How one Start and Grow client is making gaming accessible to all

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It was a personal experience in a local shop which gave Huntingdon-based Daryl Williams the idea for a new business for people looking to swap video games rather than trade in through retail outlets, often at a highly reduced rate

Disappointed with the trade-in amount for a video game he had purchased but not enjoyed, Daryl looked online for an alternative way of swapping the game, but none appeared to exist. “I realised that there was a real gap in the market for people looking to exchange their games with others rather than sell or trade-in,” explained Daryl.

Inspired by the now obvious need in the marketplace, Daryl set up a Facebook group called Switch Swap Shop UK, creating a forum where gamers could swap their Nintendo Switch games. “It was important from the start that the environment was one that people could trust that the swaps were genuine, and this became my Trusted Trader system,” stated Daryl.

Members of the Facebook quickly grew to over 5,000 and Daryl realised that for the idea to grow, he needed to create an app to provide a more secure place for people to swap games. He drafted out his ideas on pieces of A4 paper and with support from his best friend and now business partner/co-creator, Justin Dawson, the design for a secure, easy to use app was created. He took them to IIH Global, an app development company based in Watford and with help from his mum and her partner, his grandmother and a close friend, the idea became reality.

“It works on a simple principle that people advertise games that they want to swap, the swap is agreed between two people and first class signed-for postage is paid to complete the deal,” explained Daryl. So far there have been over 3,000 swaps completed on the app with a 100% success rate. The app offers a free basic membership plan as well as a premium at a cost of £6.99 per year which includes a £1 donation to Great Ormond Street Hospital.

“My aim was to make it accessible to everyone with the Trusted Trader system helping people to feel confident to use it,” commented Daryl. “When the app launched in July 2021, it had 1200 Trusted Traders and to encourage people to use the app, we offered free, lifetime premium membership to anyone who signed up between certain dates which was really popular,”

Knowing that the world of apps is always evolving and with plenty of ideas to improve the functionality and convert more users to the premium membership plan, Daryl knew that he would need further investment to grow the business. Having lost his job during the COVID-19 pandemic, on a visit to the Job Centre, Daryl was recommended the Growth Hub Start and Grow programme. “I recognised the name as I had received a notebook at a recent awards ceremony, so I got in touch to see what help was available.”

“Mark was amazing! He understood the business completely and fully embraced our ideas for further development of the app,” he explained. “We applied for a grant to help us with the work as well as improvements to our SEO, to open up new markets.”  They are due to launch the 2.0 version of the app shortly and will offer premium members with three completed swaps the ability to sell games in addition to swapping. The range of games will also widen so that customers have a greater choice.

The gaming market is huge, worth more than the music and film industry together over the past four years, with half the UK population playing games at some level. Daryl and Justin are keen to explore ideas for taking their app to the global market and are already in talks to make this a reality.

“No matter how big we grow as a company, at our heart will always be the core value of making gaming affordable to everyone, so that no child misses out on the chance to play the latest release,” stated Daryl. Their fame is growing with several awards under their belt and more to come (fingers crossed) in the coming months. “What makes the hard work and sleepless nights when developing the app worthwhile are the numerous messages from parents and children thanking them for helping them to play games that they wouldn’t normally be able to afford,” said Daryl. Future plans include providing new games consoles and games to children’s hospitals.

Daryl is rightfully proud of what he has achieved and smiles as he mentions that his twelve- year-old son takes his business cards to school to encourage all his friends to join on the app. “I am so glad that I did this,” he stated, “if I hadn’t done it, I would have regretted it and, it goes to show that if I can do it, a guy in his thirties who is a chef in a residential care home for the elderly, then anyone can if they put in the work and are passionate about their ideas.”

How you can get support for your business

You can get 121 support from a business advisor, who can also help you with a grant application.  It is all completely free as part of the Start and Grow ProgrammeClick here to find out more or fill in our really simple form to register your interest and one of advisors will be in touch to see how we can help.  The programme runs until the end of December (with a deadline of 11 November to submit grant applications) – so act now to make sure you get the boost your business needs.

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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.