Samantha Finnegan


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Samantha Finnegan shares the various software tools and platforms she utilizes

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Samantha Finnegan is the founder of Madebox, a company which provides customers with gift boxes of curated goods from small regional producers, in particular focusing on supporting regions affected by floods, droughts, bush fires and the pandemic. Samantha launched Madebox during covid lockdown, out of a need to support regional producers whose livelihoods relied heavily on the tourism industry. In her conversation with Adam, Samantha discusses how storytelling is a crucial element to the Madebox experience, as well as the various software tools and platforms that Madebox use to deliver their product.


Madebox: https://madebox.co/

Samantha on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samfinnegan/


Adam Spencer: Hi, I’m Adam Spencer, and welcome to Day One, the podcast that spotlights Australian startups, founders, and the organizations that empower Australian entrepreneurship. We go back to the beginning to tell a story of Australia’s most inspiring founders and how they built their companies. You’re listening to a special interview series as part of a documentary W2D1 is producing about the history of the Australian startup ecosystem. On the episode today, we have…


Samantha Finnegan: Hi, my name is Samantha Finnegan. I’m the founder of Madebox, and we support small-batch producers through high-end corporate gifting.

Adam Spencer: Before we dive into where you are today and the small producers you’re helping, and I’d love to hear some stories about those small producers, because MYOB have worked with you in creating some content to spotlight those small producers, and we’ll go into your background, I suppose, off the back of this question, but what was the motivation? Why did you start Madebox?

Samantha Finnegan: So Madebox started as a result of lockdown and COVID. So obviously, 2020 was a pretty awful time for everybody. We’d just come off the back of all the horrible bushfires which completely decimated a lot of small communities around Australia, and then we go into a pandemic. And with all of the lockdowns that were then hitting multiple states, especially Victoria, I was worried about how all these small businesses are going to survive, especially the ones from regions that rely so heavily on tourism, because all of a sudden these people have gone from lots of tourists visiting their areas to literally nobody visiting the region at all and for foreseeable future.

Adam Spencer: Are you from regional Victoria? What were you seeing in the community that made you think that the… You know, see firsthand, maybe, hopefully, that these businesses were struggling?

Samantha Finnegan: Yeah, so personally I am from the country as well, and I grew up in country and regional Victoria, but we also have a house up near Daylesford, and during the first lockdown, we were lucky enough to be able to stay there for the first lockdown, and the second lockdown we were in the city. But again, my background is in championing tourism for various roles that I’ve had, and so I guess I’m a bit more aware about how important the regions are from a tourism perspective, and it’s really the producers and makers that make up the personality of a place. And it’s the reason why, one of the big reasons why you go traveling and that you go visit regional areas, is to sample the food and the drink and do the fun things that are in that region. So that was the main motivation and understanding.

Adam Spencer: Yeah, I love that. I love going to a regional town and just seeing its personality, and we used to talk about this a lot more when we first got our license. Me and my mate, we would go driving our car into all these different towns, and specifically out west in New South Wales and just see, they had this charm about them, and I think you’re right. I still walk into a cafe in Dungog or Gloucester now, which is a regional town up here in New South Wales and see honey or jam, made from just locals, being sold out of cafes. And I just love that.

Samantha Finnegan: Yeah, and there’s a slight bit of panic for me. So I’ve done a lot of traveling for work, and also for personal, it’s a huge interest of mine, and one thing that was always concerning is when you go back to a lot of cities and things, again, it’s the food and it’s the drink and it’s the experience that really give you an overall sense of what a place is like and their culture. And when you keep going to these major cities, and they’re getting more and more homogenized and [inaudible] it’s all the same, and I was petrified that if COVID went on for so long that tourism wasn’t going to be allowed in for a year to two years, a lot of these small businesses would shut up shop, because they’re side hustles or they’re micro businesses, and if we lose that, then we lose something of the character and the quality of what makes Australian regions so special.

