Leaving the Aussie mines for the Melbourne startup scene, a 24-year-old Kiwi entrepreneur has this week wrangled a $450,000 investment in his web development marketplace from angel investors.
Peter Murray of Dunedin created Tweaky.com with co-founder Ned Dwyer after winning Melbourne Startup Weekend last November, and they describe the site as “the world’s first marketplace dedicated to minor web site customisations".
The site crowdsources freelance web developers from around the globe to make minor tweaks to websites, charging the client from around $25 for each tweak – as opposed to the hundreds of dollars per hour that clients might pay regular freelancers.
The investment comes from the founder of 99designs.com, Mark Harbottle, and angel investor Leni Mayo. It’s early days for the company but a massive boost for this young Kiwi engineer-come-miner-come internet entrepreneur.
Between tweaks we pinned Peter down for a quick Q&A:
So I hear that you're from the South Island – whereabouts?
I'd call home Dunedin, although I spent my younger years in Hawkes Bay.
What were you doing before you left and where did you study?
I studied at Canterbury, completing a BE (hons) in Civil Engineering. After graduating I moved over to WA to work as a site engineer in the mining industry.
What took you to Melbourne?
My move to Melbourne was career-focused. I was eager to get into the software industry and startup scene. When a job opportunity at ThoughtWorks arose I jumped at the opportunity which landed me in Melbourne. A fortunate introduction to Ned Dwyer at last year's Melbourne Startup Weekend led to the formation of Tweaky which we've been working on ever since.
How has business been so far – tweaks coming out your ears?
It's still early days but things are going well. Every day I log in there's more tweaks in the system than the day before.
What do you hope to do with the investment money?
Right now we're focusing on our product and the customers we have on board. We want to make the Tweaky experience as awesome as we can for our customers. The investment will help us grow the Tweaky team to achieve this. We have a big vision for the company and with 336 million web sites in the world we're excited by the opportunities.
Excited to be working with Mark Harbottle?
Of course! Both Mark and Leni have deep industry expertise in the web development and design space, especially around marketplaces. They're some of the best around and have built successful businesses before in similar spaces. Mark in particular has taken a keen interest and has already contributed a lot of value to the business particularly around product and marketing.
Drawing on your background, what particular skills would you say you bring to the team?
As an engineer I bring an analytical mind to problems and the technical capacity to deliver software. Ned is focused on the business side, customers and sales and so together we're able to work out what to build, how to build it and find who might be interested. We have very complementary skills; it works really well.
Could you describe the IT startup scene in Melbourne for us?
It's pretty big and growing. There are regular events on, local investors and incubators, and hubs of startup activity developing such as co-working space Inspire9. What's really impressed me is the strong belief here that you can build something great locally. You don't need to be in San Francisco to do it.
What have been some major challenges you've encountered bringing the company this far and how did you get past them?
One of the hardest parts was finding the time. There are only so many hours in the day, and when we started Ned was running his digital agency, Native Digital, while I was fulltime with ThoughtWorks. We are both very passionate about the idea however, which has really helped us push through to build out the product, launch it, and now raise... all in our spare time. We're now both fulltime and are loving being able to devote full focus.
Any advice for other young Liwis wanting to get into this scene?
Get involved. Start attending local startup events and meeting other people in the scene. Opportunities will present themselves if you expose yourself to them. Tweaky would have never happened for me if I hadn't put myself out there and given Startup Weekend a go.