Meet PanelHype, the Geelong startup helping local small businesses turn mobile devices into advertising space


Five entrepreneurs have teamed up to launch a digital marketplace that enables small businesses in the Victorian regional centre of Geelong turn mobile devices into ad space.

PanelHype’s peer-to-peer display advertising platform is an innovative way to connect the Geelong business community and its creators are hoping to strengthen local businesses.

Tech savvy entrepreneurs Steven George, Paul Wong, Glenn Schmidt, Ian Priddle and Brandon Burns set up the venture to make advertising more accessible for smaller players.

“It allows anyone or any business who has a physical premise to put up a screen and connect it to our network,” PanelHype CEO Steven George told SmartCompany.

“That becomes available to advertisers.”

The PanelHype team hope the platform will be a game-changer for Geelong businesses by enabling operators in the region to monetise the promotion of each other.

“We really just wanted to create a way for businesses to have access to advertising,” he says.

Small businesses such as gyms, cafes, hair salons and more can download PanelHype for free and auction off screen space on tablets, phones, TVs or computers at their business premises.

“If you already own a device it will cost you nothing and you will be making money for nothing,” George says.

George says the revenue model is transparent, with the price of screen spaces determined by bidders.

“Some of our most active advertisers are [business owners] that host screens,” he says.

The platform provides detailed insights like demographics and foot traffic so advertisers, including small businesses themselves, can select which screen spaces will be best for them.

Auctions for screen space run every hour with screens at various Geelong merchants up for grabs.

“The price fluctuates hour to hour,” he says.

Businesses keep 80% of any ad revenue generated on their screen and PanelHype keeps 20% in commission.

The startup is already running several pilots with businesses in the area including an Anytime Fitness gym and at Avalon airport.

“We are now inviting anyone that would like to earn money displaying ads, or who would like to advertise across the network, to join,” he says.

PanelHype’s digital marketplace is a step towards rebuilding Geelong, says George.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Tribal Campus chief executive Nick Stanley, whose tech company is based in Geelong West.

Stanley welcomes PanelHype, calling it another great addition to Geelong’s emerging tech scene.

“Applying a modern business model to an established industry is exactly how brands like Uber have disrupted established business models,” Stanley says.

“I believe PanelHype has the same type of disruptive potential.”

These companies are working to transform Geelong, a region once dominated by manufacturing, into a lucrative “Silicon Bay” where small businesses are empowered and enabled to achieve better growth through technology.

“All of the founders are Geelong people and we see that we identity as a manufacturing hub and there’s now a push, from us and some of our colleagues, to make it into a tech hub,” George says.

“I’m surprised how well [PanelHype] is taking off with businesses supporting businesses.

“It has been great for the community.”

This article was first published on SmartCompany.

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Dinushi Dias is a journalist at StartupSmart and multimedia content producer. When she’s out of the office, she works on social projects with her We Love It Productions family and buddying filmmakers.
  • Hari Jeevakumar

    That’s a great idea. Similar to Badoo’s “App of the Day”.