Samantha Finnegan: So it was kind of, for me, just a real impetus to get off my butt and do something. And the other thing that it probably was, if I’m brutally honest, is also it was my way of exerting control over the situation. It was my outlet for doing something productive and proactive to hopefully do something good in a whole world of pain, basically.

Adam Spencer: Yeah. What were you doing before Madebox? And the reason why I ask that is, was it a bit scary at all? Or were you doing other stuff on the side and Madebox was a bit of a side gig?

Samantha Finnegan: Yeah, I had kids later in life. So when lockdown first happened, I had a three-month-old baby and a two-year-old child. So I was raising my two kids at the age of 40, so I had a bit of time in that respect. I mean, not that you have much time when you have such small children. And let’s face it, we ended up doing everything after midnight and till one o’clock in the morning and all the rest of it. But again, it was just that sense of powerlessness, and it’s something that I wanted to try and do. And I wasn’t working a full-time job, so I felt like perhaps there was something else I could be doing that was putting my skills to use.

Samantha Finnegan: So my background is in media advertising and corporate business development across a number of streams, and content marketing and a few other bits and pieces, and I knew that I could use those skillsets and the connections that I had from my years in sales to help others who may not have the same skillset that I do, because I’m in awe of people who can make and create these products and these things, and they do it so well. So I can give back by putting my skillset to help them, because not everybody’s good at selling themselves.

Adam Spencer: Yeah. Were there other ideas, or how did you settle on these curated gift boxes?

Samantha Finnegan: So in the years prior, I’d actually looked at running a business called Artisan Farmer and I’d done a lot of research, and Artisan Farmer was a concept about how to bring and find ethically sourced meat into the city. So I’d done a lot of research. I’d visited chicken farms and pig farms and cows and all sorts of things, and this sort of precipice of helping people who do really amazing things within the small batch and artisan space. Because as I said, not everybody’s good at all facets of running a business, which is what you need to be able to build and grow your business, and these people are scientists and agriculturists and all that sort of thing. And I was like, okay, well, I know that I can bring these other skillsets.

Samantha Finnegan: But I’d just never gotten the cojones, if you like, to actually go and start this type of business. So when COVID hit and that sense of frustration, and we’re off the back of the bushfires, and everything seems like it’s going to hell in a hand basket, it was really that impetus to just get off my butt and just start and just do it. And so for me personally, I’ve actually already achieved what I set out to, which is do it. Actually start it and do it. So for me, everything from here is upside.

Adam Spencer: I really love the idea of these types of businesses, creating these little gift boxes, no matter what niche you go into. To me, it’s exciting, discovering something new, getting a box, finding all these new things in it. I love that. I don’t know if this is kind of in the same category as what you’re doing, but I’m not a customer of theirs anymore, but I used to Naked Wines, have you heard of those guys?

Samantha Finnegan: Yes. Yep.

Adam Spencer: I tried a few of those boxes, and I just love this idea of this box showing up and I’m not sure what’s going to be in it. The element of discovery is really cool.

Samantha Finnegan: So I think what it was was I knew that there’s a whole bunch of different, amazing products. The corporate sales background that I have, I know a lot of money is spent on entertaining clients, especially coming from a background in sponsorship with the Australian Open, media sales at major media companies and things like that, I know a lot of money is spent on client entertainment. And during the pandemic, obviously, all of those major events have stopped, in-person meetings and things have stopped. So what else are people going to do to keep connected with their customers? And so gift boxes seem like an obvious choice, and a lot of these big companies still had budgets to spend on that type of thing.

Samantha Finnegan: So once I got into the curation of it, it kind of got a life of its own. It started to support these key bushfire-affected regions, so we began with Blue Mountains, Kangaroo Island, Gippsland, Brighton, the High Country, and threw in Daylesford and Macedon Ranges, because of the tourism hard hitting there, and it grew from there. So we’ve moved beyond those five regions that we started with and now we’re covering the whole of Australia, because what we found is the intent was there to help people through this really awful time, but as I said, what we found was this whole plethora of really super interesting and amazing and unusual products that are really world class, and they’re just not well known. And from our point of view, we’re hoping that if we can help bring new customers to these small producers, we can help them grow fast, and hopefully we can grow as a result.

