Features - Entrepreneurial Alumni
Posted 01 August 2016
New York Programme
January 2004 Intake
Entrepreneur Mark Segal (New York, January 2004) lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he currently consults to an ASX Top 50 company on e-commerce strategy. During his career, Mark successfully founded and launched Shopolla.com, which became Australia's largest online department store for brand name shoes, clothing and accessories. The site integrated directly with Zappos.com to make their entire catalogue available (500K+ SKUs) for the first time ever outside of North America. He has also advised numerous ASX 200 and Fortune 500 companies as well as Start-ups and SMEs.
Mark's latest business project is Weberfy.com, an intuitive website publishing platform that allows anyone to easily create professional blogs, pages, stores, and galleries without touching a line of code. The completely inclusive, all-in-one service provides content management, hosting, domains, social integrations, e-commerce, and 24-hour customer support. He is the Founder and CEO.
How did you get into this line of business?
Mountbatten gave me a lot of clarity on what career path to pursue - leaning towards more creative fields like graphic design and advertising. Rose Polidoro was a careers mentor during our time, and she was exceptional with her guidance and industry introductions.
After getting back from NY I joined a company who was the leader in Online Marketing analytics. There I got to help a range of big name brands navigate where to spend their marketing budgets online. That kind of opened up eyes in terms of what could be done and set me on a path of various roles within the digital industry, culminating in a couple of my own e-commerce ventures.
How did you go about setting it up and getting established?
We have a development team who have worked on other high profile 'website builders' in the past. They devised a whole new methodology in how websites are created to make it much easier to have a beautiful website with no hassles.
After launching only a few weeks ago we've had a really positive response including a major International graphic design school including Weberfy into their syllabus so their students can get design portfolios online even before they graduate.
What else is in the pipeline?
The pipeline is pretty stuffed full! We have lots of new features being added to the platform, around marketing, e-commerce and design which are due to roll out over the next few months.
What has been the proudest moment in your working life thus far?
Hopefully this will be soon, but a previous venture which brought the US online giant - zappos.com - to Australia for the first time was a huge undertaking. Getting that launched was probably my proudest moment, although I didn't have the energy to realise it at the time...
What has been your biggest mistake/learning experience?
With a previous business, I tried to become too huge too soon. I thought I had all of the contingencies covered, but learnt that if you step on the toes of some established organisations without establishing the foundation to take them on from the get-go, they're going to make life difficult for you.
Any words of advice/wisdom would you impart to others thinking of setting up their own business?
I would say its all about building a minimum viable product ("MVP") to begin with - a phrase coined in The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Essentially this means not getting too bogged down in the details before launching. Get the bare bones of the business up, enough to validate whether there is indeed a market for what you're offering, and then if proven expand from there. Throwing immense resources and time at an unproven venture isn't the way to go.
Fortunately, you can test lots of markets these days with little expense, especially when it comes to putting together a website which looks like a million bucks;)
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