We’ve all been out with a group of friends looking for something fun to do and come up short. Thankfully the founders of girigiri, Geoffrey Mann and Kana Ando decided to change that. Girigiri is an app that helps people discover spontaneous experiences, enabling people to live in the moment. We sat down with the founders to discuss their journey so far.
What is girigiri in your own words?
Kana: girigiri is about discovering spontaneous experiences.
Geoffrey: It’s about allowing people to live in the moment, answering the question of what can I do right now? It makes sure people can go out and have fun.
Where did you get the idea for your business?
Kana: One of my friends told me about an experience she had in New York City, she wanted to be spontaneous, discover new things and just explore. She found that she didn’t really know what to do in the moment and was at a bit of a loss. She came across TKTS, which is musical theatre tickets at discounted prices for viewing that day, so she was able to have that live in the moment experience. Once she told me this, there was that light bulb moment of “hey, that actually happens to me as well” and a few of my other friends agreed. We always ask that question of what can we do right now, and never know what to do, so I thought, let’s try and solve that problem.
How did Geoffrey get involved after that point?
Kana: Long story short, Geoffrey was working for my dad.
Geoffrey: I was working for Kana’s dad actually, I was working as a consultant for probably about a year and then one day after a meeting, he asked me to get coffee, and I thought “cool, I’m going to get fired.” But then he told me that his daughter (Kana) was creating this startup and explained the idea to me. I thought it sounded really cool, my parents actually created their own successful startup and I thought that’s something I really want to do and be part of. So I left the world of consulting and joined Kana and the team to create girigiri.
What was your parent’s startup?
Geoffrey: My parent’s started a golf tournament. Twenty one years ago my dad wanted to create an amateur event like the U.S Masters, and everyone he spoke to just thought it was stupid. Today it’s in the top five amateur tournaments in the world and number one in Australia. It now has Schweppes, Callaway, the Victorian Government sponsoring it as well as Daniel Andrews as a Chairman. So I get the inspiration from them, seeing them being successful and more importantly, realising their dream. They always had the desire and goal to create that.
How did you get your business started?
Kana: To get started I wanted to make sure we had a cool team with genuine people who could build this idea into a reality. We wanted people from different backgrounds, with different knowledge and capabilities to bring forward. We also just wanted to learn from each other.
Geoffrey: Our team is so diverse, and we purpose-built it for that. We wanted every perspective covered, and to know that it is possible to build this company from the ground up.
There is currently four shareholders and on top of that volunteers and a tech team.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
Geoffrey: Pivoting. When we first started, the idea was creating last minute deals, to decrease food wastage and just get product off the shelves. However, when we started talking to the businesses they weren’t fans of having deals. When we spoke to customers they said whilst it’s good to get a discount, what they were really after was unique experiences. That’s when we went back to the core problem of what can we do right now, and decided to solve it from there. Our biggest challenge was to convince everyone else on the team to go down this new road, which was nerve-wracking.
Kana: Having to take a turn and having to take a few steps back and re-climb that hill again was a challenge, looking bad on that, it was a really good decision and I think we’re on the right path.
What kind of experiences can GiriGiri help people find?
Geoffrey: We focus on calm experiences such as a pub that might have a band in and also vibrant experiences which may be an actual event, something a bit more out there.
How did you get the business onboard?
Kana: Initially we would just go up to them and say “hey, do you want to join us and be a part of this?” We could help them connect with their consumers because that’s what they struggle with the most, trying to connect with consumers in real time. A lot of businesses would put posters on their windows, hoping people would walk by but our platform offered a better, wider solution.
Geoffrey: We also approached shopping precincts and councils. We were lucky enough to talk to some big corporations which own shopping centres, and they have been really supportive. We also met with local councils because they have the incentive to keep people in the area. We try to work on different tiers.
What lessons have you learnt on your business journey?
Kana: I learn everyday, there is always something new, whether it’s something small or a huge lesson. When I learnt about the legal stuff, I thought, oh wow – need to get that sorted. I could talk about this all day!
Geoffrey: Creating a company is like a rollercoaster, and you will have your down times when things aren’t going your way, and it will feel like you’re getting punched in the face. The idea is that you have to keep fighting for it and it will become a reality one day.
Has it been important to have a business mentor?
Kana: Definitely, they’ve helped us to avoid the mistakes they’ve made in the past, even mistakes they’ve seen other people make and if they are genuine people who want to help guide us to success then they give us great advice to keep moving forward.
