Exclusive from PosterCandy: building a startup in the Australian market

By David Leach, Managing Director, PosterCandy

David Leach, MD at PosterCandy shares top tips on establishing a creative startup in Australia.

PosterCandy was first established in 2013, when Instagram had just started. As one of Australia’s leading photographic houses, a website for printing Instagram photos was launched. However, not without challenges.


Know what you are signing up for

As a manufacturer, we have always been on the production end of the supply chain, rather than the creation side. Then, one day, a team came to us and asked if we could print Instagram and Facebook images. Well, we certainly had the production ability and capacity, so why not?

What we learnt, much more slowly than we should have, is that establishing a creative start-up is an entire business skill in its own right. And there is not one single ‘right way' to do it.

Another lesson for us was that we didn't even know enough about the industry to choose the right people to champion our project.


Learn from past mistakes and be prepared for a challenge of a lifetime

Without prior knowing how complex the project we were embarking on, we tried and failed, and failed, and failed before we succeeded.

However, there is a definite positive to learning from past mistakes and diving head first into the deep end. If we'd known at the beginning what we know now, we would probably have never started. But, we're at where we're at, we've persevered doing well and extraordinarily excited about the future.


Use Australia's small market to your advantage – don't be afraid of it

Many experienced entrepreneurs believe that if you can make it in Australia, you can make it anywhere.

Australia is a small market where many raw materials need to be imported, we have huge distances, overheads, wages and distribution costs.  These may all sound like barriers for a start-up. On the other hand, they are more so barriers of entry for competitors, local and international. Get to market, and you have time to get the mix right!




Before starting a creative start-up, consider these six questions:

1.Why are you starting your business?

Be very clear and honest with yourself and others about your ‘WHY'. This is your purpose. Leadership is about telling the story of your purpose, having a purpose that others can also get excited about, inviting people on your journey and having them want to follow you. Followers make the leader.

2.Are you passionate about your purpose?

Only start a business when you are totally passionate about your purpose. The business is the ‘what’ and ‘how’ you'll achieve your purpose, and you'll need all that passion and energy (and more) to help you survive the hard times that will come as you learn what works, and what doesn't.

3.Have you got what it takes?

Persevere. It will be much harder, take much longer, cost more money and take a higher emotional toll than you first believed. Be prepared for that.

4.Are you prepared to fail?

Fail fast and learn quickly. Most of our primary strengths in life and business come in the form of lessons we learnt in early failures. Those of us not failing are simply not trying hard enough to grow.

5.Who are you surrounding yourself with?

Always employ people smarter than yourself who can do things you can't and from whom you can learn.

6.Can you leave your perfectionism at home?

It's better to be approximately right than precisely wrong. Be prepared to make the best decision you can on the information you can currently obtain and make a decision. If you aim for perfection from day one, you'll never start. Start and learn quickly as you proceed.


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