2018 -

Online Offline

2014 -

The 5TH

General Manager
2017 - 2018


Freelance web design


Freelance web design


Digital Marketing
2015 - 2017

Barney Cools

Digital Marketing
2015 - 2017

Subtype Store

Digital Marketing
2015 - 2017

Online Store Guys

2013 - 2015


2013 - 2017

Plan Lab

Sold 2013


Plan Lab is on the market

Last Thursday I launched Plan Lab marketing plan software. It teaches you marketing while you write a marketing plan to power your business towards your sales targets.

I’d heard so much from people that had launched products about iteration, pivoting and learning from the market to continuously improve, but it wasn’t until i launched it that I truly understood what they meant.

Going into launch week, I was really confident that the market will love it and that over time, it will prove to be a big sales hit. Launch day came around, Plan Lab went live and I spent the day feverishly refreshing my analytics and sales dashboards to see what sort of exposure it was getting.

Marketing Plan Software

A few people contacted me out of curiosity and asked about Plan lab. Keen to see what they thought, i arranged test accounts, gave them free access and waited nervously for their thoughts.

The reaction was mostly favourable but offered some valuable advice. In summary it’s good but too niche to be truly wonderful for most of my market. Primarily this came from the fact that most of the learning through the cloud-based software is delivered via text. The feedback was that more diagrams and visual learning tools would make it all easier to absorb and learn from.

It’s 5 days since Plan Lab launched and in another 5 days, these new features will be added. bFor me, the lesson is to not sit still once the product is launched.

Head over to Plan Lab and see what it’s all about. Who knows. By the time you’ve read this and clicked through, we might have improved on it yet again!

21 Things that I learnt building Plan Lab

In the next fortnight I’ll be releasing Plan Lab online marketing plan software. I started development back in February, logging onto, posting a description of what I wanted to build and then choosing a developer from India to make it happen.

Along the way I’ve learnt a hell of a lot. These are the 21 most important lessons that I’ve made in development, business, entrepreneurship and project management from creating my first product.

  1. Building a consultancy when you’re great at your profession is easy. Building a product isn’t.
  2. Developers just want to get paid.
  3. The majority of Indian’s don’t value the importance of design and the user experience.
  4. If they say “it is clear” after you explain something to them, it usually isn’t.
  5. If it’s a 3-month project, expect 6-9 months.
  6. You’re to blame for most of the time delays.
  7. Compromise on some of the little things in order to launch. Just work out what is truly little in the scheme of things.
  8. They’re comfortable with building something ‘average’. Either way, they get paid and it’s probably less work than building something truly great.
  9. Expect them to be great at traditional development skills. Don’t expect them to be on the cutting edge of modern standards.
  10. Outsourcing development overseas still represents amazing value and it’s hard to look past it if you’re building a minimum viable product.
  11. Be willing to take control of the things that truly matter.
  12. Treat them with respect. You’ll get a better product, have more fun do it and you won’t be a tool.
  13. Good luck getting personality out of them. I’ve drawn one laugh in 6 months of joking around with our developers.
  14. Try as hard as you can to have them ‘buy in’ to what you’re creating and help them to recognise what’s truly important to your projects success.
  15. You’ll have 1 or 2 headaches explaining things. Resist the temptation to bash your head against the desk. Sketch out your thoughts, explain them and show examples of similar concepts.
  16. Do some forward planning and show them where you’ll be improving the product in the future. It will save a lot of headaches down the track.
  17. No matter how many businesses you create, they’re all gut wrenching.
  18. Building passive income is liberating.
  19. Get out of the office when you’re dreaming it up. Most of my creativity came at the beach, running laps or lying by the pool.
  20. Build what you would want to use yourself.
  21. Creating something is fuc*ing awesome.

Coding = power

The best thing that I ever taught myself is to code. I remember begin 11 or 12 and hearing my father talk about some software that his training company had developed. With his business in the bottom floor of our family home I had access to a bunch of funny-coloured iMacs and some old C++ (used to develop old PC software) and HTML books.

Engage Marketing’s first website

I found that C++ bored me to tears but with some of my holidays spent on HTML, i quickly learnt how to code together a website. Learning basic HTML opened my mind up to being able to look at any form of coding and being able to work out patterns and make sense of it all.

Without that knowledge i wouldn’t have been able to code together Engage Marketing‘s first website at no cost (as an 18 year old even the cost of web design might have been prohibitive to launching), I wouldn’t have been able to create The Blog Designers that initially relied on my knowledge only and I probably wouldn’t be launching Plan Lab.

Quite simply, coding has given me the power to come up with an idea and act on it.

In an entrepreneurial world where we can create our own future, that power is bloody priceless. One business that i have a lot of respect for is Treehouse, an online platform that teaches you how to design and code. @ryancarson has done an unbelievable job using technology to teach coding to the masses. Set aside a night a week and give it a try!

