When COVID-19 hit, Brisbane entrepreneur Josh Kindred (owner of Kindred Group, a diversified group of entities) knew that the people employed in one of his business chains – Grind Coffee Bars – were about to be significantly impacted.
However, he also saw an opportunity on the horizon. An opportunity not only to retain his staff, but to offer other industries affected by the pandemic support by developing virtual tours. Over the initial months of the pandemic, rather than laying off staff, he offered them the opportunity to retrain and support industries that needed them most – the property, retail and events industries.
This catalyst and foresight has led to what is now known as Little Hinges, a rapidly growing startup that digitises spaces through 3D scanning to provide a digital replica of a property, founded on the basis of keeping Queenslanders employed and keeping other industries afloat.
“Josh [Kindred] knew that the Grind businesses were going to be affected and therefore, the people that worked within them would also be impacted,” co-founder Josh Callaghan says.
“This was the catalyst for quickly expanding the idea of Little Hinges, which he had been toying with and testing for some time. As a result, Josh [Kindred] was able to commit to none of his staff losing their jobs as a result of COVID-19 by retraining them as 3D scanning technicians.
“This move also no doubt helped other industries during the pandemic, allowing consumers virtual access to spaces, like virtual open homes for real estate agents, vendors and buyers.”
Kindred’s investment into the business and ability to attract some great talent, combined with the need for virtual tours in the real estate industry enabled Little Hinges to experience quick growth.
“It’s been a magic formula and we’ve gotten some really great clients on board super quickly. We’ve been able to bootstrap our growth, which is seeing our revenue more than double each month,” Callaghan says.
Little Hinges has brought so much added value to the real estate landscape. It has been a ‘quiet achiever’ during COVID-19, having gone from a company of zero people up to 25 and has quietly been knocking down big contracts across real estate, tourism, art galleries and many other industries.
“We’ve been able to ease the friction (time, cost and inconvenience) that exists by requiring people to turn up to a property physically,” Callaghan says.
“And we were able to come in at a time that this kind of technology was needed more than ever.”
For this startup the highlights have been great and the challenges have come as expected with any new venture.
“Every bit of repeat business we celebrate as a success. Some of these clients include GOMA, Stockland, Ray White, Place, LJ Hooker and many more,” Callaghan says.
“Our biggest challenge has just been educating our various clients on how the technology works to support their businesses. There is often a point during the conversation where the possibilities of the technology clicks for them and they suddenly start seeing its potential. It just can be hard to get enough of their attention to get them to that point.”
The team's strategy has been key in the growth and success of the business.
“Our primary go-to-market strategy has been to engage directly with real estate agency owners and through education, build a demand for the product from the ground up,” Callaghan says.
“As we’ve further developed our product into the market leader, we had to pivot from this ‘grassroots' strategy in order to gain efficiencies in scaling the business. We are still on the ground, but are now also focused on integrating our product with national distribution networks to provide a national offering, while we quickly build the network of technicians to support that business.
“From day one the team has had a commitment to building for scale, which is paying off as we grow.”
The future is looking bright for Little Hinges.
“We continue to grow rapidly and are quickly building out a national network of technicians to service the high demand for our product around Australia,” Callaghan says.
“We have signed a national distribution deal with Commercial Ready, a fast-growing commercial real estate portal that already has over 5,000 listings nationally. We are also working on gaining a number of other partners in the next few months.
“In early 2021 we will be launching a direct-to-consumer product that enables our technology to be leveraged by consumers to help with their renovations.”