Admiring the Andes Mountains in Chile while jogging, Mick Fritschy’s foot slipped down a pothole, breaking his ankle. Later recovering on a couch, his mind turned to renting caravans, sowing the seed of a greater adventure that would ultimately make the world a better place.
That adventure began later at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, where world-class start-ups have taken off.
“More recently I was studying at the ANU on climate change with Professor Frank Jotzo, which got me really inspired about more of the environmental angle,” Mick says. “I was thinking of the initial caravan idea and thought there was an opportunity to make better use of what we have, more broadly.”
An expert in strategy and international relations, Mick considered a digital platform on which people could place their caravans and bikes, in fact any idle items they owned – to share. He says he was lucky enough to meet Sammy Williamson, a digital marketer and social media guru, and the idea continued gaining traction. On the technical side of what they needed, he met data scientist Dilyar Barat and software technology veteran of 30 years Michael Redman. To take the idea forward, the four became co-founders of a new website – Hey Fritz.
Sammy points out hiring rather than buying helps reduce consumption of resources and combats climate change. “I’m in the generation that being environmentally conscious, being aware of your footprint is really important,” she says. “People want to make conscious decisions to do better in the world but don’t necessarily know where to start or how to do it.”
Multiple start-up tech companies fly from Canberra like bright sparks – Seeing Machines, Tower Software and eWay among the brightest. Some catch on like wildfire and a few soar to international fame.
Among those few high-flyers is Intelledox, a global software success acquired by Smart Communications last year. Sammy and Mick’s mentors, Michelle Melbourne and Phillip Williamson, founded and developed Intelledox, taking it to the top of its field in business process digitalisation.
This background reinforces Hey Fritz’s deep roots of research into the sharing economy, artificial intelligence and software platform security. Mentoring through the Canberra Innovation Network and the ACT Government’s ICON Innovation Connect funding program has kick-started the team’s detailed preparations.
After trials of manually matching borrowers and lenders by email and Facebook, Hey Fritz is now launching its world-class, secure website. Lenders from around the globe are already listing and borrowing everything from ice cream makers, camping gear and video game consoles, to trailers, power tools and canoes. And through the concept of reverse marketplace technology, when there are required items not yet listed, a call-out is sent to members.
By joining Hey Fritz, lenders and borrowers join a seamless, safe and green-credentialed platform with an overlay of community building and action on climate change. By enabling people to make extra cash from idle items they own, Hey Fritz connects people and communities.
Lenders on Hey Fritz have their identity verified. Their items must be in good working order. They are insured and listed on a secure website, while working for a more sustainable future.
Working in a smart, progressive city, where the territory government became the first to set a goal of zero waste, Hey Fritz’s founders feel confident launching into the local community. “We are thinking in global terms, and heading in that direction,” Mick says.
“Interest in Hey Fritz has been overwhelming,” Sammy says.
“This is about getting out of the mindset of buying new things whenever you need something, and to instead turn to your community for that thing.” If you’re keen to become a Fritzer, check out heyfritz.com. It’s free to list.