A Bloody Huge Marketing Stunt

I had a huge idea for a marketing stunt a few years back when Engage Marketing progressed from a part-time business that i was operating on the side of my Entrepreneurship studies to my full time occupation and my main passion.

It never saw the light of day (you’ll read why soon) but i’m posting it here so it doesn’t go to waste. Who knows. Maybe one young marketing agency somewhere in this big world with a little more cash than I had stumbles across this post and gives it a go.

The marketing stunt

What better way to draw attention to a growing marketing agency, the people in it and the effect that great marketing can have on regular everyday businesses than to showcase a regular everyday business undertaking a marketing transformation.

My idea was to purchase a local bottle shop and market it damn well. There would be nothing special about the shop that was purchased but with Engage Marketing’s talent and some hard work, we could grow sales in the business and showcase that to the world.

But wait, there’s more

Rather than release a crappy PDF case study at the end of the exercise, we would do one of the following:

  1. Pitch it as a TV show to networks (unlikely)
  2. Partner with some smart young people and make our own online video production & blog of the project (likely)
  3. Have a daily interactive in-store video stream talking about the whole exercise and what we’re doing to turn a business in a market with very little creativity or marketing effort into a top performer. At the end cut together a slick video of the project. (what we would do if we were to do it now)

Why it never saw light of day

  • It’s a lot of work
  • I’d spend a lot of time running the bottle shop instead of Engage Marketing
  • I didn’t have the balls
  • I couldn’t be bothered chasing funding and taking on debt in order to market a lean business (bottle shops cost between $150k – $600k)

The idea still really appeals to me but I doubt I’ll ever do it. Feel free to borrow it and let me know if you do use it!

Everyday humans creating huge change

Myself and 39 other smart, innovative and incredibly good looking folk have each invested $500 in #superawesomemicroproject. Twitter regulars may have seen this hash tag being thrown around by the project ringleader Steve Sammartino and others.

Essentially the project is about investing in giving an opportunity for a particular overseas genius to create something groundbreaking. It’s something that has never been done before and will hopefully attract a lot of media attention around the world.

When Steve put the #superawesomemicroproject prospectus out there for all to see, he promoted it as an investment in one’s professional reputation (if it all comes off). While that could certainly be true, i believe that Steve has orchestrated this ballsy project for three key reasons:

  1. This kind of investing is the way of the future // Everyday people can contribute to great innovation. No longer are we reliant on large companies who have their own politics and motives.
  2. Collaboration is damn powerful // People power.
  3. It’s exciting to be involved in something big // Forget ego. Doing cool things makes you feel good.

This is exactly why the project appealed to me and I’ve invested my hard earned money.

For updates on #superawesomemicroproject, follow the hash tag on Twitter.

What i hope to learn launching #secretproject

NOTE: #secretproject is not the product name. The real name will be revealed in the next 14 days.

Over the past 18 months i’ve been slowly working towards launching my first product (my brand of cachaça and my leather Macbook sleeves never got off the ground). It’s been a learning journey to say the least.

I had the vision for my #secretproject when I was planning Engage Marketing 3 or 4 years ago. After so many months of bit-by-bit planning I finally jumped in head first and told myself if i didn’t accept that it wouldn’t be 100% perfect, it would never get off the ground.

That realisation led me to go out in search of a “kick-arse developer” (my words used on the project description). Since then I haven’t looked back.

To be completely honest, i don’t know whether this product will be a commercial success on the scale that i had originally hoped. That’s not for a lack of confidence in the product. I’m ridiculously excited about the opportunities that #secretproject will open up for it’s buyers, but as you go along, life gives you a few knocks and tries to dent your confidence.

What i do know is that i’ll learn a hell of a lot and that alone will be worth 50x more than what i’ve put into it (i also expect triple figure revenue – just not the Aston Martin DBS-sized profits that I had dreamed of as a teenager).

Launching #secretproject, I hope to learn:

  • How to get maximum value out of working with overseas developers.
  • How to create a turnkey operation.
  • To back myself in larger ventures.
  • Agile management skills and techniques.
  • Continuous innovation.
  • That launching is half the battle.

Have you got any tips for me or comments on the learning value of trying to launch something new? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below or on Twitter (@MikeFromEngage).

My blog is back!

It’s been a twelve month absence but i’m bringing back the blog. Why i hear you ask?

It’s a combination of a few things:

  • My businesses hit a point of consolidation – slowly growing and becoming more secure. I was no longer creating for myself, only for clients.
  • I was busy – hey, blogging takes time!
  • I’ve been insanely busy planning and building a new product for Engage Marketing.
  • I’ve been learning as a manager and business owner. Writing a blog might have been the best way to organise these lessons in my mind, but point number 2 got in the way!

What can I expect from your blog now?

  • Nothing reliable.
  • Sporadic thoughts whenever something valuable hits my mind.
  • A mix of short and sweet posts and detailed discussions.

Subscribe to the right to keep up to date. Thanks for stopping by.