Small business budgets no barrier to big business success

Brandollo co-founders Brian McCarthy and Marco Muscat.

The co-founders of Brandollo walked away with more than just business advice and a support network from the 2018 Collider Accelerator Program.

Brian McCarthy and Marco Muscat also secured their first two investors during the three-month startup accelerator delivered by QUT Creative Enterprise Australia (CEA), impressing mentors with their platform for small businesses to plan, manage and coordinate their marketing needs.

“We’ve had an interesting run…securing investors this early on doesn’t usually happen. This is huge” Brian says, adding both investors were also Collider mentors — Ben Sharp and Peter Laurie.

“Those guys didn’t just come with financial support, they came with nous on the technical and commercial sides so if we’re banging our heads against a brick wall and we need a third voice of experience, we can talk to them.”

Brian was working for a marketing agency in Melbourne, having relocated from Ireland in 2014, when the idea for Brandollo first took seed.

While he loved his job, Brian was becoming increasingly frustrated to see small businesses that needed branding and marketing help but had a limited budget that couldn’t stretch to cover agency rates.

“That was the idea for Brandollo: to build an affordable platform that helps small businesses bridge that gap between the lack of inhouse knowledge they have and the advice that they need,” he says.

Brandollo services three key areas: it designs custom marketing advice and a marketing plan for a users’ businesses; it teaches them how to execute that advice; and offers a project management tool to help them collaborate with team members.

Brian resigned from his job in late 2017 to devote himself to Brandollo’s development, joking he “cobbled the first version together with masking tape and cable ties, Blu-tack and chewing gum”.

He interviewed dozens of small business owners about whether they had a marketing budget, where they spent it and what their pain points were to refine and validate the platform.

During this early stage, he realised he lacked the technical expertise to fully realise Brandollo so partnered with Marco Muscat, full stack engineer specialising in Artificial Intelligence, whom he met at a startup networking event in Melbourne.

The duo worked full-time on developing Brandollo, financing the venture with their own savings, when the opportunity to apply for Collider arose.

It meant relocating from Melbourne for at least three months, but after discussing logistics with CEA and with encouragement from their “extraordinarily supportive” partners, the business partners headed north.

The move paid off with Brandollo securing investment within three months, launching in November 2018 and establishing a global footprint with clients in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, England, Germany and Botswana.

“We’re at a really interesting stage for a startup where we have paying customers on the platform who give us constant feedback on their experience,” Brian says.

“They’ll come back to us and say ‘Hey, have you thought about this function?’ or ‘It would be really cool if we could do this over here’; they’ve become part of our product development team.”

“Our one and only goal is to be the very best in the world at simplifying marketing for small businesses.”

“Every small business, no matter what size they are or what budget they have; whether they’re a one-man band or a team of 10; should have the ability to access the marketing advice and support they need to really grow.”

Learn more about Brandollo at:

Register your interest for the 2019 CEA Collider Accelerator Program at:

QUT Creative Enterprise Australia

QUT CEA accelerates creative businesses by delivering tailored programs and building a supportive community.

QUT Creative Enterprise Australia

Written by

QUT Creative Enterprise Australia helps start, grow, scale & connect Creative Industries companies. CEA Startup Fund + @c3forum + The Coterie coworking space +

QUT Creative Enterprise Australia

QUT CEA accelerates creative businesses by delivering tailored programs and building a supportive community.

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