We ask the tough questions of Luke Santamaria, RewardBuddy
You’ve got a free half hour during your work day. What do you do?
Currently, we are renovating our house in Melbourne so I am always looking at small things to improve it, despite my less than ideal handyman skills. I love playing guitar, so will jump on that for a bit here and there.
Who, or what, is your biggest inspiration?
I grew up loving all things sport and as is normal for a kid growing up in the 1990s, Michael Jordan was my inspiration. This has continued as I have seen him not only succeed in his sporting career but beyond into his business career. His values of hard work to achieve what he wants in life helps guide me with the same values.
When did you know you wanted to start your own business?
I always had a desire to want to invent something growing up. Having been a physio in the past and helping people on a personal level, I started to want to create something of my own that achieved the same thing. Having the ability to run a business that had true meaning was important, as well as running it the way I wanted to.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learnt this year?
A lot of lessons have come out of 2020 with the COVID pandemic, however the biggest thing has been to be more mindful and grateful for what you have.
What’s the best bit of feedback you’ve ever had?
I think the main area of feedback I get on a regular basis that keeps me in line with running a successful business is giving the customer what they want – solving their problem. It is easy getting caught up in features of your business or your individual goals, but at the end of the day the only thing that matters is your customer’s needs.
What’s your proudest moment?
My proudest moment was when I finished the Melbourne marathon. I hit the wall at 27 km and just kept going. I somehow got there, despite cramping in both quads and hamstrings.
What’s your number one way to wind down?
Nothing beats the feeling you get from going for a run. Top that up with a beer and I am pretty relaxed.
What’s your favourite film and album?
I am a bit of a Will Ferrell fan and love Anchorman, but any of the Back to the Future films are up there too. Favourite album would be Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Californication.
What’s the smartest bit of marketing you’ve ever done?
We implemented a refer a friend program when I ran a physio clinic which worked really well. This was not something that was prevalent in the health community but we saw great results. This was when I started the concept for RewardBuddy.
What’s the one resource you’d never be without?
I could not survive without a CRM. As organisation and scheduling are not my strong points, a CRM helps keep me in check with reminders to ensure I am delivering what I need to to my clients.
What’s the most obscure business request you’ve ever had?
I haven’t had any real obscure requests, but I was humbled to be asked to talk about RewardBuddy on a couple of marketing podcasts. I will never listen to them however as I hate the sound of my own voice!
What or who has the most grounding influence on you?
Definitely my wife. It is easy to get caught up in work life but when you get home and have a conversation with her, you start to realise again what is important in life.
What’s the biggest challenge you face at work?
The biggest challenge for me is time. Having started the business only under a year ago, finding the time to juggle all the tasks of running a business is tough.
What’s the best thing about being a soloist? And the worst thing?
The best thing is having the freedom to run something you are passionate about and the way you want to run it. The worst thing is the unknown of business – whether it will be a success and relying on your business to keep you afloat.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?
Choose who you partner with wisely. I made the mistake of jumping into business with a friend, which ultimately didn’t work out. My mentor suggested beforehand to consider this in more depth, however I clearly didn’t. I will never go into business with a friend again!
Where and when do you have your best ideas?
In the car! I do spend a bit of time driving around and have time to think without distraction there, so this is where I often come up with new ideas.
What would be your advice to aspiring soloists?
If you have a passion you want to pursue then go for it. However, don’t jump into it too quickly. Talk with mentors or business advisors first to help you make the leap before you do so. Ensure you know what you are getting into before you go solo.
What website do you visit every day?
My business haha. Other than that, I am always on Trello or LinkedIn.
What talent do you most wish you possessed?
I always wish I could have dunked a basketball! In terms of business, I would love to be able to code websites and apps. I think these will be the future of business, more so than they are today.
What would your mum say is your greatest strength? And weakness?
She would say my greatest strength is developing relationships with people. My main weakness would have to be overthinking things, we she always says she does and it is genetic.
What’s one thing about you few people know?
I broke my arm playing tennis when I was 16. I don’t often tell people that because who breaks their arm playing tennis?!
What is the one regret you do not want to have in this lifetime?
I have learnt over time to not regret things, but move on and learn from them. Having said that, I probably would not have jumped into my last business venture so quickly (which was my first). I spent a lot of money on assumptions first and later realised the market was not big enough for it.
What inspires you most about your work?
The fact that I can have an impact on the success on livelihoods of small business owners. I started RewardBuddy before COVID19 hit, however I think now it is more useful than ever to help businesses recover and grow small community networks again. I love having a positive impact on people’s lives and I am hoping this can do this in some way.
What do you wear to work?
Depends where I am working! If I am at home, it’ll be something pretty casual and involve tracksuit pants of some description. When visiting with clients it’ll be pants with a casual shirt.
What do you love most about running your own business?
I love the freedom it gives you to run a business your way. But most of all I love the opportunity it gives me to help others and to treat my staff the way I liked to be treated when I worked for my past companies. I was never much for authority so running my own business solves that issue!
What do you do? Who for? And how does it benefit them?
RewardBuddy is a platform (website and mobile app) that allows small businesses to run their own rewards program. By rewarding their customers to refer others to the business, reviewing the business or purchasing with the business they incentivise customers to become their advocates and drive more customer loyalty in their brand.
The platform is a simple solution that allows customers to earn and redeem rewards in the form of coupons and points. Businesses can choose to allow customers to earn and redeem points with other businesses on RewardBuddy or to keep the points locked to their own business. Connecting with other businesses and sharing rewards allows a business to build their referral network amongst other like minded businesses.
Where can we find out more about RewardBuddy?
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