We talked to Andrew Busuttil, CEO and Founder at Launchpad6 (a Buzz Box Video Pty Ltd Company) on how to harness your audience with a leading online contest platform and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Andrew Busuttil: Well, like everyone, this year has been pretty difficult for our family and I. Particularly as we experienced the loss of a much-loved family member and some close friends. Fortunately, here in Australia, life has been less disrupted than in other countries, so we don’t have too much to complain about. However, it has given us valuable time to reflect and spend more time with our immediate family.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Launchpad6.
Andrew Busuttil: I have been involved in technology for over 35 years (yes, I am getting on in age. I started my days in electronics at a company called ICI and then moved to the famous Kodak brand in the ’90s. That is when I moved from more electronics to a software focus. Kodak was a great company back then and had some leading-edge technologies. I worked in support and development on some of the first enterprise-scale imaging solutions globally. Unfortunately, Kodak was a classic case of being a victim of their own success and couldn’t let go of film. They refused to fully embrace digital until it was too late. Luckily our business unit got sold off, so I moved multiple times to different software organizations that were focused on imaging, workflow and digital marketing technologies. My roles varied significantly from support, development, product and consulting management to eventually sales. This gave me a great breadth of experience across many different disciplines within a software company. However, my yearning was always running my own business and innovating and creating something that I could fully control.
That opportunity came to me around 2016 when I purchased a piece of technology from a struggling business. The solution called ContestPad focused on leveraging video to manage online competitions for brand awareness, ideation, member engagement and now fundraising. It gave me and some close business partners the start we needed to create our own company, Launchpad6. We started managing this company as a side hustle for a few years, but I decided to make the jump to full time just as COVID-19 began to take hold.
How does Launchpad6 innovate?
Andrew Busuttil: We have multiple business partners who have very diverse backgrounds and skills. We also have staff members who also bring their own diverse experiences. My partners and key staff members meet once a week to discuss strategy based on what we see in the market and most importantly, what our customers are asking for from us. Most of our innovation is customer-driven. The problems we solve are so diverse, and we find that having a customer-driven strategy means you are solving problems that are real and current. In a way, it is sort of like crowdsourcing ideas by listening to what customers need.
Often, they have done a lot of research on how to solve their problem and most times, and they identify for you that there is a gap in the market. We then use this as input to research the broader market need and then brainstorm at our strategy sessions, ideas to address and how our solution can be enhanced to fill these needs.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Andrew Busuttil: It’s funny that when most people ask me that question, I need to pause to assess the impact the pandemic has had on the person asking me that question. You see, the pandemic has literally catapulted our business and saying this to someone who is experiencing hardship can be a little insensitive.
We have seen a huge uptake in organizations looking for alternative ways to engage their customer base and in particular, NFP’s such as sporting clubs, educational institutes, social awareness and arts and entertainment organizations. We help them keep their member base engaged by still providing the challenge and engagement of competition in a virtual world.
In fact, charitable organizations have been one of our biggest increases in business as they have been massively hit on multiple fronts. Using competitions that include community engagement to raise donations through our platform has been extremely successful.
The biggest challenge we face is managing our growth to keep up with this demand and ensuring that we put a strategy in place to ensure we can continue the growth momentum.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Andrew Busuttil: Due to our growth, the only real difficult choices we have had to make is where we need to invest. Being a technology-based company, I think you can fall into the trap of focusing too much on the technology and not focusing enough on the marketing and sales aspects of the company. Also, as our solution is used to solve so many different use cases and market segments it was important to continue reassessing which markets we want to focus on and what type of customers we wanted to attract.
It became apparent to us that what differentiated us from our perceived competition is that we can provide a “white glove” type of experience. Customers looking for that extra care typically become more loyal to our brand, achieve better results and provide a more sustainable commercial outcome for our company. It has become obvious to us that our product is not just about the technology we develop but the entire experience you create around it from sales and advice, onboarding and ongoing support.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Launchpad6 in the future?
Andrew Busuttil: I have had a lot of stressful moments in my 30+ years of working in the corporate world, and while I still can get stressed, I think that experience has prepared me well to deal with stressful situations. Invariably, whenever you get stressed, you usually think of the absolute worst-case scenario that almost never happens. A missed deal, a product issue, a grumpy customer, etc. never ends as bad as what you imagined. I think by just controlling what you can and not worrying too much about what you cannot control (even when you think you can) helps me a lot.
I also think you need to have a plan. Dealing with the unknown creates a lot of stress so by at least having that plan and tracking against it and pivoting if need be something every company or startup should be doing. We created a plan with a 3-year forecast based on a bunch of assumptions and hypotheses. Some were correct, and a lot were incorrect. By tracking your actual results against these projections gives you visibility into the health of your business and helps you make informed decisions. This significantly removes the stress of the unknown.
The big picture is that we are only on this earth for a certain period. In that time, we have a chance to make a difference, have a good time doing it and to be loved by our family and friends. If you tick those things and never lose focus of that, then I think everything else pales into insignificance.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Andrew Busuttil: It’s interesting because we do not really have a direct competitor. There are some companies that focus on more of the marketing aspects of competitions such as sweepstakes, giveaways, social campaigns, etc. and then others that focus on more structured event-based competitions such as awards programs, grants, application reviews etc. We tend to sit in the middle.
Our plan is and continues to be to listen to our customers and the market to drive direction. We are also looking at different ecosystem partners to help us to continue to augment our solution offering both from a technology and a broader experience perspective. This includes exploring new go-to-market channels.
At some point, we will be looking for external investors to help us to continue to grow and provide broader skills to the team; however, my philosophy is that your best investors are your customers. So, at the moment, this is where most of the focus is.
Your final thoughts?
Andrew Busuttil: I have worked in corporate space for a long time and have had a lot of success in different roles. However, nothing is the same as running your own business. The highs are higher, and the lows are lower. But the decisions you make will directly affect the success you achieve. There is nowhere to hide and nobody to blame. It is a hard road, however, if you are passionate about what you do and never lose sight of the big picture, the sense of achievement will far outweigh anything else professionally you have ever done.
I would also say we are nowhere near yet where we want to be; however, we are going to have a lot of fun getting there!
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