Mike Frizell is founder and CEO of Pet Circle, winner of the NSW Telstra Business Award for Start Ups in 2014. We caught up with him to hear about how winning the Award has benefited Pet Circle and to discuss any new challenges or successes since that amazing win.
Can you tell us a bit about Pet Circle’s Award?
Winning the Telstra Business Award in the Start-Up category was a significant win for Pet Circle.
Pet Circle was founded in 2011, so we are a relatively new company. Winning the Award gave us a real boost in assurance that Pet Circle was tracking well along the path that we had set for it from the beginning.
One of the biggest challenges in any emerging business is gaining trust and confidence from consumers and the wider community. Winning the Award has reinforced to our customers and suppliers that we are a reputable and reliable brand to do business with.
Any new challenges?
It has been a big few years at Pet Circle. We won quite a few awards last year, including Fastest Growing Start-Up in the StartUpSmart Awards, and that is something we are really proud of.
Now that we have a strong and trusted presence in the market, our focus is on building Pet Circle into one of Australia’s leading e-commerce firms.
Start-up law can be a complex area. How have you navigated this?
Lawyers have played a big role in the success of our business. It is so important to get legal documentation and structure right from the beginning. For example, when we started Pet Circle we were very diligent about our Share-Holders Agreement, and we dedicated a lot of time to getting that agreement right for our particular business model and the interests of all shareholders. It ended up paying off because an original partner of Pet Circle left the business early on, but we had a comprehensive agreement in place that made the exit process clear and amicable for all parties.
Any hot legal tips for other start-ups?
One exciting legal agreement that we have implemented is an employee share-plan. This has allowed us to attract real talent to our business and may be an appealing option for other emerging companies.
We also recommend spending a bit more to get the best advice when it comes to legal issues. This will save you time and money in the long run.
What about the C word- Capital?
Yes, we are always raising capital. We are a growing business and have found venture capital funds to be a really great resource. The important thing for our start-up company was to structure our business to allow us to continue to grow and capital has played an important role in that respect.
So how did you get to become CEO of a rapidly growing new business in Australia?
My background is in finance and engineering and I have worked previously as a management consultant and investment banker. Founding and running Pet Circle is a big change but I have always known that I would start my own business.
Do you have a business mentor?
Yes, I have a few mentors and a strong board of governance to whom I look up to and respect. I am also part of Entrepreneurs’ Organisation (EO).
So what’s next for Pet Circle?
To be one of the top 20 e-commerce businesses in Asia, so we are keeping a close eye on the Asian market.
Last words of advice to other start-ups in Australia?
My advice to someone starting a company is to direct your attention to how you will execute your business model. Focussing on HOW to make the business work as opposed to the bright idea itself is essential.