Jonathan Barouch is an established entrepreneur, founding one of Australia’s first online businesses, Fast Flowers in 1999. In 2010, Jonathan successfully exited Fast Flowers when it was acquired by Jack Singleton’s 1300 Flowers. Jonathan founded Roamz in January 2011 and raised funding for the venture shortly thereafter from ASX listed media company Salmat and from the NSW Mobile Concierge Grant. His current venture is Local Measure, which is built on the social intelligence offered by Roamz, and provides businesses with real-time insight, demographics and analytics about their customers on a store-by-store basis.
Jonathan was a finalist for BRW Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012 and was called out as one of the top 20 people to watch in the IT industry by The Australian. Jonathan holds a Bachelor of Commerce with Honours, as well as a Masters of Political Science from University of NSW and a Masters of Commerce from Sydney University.
Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
The idea for Local Measure was borne out of a company I founded two years ago called Roamz. The underlying problem we were trying to solve was the difficulty in accessing location-based content on social media. We were very aware that the ways that consumers are talking about and interacting with businesses were shifting rapidly. Instead of consumers writing a little note on a feedback card and popping it in a box consumers now take to social media to share their thoughts, feedback and consumer experiences. However most businesses have been unable to listen to and engage with these consumers unless they happen to be following the individual and happen to check social media at the right time.
Given that as a startup we have limited resources, we’re very conscious of executing on a limited number of really good ideas well, rather than building everything we think of.
We noticed a big opportunity for businesses to not only discover what consumers are saying in-store but also have the power to respond and engage with these consumers in real time. We found that other social media tools missed a large proportion of the social conversations in-store (particularly where a brand name or store name isn’t mentioned in the post). We set about to build a tool that gives businesses a complete 360 degree view of the customer in one easy-to-use website, providing the analytics and insights that can help them with their day to day operations as well as increase customer loyalty.
Businesses pay us a monthly fee to use out platform. They can connect their social profiles, manage and publish content to a number of platforms and engage with their consumers from one place.
We have SMB packages starting from $59 per month for one store and $99 for up to three stores as well as customer packages for larger multi-store outlets.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months?
We’re currently working on the next big release of Local Measure which takes in to account a lot of the feedback and feature requests we’ve received to date. We’re also releasing some really powerful tools to get granular information about your customers, including how loyal they are and how influential they are on social media.
The next big event I am attending is Sydstart.
How do you make ideas happen?
We have a pretty collaborative work environment where everyone has contributed ideas. We even capture and log feedback and ideas for business partners and clients. We feed all of these ideas as “cards” into a web app called Trello where all members of the team can add comments and vote on ideas. Typically we look for ideas that really help to solve problems for our clients and help advance our product. Given that as a startup we have limited resources, we’re very conscious of executing on a limited number of really good ideas well, rather than building everything we think of.
What does your typical day look like?
Emails at all hours! I am a new dad with a 9 month old so I often answer emails from overseas partners in the middle of the night if my son wakes me up!
I usually drop my eldest son at kindy at 8:30am and then head to the office. We usually have a team meeting or stand up in the morning and I’ll typically break off to discuss the day’s priorities with my team. Being in Surry Hills we have a bunch of funky cafes nearby and I’ll usually try and schedule my meetings in one of the local cafes!
By 1:30 or 2pm I usually realize I haven’t had lunch yet and will grab something to eat and often other members of our team will sit around eating lunch and chatting over a long table in our reception area.
In the afternoon I usually follow up calls and emails, and sometimes get to demo or test new product functionality that the engineering team are close to having finished.
Local Measure offices
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business in Australia?
I think the biggest challenge for a startup with global aspirations is the tyranny of distance. Last year I travelled to San Francisco six times for various meetings and events, which is both time consuming and exhausting.
We also have a much more immature startup ecosystem than other parts of the world, which sometimes makes it challenging to secure the right level of support to be able to grow a business from a Sydney base. I’m pleased to see that this is rapidly changing as the ecosystem grows and the number of globally successful Australian-based technology companies increases.
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
We’ve found that a lot of the traction we’ve received has been off the back of networking that the team and I have done both in Australia and the US.
Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers?
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?
Always looking for new clients! Particularly people who run outlets or run physical infrastructure assets (airports, stadiums, entertainment venues, hotels, malls etc). We’re also keen to chat to agencies and other potential partners where our software could help their clients.
We are always on the lookout for good marketing interns so feel free to ping me on Twitter.
What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?
Favorite coffee: Single Origin Surry Hills!
The team’s favourite bar at the moment is Tio’s on Foster St in Surry Hills (opposite our office!)
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?
Happy to give away 6 months use of Local Measure.