Richard Poole founded the website GrownUps.co.nz and has built it up into a significant media propertyfocused on the over 50s market. What we found impressive is the ease with which the site has incorporated native advertising with traditional media as revenue streams.
He kindly agreed to be interviewed by the Creative Agency Secrets team.
What is your latest work?
I’m continuing to work with GrownUps, although the business is now owned by Cigna Insurance, having sold to them earlier in 2016. It’s been an interesting experience moving from being a small business to working with one of the world’s largest corporates, which I’m learning from. It’s been particular useful to have more governance and rigour around process and also risk. Also, being able to work with an innovative marketer and CEO from Cigna in NZ, has been very rewarding.
Since selling the business and taking away some of those stresses that do come with business ownership at times, we’re very proud to have doubled the revenue and also site traffic YOY plus grown membership 30%. It’s genuinely a real honour that each month we get to interact with over 160,000 visitors to the site and each week, speak with around half of our 120,000 members, via their weekly email newsletter. What’s really satisfying is that we have not wavered from our original vision from 2006 when we went live with GrownUps, whereby we seek to make every day better for any visitor to the site, whether by reading an interesting article out of the 8,000 that we now have, meeting an interesting fellow GrownUps members, playing a game on the site or maybe even being inspired to book that overseas trip that they deserve and have read about on the site.
What’s impressed you?
Having never worked in a corporate, it’s been great to see that very large corporates can work well with small businesses that they take under their wing – I think you each learn really. We’ve been fortunate having pragmatic leadership, clear guidelines and an understanding that we’re best to keep the essence of the small business feeling for customers/visitors. It actually can work very well.
What’s the next big thing?
There is no doubt that my mind seldom stops for a break in terms of thinking about meeting people’s needs, which is sometimes a challenge to be honest. At present I’m committed to GrownUps so we’ll just see where that goes over the next while. I’d love to see our ‘baby’ achieve everything that we’d imagined and hope to play some part in that, if that’s wanted.
However, I’m 44 and there are several things that I’m keen to achieve personally and for our family by the time I’m 50. Priorities in life definitely change and so I guess we’re always all weighing up how best to live our lives and what makes us happy.