What's the difference between a Dyson and a dump truck?
For former Illawarra Coal president Troy McDonald, it all comes down to product support.
"You can get thousands of reviews on a Dyson vacuum cleaner that costs $600-$700, you buy a $10 million piece of mining equipment and you can't find information anywhere."
While heading up South32's Illawarra operations, Mr McDonald said finding support for expensive pieces of equipment was a common nightmare.
"We forever get told when you have a problem on a piece of equipment it's an isolated issue, and then you ring around and you find out across the whole industry it's a systemic issue that's never been addressed," he said.
Finding existing platforms inefficient when it came to turning up this information, Mr McDonald decided to make his own.
Enlisting fellow former Illawarra miner and current Revolution Laser Arena and Hangdog Climbing Gym owner Brett Baker, the pair decided to launch Meta for miners and Twitter for tradies.
Torqn, as the app is called, combines product review sites like Whirlpool, the social networking of LinkedIn, and will be backed up with documentation from major manufacturers. However, unlike other social media applications, the idea is not so much about who you know, but what you work with.
Users of various pieces of equipment and machinery will be able to find other users of the same gear, share tips and swap fixes. In addition, safety issues from regulators and manufacturers will be able to be pushed out immediately, directly to the people using the equipment.
While the app has a natural fit in the mining industry the two founders hail from, an early capital raise attracted $3 million in investment from players in the agricultural and insurance sectors. With the app currently in the final testing stage, go live is a matter of weeks away.
Once up and running, the app will be free to use and the founders plan to on-sell anonymised data that users put into the system to manufacturers.
"We'll be able to do analytics on the data and say to the [manufacturers], mining companies and the suppliers, here are the top five safety issues that are trending on your piece of equipment, or here are the improvements that are trending on the platform," Mr McDonald said.
Ahead of go live, the founders have brought in an outfit in Albion Park to provide ongoing development support, and hope to be part of the bridge between the Illawarra's mining history and its tech future.
"There's visions for the Illawarra to be a tech hub, we want to be part of that," Mr Baker said.
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