Geoffrey Edlund and Tim Daly are digital natives who share a fondness for technology, analytics and boutique beers. Earlier this year they formed a partnership called This Town. The first venture under the This Town banner is Ten Dollar Town; an events promotion, digital publication, and social media brand.
Tim and I are both serial event organisers, festival fanatics, and networkers. As we both spend time across Sydney and Melbourne, we soon found our social and commercial worlds colliding.
Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
I am a senior leader in Business Intelligence and Analytics with extensive experience in several sectors, and a passion for small business and corporate strategy. Tim created several innovative online solutions for a major company, and was honoured as a life member of a business networking association. Tim owns a website and database consulting business, and a video development business. He is also a shareholder in an inbound travel company, planetdwellers.
Tim and I are both serial event organisers, festival fanatics, and networkers. As we both spend time across Sydney and Melbourne, we soon found our social and commercial worlds colliding. Tim had designed a website for me previously, and we were both looking for a way to apply our information management and entrepreneurial skills in a social context. The sheer cost and range of events and activities in a big city can be daunting, and I was looking for a way to get my cake and eat it too. It started as a Melbourne facebook page as an easy way to share meal deals, drink specials and cheap festival tickets. Festival organisers and promoters were eager to get on board. The Sydney facebook page launched soon after, and was followed by other social go-getters in Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth.
As the fan base grew to the thousands, and hundreds of events and deals were shared, it became too time-consuming to maintain all of the information manually. We formed the This Town partnership and built a database built to store all of the deals and events. The Ten Dollar Town website and online publications were then developed to provide a portal for fans, businesses, and organisers to share and promote the best creative, affordable and popular events and deals across Australia.
Please explain your business model.
Researchers scour the market for interesting locations, activities, festivals, and deals. Correspondents in each city are local experts who manage social media and keep online content fresh and creative. A central team then manages all digital assets and publications. The costs to run this online social network, and the website, are covered through site advertising and affordable promoter packages.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months?
Ten Dollar Town will launch another series of online publications, and aims to grow their social media presence further. Initial discussions are also underway for an expansion overseas, and in other niche market segments.
How do you make ideas happen?
A high-level and long-term business plan is required to make ideas happen. This plan covers points of competitive differentiation, a financial analysis, skill sets required, branding strategy, and the target market. Progress on this plan needs to be tracked and refined on a weekly basis, and priority given to items that directly impact the customer experience or financial viability of the business. It is also important to ensure that documentation and agreements are drawn up carefully and formalised.
What does your typical day look like?
This Town is a venture that is generally progressed outside of standard business hours. The day usually begins with a quick exploration of websites, forums, blogs, publications, and emails full of ideas for events and deals. Key events are then selected based on criteria that relate to the likely popularity of the idea, and the database and website content is created. Social media managers curate and respond to feedback in a brief session each evening. Discussions with promoters, and business development work tends to occur early Friday night or Saturday afternoon. Most of the processes and systems are streamlined and automated, so the actual time spent to maintain and grow This Town isn’t onerous. The aim is to make the whole venture effortless and speedy for the team, promoters, and the fan base.
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?
This Town leverages technology in all aspects of the business, but sometimes a face-to-face meeting is needed to pitch ideas with promoters in other cities. Tim and I do meet on a quarterly basis, and swap between Sydney and Melbourne locations. Opportunities to get the whole national team together are rare, and will probably be somewhere central, like Uluru. Although the team get to go to many of the festivals, and try out many of the deals, time is limited and some of the events may be in nearby regional areas.
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
Tim and I had other ideas around events and websites, but on a further market scan, these ideas were not unique, and were scrapped. They also went through several variants of the business model, before settling on the current version. Ideas need to be developed and refined across time, and it takes resilience and dedication to make them happen.
What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?
The City of Melbourne events website and Marketing team are doing a great job at relaying current events around town. The Sydney Festival organisers are consistent in their strong use of social media and the use of video to promote and display content.
What about internationally?
Yelp is an excellent social and informative website that reviews places and activities. It is used extensively in the USA, and has enough quality content and functionality in Australia to take off. It could be extended to include events and festivals.
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
Ten Dollar Town is also a way for selected social, environmental, and philanthropic groups to promote their events, with a free basic listing on the website. Affordable and creative events allow everyone to get involved with artistic, community, and family events. The initiatives of This Town are built on the connections between community and businesses, as a way to share and promote ideas and activities.
Speaking of affecting social change, we’ve teamed up with Shout for Good to encourage readers to ‘shout a coffee’ to charity by clicking the button below. Is there a particular charity you’d like to support?
Beyond Blue is a vital organisation that addresses depression and anxiety, and a charity that This Town would like to support.
Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.
TED Talks – a daily dose of ideas for entrepreneurs from innovative and engaging speakers and experts.
The Happiest Hour – great and cheap dinners and beers around town.
A City with Quirk – also great at capturing the spirit and the essence of living in Melbourne.
Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter.
@fed_square – for excellent use of social media to engage the community in Federation Square in Melbourne.
@melbmovieguy – for great reviews and information on classic, popular and arthouse films.
@ArtGalleryofNSW – for engaging content and events, and many are free.
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?
Ten Dollar Town are looking to get more involved with affordable live music events and festivals in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Any promoters, musicians, or business owners can contact Ten Dollar Town via the website contact form.
We’re aiming to build a community of Australian idea makers helping each other. If you could have one question answered about startups, marketing, social media, accounting, monetization, product development etc. What would it be?
Are there better ways to seamlessly integrate content between social media, websites, and online publications?
What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?
Great Northern Hotel in Carlton North – a great range of boutique beers ($10 and under of course) and great half price food specials, a friendly crowd, and a stylish beer garden.
We thought it would be cool to crowdsource an annual prize to award to the interviewee’s choice (each person interviewed gets one vote) winner for the year’s best interview. Are you willing to kick in a prize?
Ten Dollar Town are willing to take part in a crowdsourcing annual prize. We could offer 30 days free advertising on the website.
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