Guest – Simon Van Wyk

Simon van Wyk has been in the Interactive communications business for 16 years and is the founder of HotHouse, OurPatch and Zazoo.  

Born in South Africa, Simon completed an undergraduate science degree and completed two years’ compulsory army service.  After this, he moved to Australia where he took up marketing.  

After a spell as Marketing Manager of Hunter Douglas, Simon produced the first interactive CD-ROM in Australia called Smarty which was an award winning training program.   He went on to co-found Brilliant Interactive Ideas which later became Brilliant Digital Entertainment.  During his time here the company produced 5 CD-ROMs for the USA market including one based on the Channel Nine series “Sex”.  

Simon’s first major Internet project was Sexuality Bytes.  At the time Sexuality Bytes was the 6th most accessed site in the world through the AOL network which was eventually sold to ninemsn.  Other early web-based projects included: Manhood Online, built in conjunction with Australian therapist and best-selling author Steve Biddulph; Campo's Rugby World, a joint venture between HotHouse and rugby legend David Campese; Australian Business Online (ABOL); and the Feelgood site - Australia's biggest love and relationships Web site which was a multi-million project developed for the Microsoft Network.

In the years that have followed, Simon has been involved with web consulting and strategy for many of Australia’s biggest organisations.  Simon orchestrated McDonalds and Coca-Cola’s first websites in Australia and engineered Austrade’s internet debut.  He has also led the team that built Telstra BigPond, and has created original and innovative ideas for a range of businesses including Vodafone, Deloittes, sanofi-aventis, Optus and e-Bay.

He is currently strategically involved in developing original and innovative ideas for companies like Toyota, News Ltd, MYOB and HCF.

Simon’s been a vocal exponent of the concepts and technologies of Web 2.0 – perpetual beta, the culture of participation and user generated content - and has had articles published on the subject both on and offline.

Simon is a regular contributor to B&T, Marketing and Online Banking Review and has written a column on e-commerce for the Sydney Morning Herald and had articles on the digital future published in The Australian.

He is a sought-after speaker at conferences in Australia and overseas.

At a glance:

Simon founded HotHouse in 1994 which has become the biggest, independent strategic web company in Australia.  Since this time he has steered the HotHouse team to deliver more than 600 online projects for some of Australia’s biggest brands:
Helped Microsoft build their first website in Australia in 1995.
Developed the first Australian websites for McDonalds and Coca-Cola.
Built the first online presence for Vodafone in Australia.
Built and launched Australia’s first Auction site Stuff Auctions.  This site outlasted many bigger and better funded competitors.
Built the Sexualty Bytes website to learn web development.  This site became the 6th most accessed site in Australia, receiving more traffic than the SMH at the time.
Developed Feelgood, Australia biggest love and relationships website for the Microsoft Network.  Feelgood was the first site on ninemsn.  
Created the web presence for Telstra BigPond and launched the BigPond in Australia.
Won the inaugural AFR awards for Urban Cinefile, which is now celebrating its 10th anniversary.
Developed the Sydney Olympics website for i7 – which was, at the time, Channel Seven’s interactive division.  The site recorded Australia’s highest ever traffic.
Built i7 Sport to leverage TV sport online.
Lead the strategy development for the sanofi-aventis Omnus website.  This site is seen as a strategic advantage by the company’s competitors and pioneered the migration of pharmaceutical companies online.
Pioneered community development on the Internet in Australia with Womenszone for the i7 network, Feelgood for nineMSN, Manhood for Microsoft.
Pioneered the use of ‘personas’ in Australia.  Personas are models of user behaviours, attributes, and goals, presented as a narrative about a single user with a human face - around which a site is designed.

·         Strategically managed Toyota’s online presence for the past 7 years which has included connecting the car configurator to the supply chain which was a world first.  

·         Helped HCF secure a bigger percentage of their insurance online than any other health insurance company in Australia.

·         HotHouse set out not to build websites but to build business online.  The many long term relationships forged by the company prove this approach has worked.

·         Has worked online with Microsoft, Telstra, Nissan, Bigpond, James Hardie, Austrade, McDonalds, Coca-Cola, AMP, Optus, Vodafone, Southern Star, News Digital, Sensis, HCF, ERG, Salmat, ninemsn, Fairfax, Northern Territory Tourist Commission, Cuscal, MYOB, Lexus, Diahatsu and Toyota