James Billingham says NoteCube has posted strong international growth in the past year.

Social media lifts startup to $1m sales

Tuesday, 23 October, 2018 - 10:16

A milestone birthday and an overseas holiday sparked two Perth siblings to think outside the box, setting up a gift notes business that’s nudging $1 million in revenue in only its third year of operation.

“It was our mum’s 60th birthday in Morocco, and my sister and I were trying to think of a gift for her,” entrepreneur James Billingham told Business News.

“We thought, what if we got 60 of our friends and family to write a memory or some kind words each?”

Her heartfelt response to their gift led the pair to create NoteCube, a startup that produces and distributes keepsake boxes filled with personalised notes.

Mr Billingham is a web developer and his sister, Lauren, a producer with media company The Brand Agency.

He said the self-funded business had achieved $1 million in revenue since 2016, hitting the milestone last week.

It is also poised to hit $1 million in sales this financial year alone.

Initially, buyers could write their own customised notes on the website, but NoteCube now draws on a database of more than 35,000 notes to create suggestions and help customers to buy within minutes.

About 50 per cent of NoteCube’s customers buy from the United States. The business also offers a digital version of the box to cut wait times. 

“We’ve only got one design for both products,” Mr Billingham said.

“I’m a bit anti-choice, because I feel as soon as you have to make a choice you think ‘I don’t know what to do, I’ll come back later’, and then you don’t decide.”

He negotiated a contract with Australia Post, allowing an equitable cost between domestic and international shipping.

To maximise sales, he also experimented with a range of social media advertising techniques, analysing the results and adapting the ads used to find the most effective methods.

“I spent a crazy amount of time on ads – analysing, split-testing them, finding out what works, how people interact,” Mr Billingham said.

“That’s where we spend 80 per cent of our marketing budget, on Facebook and Instagram ads.”