Cambridge Start-up Achieves Funding Success Thanks To FREE Business Advice

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Lorraine developed an app prototype for Cambridge, which included everything they may need for a family day out – from must-see sights and hidden gems, events, family friendly restaurants and cafes, to essential information like bus stops and baby-changing facilities. GPS guides a family around the city while geo-alerts notify users of nearby sights and local promotions. A key ambition for the product is to build a Pokemon-Go style game to encourage children to navigate around a city and really engage with history and culture.

How Did We Help?
Taking the product to a final build phase and full release required funding, gaming industry and development expertise, along with a marketing strategy that promotes brand awareness, to help attract key partners and investors. Looking for further advice on where to begin, Lorraine approached the CPCA Growth Hub, the free business signposting service from the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP that connects businesses with the help, support and funding they need to grow.

Lorraine, Founder and Project Manager, Said: “Starting a business on your own can be pretty daunting but there’s lots of help on offer and opportunities for SMEs. Collaboration has been key to the success of the business to date. The enthusiasm on board for the project is invaluable – the app is evolving into the product I’d hoped it would become, and at the same time the business is being guided and supported by industry experts.”

Our CPCA Growth Hub Navigator took the time to understand Lorraine’s needs from both an advice and investment perspective before connecting her first with Nwes, followed by the REACTOR Programme at Anglia Ruskin University.

Nwes is one of the largest not-for-profit enterprise agencies in the UK, providing total business support, boosting self-employment and encouraging enterprise. Nwes offer a range of workshops supporting start-ups during all phases of their journey, including specific courses available on marketing strategy which was particularly aligned with the skills Lorraine was looking to obtain.

The REACTOR Programme is a project led by Anglia Ruskin University and co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The project aims to support the growth of an applied games sector in the Cambridgeshire/Peterborough area by enabling connections between businesses and their talent, expertise, facilities and grants.

Understanding where Lorraine was hoping to take her game design, our CPCA Growth Hub navigator was able to identify that the REACTOR programme would be the most appropriate network to help move that design phase forward, and could potentially lead to funding from their grants system.

Sometimes, start-ups will need skills and advice from more than one support organisation, and part of the specialism of the CPCA Growth Hub team is to help businesses identify that and then put them in touch with all the most relevant programmes that could be key to their future growth.

Part of Lorraine’s journey was also about local connectivity, and CPCA Growth Hub were also able to direct her to Innovation Bridge, a three-year business growth and innovation project that have solid local connections.

In addition to business advice, contact with the CPCA Growth Hub team led to signing up for the Venturefest East networking event in September 2017.

Working with Nwes, Lorraine gained valuable knowledge on how to define her marketing strategy, as well as a greater understanding on how to set up a successful business, and financial forecasting.

Taking part in the REACTOR Gamification Challenge 2017 led to support and grant funding for a product redesign and gaming strategy consultation with Polygon Treehouse – a team of fantastic art directors previously at Sony Playstation.

Lorraine, Founder and Project Manager, Said: “The product has really evolved over the last few months. I’ve worked with the tourism and management faculty at ARU and Innovation Bridge on an industry research project. We’ve been looking at cities and tourist behaviour – the feedback is shaping new customer channels and creating huge potential for the product. I now have incubator space as part of the REACTOR programme; we’ve worked on incorporating game mechanics into the app, i.e. encouraging goals, allowing users to level-up as they learn and working as a group to accomplish tasks – all designed to help younger visitors enjoy and learn from the heritage around them, and encourage repeat visits. Game designers, Polygon Treehouse, have created these gamification elements of the app and new design guidelines, and the new product is looking great. With new technology and tools being added to the product, it’s going be a very exciting offering.”

Networking events, such as VentureFest East and Business Boost, have also provided platforms for funding pitches and new collaborative opportunities. Innovation Bridge have recently facilitated a project between YoYo Let’s Go Ltd and the management and tourism faculty at ARU, to enhance the product design to engage tourism organisations.

Future Vision
To take the app to full build stage, including testing and improving the Cambridge version before a roll-out to other UK cities.

With the new product design and specification, Lorraine is now seeking further funding, including engagement with  Innovate UK and The Knowledge Transfer Network to build the business and develop the final product.

Through further technical collaboration and funding opportunities, YoYo Let’s Go aims be the go-to solution for family tourism apps, working with local and regional tourism organisations to engage and inspire families with the best of our brilliant cities.

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Plunkett UK Grants

Plunkett UK Grants

With funding from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, Plunkett is currently able to offer early-stage community businesses free advice and support on how to get their business off the ground, including guidance on community engagement, legal structures, business planning and raising the funds to do it.