It’s rather rare to stumble upon a cool start-up from my hometown of Sydney, but as soon as I read about it on TechCrunch and figured out the Co-Founder, Elliott Risby was following us on Twitter (@technodechina), I jumped at the chance to interview him.

Put simply, Drumo is a location based, Quora like question and answer function that gives people a platform to discover their city by asking people who know about the city the best. The use case is fairly simple, pick a city and ask a question to the community. For example, “Where is the best Peking Duck in Beijing?” I would say “Duck de Chine in 1949”.

Drumo was co-founded by Elliott Risby and Martin Konrad. The duo is also behind a very successful creative agency and digital production studio, called Design Royale based in Sydney and New York. Started 10 months ago, the team also includes two developers and an illustrator. Elliott is responsible for design/UI and Martin oversees the programming. Both partners oversee product direction and development. After five years of Design Royale which is now doing well as an agency for clients, Elliott says “We wanted to take a step back and do something more for ourselves.” After bouncing around a few ideas, Drumo emerged as the chosen one.

The inspiration for the idea came out of a personal need for Elliott, because his wife who runs a yoga studio in Sydney was running deals through deal sites but found it difficult to maintain loyal customers. To achieve greater customer loyalty, they wanted to create a platform for merchants to interact and engage with customers. “We imagined a Quora meets Sim City experience, which really targets our market of Asia.” In the same fashion of Quora, highly voted answers will float to the top and poor answers will sink to the bottom.

To try and solve the customer loyalty issue the many group-buying sites are facing, Drumo allows local merchants to promote special deals to customers, such as a café offering a discount on coffee. The benefit for merchants on Drumo, is that it is instantly localized and allows them to target users very accurately. It aims to drive relevance by utilizing the deep data of Facebook to match users with merchants not only at the city level but at the neighbourhood level.

To sprinkle some fun and keep people hooked, Drumo is gamifying the platform, by rewarding points to users for interacting with the site by asking questions and giving answers. Merchants and brands can also set up challenges to users who can unlock badges and get rewarded with special offers. Users who level up by collecting more points and unlocking more badges will be given more control over Drumo, such as posting content about a place. One example of a simple task or challenge set by a merchant is for a user to ‘Like’ their Facebook page.

The places that are shown on cool Sim City like map are driven by the extensive database of locations which are based on Google Places and Foursquare. The rich existing database of Foursquare is allowing Drumo to scale up quickly across new cities around the world.

Although Drumo has not started to make revenue yet, Elliott believes they have a strong business model to be able to generate revenue quickly. They are currently testing this with four local merchants in Sydney.

Drumo has now officially launched in Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, Tokyo, Osaka, Hong Kong and Bangkok. Many more cities will be unlocked in Australia, Asia, America and eventually Europe. Asia is really a big focus for Drumo and the team visited Beijing for TechCrunch Disrupt to check out the local scene here. Next year, Drumo will satisfy America’s interest by launching in New York and San Fancisco.

The product is still currently in beta testing stage but after coming out of stealth since the TechCrunch article, users have grown dramatically.

The company is completely bootstrapped for now but is in the midst of raising a seed round of funding.

As a Sydney native, I asked Elliott what he thought about the tech start-up scene in Australia. He feels it “needs a little bit of growth and is a little bit behind.” I agree.

Drumo from Drumo on Vimeo.

Jason is an Australian born Chinese living in Beijing, specializing in entrepreneurship, start-ups and the investment eco-system in China, especially in the tech and social area.

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