Adam Spencer: Yeah, I love that you just brought up you knew, or you identified that there’s a lot of money spent on entertaining clients in the corporate kind of landscape. That’s one great marketing insight as to how to get the boxes out there. We’re going a little too fast for my liking. I want to go back a little bit to once you decided that gift boxes is something that you… There’s another term for them that I can’t quite think of right now.

Samantha Finnegan: Hampers, and I hate it.

Adam Spencer: Once you decided on that product, what was the first step to figuring out how you’re going to… Because I’m really curious about the operations of it. Like, how are you finding the producers? How are you kind of managing that side of the business, those relationships?

Samantha Finnegan: Yeah, it’s interesting, because rightly or wrongly, it actually wasn’t a conscious thought about how to frame all of this and how to put it together. It was a feeling, an intrinsic idea that I had about how to bring it to life, which is what gave us our USP, our unique selling proposition. So there’s a hundred gift box companies out there, literally, more than that. So what are we doing that’s differentiating ourselves from everybody else? And for us, it’s storytelling. So we focus on the producers and telling their stories, because that’s what drives an emotional connection between the recipient and also the buyer, as well as the producer. So we’re providing that central piece of the triangle that brings all of these three people together through the joy of discovery.

Samantha Finnegan: So yeah, in terms of the process and how we went about it, we were in lockdown, so I couldn’t go anywhere, I couldn’t meet anyone, so everything was done online. So it was a hundred percent going down massive Instagram rabbit holes and people’s Facebook pages and things like that, and I would literally find a region, work out what their local general store was, find the Facebook page, [inaudible] on Facebook and not really Instagram, pages of these stores, and if they had photos up, zoom in on their shelves, see if I could work out what was on the-

Adam Spencer: Wow.

Samantha Finnegan: Yeah. Of some of these products, and then google them and find them from there, and then I would ask the producers if they knew of any other small-batch producers and things like that. And then we bought a lot of stuff and had things sent to us, because again, it’s about the curation and that’s the key, because there’s Click for Vic and there’s Fill My Esky and Buy from the Bush and all of these amazing marketplace sites, so the niche that we’re fulfilling here is that whole curated piece. We’re going to make it really easy for you to support small-batch producers, and we’ve done the hard work. We’ve found all the absolute gems and curated them into cohesive and interesting boxes that just make it super easy for everybody to support these people.

Adam Spencer: You know, that’s some really good detective work there with the zooming in on the Facebook photos.

Samantha Finnegan: Yeah. Well, again, lockdown, I don’t know that this business would’ve happened without the pandemic. In fact, it absolutely would not have happened without it. So the one thing that I’ve also been really inspired by is all the stories and pivots and interesting things. As much horror as there’s been and loss with the pandemic, there’s also been some amazing stories of inspiration too to come out of this, because humans are resilient and adaptive and inventive.

Adam Spencer: I love that you brought up storytelling. Are there a couple of stories that come to mind from some of your producers?

Samantha Finnegan: Absolutely. So there’s anything from small producers to bigger ones, so for example, the Melbourne restaurants, they had to pivot. You’ve got all these different groups who had staff they needed to pay. They couldn’t have people coming in. You know, Providoor is such an amazing and inspirational story, so Shane Delia and coming up with Providoor as a platform, he deserves all of the success that he gets and more. Such a brilliant business and model as well. And then just down from little things, so like MoVida, they have a pantry range that they distribute, so they had to do that sort of thing.

