Is this Aussie app the next App Store sensation?

365cups is revolutionising the takeaway coffee market.Self-made “app-reneurs” from the bush Simone Eyles and Mariusz Stankiewicz are this week celebrating the 150,000th coffee sold through their mobile coffee ordering app 365cups.

The idea, born over a cup of coffee between the former flatmates in their home town of Wagga Wagga, and launched in January 2011, is now generating more than $1.3 million in revenue for their cafe clients, with more than 1000 orders a day across Australia and New Zealand and rising.

By downloading the free app for iPhone or Android smartphones, customers can place an order with their favourite (or nearest) cafe linked to the system, nominate a collection time, pay either on arrival or through credit topped up on the app, and have their order ready to go when they arrive.

A monthly subscription fee paid by cafes entitles them to a virtual store where they can upload their menu, and receive customers orders via iPad or a custom-made printer. A recent initiative means cafes can directly email their app customers with loyalty programs and menu specials.

After initial research revealed their idea was new on the market, graphic artist Simone and developer Mariusz spent 18 months crunching computer codes, securing trademarks and patents, and debating 80 potential names before launching the brand in their home town.

According to Eyles, the success of the app in rural Australia has proved the naysayers wrong, that even bushies like to save a few minutes in the coffee queue.

“Launching locally has been our best decision. It’s really been an advantage, letting us fly under the radar and not compete with the city market when we were just getting established.

“It meant we could be with our first client every day in the cafe, troubleshooting and loading the app on customer’s phones for them. More and more cafes picked it up and we just let it grow through word of mouth and personal contact for the first couple of years,” said Eyles.

The first Sydney client came on board after stumbling on the app on a country holiday, and the last six months has seen rapid growth in Sydney and New Zealand.

While several direct competitors such as TXT4Coffee and Beat the Q emerged, 365cups seized the urban opportunity, developing branded apps for other business wanting to offer mobile ordering to their customers, including the GPT Group, who own Melbourne Central tower and the MLC Centre in Sydney.

In 2012 the business won two Australian Mobile Awards – Best App Food and Drink and Overall Best Web App, and was one of only 25 Australian start-up businesses selected to participate in the Advance Technology Summit in Silicone Valley, US, this year.

Recently returned from the summit, Eyles says she had to pinch herself that the homespun bush app was now rubbing shoulders with the Google geeks.

“It was surreal. People would rush by you talking about their strategies and campaigns, and kids in bow ties on street corners would be pitching their apps. It was such a buzz.”

While inspired by the “pay-it-forward” collaborative culture of the American app industry, Eyles says the experience also confirmed for her the way 365cups differs.

“There was a lot of discussion about scale and getting everyone as fast as you can at a premium. We deliberately didn’t do that. We wanted to build something solid that would stand the test of time. By charging clients from the start they actually invested and committed to the service, and now that’s paying off.”

While Simone and the team are now planning for entry into the US and Asian markets, immediate plans to work with a co-operative agricultural supplier in the Riverina reflect their true passion.

“Farmers will be able to order horse hay and dog food at 9pm on the app and when they come into town on a 300 kilometre round trip, their supplies are there waiting for them.”

“Regional centres are where we can tap into markets, test out new products and be on hand with people to tweak it. I still get calls at 5am from clients who have forgotten their password and I like that we’re available.”

Mother to two young children, Eyles says it’s her solid rural footing that allows her to think big.

“I feel like we’re on the cusp of really taking off. We’re experiencing super high growth and I just want to concentrate on building a great business. Who knows where we’ll be in five or 10 years time.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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