Venture Further news

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Meet the Venture Further 2016 Digital category finalists


While studying dentistry at the University of Manchester, Rajen Nagar’s entrepreneurial spirit was ignited. He realised that students could benefit from sharing each other’s revision notes through an online platform. In response, he developed MedicaliQ, an education app designed specifically for medical professionals. Its first platform, DentaliQ, has over 4,000 users.

“Throughout my studies I wanted to find simple ways to share my revision notes with other students. An app seemed like the logical solution, but I was unable to develop this without funding, so instead I started to sell my notes. Constantly having to print my notes made me think seriously about developing an easier method, and the idea for MedicaliQ was born,” Rajen explains. 

After assessing the mobile app market and finding a limited amount for education, Rajen realised the potential for extending the app into professional development. “If students were using app technology to learn, those students would soon turn into professionals and the growing millennial market will continue to want to use app technology for professional development”, said Rajen. 

From this, Rajen decided to create DentaliQ CPD for professional dentists who are working towards their Continued Professional Development (CPD) certificate. The app enables professionals to work towards their CPD requirements in a more accessible, convenient and affordable platform than traditional CPD training through books and websites. 

The app also enables user to log and track their learning and contact a team of experts for feedback and help. Working in partnership with more than 40 consultants and professors from various institutions including the University of Manchester and Harvard University, the app has been developed to ensure the highest standard of professional education for medical professionals. 

Over the course of the next few months Rajen aims to secure a partnership with the NHS to integrate the technology into the service as a pilot scheme. Rajen commented: “By transitioning the way that professionals learn into a modern application we can reach our aim of becoming the leading platform for healthcare and medical education”

Go Native

While studying for his MBA, Priyo Banerjee realised that conversing with a native speaker is the best way to become fluent in a second language. In response, Priyo developed Go Native, a mobile app that hopes to connect a language learner with a native speaker at any time of the day.
Priyo explains: “Two billion people in the world are currently learning a second language, but most don’t have the opportunity to talk to the people who know the language best.  This became apparent to me when I arrived at the University of Manchester, as I noticed that while some students could communicate perfectly in written English, many struggled when speaking their adopted language.”

The app allows users to learn a chosen language at their convenience, without the hassle or expense of formal appointments with professional teachers. Users can record the whole conversation, which is then sent to them along with helpful feedback from the native speaker, so learning can continue after each call.

Following an overwhelmingly positive response from a survey of potential learners and speakers in countries including China, Georgia and Poland, Go Native wants to launch globally. “Our plan is to target students, call centre workers and executives who work internationally as our ‘learners’ through an online campaign, and we will develop an offline strategy to recruit native speakers,” says Priyo.

Native speakers will be paid for their time at the end of each day, and Priyo believes it is an excellent way for stay-at-home parents or retirees to boost their income. “We will target people who are likely to have free time, giving them an easy way to make a bit of extra cash, and we recruit native speakers, both locally and in the expatriate community, across the world to meet the demands across different time zones.”

Learners and native speakers will be connected via Voiceover Internet Protocol (VoIP), so there will be no charge for international calls.
Priyo is currently looking for initial funding to develop a prototype of the software, which will allow him to approach investors with a working app. “This will bring our global launch one step closer,” he says.

Mishi Pay 

“Why should customers have to queue to purchase goods?” This was the question that drove Mustafa Khanwala to create Mishi Pay, an app that enables in-store shoppers to pick up a product, scan the barcode and pay with their phone, eliminating the need to queue. 

The idea for the app was originally conceived when Mustafa waited in a queue at a supermarket for 20 minutes, just to buy a drink. Frustrated, he thought that there must be a better way to do this, for both stores and their customers. 

With this in mind, Mustafa also discovered that the global retail sector loses billions of pounds every year as a result of the queuing problem. “Consumer behaviour continues to change, and it is important for retailers to adapt to meet these changing habits to increase sales and improve customer satisfaction.” Mustafa explains. “Consumers no longer want to wait for things: we live in a world where we can get what we want at the touch of a button – why shouldn’t high street shopping be the same?”

The app capitalises on research showing that the browsing to buying conversion rate is highest when a customer picks up an item and decides they want to buy it. As the shopper goes through the process of looking for a till and queuing to pay, this conversation rate drops quickly. By offering a more flexible method of payment, however, sales can be increased.

Mishi Pay is built with Radio Frequency Identification Technology (RFID), which ensures full security against theft, and which, through cloud computing, offers seamless integration with retailers’ current systems, making the integration process quick and highly user friendly. 
Retailers will be able to define certain features of the app to further personalise user experience. For example, the retailer can include product information and brand stories within the app, so that when a customer scans an item barcode they can find out more about the brand, whether that be a story of a food item’s sustainability, or background on a clothing item’s designer. 

After a highly successful first stage trial over six weeks, Mustafa aims for Mishi Pay to be in stores across the UK this year. 
“‘Smart shopping, no queuing’ is the app’s strapline, and we’ve made sure it’s exactly what it says on the tin.”


Fitness enthusiast and management student Adam Barker recognised that corporate gyms were not offering the best level of service to their members and wanted to find a solution which not only offered consumers more flexibility, but also helped independent health and fitness businesses to grow.
“People sign up to big corporate gyms and don’t find themselves getting fitter,” Adam remarks, “there might also be other options available to them that they don’t know about.”

“Fitness professionals, too, spend a lot of their time on marketing and admin tasks like taking payments and managing bookings, which is time that could be better spent working with clients”. 
Adam will be launching his fitness marketing app Magna this year, which hopes to connect people that want to get fit with local fitness businesses and experts in the area. Magna works with similar principles to ‘Uber’ and some of the dating apps currently available. 

Fitness experts will be able to put all their teaching classes and schedules on the app to be found by new clients. It will also allow them to manage existing clients as they can use the app to take payments, make bookings, update their diary and manage their time much more effectively. In addition, for small businesses like gyms, it also allows members to upload rotas and show availability, “It essentially frees the time equivalent to a full-time job,” explains Adam.

“Clients can find new local independent trainers and experts to help them get fitter. When you join a gym you have to stick to their schedule – whatever they offer, whatever classes they have available, at a time that is suitable for them. That’s not always helpful for the consumer – one day they might decide that they want to do yoga but their gym doesn’t offer this. Through Magna, the clients will be able to view the availability of yoga teaches in their area that are available tonight”. 
Users of the app will also be able to take advantage of any discounts or offers as Magna will allow them to market it on the app.

“Currently there are only business management tools available. They’re not cheap and they don’t offer marketing or any client interface. 

“There are lots of different types of fitness out there that people don’t know about so this will be great way to build awareness – hot yoga is incredibly popular today but ten years ago, it wasn’t very well known. The app has been designed to align to goals and preferences and they will be matched based on what they want to achieve.

“Health and wellbeing is high up on the consumer agenda at the moment, with the government working hard to try to reduce obesity rates in Britain. Never before has there been such an opportunity for fitness businesses to grow to keep up with the surge in demand.

“Our app hopes to save small businesses thousands on marketing and time and as they grow, we hope to grow with them and scale our offering to the growing needs of the sector.”

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