Founder Feature: Danny Franklin, Founder of DACCAA
Top Business Tech has partnered with Young Enterprise, who work with educators, volunteers and supporters to provide meaningful opportunities for young people to develop an enterprising mindset in which to apply critical skills to navigate successful future pathways. Read on to find out more about Danny’s journey.
Could you tell us about your company and what you are striving to achieve?
DACCAA started in 2012, when I was just thirteen years old, as an ambitious project website that aimed to teach me about programming. I wanted to create an alternative to Google that was more customisable. The company had its roots in a computer club I ran in year 6. Nowadays, DACCAA is a business that I co-founded with my business partner Ethan Westwood. DACCAA is formed into three different groups, in terms of what we make and do, they are: creative (website development and digital marketing), studios (game development and app development), and web (any services we release on daccaa.com). This certainly gives a lot of ground to cover and the two a will focus on are Creative and Web.
DACCAA Creative has had a lot of success since it was first considered to be a key component to the growth of DACCAA. Specialising in the B2B (Business-to-Business) sector is a completely different environment than B2C (Business-to-consumer) which we had previously had experience in. DACCAA Creative provides website development and digital marketing services and as such would only appeal to the B2B marketplace. We have had to run more targeted advertising campaigns in order to only appeal to people who may own smaller businesses.
DACCAA Web is an interesting part of DACCAA. For me, it carries the nostalgia of the first services that were released back in my early days of learning to code. A new and upcoming service I am very excited about is ‘DACCAA Library’. DACCAA Library aims to provide a unique online experience for the user to catalogue all of the books they own; they can track how much they have read of each book and even (in the future) log who they have lent the book to, they can also create a wishlist of books they would like to read. We offer a ‘reading session’ feature that allows the user to track how long they have been reading for and we can even generate reading stats – such as how fast the user reads. DACCAA Library is still in alpha, be we are soon rolling out to an open beta. DACCAA Library is also planned to be released for free (at the time of writing). We hope to be able to release recommendations, and many other features.
Describe the impact Young Enterprise had on deciding to found, and run your company?
Young Enterprise was such an enriching experience. It showed me just what it was like to run a company and it was great fun doing so. I was tasked with creating the website for our product and I created a whole web portal where users could login and view recipes. Young Enterprise showed me the importance of collaboration and showed me what working to strict timeframes was truly like. Previously, if I had have wanted to make any kind of website, it was my own project, there was no rush – with the Young Enterprise projects I had to learn to quickly and effectively develop websites of high quality. This is something I still credit Young Enterprise with, giving me the ability to quickly create high quality websites.
I knew as soon as I had finished the Young Enterprise course at High School that I definitely wanted to run my own business after that. This has been my dream ever since.
What is the core technology driving your start-up’s product/service?
Who are you and what is your story?
My name is Danny Franklin and I live in Stafford. I have always had a passion for technology from a very young age. My father heavily encouraged the use of computers to make and create. He also was passionate about building computers to allow him to play the latest PC games – at the time, this was relatively new and basically unheard of. My father understood the importance that technology would play in my life and continued to push this as I grew up. According to research by Tech Nation and the government’s Digital Economy Council, during the lockdown peak earlier in 2020, job roles in technology had increased by 36%. This shows how the sector is increasingly growing and even more rapidly during these challenging times.
When I was ten years old, I ran a computer club at my primary school to teach other children how to use computers. Using computers at school was still relatively new and the education was somewhat lacklustre. I had taught myself how to use Microsoft PowerPoint and decided to share this knowledge on to the year 4 students. PowerPoint was not even being taught to them at that time – so this gave them a fun head start. I have always been passionate about helping others and educating others to create a better future for everyone. Hopefully, by teaching the year 4 students how to use PowerPoint prior to them being taught it “officially” – I may have prevented some ‘Death by PowerPoint’.
I studied computer science and media studies at GCSE level, these had the biggest impact on me. I was fascinated by the consumption of media and the power of advertising along with the ability to use computers to create experiences for other people to use. This would later all be extremely useful in DACCAA. I went on to sixth form to study ICT (as computer science was not available) and media studies again. This was where I took part in the Young Enterprise course.
