, too. By providing this platform, we’re empowering a lot of hard-working, busy people to break into the online culture and start to build a presence, especially when it comes to offshore competition.
It’s also a big buzz to be out and about at various sponsored events. We are incredibly lucky in that we get to meet some amazing people in the world of cycling, but we’re also able to get caught up in the everyday passion. Joining hundreds – sometimes thousands – of everyday cyclists on a ride through iconic Australian scenery when the weather is at its best… A day in the office just doesn’t get any better!
Finally, we love our professional freedom. We get to go to work each day and change, adapt, move as we see fit. As a team we make decisions and we implement them – our mark is on our work from start to finish. That is an incredibly rewarding feeling.
WINNERS FOR 2012 TELSTRA BUSINESS AWARDS 2012.
HTC Start-Up Award: Sitemed (SA)
Micro-Business Award: Shima Wasabi (TAS)
MYOB Small Business Award: BikeExchange.com.au (VIC)
CommBank Medium Business Award: UON Pty LTD (WA)
Telstra Regional Business Award: John Nitschke Drilling (SA)
Telstra Business Of The Year: BikeExchange.com.au (VIC)