ROAR finds it exciting and inspiring when people take a risk and go out on their own to start their own business and offer something of value to their local community. This is exactly what iSaveLocal has achieved. Gabe and Josh got together with an idea to increase local support and relationships between customers and businesses in their community of Newcastle, Australia. They have developed a user friendly app that links customers straight to their local businesses and the great products they have on offer. iSaveLocal also allows businesses to offer special deals such as a free coffee or juice, discounts on fashion, photography and many other industries. Read below to get an insight into how these two innovative guys took their idea and turned it into a reality that is rapidly changing their community for the better.
ROAR: How did iSaveLocal come to life? Who was involved in founding the business?
GABE & JOSH: iSaveLocal was created with one purpose in mind: strengthening the connection between local businesses and their community. Gabriel Waterford, former Alice Springs cafe owner and current manager of the Lizottes restaurants, and Josh King, engineering student at Newcastle University, have set out to help rebuild our sense of community, and put that small town feel back into Newcastle.
There's nothing quite like walking into your local fruit shop, butcher, or cafe and being greeted by name; having your usual order remembered; a friendly wave that lets you know you matter here. Small businesses are integral to our shared sense of community, and money spent here is money that stays in our community.
Unfortunately our spending habits are becoming more and more corporate - more impersonal - and that sense of community is slipping away. iSaveLocal is the bridge between traditional small businesses and the local community. Competing for attention in a modern environment, saturated with technology, is incredibly hard for a small business on a tight budget. We help overcome that boundary and put the power of decision making back into the hands of local people.
ROAR: What is iSaveLocals purpose for the community and city of Newcastle?
GABE & JOSH: Local people love local stores, they just need a way to get connected. We believe people want to shop locally, they want to support their community, we're just making it fun and easy!
ROAR: What have been the highlights so far?
GABE & JOSH: Appearing on ABC breakfast radio was a fantastic experience. Having so many people hear about our idea, getting excited about building that community spirit, was a huge buzz. That said, everytime we hear our business partners tell us about the massive increases in new customers (a lot of which have fast become recurring customers!) it puts a smile on our faces. That's what this is about, after all: connecting businesses with local people and giving people back a real sense of community.
ROAR: What are some of the challenges in starting your own small business? Have you had previous experience?
GABE & JOSH: The biggest challenge we face is community awareness. An idea like this only works as long as people are willing to get out there and claim their free stuff. Luckily our business partners have all been very generous in their offers to the community, and participation in our maiden month has been excellent!
ROAR: What are some exciting things happening in the future for iSaveLocal?
GABE & JOSH: In the next month we're planning to launch Lambton and New Lambton! There's tons of great boutiques, cafes and small businesses run by local Novocastrians (people who live in Newcastle) in these areas, and we're super excited to be involved with them.
ROAR: How can others be apart of your company and support local businesses in their community?
GABE & JOSH: Newcastle locals or visitors can grab the app on their smartphone, or jump on the website and get instant access to freebies (free products) and discount vouchers to their local shops. There's a huge variety of offers in our free app: free coffee, free juice, gift vouchers to spend in-store, even a free purse! To claim these awesome freebies, people just have to flash the iSaveLocal voucher on the screen of their mobile device. Our current small business partners were approached personally to share in the launch of iSaveLocal. We're steadily rolling out new locations with a plan to cover Newcastle by the end of 2013.
Click on the link below to learn more about iSaveLocal and the awesome deals on offer.