How to spot the next big thing

Any business idea that has a chance of becoming the next big thing needs to be deeply rooted in technology and the digital space in some way.

I started out as a silver service waiter and bartender in the 1970s before moving into real estate. Then, I started my first two businesses at the age of 19 before working at The Haven Glebe in Sydney at 24 and buying the hotel four years later, to pioneering event ticketing in Australia by founding Showtix. I have had a diverse and enlightening career before realising the power of websites such as Wotif.com in early 2000 and moving into digital marketing.

These experiences, along with the growth of Cashrewards to an annual turnover of $10 million in only its second year, have given me some great insights into recognising the next big thing, which I’d like to share with you here.

Look outside your market

Your market may be Australian consumers. But generally speaking, we follow models and behaviours from overseas. Your first port of call should be looking at the US, UK and Asian markets to see what types of businesses are gaining traction there. Don’t be scared of competition – find a model, make it your own and don’t sit on it.

Ensure your business is highly scalable

This one is key if your goal is growth. When I was in the hotel business, there was nowhere I could go after filling the hotel to 100% capacity. It was the same with the ticketing business – once you sell out, you’ve reached a wall. I was limited in those businesses in a way that I’m not now. Cashrewards is applicable for every online business and for every person who shops online. My audience is so unbelievably broad that the sky’s the limit when it comes to growth.

Look at trends and what could become redundant in the next decade

The classic example of this is Uber, which have effectively turned the entire taxi industry on its head. You must be willing to look for alternatives and not accept what has worked before. Listen to what people are complaining about and use creative brainstorming techniques to open your mind up to possibilities of how industries could work smarter, faster and better.

The internet has opened up the market and created opportunities for so many new businesses that could never have existed in years gone by. With the steady increase in online shopping, it made sense for me to tap into this market as the trend shows no signs of slowing down.

Listen to what people want

We were very careful when designing the business model and naming it. We felt that points didn’t resonate with people. Consumers can earn points in a wide variety of ways but points, even if you can exchange them for money, are simply not as motivating as cash in hand.

Technology can amplify and help scale the business

We spent 12 months building our unique proprietary technology and we’re still continuing to build it to stay on top of trends. This not only gives us an edge in the market but it ensures we have our own intellectual property. Any business idea should be deeply rooted in technology and the digital space in some way. If your idea is not highly, highly digital, then you need to change it.

Andrew Clarke, Founder, www.cashrewards.com.au

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