Each year, NACUE run a business pitching competition called the Varsity Pitch. We encourage student and graduate entrepreneurs to vie for a prize of equity-free £10,000 which can be used to help any part of their business. There is a category for business ideas, so even if you are just at the very first stages, you can still get involved. Applications are currently open until 16th September, so please do check it out and apply now! The competition has been running for 6 years, though 2015 was the first year that we included a People's Vote prize sponsored by Lloyds Banking Group, where the general public vote for their favourite pitch on our website. The pitch with the highest votes overall is fast-tracked to the finals of the competition, and one step closer to the all-important grand prize! We will be featuring businesses which are gaining a lot of attention on the site each month, and hopefully giving them a helpful boost to their popularity with the public. This month, UniYap is currently our most popular pitch so far, and you can find out more about the business and the man behind it, below.
UniYap is a channel based instant communication app for iphones, which includes news and offers, just for students, with their universities in mind. This app is the brainchild of Dom Bryan, iOS developer and young entrepreneur studying Computer Science at De Montfort University, we took a moment to catch up with Dom on why he put his business forward for the Varsity Pitch Competition.
What is the story of your company? How did you startup?
I came up with the idea for UniYap when I got frustrated with the lack of ways to communicate with the students at my university. There are around 300 people on my course alone, and close to 20,000 total students at my university, but when it came to finding an easy and quick way to talk with them all, I was stuck. As an iPhone developer, I thought I could put my skills to use and build an app for those on my course to chat. UniYap was born, Uni for University, Yap for Yapping (Chatting). I built an app where by I use your academic email to place you in channels of chat with students at your university, your courses, your societies and so on.
Why did you want to apply for the Varsity Pitch Competition? What do you see as some of the benefits of applying?
I suppose the biggest benefit would be exposure. As a product that is focused on university students, and this being a competition focused on university students, I felt that even if I did not win, UniYap would still benefit from the student exposure in the Varsity Pitch. I feel another great benefit is the opportunity to network and meet new people. It is one of the most important factors in building a business, and with competitions being a great way to bring together like minded people, I see this as a huge benefit.
If you won the grand prize of £10,000, how would you use it to help push your business further?
With such an amazingly large prize, £10,000 would go a great way towards continuing development of the product. It will help immensely with running costs, products like UniYap require servers and app store certifications, all of which cost a pretty penny. I also plan to have an Android version of the app built, which the prize money could help fund. The prize would also give me the ability to properly market UniYap to students across the country. Marketing within universities can cost a huge amount of money, certainly more than I can personally invest. So part of the money would go a long way towards getting the attention of students all over the country to grow our user-base.