Samantha Finnegan: There’s a bar in Fitzroy called Henry Sugar bar, and they did bottle cocktails and they also started taking their bar snacks, these salt and vinegar tempura leaves, and they then dehydrated them and then made them into like chips and bagged them and were selling those. And so I discovered them and went, wow, this is amazing, and they’re the most punch you in the face sort of flavor things, and then we ended up ordering, you know, a thousand bags from them last year for some of the things and stuff. And some poor bastard just standing there by the fryer and hand frying every single one. But it’s these types of things that they were able to come up with and do to sort of get them through the hump, rather than having to close their doors.

Adam Spencer: Yeah. How many producers are you keeping track of now? Do you go back and reuse products or feature products again that you’ve already done, or are you constantly looking for new producers and new products?

Samantha Finnegan: All of the above, all of the above. So there’s a lot of staple products that we have because they’re just so good and they really work well together in things, and then there’s we’re trying to do things a little bit different. So we’ll have a lot of, instead of saying it’s for him, for her, for baby and all that sort of thing, we focus more on what the theme of all of these products presents us with. So there’s like barbecue, and there’s relax, and pamper and indulge, and taste and entertain, and dark and handsome, and all these sort of things, where we’ve found these really interesting and unusual things.

Samantha Finnegan: So another example of a pivot story, there’s a chef down at Mornington Peninsula named Luke Croston. He used to work with George Calombaris back in the day, and during COVID, he then changed direction for what he was doing, and he then turned to creating black garlic and making black garlic products. So he has this black garlic beer nut mix, which is sensational. So it’s just all these sorts of things and unusual things. So we really like to try and be different from other gift box companies. There’s enough room for competition for everyone, and then we showcase these unusual things.

Adam Spencer: Have you or anybody else done like boxes to highlight a specific town, or a taste of this town or a taste of this region?

Samantha Finnegan: Yeah, there is. There’s hundreds of gift box companies in Australia, so you’ve got right down to like small regional ones that just service their local area to other ones that showcase a little bit more, but I’d say we’re probably the most detailed one when it comes to a regional perspective in terms of the coverage. So on the website, we only have a very small selection of what’s actually available, because if we were to stock all of the product that we have access to, we wouldn’t have any money. And I think that’s a really key thing, is knowing when to spend money and when not to, because cash flow is the number one priority. Cash is king. If you don’t have cash flow, you’re out of business.

Adam Spencer: See, I love this one. Discover Blue Mountains.

Samantha Finnegan: Yeah. So I base these boxes on what we have in stock at the moment and what’s available, and then we reserve the right to change things. And we’re about to change the structure of the site so that we have set box combinations, but we can switch things in and out. So a barbecue box might have an oil, a seasoning, a relish, a couple of sauces and some alcohol and some other things, and then we’ll switch it in and out, depending on what’s in season and what’s around, because by the nature of small-batch producers, you might only get small quantities from some and a bit more from another, and we need that flexibility.

Samantha Finnegan: So at the moment, there’s nobody else that I know of that does this, in terms of has this breadth. And so we now have over 300 producers that we work with. We’ve curated a list of about a thousand products. So we focus on a [inaudible] management service for our clients and we curate to brief, and we work backwards from their brief and budget.

Adam Spencer: Yeah. See, that’s the part that I find really, really interesting, the 300 producers and thousand product lines, like just the system on the back end that you have to keep track of all that, I just find that really interesting.

Samantha Finnegan: Yeah, so digital is obviously a huge part of that. So we use a number of different systems to then keep track of everything. So I have an inventory management system called Katana EPRS, which is actually a manufacturing industry inventory management system, but I find it’s the best thing for us to then manage our production line process and allocate resources to jobs, as well as order in stock and allocate stock for what we need. We use Airtable to track all of our content and information. So for every single producer that we have on board, we create a profile for them, and we ask for their images and things of their products and themselves as producer, and so we have to store all that stuff somewhere. And then whenever a producer’s product is in a box, they have a story card that goes with it so that people can read about them and learn more, and hopefully go visit them long after their Madebox is gone.

