ROCKVEGAS: Central Queensland’s answer to Silicon Valley for startups

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VIVA ROCKVEGAS: Central Queensland’s answer to Silicon Valley for startups

A lot of people say you must be in the big cities or Silicon Valley to run a successful tech-start up, but one small business owner is trying to prove those people wrong.

Smart Hub Business Manager Elize Hattin recently caught up with Karan Joon (aka KJ), founder of Accommodation Booking Platform Voyak, to discuss how he grew a tech startup from Rockhampton, without any business skills or programming know-how.

ROCK SOLID BUSINESS FOUNDATIONS

Voyak is a new online accommodation booking platform, created by KJ to address the issues associated with foreign owned companies operating in Australia, which have majority market share.

KJ explains Voyak has a dual purpose for accommodation operators.

“It’s about lowering business costs to the point accommodation providers can actually make money, which is not happening now, and, to offer a new platform where guests never have to experience an inconvenience when they book accommodation online.

“Often things go wrong when you book accommodation, and then people must take time out of their holiday to fixing the issues like overbookings.

“You don’t want to be inconvenienced when you’re going on holiday, so that’s the most important thing we want to solve.

“We built this in Rocky a hundred percent from the ground up,” says KJ.

COFFEE COINCIDENCE

Two weeks before Christmas back in 2017, KJ was at a cafe, drinking coffee when he overheard a couple discussing their holiday booking.

KJ overheard them say they had booked their holiday with a company, but it did not go very well, resulting in them losing all the money they had outlaid, without any refund.

“They sounded really frustrated. I went back to my room in the house I was renting and started thinking maybe I could build a new travel and tourist platform.

“Something that did all this, but you didn’t lose any money if something were to go wrong, which was not through your own fault.

“Just say flights didn’t make it, or say the accommodation booked out, you will get a hundred percent money back,” he explains.

With this core concept in mind, KJ started developing his travelling tourist platform.

At the same time, KJ said there were a lot of issues coming to surface from accommodation operators regarding foreign American companies, such as Booking.com and Expedia.

When Aussie entrepreneur Dick Smith launched a social media video that went viral, urging Australian travellers to bypass commission-charging online travel agents (OTAs) and contact motels direct prompted an explosion of in-person bookings, again KJ changed track.

“That was when I realised, back in 2018 November, let us drop the travel and tourist thing, and build a new accommodation booking platform which solves these issues.

“Three things happened which validated the idea for us.

“First was the media bringing commission-charging online travel agents to the attention of the public.

“Second, was coincidentally I was renting a house with a lady who was a manager at a motel. I asked her how do you find this booking site?”

“She was not happy, and said, “We don’t like doing this, but we know we have to use them.”

“I went to other motels in Rocky as well and asked them the same question, “What’s the issue?”

“Thirdly, the Dick Smith campaign convinced me it was worth spending time building a platform.

“It was not meant to be an accommodation booking platform, we meant to build a travel and tourist company,” KJ recounts.

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