CQU graduates find ASTROnomical success with the launch of new start-up Voyak

27 January 2021

A new Rockhampton based accommodation booking platform developed by CQUniversity alumni Karan Joon and Sam Grumley is taking the business world by storm by combining quality service with initiatives to support animal welfare organisations.

After an intensive five-year process and multiple start-up attempts' CEO Karan 'KJ' Joon recently launched voyak.com.au' an online platform similar to Booking.com or Expedia' alongside his former university peer Sam Grumley' Dan Thistlethwaite and two other co-founders' but said inspiration for the project came in the form of a rescue dog named Astro.

Mr Joon explained he first developed a passion for entrepreneurship back in 2016 while completing his Bachelor of Engineering at CQUni.

"As almost any other uni student does' I was procrastinating from my assignments and surfing YouTube'" he said.

"This is probably the only time procrastination has been a positive thing as in-between funny cat videos I stumbled across a lot of animal rescue videos.

"All of these people and organisations were doing so much good work for animals and I wanted to contribute' but as a full-time uni student it was impossible to donate to everyone."

While he has not always been an animal lover' Mr Joon explained how adopting his family dog Astro' a seven-month-old kelpie' from the RSPCA a few years earlier opened his eyes to the challenge's animal welfare organisations face.

"Astro' who was originally named Alexander at the RSPCA' had significant behavioural issues and was going to be put down.

"At first' I was against getting a dog' but my mother and brother talked me into a trial. It was a tough transition for all of us' but after a few weeks he grew to be a part of the family'" Mr Joon said.

"He changed our lives' so when I launched my foundation' I thought there was no better name - Animal Services Treatment and Rescue Organisation (ASTRO).

"I thought if any animal organisation around the world required funding we could fill that gap to continue operations rather than them closing down - the only issue was I still didn't have the funds to support everyone.

"This was when an idea began to form in my mind about launching a start-up where business income could be used to support ASTRO'" he explained.

Driven by the business model of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where Microsoft funds are used towards charitable work' Mr Joon set his sights on launching his own social enterprise through an online accommodation booking platform.

"I never anticipated starting a company' my plan was to complete engineering alongside my commercial pilot license training and work as an airline pilot. I was at uni studying engineering' not business' so I really had no idea where to start!

"One day at the CQUni gym I by chance met my now co-founder and developer Sam Grumley who helped to get the programming side of voyak.com.au up and running. I was on the verge of giving up as I was unable to find developers"

As a Diploma of Information Technology graduate' Mr Grumley jumped on board.

"Voyak.com.au is an innovative platform that we have designed to solve the problems other platforms face by being run by overseas companies'" he said.

"As an Australian company' we are able to overcome unethical business practices' refund problems and booking cancellations while being a cheaper option for small operators to list on voyak.com.au"

Looking to the future Mr Joon said he is hoping to expand voyak.com.au to other accommodation providers across Australia.

"The more accommodation providers we can get on board the greater the value of our service will be for customers.

"If you're booking accommodation' use www.voyak.com.au' it's Australian owned' you get good value for money and you get to do something for animals' so it's three bangs for your buck."