- 9 August 2021
- Posted by: Canberra Innovation Network
- Categories: Coworking, Feature, Innovation Connect Grant
One of the Canberra Innovation Network‘s favourite things to talk about is our friends who have walked through our doors with an idea and walked out with a vibrant, profitable enterprise all their own. One such company, Hey Fritz, first popped onto our site in November 2020 when they earned an ICON innovation connect grant. Co-founders Mick Fritschy, Sammy Williamson and Dilyar Barat wanted to bring the peer-to-peer marketplace to the masses to make use of the things we already have without creating more waste (think of borrowing a tent from your mate who last used hers years ago, etc.). And Hey Fritz was born!
Fast forward to today and their idea is going gangbusters, has a new name and an entire team fritzing their hearts out to bring the original idea to the next level.
We sat down with the original gang, as well as one of their new interns, to find out more about their current innovations.
CBRIN asks the original Fritzers:
- Tell us what inspired your business, the need you saw in the marketplace, and how you went from IDEA to REAL THING.
The initial marketplace was run by the original founder (Mick Fritschy) from the kitchen table with a pile of spreadsheets. Mick explains “People would contact me and ask if I could find them an item they were looking for. I would trawl through my spreadsheets of items people had listed in my marketplace, and match people up manually where I could. Although a bit of a hassle, our early adopters were keen to support it as they liked the idea of banding together as a community to make better use of what they have, rather than all going out and buying things new.”
The clunky model was converted into a smart technology platform with a professional marketing approach when Mick met co-founders Sammy Williamson and Dilyar Barat through the Canberra Innovation Network. Now, 10 months on, and after attracting close to $1M in investment funds, Rosella Street is poised to expand rapidly in the Canberra market, and across Australia.
The very immediate need for an online space like Rosella Street stems from people becoming more and more aware of their negative footprint on the planet. Most of us want to do something about it and aren’t quite sure where to start. There are ‘sustainable’ and ‘eco-friendly’ brands out there but most of them are expensive and may not be an option for most people. So, Rosella Street is a way to make better use of items you already have, be involved in the circular economy and connect with your community.
People like an underdog, and that’s what Rosella Street is. Online marketplaces are dominated by big corporate entities that don’t give back to the community or environment, that sell your data, and put you at risk through poor ID verification. Each of our transactions gives back to the community and environment, we don’t sell your data, and all users are ID verified. No scams, no fraud, just genuine vetted customers who are keen to make a positive impact.
- How did CBRIN help out along the way?
Rosella Street was a recipient of an ICON grant which provided the seed funds needed for Mick, Sammy and Dilyar to build and market the first version of the online marketplace. This led to a flood of sign ups and a successful capital raising round by investors keen to see an eco-driven marketplace get off the ground.
Over the last 12 months CBRIN staff have provided advice and support to help Rosella Street build its strategy, as well as tackle operational challenges along the way.
The team works two days per week from the coworking space and really values crossing paths with staff and founders from other companies. We’re always up for a game of darts or ping pong!
- Did you make any mistakes that led to great outcomes, or mistakes not unique to Rosella Street that you can warn other entrepreneurs against making?
It was a real challenge early on to prioritise our huge IT development effort, and to work out the best way to spend our funds. Our initial plan was to build the platform from scratch, but we very soon realised we wouldn’t be able to afford it (either in time or money). We realised it was best to identify existing software and integrate it into our platform. This has meant we’ve been able to move quickly and devote the money we’ve saved to marketing and promo. So our advice would be to utilise technical resources that are manageable, especially when creating an MVP.
- Tell us about the name change. Is anything else changing? Mission and product still the same?
Originally launched as a community rental platform under the name ‘Hey Fritz’, the platform is expanding across Australia with the addition of its eco-friendly buy/sell/donate option under its new name Rosella Street. Co-founder Mick Fritschy explained “we quite liked the name ‘Hey Fritz’, but a lot of people thought we sold German sausages. Although we have a lot of things on our platform, unfortunately that doesn’t include German sausages. The word ‘Rosella’ evokes Australia, and the quirky, colourful grassroots spirit of our users. And the word ‘Street’ reflects our strong sense of community where we join trusted friends and neighbours on the platform.”
