Wave Makers

Say hello to Bonjoro

Find out how Bonjoro, led by Matt Barnett and Grant Dewar, developed a successful customer video platform with investment, strategic advice and product support from the Tidal team.

Tidal Ventures

19 Apr 2021 · 4 min read

When they say that necessity is the mother of invention, it also means that when you want something invented, you have to invent it yourself. That’s how Bonjoro came about, according to Matt Barnett and Grant Dewar. 

Noticing the diminishing effectiveness of email campaigns to engage new customers and secure sales, they decided to hack something together from duct tape and blu-tac, and record personalised videos instead. 

“Hey [potential customer’s name], as you can see we’re here in sunny Sydney at the moment [shows Opera House backdrop], but we’re heading to London soon for [insert reason]. We’d love to meet up and chat about [the thing we can help with] as we have also done [that thing] for [other high profile customers] too. Give us a call. Byeeee. [Waves into camera from Manly ferry.]

- Dramatic reenactment of an early Bonjoro customer video

Then someone saw the idea and wanted to make videos for their customers too. Then another person wanted to integrate it with their CMS and their campaign software. Google became customers and so did Firefox. That’s how the product was born and since then there's been no looking back for Bonjoro.

Tidal meets Bonjoro

Tidal’s Grant McCarthy met Matt and was interested in Bonjoro early, when they were initially seeking Angel investors. By the time Bonjoro was ready for seed funding, the conversations between Grant and Matt had developed into a relationship, and Tidal came on board as an investor. 

Matt says he “likes investors with a lot of energy and who can contribute to what we’re doing.” That’s why Tidal was a natural fit, because they had the right mindset, and it was “a relationship as well.” 

Tidal “understood our space” is how Matt puts it. “They understood our customer success space, the SaaS space, and the US market.” An alignment, he said, that was critical to their next stage of growth. Where other Australian VCs focus on the local market, Bonjoro was confident that Tidal had the experience and reach to support their US market growth from day one.

Wearing the founder hat and the Tidal hat

Matt points out how unusual this is among investors, saying “funds tend to approach things as a fund, but Wendell is able to approach things from different angles” due to his background and experience. He adds that “Tidal is willing to get their hands dirty and directly contribute to the success of each of their companies, more so than most funds I’ve seen.”

This has been Grant’s experience too, noting that Tidal has “got us through some strategy and ideation points where their product experience and expertise has been really invaluable, which is something I wasn't quite expecting.”

“Tidal is willing to get their hands dirty and directly contribute to the success of each of their companies, more so than most funds I’ve seen.”
- Matt Barnett, Bonjoro

How the engagement goes deep

Like many startups, Bonjoro faced the common founder challenge of juggling product growth with capital raising and business scaling. Matt describes this as “like climbing a hill and then you get to the top, but it's not the actual top, it's just the first peak. And you've got to put your pack on and start climbing again.” When asked how Tidal has helped climb some of those hills, both Matt and Grant had a ton of examples.

There’s support from tidal on multiple levels, according to Matt. On the business and management side, Tidal has helped with C-Suite, R&D recruitment and mentoring, developed and defined skill sets for senior positions, and supported the founders to prepare for and get the most from interactions with the board. 

On the product side, Wendell has dived into Bonjoro product activities, by chairing workshops with global teams, running product challenges and positioning pieces, and helping with strategy and roadmaps. 

Bonjoro says it’s unusual to receive such in-depth, tangible support from VC investors. But the benefits seem immeasurable.

The Bonjoro team. Matt is in Brown, and Grant is in Green

The Bonjoro team. Matt is in Brown, and Grant is in Green

Choosing between a safe plateau or rapid growth 

When it comes to choosing VC investors, Matt says “it's about being pushed as well.” This became vitally important as Bonjoro looked to their next big growth stage. They had just reached break even (congrats!) and it seemed like a good time to assess.

That’s when Tidal challenged them with a few big questions that would shift their thinking into a higher gear: How much do you need to raise next? How many hires do you need to make? In other words, how do you want to grow?

Through lengthy conversations, in-depth workshops and meetings, Tidal and the Bonjoro founders discussed whether Bonjoro should grow fast or steady, to hire across the year or all at once, spend a lot now or spread it out. It was a matter of staying on the break-even plateau or taking a risk and going for it! Matt observed that being able to have “this level of transparency builds great trust and understanding.” Ultimately, Bonjoro decided on the riskier move, but noted that “looking back we should have gone even faster!” 

Having decided on the speedy path, Tidal was right there to help shape Bonjoro’s challenging transition from product to platform, which would be a pivotal part of maturing their offering. “Workshops with the management team and Tidal helped crystallise the strategy into an actionable plan. The best attack plan.” Part of this included commercially aligning the planned value-adds going into the product, by revising the pricing and packaging model. This is always a risky area and can result in customer churn. By providing “feedback and education on the importance of packaging alongside actual pricing,” Tidal helped Bonjoro better target by segment and make revenue-improving changes. 

Never slack on advice

Bonjoro has noticed “a lot of other investors tend to be more hands-off.” They respond when you call on them, but they’re not part of the team. Tidal is different. They are “proactive and that’s what we look for, someone who can actively bring value.”

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