Last week saw Trinity College play host to the Dublin Web Summit. The event, which was beyond sold out, brought together a fantastic panel of speakers to discuss the lessons & direct experiences of scaling up companies, inspiration for Irish tech start ups and a round house debate on the implications and expectation of Social Media and the advent of user curated news and content. The Summit's speakers were Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, Matt Mullenweg, founder of Wordpress, Wired’s Editor-at-Large, Ben Hammersley, and former Iona CEO, Chris Horn. The Summit was presided over and MC'd by Mark Little.
I was lucky enough to attend the Summit as a guest of one of its sponsors, DoneDeal.ie.
The conference was, to say the least, one of the most informative and thought provoking events I've been to in the last 5 years. To start I would commend Mark Little on being one of the finest MCs I've had the pleasure of seeing. Mark not only knows what he's talking about inside and out, but he shows a genuine passion and interest in the people speaking and what they are speaking about. On the otherside then, it should be taken into account also that the line up of speakers was just brilliant. Craig Newmark, Matt Mullenweg, Ben Hammersley and Chris Horn all displayed an insight into a world that both enthrals and intrigues me. I live Social Media and online content, it's a passion, and I am lucky enough to be able to work with the things that I find most interesting. These people were, in one way or another, all part of that world down to its core. Newmark and Mullenweg: the creators and innovators. Hammersley: the critique, moderator and commentator. Horn: the technologist and advocate. While the room may have been filled with geeks much the same as myself, there was not a single person present who wasn't captivated.
Watching and listening to these people talk, I realised that the entire landscape of the world I work in, is primordial in its nature. Nothing is concrete, nothing set in stone, and nothing that is beyond question. Opinion rather then fact prevails in the majority of circumstance and everything we accept today could easily be idiotic to even consider tomorrow. The web and Social Media are changing so rapidly that the only way to stay with the leading edge is to immerse oneself in everything to do with it. Surround yourself with like-minded people and make sure to listen to everything they have to say, because every suggestion or idea is worth considering. I do quite a bit of freelance work but I would never consider myself to have owned my own business. Listening to the panel got me thinking about this. How would I approach the modern digital world if it were my own business I was driving?
Speaking to my host at the Summit, DoneDeal.ie seemed like a good place to understand what the trials and difficulties faced by a start-up are. Fred, a Swede who married an Irish girl and now lives in Wexford, was full of good suggestions and commentary on how he and his wife took their digital idea and created a seriously impressive business. The best thing, however, that Fred and Geraldine, his wife, offered was a Case Study (available to download here) that the company has created on exactly how they have become Ireland’s biggest and fastest-growing classifieds website. Reading through the case study I was thrilled. Here is a company that has realised how Social Media works. It's all about sharing. Giving away knowledge and learnings makes you stronger. Other businesses succeeding makes the market stronger. Here was someone who actually saw the benefit of giving away information that others would hold tightly to their chest and do anything to keep secret. Bravo!
DoneDeal.ie, from a standing start in 2005, has experienced an average of 10 - 15% growth in visitor traffic and ad placements per month. At the end of last year the business had reached a company turnover of €1mil and is hosting more then 50k of active ads. According to Google Trends, the business is now the number one place to buy and sell things in Ireland. Consider that all that was achieved in less then 5 years. This hasn't gone unrewarded or unnoticed though. Last year Fred and Geraldine received the Net Visionary Internet Marketer award from the Irish Internet Association and DoneDeal.ie was short-listed for the All Ireland Marketing Awards 2009 in the Small Business Category.
As of November last year, DoneDeal.ie had the following metrics:
- Visits per month: 2.8 million
- Unique visitors per month: 776,000+
- Traffic increase per month: 10 - 15%
- Active ads: 54,000
- New ads placed per month: 30,000
- Turnover: €1 million
- Revenue growth year on year: 400%
No one can say this isn't extremely impressive. For anyone who is started, has started, or is just thinking about starting their own business, I would recommend reading the DoneDeal.ie Case Study (download here). It is full of good advice, practical suggestions and solid information on how one of Ireland's best success stories came to be.
Aside from the website, DoneDeal can also be found on Twitter (here or here) and Facebook.