Fatso founder moves on

Rob Berman, founder of online DVD firm Fatso
Rob Berman, founder of online DVD firm Fatso

The founder of Fatso is leaving the online DVD rental company to join forces with The Warehouse-backed e-commerce venture Shop HQ.

Rob Berman set up Fatso 10 years ago with support from investors such as Stephen Tindall.

In 2008 the company merged with Sky TV’s DVD Unlimited and Movieshack businesses, and is now 51 per cent-owned by Sky.

Berman will retain his stake in Fatso, but says the business has matured and it’s time for another challenge.

‘‘I’m well within my comfort zone there, I know every inch of the business.

‘‘At this point we’re not migrating to the next stage. That’s up to Sky.’’

The next step was online streaming of movies, but internet quality in New Zealand was not yet good enough, he said.

‘‘There will be someone in this market sooner or later. I think Fatso is the perfect vehicle for it.’’

Meanwhile he has joined Shane Bradley, the founder of daily deals site GrabOne, in his new venture Shop HQ. He has taken a stake in the business and starts next month as chief operating officer.

The Warehouse bought a 50 per cent shareholding in Shop HQ in July.

The online retailer’s first push is into the pet market, with pet.co.nz. It is about to launch into the Australian market with petau.com.au, and has other projects in the pipeline.

Berman had been looking at online retailing of pet products as a possible new venture. ‘‘Shane (Bradley) got there first.

‘‘We got talking, and over a period of months it was clear it made sense for us to join forces.’’

No-one in New Zealand had been doing pet online retailing very well, and it was a sector that was growing rapidly overseas, he said.

One of its key offerings would be ‘auto-shipping’ whereby customers get an automatic regular monthly delivery of pet food.

‘‘Having a backer like The Warehouse gives us a huge amount of grunt. They have got buying power that we would not be able to accomplish ourselves.’’

Berman started his career in commercial property management, but then retrained in IT. He learned about online selling while working for Christmas hamper company Chrisco.

A subscriptions-based business such as Fatso combined all his skills, he said.