Serial globetrotter Darren Tonkin has already lived years abroad, speaks five languages fluently and is on the cusp of completing his engineering degree.
So it’s no surprise that the well-travelled entrepreneur has put his years of experience and considerable talents into the creation of a new app, Storyboard, which launches this month.
The Storyboard app allows consumers to search and consume travel stories by people, location or interest. The app is all about the visuals, and collates photos and videos by location, then maps them out in an album with a title and a cover photo.
“The Storyboard app is a new way to compile your travels and memories. It’s highly interactive and engaging and really sets the scene for viewers,” Darren said.
Darren started mapping out his adventures using photos and video while he was travelling and studying abroad, but it wasn’t until he learnt to code that he was able start building the Storyboard app.
“My first solo adventure was to Brazil on a Rotary exchange. I wanted to share my story and moments with family and friends back home and the people I was meeting, and I found that blogging and Facebook failed to capture the scope of my travels,” he said.
In the lead-up to the launch of Storyboard app, Darren took a casual desk membership at Brisbane co-working space Little Tokyo Two, joined the QUT starters group and networked every chance he could.
“Most of the work has happened in the last 12 months. I realised that if I wanted to do this seriously I would need a group of developers, mentors and support crew to get it off the ground,” he said.
“Little Tokyo Two and QUT starters allowed me to meet people with different skills from the technical, back end of things, to the marketing and media for the launch of the app.”
One of the main challenges he faced in this time was himself, Darren said, finding it difficult to stay motivated and focused, and not letting other people’s opinions get to him.
“Australians are very risk-averse and afraid of failure, so it was hard to get people on board with the idea, and to get friends to back it,” he said.
Darren owes his successes to some key mentors, as well as the “University of the Back Seat”, having listened to the insights of his enterprising parents over the years.
And as for startup capital, Darren backed himself.
“I’m a chronic saver. Storyboard has been 100 per cent self-funded with savings from my part-time jobs and tutoring over the years,” he said.
Although on the surface Storyboard is an app for international students and travellers, Darren hopes it can be used to tell the stories of minorities and help reveal social issues and inequalities.
“Everyone has a story. Behind gender, sexuality, race and religion, there’s a person, and Storyboard breaks down those barriers and allows each person to tell their story,” he said.
Darren is already working with social enterprises to see how the app can help support their social goals and tell the stories of the people treated along its missions.
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