A well-hatched plot
Creating a business model from cheap beer deals
IMAGINE THE SCENARIO: Three young university students are enrolled in the Victoria University Entrepreneurship Boot Camp. They like drinking and are running out of money quite fast, so need to find the cheapest watering holes in Wellington. Oh, and they also need an idea for the boot camp.
They start investigating places with happy hours, 2-for-1 deals, Thursday sangria jugs, drinks specials; the list is endless. Ta dah! An inspirational idea: one that fuels their drinking as much as it does their company.
What if they could centralise all the special offers in the market on on a particular day in their area, onto one platform?
Danesh Abeyratne ( 35), Connor Finlayson (25), and Josh Brake (25) are co-founders of this vision, which they have named Hatcher.
They have come up with an app that allows people who need a place to go tonight – but don’t have much money – to see which venues have specials on, and what the deal is.
Gone are the days of fragmented advertising on Facebook or crumpled flyers: Hatcher's vision is to give customers one place that lets people see only ads which are relevant to the time and place they want to go out.
With their main target market being students, there is also an emphasis on being able to connect with friends. Hatcher allows people to see which bars and restaurants their friends are frequenting.
“At the moment there is no app out there which combines the social aspect of things that are happening around you,” Finlayson says.
The company is moving at speed. Hatcher was created at the boot camp which ended in February. By the end of the month, the idea was in place and the company was born.
The Hatcher team presented to the panel at Idealog’s Pitch Circus in April, alongside two other start-up ideas. The product was launched on May 27 and already has 1104 events in 793 venues listed in Auckland and Wellington.
The three partners – and three employees – have now found a home at start-up base Creative HQ, where they were invited to set up after the boot camp, and where they are now enrolled in the Global Growth Programme.
Head of Incubation at Creative HQ, Alan Hucks, says he has challenged Hatcher to think about an international business model. “If they are able to build a product that can be used successfully in smaller places, it will be able to grow globally in larger cities.”
Finlayson says ideally Hatcher could be in Europe in five years, with a tool that could also help travellers find the bars and restaurants being used by locals.
“We want to go all over the world”, starting with a scale model for Wellington, then Auckland and later larger and larger cities.
Based on feedback and interest they received from businesses during trials in early May, Finlayson says they are confident they can grow reasonably fast in New Zealand.
“We started the week with 15 test users to find bugs and are now up to 59 users, after they started sharing it.”
The co-founders say they aren’t charging for listing on Hatcher while the app is still in development.
“The idea is that we want to prove what we are doing works before we ask anyone to pay,” says Abeyratne.
They are also not looking for investment at the moment, being so close to their launch date.
“When it comes to the stage to go international we may start to do that.”
Abeyratne says the plan is to use ads on Facebook, and posters at the university to bring more users on board – with the aim of getting “a few thousand users” within the next few weeks. After that they will approach more businesses.
Depending on the success of the campaign, signing up to Hatcher will cost venues between $35 and $80 a week, Finlayson says.
Hatcher is available in iOS for Apple and in the Google Play store for Android.
The Hatchet guys (From left to right) Danesh Abeyratne (co-founder), Connor Finlayson (cofounder), Tom Numan (lead designer), Josh Brake (co-founder,CTO), Sam Etheridge (lead developer)