Adam Spencer: So cool.

Samantha Finnegan: So we need to maintain a lot of content and a lot of information and have it readily available. And then there’s loads of other things that we need to use to make sure that things run more smoothly, like obviously the MYOB accounting package, Later for social posting, One Drive for storage and things, aside from the normal programs and stuff like that. But there’s shipping platforms as well, and we just, Square, Canva, Google Drive, you name it.

Adam Spencer: Yeah, wow.

Samantha Finnegan: So we’ve got about 20 different systems we use.

Adam Spencer: I want to get back to story in a second. The name Madebox, how did you settle on that, just out of my own personal curiosity?

Samantha Finnegan: Yeah, again, that was… It just kind of hit me. Again, I think because it was such a horrible and disconcerting point in time, and again, as I said, this was my way of exerting control on a situation. So you know, some people went and panic bought toilet paper. I was planning…

Adam Spencer: You launched a business?

Samantha Finnegan: Yeah. And I probably panic bought a little bit of toilet paper myself. But again, it was my sense of control. So I don’t actually remember a huge amount about the process during that time, but it gave me something to cling onto and to look forward to in a time of such uncertainty, and we were all scared [inaudible] that time when it all first kicked off and things. So I probably spent about six months planning, and then Madebox was just sort of an iteration that came out of thinking about things. One thing I’ll also say about it, it was probably also, in all honesty, a bit of playing with GoDaddy and seeing what was actually available for my website address.

Adam Spencer: Yeah. That’s kind of partly why I asked the question, because I’m really surprised that Madebox was available.

Samantha Finnegan: Madebox.com is not, it’s some sort of crafting organization in Columbia.

Adam Spencer: Oh, don’t talk… We don’t want to give them any air time. Don’t talk about Madebox.com. Madebox.co is where it’s happening.

Samantha Finnegan: Madebox.co is fine. And then I own all the other URL iterations as well, like .co.uk, .co.nz, and all the rest of it too.

Adam Spencer: Going to take over the world?

Samantha Finnegan: Yeah. Well, this is actually an aspiration for where we want to get to. It will be easy for us to pick up this model and apply it anywhere, so absolutely, this is an intention of the business. We want to be able to do this in other parts of the world, so especially in places that are very parochial about their regions. So the UK, this would do really well in [inaudible] , same as the US. And in fact, that’s where the idea for the boxes came from, because I’d come across an article about a company called Box Fox, which is a California gift box company started by about three 20-somethings, and now they pull in… They started this about four or five years ago, and now they pull in $100 million US in revenue a year.

Adam Spencer: Wow.

Samantha Finnegan: I think that’s actually where I got the idea to then do this concept as a gift box.

Adam Spencer: Great name as well.

Samantha Finnegan: Yeah, Box Fox. Yeah, it’s a great one.

Adam Spencer: Jumping back to stories, how did the MYOB collaboration happen with featuring the stories of some of your producers?

Samantha Finnegan: So I think one of the biggest pieces of advice I have for people working through their career and their life and in their businesses and stuff like that is be nice to people. Don’t be an a-hole. I was about to swear and actually say it. But you know, if people like you, people will want to help you. And the thing that I found that kind of blew me away when I started this, when I reached out to people that I knew, all of my sales came from people that were either an ex-colleague or a previous client of mine. Every single one, and MYOB was no exceptions.

Samantha Finnegan: So it was an ex-colleague that I worked with at Tennis Australia, and she was in the events team, and I’d mentioned this to her and she’d seen on LinkedIn when I posted something and the conversation started from there. And then I found another colleague that I’d worked with at News Limited, she was in there too, and sort of it came through via those channels. So you’re sort of then saying, “Hey, [inaudible] , oh, I know this person they’ve done X, Y, and Z. They would be a great person to use for this.” So that’s what I mean by don’t burn bridges, because you never know when people will help you in the future.

