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Meet MessageMedia’s small business grant winners: Redgum BBQ, Matchboard and ClassikON

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News & announcements 9 min read | Sinch Messagemedia wrote in blog on September 14, 2020

Throughout the year, MessageMedia has worked with numerous businesses, not-for-profits and other kinds of organisations to support them throughout COVID. It’s been a tough year and the pandemic has affected everyone in different ways. 

When we launched the grants competition, our aim was to help businesses that seemed most affected by COVID’s impact – small businesses. These were your local retailers, independent online sellers, solo traders, regional organisations and many, very inspired and hard-working entrepreneurs doing it tough.  

We’re happy to say that we received over 100+ entries and interest from across Australia. Our biggest difficulty was picking three stand-out businesses from so many worthy entries. 

It is with great pleasure that we’re now excited to announce and introduce the three winners of our Small Business Grants competition. 

  • Matchboard – B2B supplier-to-business matchmaker 
  • ClassikON – online classical music event listing 
  • Redgum BBQ – regional-based BBQ and craft beer venue 


Sharon Melamed, Founder 

Tell us about your business and why you applied for the grant. 

Matchboard is a business matchmaking site, like a B2B version of a dating site. We help businesses find their perfect match suppliers for hundreds of services, ranging from digital marketing and call centres, to offshore staffing, consulting and training. 

In the March to May period, COVID caused a big dip in demand on our website. But on the plus side, it prompted us to get innovative with new offerings. SMS marketing is a great example of something we’d never thought about before. These initiatives cost money to pilot and implement, so the grant is fantastic to help us get started! 

What will you do with the grant money? 

The $1000 will fund the design of a landing page to support our SMS marketing. 

What are you hoping to achieve with SMS? 

We’re excited to be planning our first ever SMS campaign, where we’ll try to activate sleeping customers. We have thousands of past customers who’ve used our service just once for a transactional need. We’ll SMS them a reminder about other ways we can help, particularly in light of COVID.  

Our mantra is to be as helpful as possible in these testing times. We’ll also be adding SMS as a new customer service channel on our contact us page. 

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Pepe Newton, Managing Director 


Tell us about your business and why you applied for the grant. 

When I attended my last live classical music performance on March 14, people were already scared. The empty seats were obvious, noticeable. I wrote a review of that concert for ClassikON. Little did I know what was in store. 

We’re a philanthropic organisation that provides media support, promotion and ticketing services to small to medium classical and independent musicians and venues.  We are passionate about sharing Australian classical music with a wider audience and giving a voice to smaller ensembles to help build their audiences and introduce more people to the artform we love. 

Frankly, COVID 19 has been disastrous for this sector. When restrictions came into place live performance was one of the first industries closed down completely and it will be one of the last to be allowed back to work.  Apart from being devastated to watch, we were helpless. Our website, which offers a national event listing calendar, had concert after concert cancelled.  

We were facing the reality of zero revenue for our business for the foreseeable future. We decided that hibernation was the only course of action, so we reduced costs, cancelled all spending apart from keeping the basics running and went into a holding pattern. With zero live performance there was zero revenue. We seriously discussed closing our doors forever. In July, I just couldn’t let that happen, so I made a personal investment into the company, buying it off the founder Kate Tribe, who had built it up over the last 8 years. 

What are you going to do with the grant money? 

Honestly, that $1000 will be paying the bills. It’s boring I know, but absolutely crucial to our very survival. You could call classikON a micro business so that $1000 will go a very long way. With our general expenses covered for a couple of months, we can actually stop worrying about where our next dollar is going to come from and get our head above water to look to the future.  

Increasing our revenue will of course be dependent on live classical music returning to the stage, or musicians finding alternative revenue streams that they want us to help them promote. I am currently rebuilding our audience database so we have a larger audience to connect with in the future and re-establishing relationships with our customers so we can support them as they re-emerge from restrictions. Unfortunately for most, that will not be until 2021 so we have a way to go yet. 

What are you hoping to achieve with SMS? 

We rely on a trusty band of super enthusiastic audience volunteers to write reviews for us. We also have a very engaged subscriber base. There are two things I’d like to try with the generous support of 6 months free SMS services from MessageMedia:  

  1. Increase our audience base via our weekly EDM newsletter, probably via a refer a friend campaign. The more newsletter readers we have the more value our promotion services are for our customers   
  1. Reminders to Ticket holders – We have a lot of competitors in the ticketing services area and being able to offer SMS reminders to concert goers will be a great value add.  

I watched a TED talk recently which talked about the transformative power of classical music, in which well-known conductor Benjamin Zander speaks about the fact that only 3% of the population consider themselves ‘classical music lovers’, but in his mind the other 97% just haven’t found out about it yet!   

Maybe with the help of MessageMedia, classikON will help some of those 97% find out. 

Redgum BBQ

Katrina Barrionuevo, Director of Sales and Marketing

Tell us about your business and why you applied for the grant. 

Red Gum BBQ is Australia’s largest craft beer & Southern-style BBQ joint located on the picturesque Mornington Peninsula. With a focus on low and slow cooked, authentic Southern BBQ cuisine. Our meats are organic, ethically sourced and traditionally smoked for 12-16 hours using native Australian hardwoods in our giant Texas offset steel ‘pits’. With Rustic country vibes, fine local wines and exceptional craft beer on tap, Red Gum BBQ is a place where everyone feels welcome. 

How times have changed! COVID’s impact has been huge and the future is unpredictable. We have had to prepare our business from a financial, operational and marketing standpoint and foster creativity, motivation and explore tools not required in the past.  

Our take-away offerings previously were minimal. It was always an area that we saw opportunity in, but due to the capacity of our dine in offering, was always put on the back burner. Since the closure of the restaurant for in-restaurant dining, we been required to quickly respond to the changes to our environment and adapt our offerings and delivery of product in line with restrictions.  

Fortunately, there is still a strong appetite for restaurant food and local produce, and there is also a lot of competition for these offerings in our region of culinary delights (while our offering is quite unique). This grant will provide us with an additional marketing tool to reach our target audience and communicate with them in a way that we have not previously.     

What will you do with the grant money? 

Red Gum BBQ is close to releasing a new line of BBQ Meat Rubs and Sauces. We are in the process of creating content around this new product and will probably invest these dollars into marketing.  

What are you hoping to achieve through SMS? 

We are really excited to explore SMS as a marketing tool, having not previously invested in. This is an opportunity to try a marketing platform that we have not invested in in the past, and I hope we will see a measurable result from.   

Thank you again for awarding Red Gum BBQ with this generous grant. We are really excited to try something different that will cut through in the busy take-away meal marketplace. 

Final thoughts, further reading

Are you interested in giving SMS a go? We’re helping small business across the globe find a better way of reaching customers and communicating with staff via text messaging services.

We’ve helped:

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It’s helping our grant winners find new ways to reach their customers. Can text help your business?

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Our Small Business Grants are currently closed.

Make sure to check back later this year. In the meantime, get a free trial of bulk SMS with us and get 25 free SMS right away. 

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