Interview With Australian Entrepreneur Matt Dyer, Founder of EatNow and BookWell
Matt Dyer is an Australian entrepreneur who is all about increasing the convenience of interactions between customers and businesses.
A programmer by trade, his first major venture was EatNow, which quickly became the #2 player in the very competitive home delivery field in Australia, and merged with the #1 player Menulog.
The combined entity was then acquired by Just Eat for $687 million USD in 2015. Matt’s latest venture is BookWell, an online booking portal for the beauty industry.
Here Sam Chalmers chats with the Australian entrepreneur about startups, advice, and his latest ventures.
1) Tell us about your main project, BookWell ? Why did you launch BookWell? Where you at now with BookWell?
While working on EatNow I always liked the idea of an aggregator for booking beauty appointments. If you want an appointment for a particular service it can take countless phone calls and searches on google to find a time that suits. Like booking a hotel it makes sense to be able to go to an aggregator, search by availability and then book and pay online to secure your appointment. BookWell launched last year and currently we are working to have as many venues as possible on the service.
2) How important do you think the name of a startup is?
I think it’s important, although if you want a .com domain, it’s almost impossible to find a good name these days. It’s increasingly difficult even with .com.au. So, rather than the perfect name, I think it’s better to find a name that is good enough, register the domain and spend your time building the product. I like short names that are somewhat descriptive. I’m not a fan of misspelling a word and using that as a name. There are other arguments for having a generic name because if the company evolves over time, it isn’t limiting.
3) When did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I’d always wanted to start my own business right back since high school. I was living in London quite a few years later and working as a programmer on a new site for the Daily Mail. The Daily Mail were quite active in the online space and had acquired quite a few online businesses. I met the founders of some of these companies, which made me start thinking that there was no reason as a programmer that I couldn’t start building websites for myself and see where it took me.
4) How did you first get started as an entrepreneur?
I started exploring some ideas and built a few websites that never got traction. My girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife, showed me the website for Just Eat in the UK. I thought it was absolutely brilliant. I started working on the concept right away for Australia which became EatNow.
5) What do you think your key skill is personally, what do you think you are best at?
When I am involved in something, I give it full focus. I see a lot of people fail as they are distracted and doing too many things.
6) Have there been any business trends in the last 10 years that you have really been kicking yourself for missing out on?
Not really. I’m pretty pragmatic about starting a business. Most businesses fail because of bad timing or a model that doesn’t work for countless reasons. However, even if you pick a trend and are in the perfect market at the right time, everything is going to have to go your way to create a successful business. Even if someone created Uber in Australia a year before Uber came they probably couldn’t have raised enough money, and there is a high likelihood Uber would have come anyway and steam-rolled them.
7) Do you think that entrepreneurs are born that way, or is it something that develops through your upbringing?
I think there are certain traits that make someone more likely to start a business; however, I think upbringing and experience plays a big part. I’ve met quite a few company founders now, and in general they are different in so many ways. I guess the successful ones share a common trait; they had a go and rode a wave.
8) What does a typical working day look like for you, from start to finish?
I have a two year old son, so my day starts around 7AM when he wakes up. I go for a run or to the gym 2-3 mornings a week and then ride into the CBD to our office. The day is usually pretty varied working on the product, visiting a venue, or working on countless other things that are going on.
9) After EatNow was acquired, did you splash out on any big purchases?
I bought a house pretty quickly, but that was the main thing.
10) What single piece advice would you give to people thinking about starting their own business?
Make sure you’re up for the fight. In most cases I don’t think it’s a “give it a year and see” thing. Usually, it takes a long time, and the theme of the back story is persistence.