Alister Cameron // Blogologist

Changing the world. One blog(ger) at a time.

Beating the big boys at their own game…

Everyone likes a good David and Goliath story. And I’m no exception.

In Australia, rightly or wrongly, Telstra has been the monopoly telecommunications carrier “we love to hate”, which has taken forever to be privatized; and it’s a matter great contention and debate as to how level the playing field is for other service providers. In telecommunications this is especially heated an issue, since our vast and sparsely populated regional areas all want, say broadband, but until recently it was Telstra or… almost nothing. And so there was little incentive (other than Government minimum-service-level obligations) for Telstra to do anything more than the basics. Things have changed in the last few years but again, only thanks to big government subsidies to emerging niche competitors.

In the business directory market, Yellow Pages (now just “Yellow” and a Sensis asset, itself a Telstra asset) has been copping it from all sides. I think the short of it is that the move from a massive two-volume printed thing delivered annually to every household and business, to (that plus) online business search portal has been painful. As they say, you can’t turn the QE2 around on a dime (no, they don’t say that… I’m mixing at least two cliches there!).

And lately Google has been getting so good that people have realised, if they have a business name and a better-than-vague sense of how to search Google, it is the fastest way to locate someone or something. So the old Yellow Pages has been struggling.

Enter the David: This site is a client project of Alliance Software, the company I work for, and a really impressive attempt to give Yellow Pages (and a run for their money.

What I love about dLook, is that it’s the proof of how slow-moving and unresponsive the Yellow Pages-type Goliaths out there really are! I mean, dLook is essentially a 4-person team (if you forget our techies at Alliance), and it’s pulling off what more and more people are realizing is a better search experience than you-know-who! (Granted mapping is yet to be released and I think that’s a key feature… but wait to see how they do it!)

I could go on, but I can’t claim to be objective and I’d much rather you checked it out for yourself.

Meanwhile I really enjoyed this remarkably frank and candid interview (by The Podcast Network) with the owner of dLook – Theo Tsiamis. I have always found Theo to be a tremendously down-to-earth guy, who, although a very capable and accomplished entrepreneur, still manages to make the people around him feel like equals, and important. I say that because I often find that accomplished and “powerful” people don’t take the time to enjoy the company of the people they work with, and that’s not Theo (or Meg, his wife and business partner) at all. And that’s refreshing.

Anyway, you can hear that for yourself in the interview. And I think what you’ll also hear is some great insights into what it really takes to be a David taking on a Goliath. Listen carefully and you’ll get some real encouragement out of not only Theo’s wisdom and business savvy, but his passion and — I think — “little Aussie battler” humility as well.


dlook, yellow pages, yellow, business directory, directory, directories, australia, telstra, sensis, business search, search engines, google


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  1. Posted 12 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    A big woohoo! I love stories like this. The big boys almost always get arrogant and think that nothing can pick away at them. Such a dangerous mindset. Thanks for the bit.

  2. Posted 12 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Hi Al
    Thank you very much for your kind words. Yes, we do try very hard and put a lot of time, energy and passion into this project.
    The truth is however that if it wasn’t the the fantastic team at Alliance dLook would probably never have seen the success it has to date.
    Meg and I are dedicated to driving the dLook race car but without Alliance we would still be in the pits.
    You mentioned how size impedes the “big boys”. Well I agree with you to a point but lets not forget they are a big data base of Australian business listings the same as us.
    The difference is that Ben, Levi, Liam, Steve, Andrew, your good self and the rest of the team at Alliance are the best at what you do and you all work so incredibly well as a team. We were smart enough to recognise a quality outfit when we saw it and the rest is history.
    Another thing I enjoy about our relationship is that even after all this time the enthusiasm for the product is still way up there.
    I think if some of the techies from the “big boys” had the passion and committment you guys have we would never have entered this space in the first place.
    Let me close by saying that love him or otherwise, I believe the late and great Kerry Packer was a big influence in my business outlook. One very important lesson I learned from him was when he said “it’s not that I’m that smart, I’m simply smart enough to employ some very smart people”.
    You Al, and the team at Alliance are very smart people.
    Best Regards
    Theo Tsiamis

  3. Posted 8 years, 3 months ago // Permalink

    hah! reminds me of a conversation I had with an elderly lady who wagged her finger at me and said you’d better grab your copy of the yellow pages fast. they’ll be out of print and soon sell on ebay for a million bucks.

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