Adam Spencer: Yeah. That idea that you just don’t know where the next opportunity is coming from, that’s a little bit scary to me, because of how many times you might miss an opportunity, but you can’t think about that. But it’s just interesting where these opportunities come from, like a conversation that you’re going to have. This colleague that you worked with at, what was it? The Australian Tennis-

Samantha Finnegan: Yeah, Tennis Australia.

Adam Spencer: Tennis Australia, back in 2017 or somewhere in there, you’d never have known that that was going to be something that would help you with Madebox over five years later.

Samantha Finnegan: Oh, absolutely.

Adam Spencer: I just find that so interesting.

Samantha Finnegan: Yeah. I mean, it’s, as I said, every single client I’ve had, and then other things too. And look, you make your own luck, so I did reach out to a lot of people that I knew on LinkedIn. Leveraging connections is always key. And then the other thing that I do from a marketing point of view, I actually don’t do any online advertising yet. We’ll get to that point shortly, but I’m focusing purely on B2B rather than B2C just yet.

Samantha Finnegan: But from a marketing point of view, I can sit here and talk till the cows come home about what the experience is and what the boxes look like, but it’s probably better for me just to send one to you, so you have that experience and it speaks for itself. So my marketing was sending free boxes to people to get the idea, and then a lot of business came out of that, because people instantly understood what the emotional impact of the unboxing experience was, because we really put that focus on putting the people front and center.

Adam Spencer: Yeah, it’s a no brainer to do that, but if it was me, I’d be… Because I don’t know what the cost of your boxes are wholesale as a cost directly to you, but for me, that would be a scary thing, to be just giving away all of this, essentially, money, not knowing if it’s going to turn into anything.

Samantha Finnegan: My background is media and advertising though, so-

Adam Spencer: Good point.

Samantha Finnegan: … I know that you’ve got to spend money, and some of it’s going to land and some of it’s not going to. It’s just about being as effective and efficient with the little money that you have, and what are the channels that are going to give you the most impact? So I actually have, in my costings for boxes, a very small allocation against marketing, so that in all of the boxes I sell, they’re generating money for me to then draw down upon to then send more boxes out. So it’s just about ensuring that the activities that you do can wash their own face.

Adam Spencer: Yeah. And so Madebox, from day one, it’s all been online sales, digital channels. Have you learned any lessons or have you passed on any learnings to a lot of these small producers that traditionally are selling in cafes, in general stores? What advice did you have for those guys to go online?

Samantha Finnegan: Use all the tools that are available to you, but one thing I’ve found is that it’s not actually clear what all of the tools available to you are. And it’s interesting, because when the budget happened and they brought in the new rule around any digital subscriptions, you’re going to be able to claim an additional 25% increase in tax return value on those subscriptions. This is brilliant, but I have a tech history and digital advertising background, so I know a lot of these different programs, like HubSpot for sales and marketing management and things like that. And Trello and Notion and advertising platforms and things like that. The average punter doesn’t necessarily know all of those things.

Samantha Finnegan: So I’d love to see some sort of central repository for all of the digital online tools that are available to small business, and to give them an easy to understand overview about how it can help them so they can make better decisions in their initial setup processes and streamlining things, because inevitably, when you’re running any type of startup business or small business, you’re doing everything yourself. So where are the wins and gains about how you can automate things as much as possible so that you can spend your time more effectively and efficiently?

Adam Spencer: That repository of tools, great content idea for maybe MYOB. I don’t know if they do something like that.

Samantha Finnegan: I’ve actually said that to them before, because it is key. Like, it’s awesome to have this repository of content that people can access about inspirational stories and things, but the practical tools, and Bill Bryson, who’s the Small Business Ombudsman, they’ve just relaunched Small business Australia and it’s got this whole new platform and it’s fantastic. And it’s sort of, can all of those sorts of resources be in these types of platforms so that it’s easy to find and understand all of these digital tools are available?

