Tales from Billabong Valley: OneFlare

Getting businesses to sign up was also a challenge in the early days, given the lack of capital and the small team.

"We had to develop a really smart process in regards to how we acquired businesses and how we acquired customers that was really low cost. It was a super hard thing to do at the start, but what we realised was getting the businesses on board first was key, ensuring they had low barriers to entry. And then once we've got the customers on board, that's when we can start getting engaged businesses," Lim explained.

Actually converting a connection-made between business and consumers into guaranteed income was challenging as well, with the company pivoting its business model multiple times to try and determine the best way to make money.

"One of the big challenges with a pivoting business model was that we fell into a transaction based billing system, whereby we took a clip out of every business that won a job through the site. The problem was that a lot of businesses were dealing outside of the site, so we weren't able to capture that clip," he said.

And throughout all those hurdles is the ongoing challenge of raising capital. Without the necessary capital, OneFlare wasn't able to expand at its desired rate, needing to cut costs and operate more efficiently in order to survive.

Fortunately, the company has recently raised half a million dollars, which should help things along nicely in the short term.


Capital funding of $500,000 has given the OneFlare team the breathing space it needs to expand, and expand rapidly.

"The business has gotten to a milestone where we need to raise money to grow and scale the business. An advisory firm called Growth Equity Partners was able to introduce us to investors that would be interested in our business, and it started with lots of coffee with over 10 investors total while doing the roadshow.

"They saw the type of traction that we were getting, and they were really interested to come aboard," Lim said.

For Lim, the investment is a validation of the business and the team. But it's also about having the right investors on board who understand the benefit of a two-sided marketplace.

With a massive increase in capital, Lim believes that the company is well positioned for growth over the next 18 months. The challenge is striking the right balance in how that money is spent.

"Our challenge is figuring out what we need to invest in. Whether it's talent, or sales and marketing, or whatever it is that will allow the business to scale and grow.

Marcus Lim and Adam Dong

Having the right team helped OneFlare make it this far

"For us, the three really core things that the money is going towards is firstly building and establishing and enhancing the product to make it market leading. The second is really driving traffic, driving user base to sign up to our site, driving job requests through the site to really get more throughput and getting more job traction. And the third is increasing revenue on the site by investing in talent in regards to how we can monetise the site even further," Lim said.


There are always plenty of barriers to making a startup successful, but Lim believes that the best advice anyone can give is to "just do it" and worry about the financing later.

Pickaquote, and later OneFlare was build on a $40,000 budget, with the two co-founders both committing $20,000 each. That total allowed the company to thrive for nine to 10 months before they needed to find some more money.

But ultimately, it's the execution of the idea that is key to success.

"Start with very little capital and be iterative - so keep failing, because one day you'll succeed," Lim explained.

He also argues that having the right motivation is essential to success.

"The way I see OneFlare is a platform for me to be able to provide a service to the Australian economy. It's not that I'm super, super passionate about carpenters and builders and electricians and plumbers, because I never knew anything about that before.

"OneFlare essentially is that platform that allows me, within this particular industry, to be able to improve the way people do things, and that's the overarching motivation behind it," Lim claimed.

  • Tales from Billabong Valley shines the spotlight on the massively expanding local tech startup industry.
Having spent the past decade editing some of Australia's leading technology publications, Nick's passion for the latest gadgetry is matched only by his love of watching Australia beat England in the rugby.