Saturday, July 12, 2014

Don't Laugh At Wheedle, Good On Them For Having A Crack

The demise of the trading web site Wheedle, is no real surprise. The web sites aim was to take on trade me which is the New Zealand version of ebay.

I'm certainly no business expert, but I've been thinking about it this morning as I did some housework, and there are two aspects of the businesses failure that have crossed my mind.

Firstly, lots of people are bagging Wheedle and its founder Neil Graham. Neil didn't need to start Wheedle, he founded the Mainfreight transport company which is an international success. He's worth an estimated $75 Million, so money is not a motivation. He's also no longer a young man & he has had health problems.

But he did it anyway, he used his own money and he took a risk and he gave it a crack. That deserves respect in my book.

I'm sure that the reason he is successful is because he has backed himself and taken risks in the past.

The second point, is that this is another example of a successful person trying to start a business in an area that they are not experts in. Neil's background is transport & logistics. I think a technology company is very different to a trucking company. The things that make a tech business successful are very different to what makes a trucking company successful.

Some signs of this are that Wheedle seemed to rely on traditional marketing like sponsoring the Crusaders rugby team and TV adverts. When we look at successful tech companies, they don't do traditional advertising. You don't see Twitter, Facebook, Xero or Vend advertising on TV, radio or sponsoring a sports team.

Suzanne Paul is another example of a very successful person who turned to a different area of business. She made her fortune via informercials & sales but then took her money and invested it into a tourism venture which didn't end well & she lost the lot. She is now back doing what she does best, which is informercials.

Richard Branson is a unique example of someone who has been successful in many different categories, such as music, airlines, trains and mobile services to name just a few. It would appear that he is an exception.

The third aspect I find interesting is that most people don't have a problem with the current online auction site. Wheedle were promising lower sales fees. Saving a few dollars on my trade is not enough of a motivation for me to change.
Wheedle wasn't different enough.

So I think it is great to see people backing themselves and taking risks but I think it's really important to stick to your area of expertise & if you are going to take on the big players in the market, you really need to be substantially different & offer something really unique.

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