Adam Spencer: I’ve got one big question that I ask every single guest. But before I ask that, is there anything that we didn’t mention that you’d like to cover, anything important?

Samantha Finnegan: I think the other thing that I’ve found really interesting doing this business is the stories of the people that I’m meeting, and for all the people that I meet, it just makes me more and more passionate about helping them and trying to get them out there in front of people as well. So for example, there’s one brand I know that came across in the Great Ocean Road, and her name is Kelly Blair, and her brand is called The Herbalist Bells Beach. She has a brand that is literally akin to Aesop, and she only has a couple of hundred followers on her Instagram. She’s sitting there waiting to be discovered.

Samantha Finnegan: There’s a cider producer who’s a retired chemical engineer down the back of Birregurra, and he makes a cider to a 300-year-old recipe, and it’s so amazing that you can actually cellar it like champagne. And all these people who make all these interesting things, I just can’t wait for people to find out more about these people, because there’s so many amazing things. So that’s what I get really excited about. So if anybody is looking for gifts and presents for people or their staff or their clients, jump onto Madebox.co and have a look and drop us a note, because we can curate to any brief and budget.

Adam Spencer: Someone needs to make a podcast spotlighting all of these hidden gems.

Samantha Finnegan: They should do.

Adam Spencer: Someone does, someone. I don’t know who, someone.

Samantha Finnegan: Yep. That’s on the roadmap, for sure.

Adam Spencer: Last question that I ask everyone. What we’re trying to do with this interview series is a podcast that is called The History of the Australian Startup Ecosystem. So we’ve done 150 or plus interviews, and we’re using all of that content to create a six-part documentary that will tell the story of the Australian startup ecosystem to date. We want founders, investors, academics, policy makers, like every single person in the community to listen to the story, The History of the Australian Startup Ecosystem. Any one of those categories, those four categories, or everyone in the startup community, what do you want to tell them? Like, what’s important.

Samantha Finnegan: I think if I’d have any advice to founders and things, if you’re chasing money only, it’s not going to work. You have to be passionate about what you’re doing, because there’s so much hard work involved, and it’s a lot of time and a lot of sacrifice and a lot of hours. You’ve actually got to be really happy doing what you’re doing, and then hopefully money will follow. That said, you’ve got to be smart about it and make some right choices and things. And I would caution against trying to go for lots of funding and all these sorts of things, and I’ve got a great idea, it’s going to be a unicorn, and all that sort of stuff. That’s not real life.

Samantha Finnegan: There’s a couple of people turn into movie stars and it’s the same with companies. So don’t think that you’ve got a good idea and that you’re just going to go and get funding and make it happen. What VCs, from what I can understand, they love to see track record. They love to see that you can execute. So get off your butt, actually do it, and see what works and what doesn’t work, and get cash flow positive, and then you’re probably in a better position to shop around for what your next move is.

Samantha Finnegan: We have ideas for a new platform that’s going to solve a whole bunch of customer problems, and that’s a podcast discussion for another time. That will be launching next year, and as I said, it will solve a whole bunch of problems. But all of these products that just think they’re going to find a market, that doesn’t work. You have to actually make sure that you’ve got a customer problem that you’re solving and it works and it’s effective, then it will be successful.

Adam Spencer: Yeah. Knowing everything you know about your Madebox journey, would you do it again?

Samantha Finnegan: A hundred percent, but I would… I’m a bit embarrassed about how little structure there was at the start. It was all based on feeling and intuition, and I happened to be correct. That’s not normal either. It should have a lot more science behind it than that. As I said, a customer need that you’re actually solving, it’s a product that people will actually want and will want to buy, and that you can get cash positive as quickly as possible.

Adam Spencer: I hope you enjoyed that interview. More interviews are on the way. Follow the podcast wherever you’re listening right now. Stay tuned for more interviews with many, many more amazing people from the Australian startup ecosystem. Thanks for listening and see you next time.


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