When we metEric Guo(Founder & Managing Director,StreetAway) at Newcastle Startup Week 2018, we immediately loved what he was doing to support small and independent local businesses by sending more consumers their way but were even more impressed once we got to know him better. Here's why...
1. Hi Eric, can you please give me a brief overview of your business?
StreetAway is an innovative two-sided mobile application, available as a free download (for both business and consumers) on theiOS app storeandGoogle Play. On the customer side, StreetAway offers users the chance to view local deals in an instant, ever changing landscape and shows users nearby discounts and businesses, ranging from food & drink to health and beauty. It then allows them to view different offers, as well as an instant 'Live Offer' system. On the other side, the business app offers businesses the flexibility to adjust offers on a real-time basis as well as control time windows when offers are available.
2. Who is your target audience and how do you help them?
Although easy-to-use and accessible for most audiences, our target audience is mainly students and young professionals. Whether it be a quiet lunchtime break from study or work, students and young professionals will be able to use the app to locate a new eat out, whilst keeping it at an affordable price.
3. When was the business established, how many people are in your team & where are they based?
The StreetAway business was established in 2017 and we released our first version of the app on the 19th September that year. The core line-up of our UK team consists of Eric Guo (Founder and CEO), Rob Simmons (COO), Zoe Maylam (Head of B2B and Business Relations), Tom Potts (Digital Marketing Apprentice) and Damon Williams (Photographer). The UK Team is based at thei6 Charlotte Squarebusiness centre in Newcastle. In addition to this, we have a tech team based in Shanghai who work on developing and maintaining the app.
4. What motivated or inspired you to start the business?
Since childhood I have had a passion for business and had always intended to become a successful entrepreneur and businessperson. The creation of the StreetAway platform was motivated by my desire to change the trend of decreasing socialisation. I began to notice with the growing popularity of apps such as JustEat and Deliveroo that fewer people were dining out and socialising in person with one another in larger groups, which I think is rather unfortunate. I also believe that businesses first and foremost should aim to improve the local economy and assist local businesses, not inhibit them. StreetAway suits these goals by offering deals from local social venues and gives them flexibility to offer deals during less busy times when they most need customers.
5. Where did you go for help or advice when you first started out?
I mainly sought advice from local business groups in the technology field in addition to university enterprise support. It has also been rewarding to attend local networking events, not only to seek advice in negotiating our way through the first years of development from those who have experienced the peaks and troughs first hand but also to gauge the potential impact our app could have on these businesses and gain important feedback on how we could further improve to suit the local business needs.
6. We think the North East of England is a great place to start or grow a business. Do you agree & if so, why?
We completely agree. We see the North East as a great starting point for our business as it is home to many small businesses all in close proximity that are calling out for an app such as ours to improve footfall and reach their target demographic through digital means. It is also vital that we retain our ethical approach by avoiding the extended T&Cs and contractual pitfalls that other similar platforms are known for. Our aim is to of course be successful ourselves but due to the nature of our business we only become successful through the success of our business clientele and we see the North East as the ideal place to make this happen.
7. Have you had any funding or investment to date & if so, where from? (e.g. Angel Investors, VCs, Govt Grants).
The business as it stands is self-funded but we’re in the process of attracting potential investment from around the world. We feel this stands out as an investment opportunity with the groundwork that is already in place as well as the market size.
8. How would you like to see the business develop over the coming months & years?
Ideally, we are looking to expand the app and reach other cities in the UK. Our ultimate goal is to make StreetAway THE discount app to purchase and browse from. We have plans to expand to other major cities in the UK such as Glasgow, Manchester and Leeds. Before that, however, we must focus on building a steady user base in Newcastle, something which we have already begun to make great strides with.
9. What business book, video or podcast would you recommend?
'Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products' by Nir Eyal. It’s a fascinating insight into consumer behaviour and I think it’s a good read, whether from the perspective of a business or customer because it explains very concisely the steps by which products are developed based on the habits of the customer base.