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After Building 1 Successful Start-Up Shaun Polovin Shares His Experiences at Being Back In The Saddle
By Julie Lam
Welcome back to another episode of the “Perfect Pitch Show” where Brandon Burns, Head of Community – Runway Virtual, interviews small business founders / entrepreneurs about the secret sauce to their successful start-up journey.
On today’s episode, we welcome a guest who has already built one successful business, Shaun Polovin. He has since moved onto another start-up, Dimple. It is an Australian Made, accessible brand of lenses. Shaun has first-hand experience wearing contact lenses. Frustrated with the options that was available to the market, he decided to create a brand of lenses that was designed with a modern look. Using a subscription-based model, he can offer daily disposable lens at an affordable rate.
The Unique Value Proposition
Shaun recognised that 95% of the current optical industry is made up of four major pharmaceutical brands with big price mark-ups, outdated retail models, and lacklustre branding images. So, he decided to build the only Australian-made contact lens on market. Using a subscription-based model with no lock-in contracts, he can offer daily disposable lens at below traditional retail prices that can range up to $100. For $45, customers receive a 30 day supply, delivered to their door.
To stand out from competitors, Shaun wanted to create a personable, vibrant brand that appealed to the social media generation. He believes Dimple’s ongoing social contributions has helped build Dimple’s industry-recognised brand image. Customers are comforted to know that $1 from each order goes directly to training Dimple’s own guide dog through Guide Dogs Australia. The guide dog in training is a female lab pup who is aptly named “Dimple”. They have been awarded 8 times through local and international authorities for their unique branding and design.
A Broad Guideline To Turning Your Business Idea Into A Reality
Business ideas should result from first identifying a problem. Once a solution has been derived, Shaun recommends potential entrepreneurs find out whether people are willing to pay for the solution. If the outlook is positive, then they need to be determined whether it is a scalable business idea by finding out if there is a large enough market.
It is critical to conduct extensive research throughout this process. Fortunately, free resources are readily available, but some specific reports will need to be purchased. Potential entrepreneurs should be willing to also go out and seek feedback from potential customers directly.
From Shaun’s personal experience, he has learnt that the most important thing to know in business is the customer. As the business progresses, startups need to continually collect data and feedback from the customers, analyse it, and adjust accordingly.
Shaun warns that if entrepreneurs do not dedicate the resources to learning about their customers, they will ultimately lose a lot of them.
Hindsight Is Always 20/20
Shaun began his first business venture upon completing University. The business was run together with 3 fellow friends. For 10 years, from the business’s inception to them exiting it, they worked side by side. When Shaun looks back, he feels their risk-aversive approach may have been extreme.
Shaun believes their conservative approach caused them to miss out on exceptional opportunities over the years. This time around, Shaun has taken more calculated risks in order to build traction and scale at a faster rate. He implores other entrepreneurs to carefully consider and assess every opportunity that presents itself, rather than letting the chance slip by.
In Shaun’s first business, he also grew an impressively large team of 150 full-time staff. However, he warns that as the number of employees rise, more time and resources need to be dedicated to human resources. Shaun admits that he does not particularly enjoy managing people. He prefers to focus on the creativity involved in business and putting in the work to grow it. Based on his own experience, he recommends others to keep the core team as small as possible. Internal staff should be addressing core competencies only, while every other task should be outsourced.
Avoiding Common Pitfalls
Seeking opinions from friends and family about a business idea is a critical step for every startup. However, negative reactions should be somewhat expected. People tend to find reasons not to go ahead with new ventures, and so entrepreneurs should not necessarily become despondent when they do not receive encouraging feedback.
If due diligence and thorough research has been conducted, individuals should not become discouraged. Trust in oneself enough to believe that any obstacle can be overcome. This includes areas that one may not be well versed in, if at all, such as having no business background or knowledge of marketing. Shaun advises these can all be learnt along the journey.
Solo Founder Vs Co-founders
There are advocates for both solo entrepreneurship and partnered ventures. Shaun’s experience with co-founding his first business with his friends sets him up to appreciate the comradery and insight that can be generated through thoughtful discussion. He believes that it is important to be surrounded by the right people.
Shaun does not currently have an operational partner but feels this may useful for first-time entrepreneurs. He advises entrepreneurs to be wary of the partner(s) and/or investor(s) that they bring on board. These relationships are essential, so it is important to develop a synergy with such individuals.
Shaun’s Big Ask
Shaun is eager to share that he is currently looking trying to raise capital for their next scaling event. They will be expanding a product line for their new sub-brand with exciting plans to take the business international.
If you want to find out more about Dimple or Shaun, check out the following links: