buddy going places
Danny Simmonds has a lot to smile about lately. Trained as an engineer and a permanent fixture to Noosa far from his home in Birmingham, UK, this young entrepreneur is on the precipice of something big.
With a start-up business recently securing a staggering $1.8 million in funding and an engagement to his beautiful partner Rachel, you could say Danny has had one heck of a year.
His start-up venture ‘Buddy,’ which is being developed into a mobile app for download on iOS and Android, will be launched in Australia and New Zealand this spring, and has been creating quite a buzz in the innovation and start-up world.
It all began when Danny took holidays from his Melbourne engineering job for a couple of weeks in the sun of Noosa.
A chance meeting with his now fiancée, Rachel, meant that all Danny’s plans came to a halt and Noosa became his new home.
Beginning work with Rachel’s family business, the Global Cafe and Resort on William Street in Noosaville, the couple eventually took over the cafe where Danny has worked for the last six years.
Exploring new ways to draw in backpackers staying at Global to eat in at the Cafe, Danny came up with a simple idea.
Using wristbands bought from the local Reject Shop and discount incentives, business was booming.
“It began as something just to help out the locals and support my father-in- law’s business,” Danny said.
“It worked so well, I decided to get some other businesses on board where the backpackers can get discounts in other businesses around Noosa, and I had 25 businesses jump on board straight away,” he said.
Before long, he took the idea to other resorts who were selling over 100 per day, and Danny realised he was onto something.
“I wanted to take this across the whole coast and it became a bit of a full time job at this point,” he said.
So he hit the pavement and began working to take it to a new level. Queensland Government innovation scheme got wind of Danny’s start-up business and contacted him with some opportunities.
“They invited me in to work with mentors and encouraged me to go digital, get an app, make a website, go global. The benefits I got from this were incredible,” Danny said.
“I was given so much guidance how to move forward, and they suggested I research as much as possible at this point.
“I packed up our house and bought a caravan and drove around Australia. I spoke to about 500 businesses from Port Douglas down to Melbourne and the feedback was out of this world.
“It took seven months,” he said.
Inspired by platforms like TripAdvisor and Groupon, Danny’s idea had transformed into an app which helps local cafes, restaurants and takeaway shops gain exposure to new customers.
Welcome to the latest restaurant pocket guide which is about to go global, Buddy.
With the help of Queensland’s chief entrepreneur Mark Sowerby, Danny says he is also being introduced to industry heavyweights like Wotif.com founder Graeme Wood as his business takes shape.
Most recently receiving $1.8 million in capital from two private investors, Buddy has been given the cash injection it needed to launch.
“Users will have thousands of happy hours at their fingertips, as well as menus, opening hours and booking links,” Danny said.
The app will tailor itself specifically to the user by asking specific questions, to understand preferred tastes, habits and allergies, so that their landing page is full of businesses perfectly suited to their needs.
You can upload your pictures of your food which connects straight to the business’ Instagram page, and the business can receive bookings 24–7 straight through to them.
“A business will receive reports on likes, recommendations, and the app will connect to the users’ Facebook, giving the restaurant over 300 times more exposure.
“The business listings are idiot proof.”
The best part about Buddy is helping businesses move an excess of stock. When a restaurant needs to move stock, they can create a menu special and push notifications out in their radius to reach Buddy users and gain instant exposure for the deal.
Danny has honed the features of the Buddy to incorporate some pretty exciting user benefits, too.
“You can be walking past a restaurant and not realise it has just kicked off its happy hour. You have tailored Buddy to recognise you enjoy the happy hour specials, so when you’re nearby one, Beacon Notification will buzz your phone with an alert.
“It’s very cool,“ he said.
With over 2500 pre-registered businesses and 80,000 pre-registered users waiting for the app to be launched, Buddy is taking marketing into the 21st century.
Buddy is set to launch this spring, and with industry predictions for the app to be on three continents by 2020, Danny is preparing for a life-changing couple of years.
Asking his girlfriend Rachel to marry him during a trip to Bali last year is the icing on the cake for this whirlwind entrepreneur.
“Rachel is very down to earth. She takes each day as it comes and helps remind me how to keep my feet on the ground,” Danny said.
“If it wasn’t for her, this would never have happened. She has backed me and supported me every step of the way,” he said.
“It has grown bigger than me now, so Buddy will need to be based from Melbourne by the end of the year,” he said.
In a couple of months, Danny heads off to San Francisco for more research.
“I’ve been invited to Silicon Valley to speak at some innovation entrepreneurial expos and while I’m there, I will be visiting Facebook HQ and Twitter, which will be fantastic,“ Danny said.
With Buddy planned for expansion into South East Asia, Europe and the States by 2020, Danny Simmonds is in for the ride of his life.
“It has been a very long, hard, painful, exhausting journey to get here. This has changed my life big time. I’m nervous, but so excited for what’s to come.”