Finally, I have just completed my university course in computer science. This was definitely where I picked up the newest skills and the inspiration to learn a whole host of new programming languages – even ones outside of the scope of that which we were being taught. This was really where I developed as a person as well, I gained a lot of confidence, grew my friendship circle, and gained new social skills. This was also where I met my business partner.
Tell us about some of the biggest obstacles you have had to overcome?
Our business was started on the 3rd May 2020, which was right in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis. So far, nearly everything we have approached has been a challenge. We have had to find new ways to work and new ways to communicate with each other. We have to make use of online storage providers, video and audio call services and even collaborative development platforms. It is essential that Ethan and I can communicate with each other about our clients and the work that needs carrying out – we also need to be able to meet clients without necessarily going to their offices. This did however come as a benefit too, it showed us that we would be able to work with clients in a long-distance capacity. Technology appears to be at a standard where it is able to facilitate this surprisingly well.
What is most exciting about your traction to date?
I feel that each day is a new challenge. The most exciting thing for me is the constant challenges we all face daily. In order for us to stay competitive, we need to keep on top of the current design trends, and we need to make sure that we also stay up to date with relevant web technologies to allow us to continue to create the most modern designs and the best experiences that our users come to expect.
The biggest traction that we have had so far is getting our first client for DACCAA Creative. We had to build a website for Elements Fitness & Wellbeing – a local gym in Stafford. This was quite a large project and a lot of people are dependent on the website for seeing information about the gym as well as class times and more. We also needed to make sure that it successfully marketed the gym well.
Do you see yourself as an underdog?
Definitely, DACCAA could be considered an underdog in every category we fall into. Our web services are made by a two-person team – this means that we cannot easily make the calibre of changes that a company like Google can publish overnight. Our web development side is also really new, so we are competing with all established businesses in the local area. That is why we must make sure we stand out. We make our prices more affordable; we target new, smaller businesses and we make great looking websites.
How many hours of sleep do you get and what is your morning/evening routine?
My normal routine is to sleep from about midnight until 5:30 AM where I get up and go for a run (every other day). So, I normally have about 5/6 hours sleep. When I am back, I shower, have some breakfast, and then properly begin my day. From somewhere between 8 PM – 10 PM (it depends on workload), I will start to relax, either by playing games with friends or reading some non-fiction.
How far are you willing to go to see your idea become a success?
This has been my dream since I was young. I will pursue this with everything I have.
Can you tell us who your mentors and heroes are, and what impact they have had on you?
Gary Vaynerchuk is one of my biggest heroes. Throughout the lockdown period in March, he was running his Tea with Gary Vee show – which I watched nearly every day. It was a great insight into the business world and really motivated me to try and make DACCAA the best it could be. He taught me so much about social presence and the importance of being on new and emerging platforms.
An important mentor of mine was my university supervisor for my dissertation, Alix Bergeret. Alix really helped me explore and develop my web skills and he encouraged me to push past what I was comfortable with. This was where I truly learned new skills and techniques to optimise websites in terms of speed – this was the subject of my dissertation – but along the way, I also learned many other techniques and ways to visually improve content.
Do you see this as UK centric or will you conquer the world by going global?
If you had have asked me this prior to the worldwide pandemic we are all in, I probably would have said UK centric. I really feel now that DACCAA can have the potential to grow into other countries. Most of our services can easily be used in any country and our web development side could easily happen in any country – hiring translators as necessary for clients who do not speak English. I no longer feel that we are confined to the UK as we have just seen so much innovation with the technologies that are out there allowing global communication and collaboration.
What is one piece of advice you would give to budding innovators taking the same journey?
I would say to follow your heart, you will know if you truly want what you are trying for. If you do not 100% want it, you will know. There is nothing wrong with living any kind of life, the life you should live is a life that makes you happy. You cannot necessarily find happiness in wealth, so for some people striving to have a multi-million-pound business is just unrealistic and not desirable. I think everyone thinks that they want that until they realise how much effort it takes to get it.
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