Geoffrey: It also gives you confidence and motivation. When we come up with an idea we can ask them if it’s a good idea and get their advice, so it does give us a massive confidence boost as well.
What kind of mentors do you have?
Geoffrey: We have a mentor called Johnny – he works in the tech start up world and he’s been very successful throughout that. He provides guidance about creating a company, what to focus on and making sure we meet those milestones. He also helps us with how to be sustainable, and grow at a rate that is possible.
Kana: Bhauvik – he’s actually one of our board members, he’s been helping us create the tech platform. That guidance on what to focus on has been really good. He has different perspectives, different views and it’s great to get those varying views to try and move forward.
What are your top 3 tips for starting a business?
Kana: A good team, do your market research and know what your consumers want! And just have fun as well. Keep going!
Geoffrey: Have a clear vision or goal, if you don’t everyone will just be confused so make sure you have the problem you’re solving right in front of you.
Communication skills, talk to everyone you can, the team and your market as well. You need to be able to communicate yourself in a way everyone can understand.
Dedication. There will be hard times, you need people around you to help push you through.
How would you describe your life as an entrepreneur in 3 words?
Kana: Fun, unexpected and crazy.
Geoffrey: Rollercoaster, unexpected and fun! Our whole company is built around creating fun experiences, so we embrace that culture.
How do you guys motivate yourself through the hard periods?
Kana: It’s having people around you to support you, not only Geoffrey – even our investors, volunteers, mentors and everyone around us is really supportive. Even at those rock bottom times, I’m motivated to keep going and make them proud of us and our achievements.
Geoffrey: We’ve been so fortunate with the opportunities we’ve been provided – we want to achieve that goal and make it a reality.
What have you been into lately?
Geoffrey: I’m more of a nerd so I’m been watching Homeland and listening to the Rooster Teeth podcast. It’s just down time, it’s really long days creating a company, so I just need time to let my brain stop and kind of relax and that’s how I achieve that.
Kana: I wasn’t so much into podcasts until we created our own (Solve this: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/solve-this/id1434541191?mt=2 ) I came across one recently about police officers and their journeys, and all their crazy experiences and I’ve been liking that! Just interesting stories – I can’t remember what it’s called, sorry!
Speaking of podcasts, girigiri has been featured in Activator’s Solve This podcast. How did you both find that experience?
Geoffrey: Eye-opening! I’ve learnt so much, I had heard them but never touched upon it. The biggest thing was commitment and the hours required to make a good quality podcast.
Kana: It actually helped me become more confident in speaking – sometimes I stutter a lot and just go blank, we’d also love to make our own podcast in the future.
Which soundtrack best represents your life?
Geoffrey: Hamilton the musical – which sounds a bit weird. I enjoy the world upside down song, it’s about the civil war, people fighting for what they believed in, and then when they achieved it, everything around them was changed. It kind of feels like we’re fighting for what we believe it, and we’re trying to disrupt the world around us. Trying being the key word.
Kana: I’ve been obsessed with K-pop lately, it’s fun and unique and different and unexpected sometimes. That’s kinda my life as well.
What has been the best part of your Activator journey so far?
Kana: Being a part of the startup community, surrounding ourselves with people who have a goal and vision, which helps motivate us. It’s also great to talk about the struggles that we all go through.
Geoffrey: Making friendships around us, everyone is going through the same journey and it’s cool to get other people’s perspectives and share the wins and struggles.
Where would you like to be in five years?
Kana: girigiri has changed a lot in a few months, I can’t imagine what it will be like in five years. We’d like to go global in five years hopefully. I think we could do that.
I’d like to be working in an agile, flexible environment but also I’d just like to be happy and be looking back on my startup experience saying I did pretty well or that I learnt a lot.
Geoffrey: We want to have a community of people who want to go out there and have fun right now! I don’t want to go home and watch Netflix or stay at home and be boring, we want a community of people around the world creating fun experiences.
I’d love to look back on what we’ve created – it’s like a little baby, and we’re seeing it grow and change over time.
If you could give your younger selves some advice, what would it be?
Kana: I think it’s resilience and perseverance – the mindset of keep going and don’t give up, once that mindset changes everything could just fall apart. If you keep that motivation, you could go a long way.
Geoffrey: The idea that if you’re passionate something and you have a goal you can achieve it. In this world there are so many opportunities around us, but you do have to fight for it to make it a reality.