Sydney Startup Will Roundup Your Favorites And Recommendations
While exploring coral along the Great Barrier Reef, Rebekah Campbell escaped a posse of sharks and simultaneously came up with the idea for her startup… OK, that’s not true. And sharks don’t travel in posses. No, when severe drought caused crocodiles to surround her home looking for food, she used social media to summon a posse of friends to rescue… OK, that’s not true either, but the real story of Posse is pretty incredible, too.
Posse began when ticket sales for an Evermore concert in Perth flat-lined. Campbell, then music manager, had the idea to reward fans for helping to promote the show. A massive success launched the startup, which went on to sell $2 million in concert tickets. Campbell used that experience to pivot the company, and bring gaming and social media to the retail platform.
Billed as “a combination of curation, discovery, social commerce, and magic,” Posse relaunched on June 12th with impressive backing–investors led by Bill Tai (Twitter, Tango and Scribd), and Lars Rasmussen (Google Maps creator and currently Facebook’s Director of Engineering) sitting on Posse’s Board of Directors. Campbell shared more of her Aussie energy and her company’s charm with KillerStartups.
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
I wanted to find an awesome domain name, so I spent months trailing through what was available on Sedo.com. I found Posse listed for sale, and when it went to auction I started bidding. I ended up bidding against some guy in Europe in the middle of the night Australian time when the auction was finishing and I spent $28K–which was my savings for a house deposit at the time! My Mum was pretty annoyed that I’d spent the deposit, but I had an amazing name that’s been flexible. So it’s allowed us to pivot and it’s still awesome.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
It started out just me part time, as I was running another company back then, which was a band management company called “Scorpio Music.” Scorpio had 8 staff and an office in London, so it was quite a big operation and I started trying to build Posse and then fund-raise for it on the side. It was a tough year and a half while I raised the first round and kept the music company going at the same time. After we raised the first major round of funding ($1.5m), I wound up the music company and focused on Posse full-time.
Now we’re a team of 10 full-time staff and 3 part-time. 6 of the 10 are software engineers, 1 graphic designer, 1 marketing & community manager, 1 retail manager and me. Then part-time, there’s accounts, our CFO, and an illustrator.
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food? Give us the deets, dude!
Product–I’m inspired by Steve Jobs and also imaginative authors like Roald Dahl and Lewis Carroll. My dream is for Posse to capture the imagination and delightful magic of these authors and the slick and beautiful design of Steve Jobs. Leadership–I’m a huge huge fan of Robert Kennedy, and I carry a book of his quotes and vision with me everywhere. Life–I’d love to be an entrepreneur who does something great, so I’m very inspired by Bill Gates, Chris Anderson (TED) and Ted Turner (CNN).
How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowd-funded? Where’d you get the money, man?
I put in the first $150K myself and then through a couple of rounds have raised about another $3.5 million. This is mainly from angel investors in the US and Australia including Bill Tai (Twitter via Tweetdeck, Soundtracking, Scribd) who led our last round, Simon Rothman (eBay), Bill Lee (Remarq), Dave Sibley (MTV) and a bunch of other high profile investors and some friends. Super Fund MLC and EMI Music (from UK) also invested. In addition to the $3.5m, I raised another $1.4m as a grant from the Australian government.
What was the biggest mistake you made with this or a past company? Anything you would change?
Too many to list! I’ve given away a bunch of shares to a couple of people who haven’t done much and that would be the single biggest mistake. It’s only a mistake because a lot of people have put in a lot more work later in the project who deserve more shares, so it feels a bit unfair for them. All the other mistakes have been pretty amazing learning experiences, so I wouldn’t change them.
Do you consider yourself successful now? If not, what’s it gonna take to make you feel successful?
I don’t consider that the company is successful yet because we don’t have millions of users. But I do feel like we have an amazing team, we’ve built an incredible model, and we’re well on our way to becoming a successful company. I’m 100% sure we’ll make it. I do feel successful myself I guess, because I feel like I’ve learned so much through this process that no matter happens it’ll have been a successful experience. I’ve grown a massive amount in every way, and reflecting on that makes me happy and feel successful.
Web App or site you couldn’t live without and why:
Google Maps – I have no sense of direction!
Mobile App you’re in love with:
l’m loving playing Carcossonne on my iPad!
Dogs or cats?
Dogs every time. Partly because I LOVE dogs (and I have a wonderful dog called Steve) and partly because I’m allergic to cats.
iOS or Android?
iOS – I am not technical, so I need things easy.
Anything else we should know about what makes you and your company so special?
We are going to own “social search” and we’re going to do it in a way that’s fun and that’s useful for retailers. Posse is social media that makes the real world better.
Where can our readers get a hold of you? Facebook? Twitter? Google+? Personal blog?
Also check out my blog www.rebekahcampbell.com for more info on my many failures.