From Random Email to Thriving Business: My Journey with Danni

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Dan Steen
Hey there, folks! Today, I want to take you on a journey back to 2017 when I crossed paths with the incredible Danni. This is a story about serendipity, teamwork, and the magic of digital connections that can lead to something extraordinary.
Back in 2017, I was in the corporate education arm of Deakin University, working with a nifty tool called Adapt to whip up some e-learning materials. And then, out of the blue, a random email landed in my inbox from a certain Danielle. She was gearing up to lead a session on different digital learning practices within Deakin University.
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I couldn't contain my excitement when I got invited to speak about our creations. That was my first encounter with Danni. She had this knack for matchmaking within the university, connecting practitioners like me with others in the digital learning realm. I knew immediately knew she would be great contact.
Fast forward a bit, I found myself facing a unique challenge: looking into the resilience of our online students at Deakin University. We saw it as a real puzzle within the student experience. So, we embarked on a design sprint—a five-day rapid design process to tackle big challenges.
For our Sprint Team team, I handpicked a diverse bunch, from marketing to student wellbeing, back of house and front of house. But I needed someone who understood the nitty-gritty of learning and also someone who was a current online student at Deakin. That's where Danni came in.
Danni was a superstar during our design sprint. Together, we created a little gem called "Cloudy." This nifty tool, powered by the PR6 framework, helped folks evaluate their resilience across six core domains. The name Cloudy, hinting at a powerful visual Weather metaphor for our mood and resilience.
Eventually Danni talked about a business idea she had, and she needed some co-design advice. I hopped on a call with Danni and this other dynamo named Rachael. We chatted about design thinking and co-design, and immediately, we all connected around a shared passion for problem solving and impact.
Through these conversations, Danni introduced me to her and Rachael’s brainchild. A series of powerful behaviour-focused and climate related solutions that had a focus on impact, fun and gamification. This immediately distinguished itself from the slow-paced, hierarchical work of my day job within a University. That's when our trio really gelled and identified that we had a genuine desire to co-found a business around the work they had done to date.
Life took an unexpected turn when I was made redundant at Deakin University during the wild COVID years. But that twist of fate gave me the freedom to join Danni and Rachael in establishing the business and taking our concept to RMIT's Activator program.
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The program forced us to dive deep into our business, validate the market need, and ensure we had a product-market fit. It was a wild ride, and I couldn't have asked for better co-founders than Danni and Rachael.
What stood out to me about Danni was her superpower of matchmaking and her ability to confidently reach out to strangers, something I struggled with. Her expertise in simulations, gamification, digital media production, and behavior science was like having a Swiss Army knife on our team.
And let's not forget her optimism and can-do attitude. Trust me, it's like a breath of fresh air, especially in the often critical world of higher education.
Here's an interesting tidbit: I didn't meet Rachael in person until we'd been running the business for a whopping nine months. We'd connected online, and it was all thanks to Danni's matchmaking skills that we could kick start a business without the need for face-to-face interactions.
This virtual setup has become our way of life. We work from anywhere, collaborate with interstate agencies, and engage with experts globally—all without the limitations of face-to-face meetings.
So, here's to serendipity, digital connections, and the remarkable journey that began with an email from Danielle and led to the birth of something truly exciting. Cheers to teamwork and the adventures that lie ahead! 🚀

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