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News Plus 2 Feb 2021 - 4 min read

Spilva's Shadowboxer opens account as CommBank's X15 buys Doshii

By Josh McDonnell - Senior Writer

Konrad Spilva, the former Dentsu exec turned frontman for marketing services start-up Shadowboxer, is off the blocks in a big way, parachuting into CommBank's new X15 venture division after it acquired venue management platform Doshii, in which Shadowboxer held a stake in lieu of fees. Spilva hopes this is just the beginning.

What you need to know:
  • Konrad Spilva's new marketing services business Shadowboxer has notched up its first win following the sale of venue management platform Doshii to CommBank's start-up division, X15.
  • Shadowboxer took 1% equity in lieu of fees for Doshii's brand strategy work.
  • The agency will continue to work with Doshii.
  • The platform last year facilitated 44 million orders across Australian venues, rolling all third-party delivery, point of sale, rostering and contactless payment services into one universal app.
  • Doshii founder Sean O'Meara believes the point of sale world has changed: people have become used to ordering food and drinks through apps - even in venues. "That's a major trend that isn't going away any time soon."
  • Spilva says the success validates its flexible business model, with more deals to come.
Bank jobs

Former Dentsu and Isobar executive Konrad Spilva has hit early pay dirt with his new marketing consultancy business Shadowboxer. He's hoping its work with Doshii, newly acquired by CommBank's X15, can create a pipeline of work with other start-ups within the bank's tech incubator unit.

Shadowboxer, which launched last year, operates under a new model that allows brands to supplement their fee model with an equity stake or stock options within the business.

That approach paid off this week as CommBank's X15 venture unit acquired Doshii, an venue management platform in which Shadowboxer took a 1% stake in lieu of fees for brand strategy development.

Launched a year ago, X15 is a wholly-owned subsidiary of CBA, with funding provided from the bank's $1 billion annual technology investment envelope, its own delivery model, and a dedicated management team.

It's a triple win for Shadowboxer, which has been paid for its equity and retained to assist with Doshii, while Spilva hopes the deal will unlock opportunity to work with other start-ups within X15's portfolio.

These include Home-In (a residential property buying tool), Vonto (a management platform for business owners), Credit Savvy (designed to give user free access to their credit information) and Backr (a step-by-step guide to starting a business).

"This is a real icing on the cake for us as a business, we've not only been injected with further capital that will go towards investing in our talent, growth and capabilities but it also allows us to continue to invest in other ventures," Spilva told Mi3.

"We've also been given a great opportunity to work within the CommBank X15 start-up and rapid growth business environment, an area we set out to work closely with when we launched Shadowboxer."

Partnering with the CommBank unit could prove a deep well of work for the Shadowboxer team: X15 aims to launch or acquire a further 20 businesses over the next five years.

There is a rapidly growing consumer base that doesn’t want to use traditional point of sale anymore. They’re using Deliveroo to avoid contact and even when they are willing to enter a venue, they are getting used to ordering food and drinks from their phone. That's a major trend that isn't going away any time soon.

Sean O'Meara, founder, Doshii

Orderly transition

Brought on to lead Doshii's brand strategy, Shadowboxer helped establish its positioning in market as the platform to "simplify your connected world".

The venue management platform has had a massive 12-months. Founder Sean O'Meara tells Mi3 the business enabled over 44 million orders including point of sale transactions in 2020.

The business incorporates third-party delivery services such as Deliveroo, in-venue apps that provide an order to table service, plus rostering platforms and transaction services in a single app. This year O'Meara expects Doshii will complete three million orders through apps this year alone.

"In the last 12-months if you've used an app to order food or drinks to your table, there's a very good chance that went through the Doshii API platform," said O'Meara.

"In the last four years, we've been dedicated to developing the product but Shadowboxer really helped create a pretty powerful brand statement, because in modern hospitality one of the main issues is technology and understanding how the growing amount of products and services fit into the overall operations of your venue."

O’Meara thinks X15's investment will enable it to more effectively scale the business and increase reach across venues and platform partners.

Increasing interest

Shadowboxer's strategy was to build brand equity for the platform among venue owners, rather than the third-party product providers.

"We found a great product in Doshii and believed in the concept from an early stage, however, there needed to be a brand re-positioning and that often has to come from marketing services rather than the start-up itself," said Spilva.

"A lot of these businesses think like developers and tech companies and that sometimes impacts how the business scales or capitalises on market share. What we did for Doshii was to create a brand strategy that targeted venues directly, with the concept of simplifying the daunting tech stack in front of them."

O'Meara predicts big things for the platform in 2021.

"Last year showed us that there is a rapidly growing consumer base that doesn’t want to use the traditional point of sale method anymore," he said.

"They’re using Deliveroo and other apps to avoid contact and even when they are willing to enter a venue, they are getting used to ordering food and drinks from their phone. That's a major trend that isn't going away any time soon."

We've proven with Doshii that we are a specialist service that is willing put our money where our mouth is.

Konrad Spilva, Managing Partner, Shadowboxer

Switch-hitter

Despite an early win on its first bet, Shadowboxer's investment strategy won't always follow the same path.

"We invested in Doshii to help them get to the next level and we were in it for the long-haul. This outcome is brilliant but it won't always be the case and we need to aware of that," said Spilva. 

"In some instances we know we won't continue on with the business in the way we are with Sean and his team, we might only act in an advisory capacity or be completely bought out."

"It will mainly come down to the size of the business, the outcomes it hopes to achieve and whether our services are needed in a way that warrants taking any equity at all," he added.

"I'm not expecting what has just happened to occur the exact same way. There is no one size fits all strategy."

Meanwhile, though the CommBank deal injects some cash into Shadowboxer, the start-up is in no rush to add to the team for the sake of scale. 

Rather it will continue to invest in other opportunities and use outcome as a proof point to clients that the new model works.

"We don't want to hit revenue goals and then start hiring just because we can, it's not sustainable and has proven time and time again that it doesn't work," said Spilva.

"We've proven with Doshii that we are a specialist service that is willing put our money where our mouth is. We'll focus more of our attention on continuing to grow our client base in the traditional fee-paying model, and alongside our venture and investment portfolio."

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