Karmabunny set up shop in 2001, when the web was just learning to stand on its own two feet. Google was becoming the new hotness. No YouTube, no Flickr, no Facebook 😧– the possibilities were endless. The team at Karmabunny bring together an enthusiastic bunch of web savvy geeks, who throw a wide range of talents into the ring and all this time later they’re still thrilled and inspired by the dynamic way in which the web evolves.
While they are a full service website development agency, with design and UI a big part of their talent pool, they have found that more and more they are called upon to develop complex web applications that rely on solving extremely sophisticated problems. It has meant that they are now often working with leading edge technologies like AI and machine learning systems. When Karmabunny started out, Darren Coulter said he “can’t say that I had a clear business plan as such. Initially my goal was to de-mystify the website development process, which back in 2001 had a sheen of mystery over it. I personally wanted to educate and give clients more ownership of their website, which after all was a direct reflection of them. I remember meeting my early clients in my bedroom, sitting next to my computer in a small flat on the outskirts of Adelaide”.
His best advice for someone starting out is to understand that you need to have a genuine thirst for learning to succeed in this game. By this, he doesn’t mean (necessarily) University learning, rather, you need to become a willing researcher as well as a problem solver. When Darren hires staff he doesn’t necessarily care if they have a degree. He looks instead for quality of their code of course, but he really likes self-taught programmers, especially those who started at a young age. These folks learnt to program because they loved it! They stayed up late investigating and resolving issues time and again. Darren mentioned he finds this type of programmer takes the most ownership of their work and often goes above and beyond when faced with a significant challenge.
A few of the teams projects right now are based around machine learning and various AI tools. They are currently looking at automatic object identification in still and video images, being able to categorise these objects, and even read and validate text on specific items in any random still or moving scene. Darren cannot believe that just a few years ago, we would never have thought that this type of work would be within a web developers skillset, but the team are now achieving success rates of over 90% in some models!
Karmabunny also become experts on backend management and booking systems, and are now a preferred partner of the RMS booking system. They’ve been working on several huge projects for Discovery Holiday Parks which now include sophisticated multi-organisation API integrations and complex real-time national customer management.
While they have done a lot of interesting and exciting projects over the years, including high profile events, local government work and ecommerce sites, the team are most proud of the work they have done for National Crime Check. They helped a local entrepreneur take an idea from concept to a multi-million dollar entity within a few years. The idea of a fully online end to end criminal history check system pushed them to work with many new technologies and third party APIs. It also taught them many lessons about tightening user journeys and workflows.
This system is now considered to be the current standard in this sector and that entrepreneur we mentioned has made the Smart50 list 2 years running!
In a little under 2 years Karmabunny will have been designing and developing websites for 20 years which feels almost surreal upon Darren’s reflection.
Darren and his team also recently launched a SAS product which may be of interest to other website developers. For a while now they’ve been working on a suite of GDPR compliance tools which they think might be pretty groundbreaking. After years of following and decoding the GDPR and associated privacy best practices, they have some real expertise in the Karmabunny house. They have developed a suite of tools that cut out a lot of the heavy lifting needed on the road to compliance, including a pretty awesome website scanner that provides a fantastic launch pad for identifying and setting up compliant tracking tags. Check it out: www.ezigdpr.com
When asked what he would tell his 18 year old self, Darren said “I think I would tell myself to not make too many long term plans or predictions in life. Keep your head and eyes up because opportunities come when you least expect them. My 18 year old self would never have expected to be a director in a website development agency and if I hadn’t jumped in with both feet at an opportune moment it never would have happened. The other thing I would say is to find and work with people who care about the quality of their output. Karmabunny would not have made it beyond a few years had I not found the 3 or 4 key staff that took us to the next level”.