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Building a Silicon Valley Style Company from Australia: ROKT CEO Bruce Buchanan (Part 2)

Posted on Thursday, May 22nd 2014

Sramana: What did you do after Jetstar?

Bruce Buchanan: I stepped down from my position at Jetstar in 2012. I ran across two individuals who had founded the company that is now known as ROKT. I fell in love with the business. At the time, they did not really know what the business was, but when I saw it I fell in love with it.

Sramana: Were they based in Australia?

Bruce Buchanan: They were. One was the second employee of Google in Australia. He left that position to create this company. At Google, he worked on pioneering new product ideas. The other guy was a sales person who had work in digital media sales. The two of them came together to create a business that started off as lead generation and affiliate marketing. They built up an engineering team and a product that had not received a lot of traction, but it had promise. It was a transactional product that we later termed a referral marketing platform. It was very similar to what Outbrain does for content, the only difference was that it was performed for products and services.

The product did not have much traction but I saw the product and thought it had incredible traction. I also really loved the two guys and thought they were tremendously talented. The next day they asked me if I wanted to come on and be the CEO so that they could take the product and the business somewhere. I said yes and so here I am almost 2 years later. The business has grown from 12 people to 53. We have gone from $4.3 million in revenue in 2012 to $11.3 million.

Sramana: It sounds like they had some good traction before you came on board. Is that what you built on?

Bruce Buchanan: I would say that 80% of that revenue came from things that we are no longer doing. Most of that revenue was around email marketing or affiliate marketing and it was really being done just to pay the bills. They were effectively selling deals to companies and then worked to effectively farm them out amongst many different players based on the marketing proposition.

Sramana: So they had a marketing services company and you recognized a product was inside of that company and shifted the company to focus on that product. Would you tell me more about the product?

Bruce Buchanan: Today 100% of our business is based on the product. The product sits within most of the major transactional engines in Australia. The product sits in transactional environments and it does two things. First, it helps partners post a transaction. It helps people discover products are services in a business that are highly relevant to that user. Second, it makes additional revenue by recommending third party products that are relevant to that consumer.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Building a Silicon Valley Style Company from Australia: ROKT CEO Bruce Buchanan
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