March 1, 2017
The opportunistic entrepreneur
CEO of one of Queensland’s most successful new businesses and only 22 years of age, Daniel Proctor, was never going to settle for an ordinary working life. With ‘hometowns’ all over the world and entrepreneurial blood pulsating through his veins, drive and enguinuity took this young man from stocking supermarket shelves to brokering deals with Australia’s leading companies.
A blonde-haired, blue-eyed British boy running around Spanish streets, Daniel Proctor was never one to blend in. His father, David, was an extremely successful businessman, his mother a renowned dentist.
Both, were constantly seeking new opportunities which lead them across the globe and found the Proctor family residing in numerous cities across three different continents, with young Daniel in tow.
“I learnt to adapt, to change really, really quickly,” Daniel laughs, as he reminisces about his ever-shifting childhood, “Most people, they get really stressed out about something, which is completely valid, for example, a business fails and falls flat. But I wouldn’t worry too much, I’ll just be like, ‘Okay, time to try something else’.”
The carefree attitude, mixed with complete determination and drive is what makes Daniel one of the Sunshine Coast’s most fascinating businessmen. He looks for opportunity in every circumstance, a mindset that was instilled in him from his father at an early age.
“My dad will talk to anyone and sell anything to anyone. He literally does not care who it is. He goes with the ‘Don’t ask, don’t get’ attitude and he most definitely passed that onto me,” he says.
“Whenever we travel, I always ask for free upgrades and stuff like that. We don’t always get it, but sometimes we do and it’s only because we ask, it’s a good habit to develop.”
After graduating from Saint Andrew’s Anglican College, Daniel ventured to Brisbane where he worked three jobs, one of which was running his own iPhone repair business.
“Our house was on the side of a main road in Brisbane, and every day I finished school, I had five or more people waiting for a repair, it was all run through word of mouth.”
At the time, he was studying aviation with his childhood dream of becoming a pilot at the forefront of his mind.
“I always loved flying, probably because I travelled all the time as a kid,” he laughs, “I wanted to be a pilot and even if I couldn’t do that, I knew I wanted to be in that industry in some way. I started studying aircraft engineering.”
The dream was in sight and despite massive changes to the aviation industry, Daniel secured a position in rural Western Australia. A heart-breaking diagnosis, however, changed everything.
We decided on a discount card because there wasn’t one in the Brisbane and Sunshine Coast area. We’re now the biggest in Queensland. It’s such a simple concept and it makes money.”
“My dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer and given three years to live, so I didn’t take the job. It made sense to stay here and be close to him,” he says, revealing his father is still fighting for his life.
“I had incredibly mixed feelings when the diagnosis came. I’ve often wondered if I was doing the right thing, or whether I should be spending more time with him. But he won’t let me quit, he’s always pushing me to do more.
“I was really sad initially and every day was tough, but all you can do is push forward because you can’t change those circumstances.”
From the desire to stay close to home, the Student Wow Card was born.
“I was looking at investment properties and the option to buy a unit in the Varsity apartments came up. I floated that idea past my parents, they decided to buy one and I moved in.”
Daniel wasn’t studying at the time, but being surrounded by university students his masterful eye saw opportunity at his fingertips.
“I met up with my dad at a bar in Noosa and we sat and went through all the different ways we could utilise this target market. I was still doing iPhone repairs from my room at Varsity, but I knew there was more to tap into,” he says.
“We decided on a discount card because there wasn’t one in the Brisbane and Sunshine Coast area. We’re now the biggest in Queensland. It’s such a simple concept and it makes money.”
David Proctor, Daniel’s father, took to the streets, doorknocking local businesses, offering partnerships with the discount card. When big brand names such as Boost, Dominos and Subway agreed to participate, the business took off.
“We launched at O-Week in 2014 and we found a lot of people liked the idea. We started getting partnerships with Hot91 and the Innovation Centre, where our offices are based.”
More than 25,000 students are now using the card and the company engages upwards of 40,000 on their numerous online platforms. For Daniel, it’s so much more than just a business, it’s an avenue through which he’s experiencing some of the best moments of his life.
“Because of the high volume of international students that come here, we decided to start doing tours. The tour operators don’t pick up from the University of the Sunshine Coast, so we decided to start our own tours,” Daniel’s opportunistic attitude makes the most of another avenue.
“We do group tours, which I host. We take students to Fraser Island, the Great Barrier Reef and down to Byron Bay,” he says with the sense of adventure gleaming in his eyes.
“My partner is a tour guide and she’s pretty great at it, so we go on those adventures together.”
Daniel’s partner, Dorthea, works alongside him as the company’s Chief Operating Officer. The pair met at a university house party and spent numerous months as friends, before Daniel offered Dorthea an internship.
“She was an international student studying graphic design, she’s from Denmark.” Daniel says, “It turned out she was actually looking for an internship and I needed a graphic designer, because at that stage I was just trying to do it myself. She’s knows a whole lot more about it than I do, so it really was a massive help.”
Three months into the internship, Dorthea confessed her crush to the young entrepreneur and the two began a relationship that was both romantic and professional. A relationship that has seen them launch two more businesses and grow Student Wow Card to its strongest point.
“There’s no friendship in business they say, and it can be true and working with a partner can be difficult, but you have to choose to work around it. We switch it off when we come to work. Work is work and our relationship is our relationship, we make sure we keep that balance and it seems to be working for us.”
It’s all a game at the end of the day, that’s how I see it. I see life as a game.”
With a high demand on design and printed goods from his advertising partners, Daniel and Dorthea noticed another opportunity to make their business mark on the world. Together they launched, a web and graphic design company specialising in social media and search engine optimisation; and a printing company.
“I’m only 22, so it’s a bit ridiculous,” Daniel laughs, aware that his business antics aren’t the norm for someone so young. “I often think, ‘What am I doing!’ but, then again, if I’m going to do this at any age, why not now? Why wait until I’m 40, probably have kids and a lot more responsibility? I’d rather do it while I have a little bit more time on my hands.”
Time that Daniel plans to spend well. He is developing a new app to accompany the discount card.
“The app is great. It tells you where the discounts are; you can check in and use points. We’re evolving it so you can link your Apple pay and android pay to it,” Daniel says.
“We’re also incorporating GPS so that as you drive you’ll receive notifications of discounts as you pass by them. The average student can save more than $1000 a year using the card, so we want to help them find places to use it.”
Business is in his blood and with the long term plan of returning to Europe with his partner, Daniel’s opportunistic, entrepreneurial mindset is set to continue succeeding.
“I’ll still be a business owner in my 40s. I’d like to open something more relaxed, like a cafe where my kids can grow up and work alongside me,” he says, his mind always contemplating his next move.
“It’s all a game at the end of the day, that’s how I see it. I see life as a game.”
A game that for Daniel, is only just beginning.