Beanhunter brews up cloudy international roast expansion

Start-up business looks to exploit cloud for international growth.
Written by Drew Turney, Contributor

"Think Tripadvisor for coffee" is how co-founder and managing director James Crawford describes beanhunter.com. The iOS and Android app and website lets people from all over the world find and share great coffee by reading your location, suggesting well-reviewed coffee shops near you, showing reviews and photos, and directing you there.

Beanhunter.com co-founder and managing director James Crawford

Beanhunter.com staff started using cloud in 2010 after the company had initially used physical servers in a Melbourne, Australia office. But as the company grew and added new staff all over the country, Crawford says different applications have moved online to the point where beanhunter.com is now '100% in the cloud'.

Crawford and his team's first foray was using Xero accounting online, and today, all major operations are done through similar cloud tools.

"All our team communication is through Basecamp for project management, Google Apps for email, Dropbox to share all company documents and design files, GitHub to manage code development, and we have cloud servers so we can scale easily," he explains.

Since adopting a fully cloud strategy, beanhunter.com hasn't looked back.

"We all love it," Crawford confirms, "It means we can work wherever we want."

It's an advantage Crawford hopes will power Beanhunter.com's 'today Australia, tomorrow the world' plans.

"We're already used around the world — from London and New York to Nepal — but the majority of our users, traffic, and content is Australia-based. It also makes sense for us to stay here in the coffee capital of the world here in Melbourne as we grow our platform."

Crawford says he's planning to expand beanhunter.com's presence in Australia, and the fine-tuning that will emerge from it will give him the confidence to aim for international growth. While he and his staff are in that growth stage, the cloud is all about mobility and connectivity.

"Having cloud based servers to 'spin up' a new server when we need it is perfect for growing and making sure we don't have any downtime," says Crawford.

"It gives us the ability to work anywhere and still be connected to the Melbourne office," he says. "Two of our developers were recently in San Francisco for the WWDC 2014 – we had daily communications through Basecamp and they can see what development is being done via GitHub. There's no more 'I'll send that file when I'm back in the office'. Now we just open Dropbox on our smartphones and share a link to the file. The only issue we'll ever face will be time zone differences."

Spikes of growth thanks to expansion also won't be restricted by the lack of budget or technology to meet it.

It's not clear to Crawford and staff how international growth will play out in a practical sense – whether it can all be run from Melbourne or whether an overseas office will become necessary. But no matter what direction the company takes, he says cloud means beanhunter.com won't be at a disadvantage. 

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