From left, Rizvi Mridha, of Palmerston, Marko Siljanovski, of Kingston, and Afnan Hannan, of Nichols, who with Steven Hutchinson have launched a campaign for their Bindle app. Photo: Melissa Adams
Stuck in a small town in Mexico and unsuccessfully trying to get across the border to Belize on December 24 one year, Rizvi Mridha and his best friend thought they were in for a less than festive Christmas.
The men spotted two women with Country Road bags, a fairly strong telltale sign of Australians, and after realising they were all in the same position, the four hatched a plan to get to their destination.
"We ended up flagging down some Mexican guy who drove us across the border for some ridiculous amount of money," Mridha said.
"We ended up getting the last ferry across to this island, and ended up having the best four days with these two girls who we're still friends with now."
It’s travel interactions like this that inspired start-up Bindle - a mobile app that allows people to meet fellow travellers and enhance their travel experience.
Having all met at Australian National University, the four creators – Mridha, Steven Hutchinson, Afnan Hannan and Marko Siljanovski – discovered their mutual love for both entrepreneurship and travel.
"We were reminiscing about all our travel experiences and we were thinking about what it was that made it so important. We figured out it was always about being in a random place and meeting someone and that interaction changing your day into something amazing," Mridha said.
"There's no formal market for it and there's no formal mechanism where people could interact; it was all by chance, so we were thinking about it and thinking along business ideas as well."
The group developed a concept and did market research with more than 500 people, and discovered there was overwhelming support for the idea.
"When you're travelling, it's great to meet other travellers. There's nothing that exists where you can search for other people travelling in a similar position to what you're doing," he said.
"And there are existing platforms to meet other people like Tinder, but that's probably not a great example because it's a platform with a different motivation."
Mridha said that living in Canberra is a blessing in terms of the networks available and the support from local government and both ANU and University of Canberra, but it can make funding your project more difficult.
"When you get to the stage where you're launch ready, or you get to the stage where you want to expand to stage two or three of whatever product it is - as a start-up, getting capital in Canberra is not so easy," he said.
"I guess this is probably a barrier globally but in Canberra it makes it harder."
The team has created a Kickstarter campaign to crowd fund their project, aiming to raise $12,000 by September 9 to get their app out to the masses.
Find out more about the app or visit the Bindle Kickstarter campaign at thebindleapp.com.