Truckie’s ‘$1 million a week’ gamble
Former Melbourne truckie Nick Boyle was working for his wife's florist business when he noticed a surprising trend that would end up changing his family's life.
Mr Boyle realised a lot of customers were asking for hampers in the early noughties, and after crunching the numbers, he was convinced he was onto a winner.
But it wasn't exactly smooth sailing.
He first had to convince his brother Rory to return from London and go into business with him.
They also didn't have much capital to get the business off the ground - but in 2004, Hampers with Bite was launched out of Nick Boyle's loungeroom with just $5000 when he was 32 and his brother was 24.
It was just enough cash to print a few thousand catalogues that they mailed out to businesses they also targeted with a determined cold calling campaign.
In the early days, both brothers kept their "day jobs", but they decided to start focusing on the gift business full time around 2010.
It paid off - today, the multimillion-dollar company turns over up to "$1 million a week" during the peak Christmas period when one hamper is sold every 20 seconds.
But Nick, now 47, told news.com.au the brothers "started small" with their father Joe - a former truck driver who previously worked for the same company as Nick - doing deliveries for them at first.
"We were pretty green to begin with, to be honest - we were two young guys starting a hamper business and back then it was more traditionally a female industry," he said.
"We started with 25 hampers made out of my loungeroom which we dropped to Australia Post ourselves because even transport companies wouldn't touch us.
"Our dad did most of the deliveries so it was very DIY - we had a few arguments working in a 10-square-metre room over Christmas."
Nick said initially there was a lot of "trial and error", but the decision to focus solely on the business proved to be the turning point.
"I remember saying to my brother once, 'Imagine if we turn over $1 million in a year one day', and he said, 'No way', because it seemed like such a massive figure," he said.
"I thought if worst comes to worst I could go back to driving trucks, but I didn't want to die wondering if it could work."
Nick said he became "obsessed" with hampers and could regularly be found scouring catalogues at 10pm at night in the early days.
Meanwhile, Rory told news.com.au both brothers were "naive" when they decided to take a gamble on their fledgling business.
"Nick convinced me (to return home), so I moved into his house and worked out of his loungeroom - but I didn't expect it to work. I just thought I'd give it a go and humour him a bit," he said.
"I can honestly say I had no expectations and no grand plan, but the business evolved out of a seed of potential."
Rory, 39, said the company now employed around 25 full-time staff, although that number soared to around 90 in the months leading up to Christmas when the company went on a hiring blitz to cope with the seasonal demand.
He said sales also spiked during key events like Mother's and Father's Day, Valentine's Day and Easter.
"I've got to say that until we decided to focus on the business full time, we used it more as a lifestyle company, and we didn't buy into what it really took to run a business," he said.
"But then we started employing more staff and more young talent, redefining our brand and our style and started thinking more creatively about what we were offering.
"We saw 100 per cent year-on-year growth over the next four or five years … We stay on the front foot in all facets of marketing, SEO, direct sales, lead forms, catalogues and customer profiling."
Rory said the company's culture was also key to its success, with initiatives like Uber Eats Fridays, parties to celebrate hitting targets and staff videos ensuring the company attracted the best talent and also retained them.