Waiheke Island designer develops new way to attract business

Henri Smith and Charlie Brown (seated) work on the app from their Waiheke Island studio.
DIANA WORTHY/FAIRFAXNZ

Henri Smith and Charlie Brown (seated) work on the app from their Waiheke Island studio.

A Waiheke entrepreneur is using tourism to expand his app development business by offering a free service.

Website and app developer Charlie Brown first created free tourism app YooMe Waiheke in 2015 to provide visitors to the Auckland island, and residents, with up to date listings and information.

He did it because he was bored, he said, and noticed a gap in the market.

Charlie Brown said people could access Fullers Ferry timetables far quicker using the app, with less clicks than going ...
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Charlie Brown said people could access Fullers Ferry timetables far quicker using the app, with less clicks than going to Fullers' website.

"There were few information sites providing many listings or enough current information because advertisers had to pay to be on them," he said.

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"It seemed ridiculous that one of the hottest destinations in the world didn't have its own tourism app."

Since then, the app has attracted 3,000 users on Waiheke and positive feedback, Brown said.

He took on business partner Henri Smith six months' ago and, working out of a bedroom, re-named the app Go Waiheke! as a brand that could be tailor-made for other tourism hotspots.

The company now has financial backing from four shareholders.

Go Wanaka! and Go Queenstown! are among other Go! apps launched in 12 different towns, downloadable from Apple and Android app stores.

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Brown said he had always thought the app could go nationwide and is planning to have the whole country covered by June this year.

After that, Brown and Smith are setting their sights on Australia.

All listings on the app are free to place and use, Brown said.

"We don't make money directly from it but that means the app offers users lots of current listings".

"We're using it as a company to connect with local businesses and to offer social media marketing - helping small businesses to get on line.

"Over 50 percent of businesses don't have a mobile-friendly website," he said.

"In the past, you'd have to get a web design company to do it for around $3,000 but around $750 is what we currently charge."

Brown said the reason rates could be kept low was because he and Smith were able to do things a lot quicker.

He said they had spent massive amounts of time hunting down useful products - such as streamlined tools and systems that talk to each other.

"We're saving Auckland for last with our Go! app because it's so big, but we're still aiming to complete in June."

 - Stuff

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