local business stories

The DARQ Room

In 2021, almost all businesses rely on multiple software systems for to their day-to-day running, such as EFTPOS or Square for point of sale, XERO for tax and payroll, website e-commerce, individual apps for ordering from suppliers, and the list goes on.

With a variety of systems, issues often arise when a customer, supplier or product is changed or removed, and staff time is used to update multiple databases. Founded by Casey local Steven Morris, The DARQ Room was created to solve that common pain point for businesses. The technology company cleverly automates and integrates business systems, while providing clients with valuable insights using all the available data.

The Business

Fascinated by the capabilities of computers from a young age, Steven Morris’s interest in technology grew throughout his school years. Planning a career in music, the night before university began, Steven made last-minute decision to study IT and never looked back.

After university, it became apparent that elements of the IT industry fell short when it came to fair or fulfilling work conditions for developers. Despite campaigning for better recognition and pay which was commensurate with experience, he ended up leaving to pursue his own business.

“It was the combination of long hours and high pressure workplaces that encouraged me to identify a gap in the market for customised software solutions, so I founded The DARQ Room.”

When it came to building the business, Steven said “I took on a few clients and focused on really looking after them. Like many small businesses, referrals were the way I got established in the early days.” It was a one-man show for a while before the company was ready to take that big leap and hire its first employees, who enjoy the ability to live and work locally, avoiding a commute to the CBD.

The terms bespoke and customised are often reserved for fashion, however The DARQ Room’s systems are usually entirely tailor-made for their niche clients, who are largely national entities with complex needs when it comes to software.

When describing their target market, Steven notes “we work with people we enjoy working with, taking on new projects using a matrix which balances both our capacity and our enjoyment of the task. We also work for consultants, and as their client base grows it likewise impacts our business.”

The Challenge

“I find I’m constantly challenged. Like many other business owners, it’s easy to fall into the trap of working long hours and neglecting to pay yourself properly. Striking a balance between profitability and staff wellbeing is also tricky.

At the DARQ Room, I want our people to feel appreciated and rewarded for their work and expertise.”

Speaking of the IT industry, Steven notes “because we create and provide custom solutions for businesses, everything we do is bespoke. To nut out and define the minutiae of tasks for each project, including the ability to cost in time for alterations and changes, makes our projects very challenging (and time consuming) to quote”.

The Casey Effect

“When it came to connecting with other business owners, entrepreneurs and dreamers – I found the INNovation Crowd program, run by City of Casey, was fantastic. Owning a small business can often be isolating, so I loved that the program allowed me to work through problems and bounce ideas off others.”

Through the INNovation Crowd, I attended a weekend Bootcamp. This intense accelerator was a fabulous experience. Just imagine lots of business owners on an intense innovation sprint, where you emerge with tangible solutions to issues you’ve been grappling with.

Lessons for Others

  • 1 If you think running a business is easier than being an employee – it’s definitely not.

    There is greater responsibility and pressure than ever before when you have staff and clients looking to you for the answers.

  • 2 Make sure you find someone in a similar position to talk to.

    It’s crucial to have an ear available to chat through all the challenges you’ll face. Find someone who has been there, like a mentor, or another business owner who is experiencing similar challenges.