Serial investor and business advisor Paul Greenberg reveals why he has returned to Woolworths subsidiary MyDeal, as an independent director in the Woolworths MarketPlus division. 

I've known the founder of MyDeal Sean Senvirtne for about 10 years. Sean wanted the business to IPO in 2020. I got involved as the chairman of the board, as well as a pre-IPO investor, to get the company listed on the ASX, which we duly did. 

After a year or so we started speaking with the Woolworths Group. They have a strong focus on ecommerce and are innovators in ecosystems and platforms. My sense is that they saw MyDeal playing a part in accelerating the customer experience in their portfolio of outstanding retail assets, including Big W, Everyday Marketplace and Everyday Rewards. They acquired MyDeal and I went off to do other things, because this is what happens when companies get sold. 

I was very pleased late last year when they reached out to ask if I would rejoin as an independent director - bringing in those independent eyes as a non-executive; so working on not in - with a specific focus on the marketplace opportunity, which I think is enormous. A big part of my heart is still with marketplaces. I started my ecommerce journey in the 90’s selling on eBay, which then led to DealsDirect, a pioneer online retailer which I co founded in 2004. I owe a lot to marketplaces. 

It’s relatively easy to become a seller on a marketplace. Even if you've got finite capital and you don't have a network, marketplaces are great incubators of opportunity. I watched myself go from eBay to Deals Direct. Ruslan Kogan went from selling on eBay launching Kogan. Gabby and Hezi Leibovich from Catch also started on eBay. Marketplaces are just a wonderful business model - an ancient business model that has flourished over the last three decades with the evolution of technology. 

MyDeal is a great marketplace. It's got a vibrant community of sellers. Its net promoter scores are high, because there's a strong focus on a consistent retail experience, even though it's an aggregator of thousands of different sellers. The Woolworths Group are in a great position. They have great brands, awesome customers, in the many millions, and many touch points with these customers, in the physical and digital space. The vision is big, execution the key. It still feels like day one for me. Working with a great board at Woolworths MarketPlus, in the marketplace space with Australia’s number one retail group. The only way is up. 

I would very much like to see well known Australian consumer brands in the discretionary sector, see the broader Woolworths Group as a valuable channel. And leverage the power of Woolworths marketplace strategies to join the party. The  marketplace team stands ready to show great sellers, retailers and merchants how ‘ one door’ into the Woolworths Group can open endless opportunity. Alliances and partnerships are key. MyDeal has a number of amazing retailers already selling on its marketplace. That is set to grow strongly, both in terms of depth of sales and width of sellers. 

My original mantra in retail was that you need to meet your customers where they are. And there are many millions of Australians navigating the Woolworths Group, daily. And brand owners and retailers are increasingly seeing this. As long as it’s as reciprocal, as long as it's commercial, and as long as it works for the customer.

Greenberg is an angel investor through his Jam Pad Investments and is on the board of suiting brand InStitchu and tech creator Atomos.

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