Sunshine Coast startup Buddy Australia has secured a partnership with Uber, integrating the ride-sharing giant’s technology into its platform just in time for its expansion to Melbourne.
Founded about three years ago, Buddy secured $320,000 in early seed funding, and a further $1.8 million in 2017, to develop its personalised restaurant deals app.
However, founder Danny Simmonds tells StartupSmart it took two-and-a-half years to get the product to a point where it’s up and trading.
“There have been a lot of growing pains,” he says.
“It’s been intense. It’s been hard work.”
Buddy has launched in the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane, but 2019 is “the big year we’ve been gearing up for”, with Buddy set to launch in Melbourne.
With the majority of its 2017 funding still in the bank, Buddy has been “ironing out the creases in the tech”, Simmonds says.
Before expanding on a national scale the founder wanted to implement updates to the app, and make sure the company structure was right, he adds.
The startup is also about to move into a new warehouse HQ and hire additional staff.
“I wanted to collate our own in-house community, and boost up the culture in the company,” Simmonds says.
Currently, Buddy has 50 paying restaurant clients on board, and a total headcount of 12 people.
Simmonds doesn’t reveal Buddy’s revenue figures, but suggests that, based on growth over the past six months, the startup could be seeing annual revenue of over $1 million within the next two years.
“In five years’ time, we want to be one of the most-used restaurant-discovery apps,” he says.
“The company is formed of the industry … a bunch of collective former restaurateurs came together to build this platform, because we know what the industry is missing,” he adds.
“We’re fully confident in the future.”
In its most recent app update, Buddy has launched its partnership with global ridesharing giant Uber. Restaurants can add a module to their business profile, allowing app users to book a ride straight to the door at a discounted rate.
The pairing comes from an affiliate partnership with Uber, through an open API, Simmonds says. Apps can integrate Uber’s software, Simmonds says, but there are a lot of boxes to tick.
“Obviously, they won’t let anyone do it,” he adds.
“We passed the criteria, which is exciting.”
For Buddy to be able to launch in Melbourne with this new capability is “an amazing boost to be honest,” Simmonds says.
“To be able to market yourself next to such a world-renowned brand.”
The partnership brings an element of credibility to the platform, and helps secure trust from consumers, he adds.
That said, it’s still just a small part of a bigger picture.
“It’s just another stepping stone for us for our vision … our vision is long term,” Simmonds says.
“But it’s another string to our bow.”
Currently, Buddy isn’t looking to raise any more funding, but Simmonds hasn’t written the idea off altogether.
He’s planning on developing the business in the Australian market for the time being, and “we can carry that ourselves”, he says.
“If we start looking into overseas or expanding markets we might have to look for funding,” he adds.
“But now we’re just taking each day as it comes, working with customers and working on the product.”
“You just need a good mouth”
When it comes to launching a startup, Simmonds’ advice is to avoid dwelling on your idea for too long and just crack on.
“Don’t ponder on anything. If you have an idea, you don’t need a lot of money to get it started, you just need a good mouth” he says.
“Sell your product, sell your idea, and if you get good feedback, just go all in. Just start,” he adds.
“What comes with starting is opportunity. Doors open that you wouldn’t have normally seen open.”
However, once you’re on your way, patience is a virtue. Success doesn’t come overnight, Simmonds says.
“The reality is it’s a 10-year timeline, and that’s if you do make it,” he warns.
Founders should be prepared for a long journey, and to make sacrifices.
“But hold on in there, believe in yourself,” Simmonds advises.
“Don’t worry about what everybody else thinks, focus on yourself, and what you believe in.”