Our mission is still the same in the sense that we’re lending a helping hand to those wishing to make more sustainable consumer habits. We all know that online shopping can be a serious vice, hey we don’t judge, so we’ve created a safe and sustainable online space for them to continue the love for scrolling new clothes or items that will spark your next DIY project.
- Is there anything new that you’re particularly proud of?
As Rosella Street rolls out its buy/sell marketplace it’s also introducing a donation of $1 from every sale to high impact community and environmental projects. Right now, it goes towards planting a tree. But not just any old tree! Rosella Street has partnered with the remote aboriginal community of Buymarr in Arnhem Land NT to support their project to plant bush food trees that reduce CO2 and provide nutrition. Supports passing on knowledge and helps build a happy and healthy community.
- Tell us about your massive growth. The last time we spoke four of you were in the office but when we invited you to lunch last week we barely had enough chairs in the events room for you all!
The three founders have a great combination of strategic, marketing, and tech skills which have enabled quick early growth. With the additional funding the team has now grown to 8, in addition to outsourcing the majority of its technical work to a Canberra based company with a development team based in Vietnam.
The challenge is now on to attract thousands of users to the platform over the next 6 months!
- What’s next for Hey … erm … Rosella Street?
As part of its buy/sell offering Rosella Street will soon introduce the trading of Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs). For those who haven’t heard of them, NFTs are digital assets connected to the blockchain. They include audio and video files, digital art works, and photography. A massive market for NFTs has emerged in the US over the last 12 months, and Rosella Street are banking on the trend hitting Australia in the coming months.
If you’re keen to be a part of the Rosella Street community visit www.rosellastreet.com/signup!
CBRIN asks new recruit Shannon:
- Tell us a bit about yourself, your studies, your interests…
I was born in Namibia, grew up in South Africa and have made my way across Australia to land here in Canberra. Growing up with a dad in film and nature conservation, I’ve had a constant reminder in my life of the importance of working to improve and drive social and environmental change. Keeping this at the forefront of my mind I pursued studies in Design and International Business as a way to drive this change through a human-centred design approach in the commercial sector.
Extending beyond my studies, my interests revolve around the creative arts primarily, where most of my free time has been spent at the Afrobeats dance class in Kingston, attempting to support a healthy, growing vegetable patch and exploring my sewing techniques in the hopes of repurposing my old clothing and thrift shop finds.
- What brought you to Rosella Street?
The journey to Rosella Street was unorthodox as far as internships go. At ANU the business college has implemented an internship unit into the degree plan, where students are provided with the opportunity to choose one of the provided opportunities or to self-source.
From the start I wanted to be involved in an internship that could not only challenge me but provide an environment where I could contribute my ideas and drive their implementation instead of solely following direction. Furthermore, I wanted to provide my time to an organisation that was purpose driven and aligned with my values. With that in mind the provided opportunities from the business college didn’t appeal to me, and I set out to self-source, a journey that was more difficult than expected.
I got in touch with the internship team, expressing my frustration with the process and enquired if they could offer any advice. It was through this initial engagement that a few weeks later I received an email from the team saying that they had an opportunity which could possibly appeal. It was a Tuesday morning when they got in touch, and I remember my first overview of the internship brief. I was captured by key terms in the description, which were growth, working directly, community and innovative.
A few hours later I received a call from Mick, then had an interview with him and Sammy where I used the word ‘excited’ more times than I care to mention. The treatment I received and approach of both Sammy and Mick safeguarded my conscious that this was not only the correct decision to make but one that would drive and support my growth, and so far it hasn’t failed in doing so!
- What do you hope to be doing in your role?
My role has a predominant focus in the area of marketing and design, where I’ll be using my capabilities to help increase the Rosella Street userbase whilst designing varied graphic support materials. So far we’ve hit the ground running! I’ve been looking into varied groups that could strongly benefit from our platform and working with the team to design marketing strategies on how to attract such groups. There’s so much to do, but I love; I’m constantly engaged and challenged by the diverse minds in this team. This is an exciting time for Rosella Street and I’m happy to be a part of it!
Be sure to sign up and share your stuff with your neighbours at RosellaStreet.com