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April 2, 2020
Special Report

Still Here is the free website every local business needs right now

From the Adelaide web developers whose clients include the South Australian Tourism Commission and Discovery Holiday Parks comes a free, searchable website that makes it easy for small businesses to connect with customers in their area.

  • Words: Josh Fanning
  • Images: Supplied

SPECIAL REPORT: COVID-19 ADELAIDE

Off the plane from a holiday in Japan, Darren Coulter and his family discovered an Adelaide unrecognisable from the one they departed three weeks earlier.

“We flew over night from Osaka and arrived on a Friday morning, so I expected heavy traffic” says Darren, founder and director of Karmabunny – a niche digital agency based in Norwood, “but there was basically none.

Remarks

Still Here

A free website made with affection by Karmabunny, with no hidden agenda other than to connect our community and make it easy for business to say ‘We’re open’ and customers say ‘Well, alright then!’

“When I commented on this, the taxi driver said his work had dried up virtually overnight. He said it was going to be the last day he drove his cab for a while. He also said he had a mate who had put his life savings into buying a business and it was all done and dusted. Dream over.”

How’s that for a re-entry from holiday mode?

Setting up his home office in quarantine, Darren had time to think laterally about the COVID-19 reality he was now faced with, and, thanks to a healthy pipeline of work for his own company, soon turned his attention to how he could contribute to his community.

The result is Still Here, a directory for retail shops and eateries who are trying to tell the world that they are adapting to the crisis, pivoting their business models to keep trading and are hoping to make it through. The site is searchable by postcode and quickly delivers results based on proximity.

Still Here – mobile version ⤴

Still Here map locator for City of Adelaide’s traders who are “open for business” ⤴

 


Using the site is straightforward for both customers and businesses, with clear prompts for both user journeys to either add a listing (“add a shop”) or show shops in your area (“near you”).

The directory is blessedly simple and effective. A brilliant piece of crisis-created infrastructure that will be essential for many small traders. As an example, here is everything listed in postcode 5000.

We asked Darren a number of questions about his motivation to build the website, his eureka moment and the challenge of running his own small business from home during COVID-19.

Read more about the project below.

 


Q&A with Still Here founder Darren Coulter

CityMag: What moved you the most about our city’s predicament?
My parents had small businesses and I have had one for over 18 years. It’s pretty all-consuming. When you build up something like that it becomes a big part of how you define yourself. On top of that your staff become like family. A lot of the time you keep pushing and working hard for them as much as anyone. So when I heard about all these businesses closing doors and all these employees lining up for hours at Centrelink it pretty much made me feel sick.

When was the eureka moment with Still Here?
On the Monday after I returned, we were having a video conference and one of my staff, Jamie, said that he had tried to call up and place a coffee order with a local cafe. We have a coffee machine but he thought it would be a good thing to do for a while. The cafe picked up the phone and hung up immediately. Jamie tried again and they did it again. I kept imagining these poor cafe owners in a state of shock – not knowing how to get through the next five minutes, let alone the next few months. That’s when I felt like we had to try to do something to help if we could. But we had to come up with something quick and it had to be launched that week to have a chance of making a difference to shops and eateries who were making big decisions now.

Do you have a background in building similar platforms that made the idea easier to implement or was there a lot of new learning that occurred on this project?
We have built a lot of bespoke accommodation search/booking websites over the years so this was not new to us. We did have to scope, design and build it all very fast though, and with all of us remote from each other. From the initial idea the MVP [minimum viable product] was up in three and a half days, with a lot of that being done outside of normal working hours (my staff are amazing).

This sort of infrastructure is kind of what’s missing in a crisis situation and its brilliant that citizens are stepping up and doing it rather than waiting for instruction from government. What’s your take on how Australia is responding to COVID-19?
It’s a little hard to comment on given I have not left the house in 12 days. At a local level it feels like if people can help others they are doing so, enthusiastically. My staff continue to work hard and sacrifice their time to help with Still Here. I’ve read some great stories about individuals and businesses working together to create new initiatives to tackle this crisis and I think that could be a big key to getting through this.

I reckon don’t be afraid to reach out to other businesses (even competitors) if you have an idea. One moment out of your comfort zone might change everything for you. I’m happy to see the Federal Government’s recent measures aimed at keeping staff on, but I think some sort of rent relief is going to be needed for many businesses and maybe some land tax and rates relief for landlords.

Can you describe where you’re working from?
I’m working from a tiny room where both of my kids were brought as newborns right out of the hospital. I have a kids farm animal mobile dangling above my head, a Godzilla mug in my hand and I can hear my partner home schooling our children in the next room.

Apart from the coffee a mate left on my driveway the other day, I haven’t had a good brew in weeks. I long for a visit to Uraidla Republic Cafe for some of their great coffee and awesome baked goods. My local, the Crafers Pub has shut it’s doors for now. A beer with a mate seems like an eternity away, and I hope that Christopher Broadfoot’s Kitchen in Stirling will still be there when I ‘get out’.

Any pets at home? Anyone there with you? What’s their reaction to having you around more?
Apart my partner and our two kids, we have two cats and five chickens. I’m sure the cats don’t care but I like to think the chickens are enjoying having me around more. I haven’t worked at home for a stretch of time like this for many years and I think it is way better than when I first started my business. These days between Slack chat and Zoom conference calls you never feel alone as you work, and of course being able to hang out with my family during breaks is pretty refreshing. I would imagine that a lot of people’s work habits may change a lot (maybe for the better) when we get out the other side of this.

Please describe your business in a sentence and perhaps some client names / industries to help readers connect with your background.
Karmabunny is a small, niche web agency that has been designing and building bespoke websites for almost two decades now. Our clients include Phil Hoffmann Travel, Discovery Holiday Parks, Travel Auctions, South Australian Tourism Commission, Norwood, Payneham & St Peters Council, Simon Bryant and Majella Wines, to name a few.

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