Founder and CEO of Punt Club, Jason Neave, talks about his growing business, innovation and why Aussies are making their mark in the startup world.
Explain to me your role at Punt Club and what does the startup do?
I'm the founder of the business. We've built online software that makes running a punters club easy, in much the same way as online footy tipping services removed all of the admin burden of running the office tipping competition.
A punters club is simply a group of friends who contribute a fixed amount of money each week, and take turns betting that money on behalf of the club on sports and racing. It’s great fun, but it’s also pretty onerous for the administrators if they’re running it manually using spreadsheets and bank accounts. PuntClub.com does all the admin for you. Typically, there's a 'bet some bank some' approach, where 25 or 50 per cent of the money contributed might be set aside as savings towards a group trip or a share in a horse. Punters clubs have been around forever. We just happened to be the first to take them online. We like to call our system the lovechild of social media and sports betting.
What does your IT team look like?
The business is currently incubated within Via Media Communications, a digital agency I own. This gives the startup access to the necessary design, development and infrastructure expertise as required at internal rates, without the need for carrying any salary expense. Although, we expect this to change quickly once cash flow increases and angel seed capital has been raised.
How long have you been in operation for and what kinds of projects are you working on?
Punt Club has been operating in private beta for almost a year with word of mouth and personal invitations generating a core group of punters clubs who have pressure-tested the application. We've just started some marketing activity and are seeing some encouraging takeup.
What do you see as the biggest technological trends that are driving innovation in the startup space?
Australia seems to be getting a reputation as a source of promising startups, and there have been some great success stories of late which I'm sure will encourage even more innovation. Social media is an obvious contributor in the Web application space, along with faster and more accessible development frameworks, APIs getting more sophisticated and improved access to scalable infrastructure.
How do you maintain innovation in a sector that is growing so quickly?
We actually just listen to customers, work on making the platform more robust and keep trying to improve the service. If we can keep improving the user experience, there's no reason running a punters club on PuntClub.com won't become as common as footy tipping or Supercoach fantasy sports participation.
Why do you think the Australian startup space has been growing so much recently?
Aussies have always had a strong sense of self-belief, and success tends to breed success — increased interest from the media helps too!
Companies such as Pollenizer and programs such as Startmate have systematised the process here in much the same way as venture catalysts and incubator programs such as yCombinator have done in the US, and their success is attracting even more attention from overseas. Systematising innovation sounds like an oxymoron, but those organisations are showing it works.
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