We sat down with Oliver and Joseph to talk about UniDosh, an idea that turned into a Business, a Business that then turned into a Journey. In 2015 they had a “light-bulb moment”, understanding that students had a massive problem with their personal finance options.
Joseph and Oliver felt that that students would, where possible, use their own skills, experience or background to earn themselves the extra cash they needed, as long as it fitted around their studies.
This began the start of a 3-year (and counting) journey of UniDosh.
Ed – So what is UniDosh?
Oliver: UniDosh is a marketplace platform that connects members of the public and businesses with a student workforce seeking short term job opportunities. Students all over the world are always seeking new ways to earn money around their studies and the public are constantly seeking more affordable services.
Ed – So what made you think about actually solving this problem for students?
Joseph: Whilst attending University my partner Oliver Jacobs and I played witness to the mass struggles student succumb on a daily basis mostly due to financial concerns. Due to the increase in tuition fees and living costs students are now beginning to question whether or not to attend University. With most banks not offering overdrafts on student accounts, most students parents not being in a financial position to support their children and most students lacking the time to find a flexible part time job around their studies, students are struggling.
Ed – When did you decide that you would take it from an idea to a Business?
Joseph: Having devoted the last 2 years around our studies into finding a way to tackle the student financial crisis. Oliver and I set out on our mission to revolutionise the way in which students could both earn and save money throughout their time at University, as such providing students with the freedom to enjoy these vital few years the way they should, the way they could!
After months of deeper research into the problem we had our light bulb moment. The solution was clear. An all in one platform for buying and selling services.
Offer students the opportunity to… Choose their own job, choose their own hours & choose their own wage, as a result providing discounted services to local members of the public and local businesses, who are simply looking to save money on everyday chores and services. The opportunities were truly endless. Neither Oliver or I had any previous experience in app development, nor did we know the best practices to go about starting a business. All we had was an idea and the drive to make it a reality.
Ed – Did anyone try and convince you not to do it? As young students yourselves it would have seemed like a risk to family and friends?
Oliver: In our experience this really wasn’t the case. Having discussed the issue at hand (The Student Financial Crisis) with our close family and friends, it became evident that this was a fight worth fighting.
Our family urged us to conduct primary and secondary market research before diving in and setting anything up. We spent close to 6 months conducting thorough research. This included running various questionnaires, interviews and focus groups around university campuses. This research taught us a lot and aided us in seeing the finer picture. We were also urged to put pen to paper and produce a detailed business plan and pitch deck.
Once we had achieved all the above, we decided to pursue the concept and thanks to our close family and friends, we raised an initial round to help get UniDosh kick-started. Everyone has been extremely supportive throughout the entire process and continue to be to this day.
Ed – So much in Business is realising what you should have done in hindsight, what would you do different in those early days?
Oliver: The early days were tough, especially given our lack of business experience at the time. We were lucky to have access to some fantastic mentors to help guide us through the initial steps of setting up the company.
Joseph and I dedicated an enormous amount of our time into learning the fundamentals of setting up and further establishing a business.
We did this through reading, following podcasts, embedding ourselves within the start-up community and applying for start-up competitions. It was by no means easy however essential to better educate ourselves in the world that is business. Some of the early challenges we faced included: Time management and product development. Being that we began UniDosh whilst we were still at university it was very difficult to manage our time around our studies, this resulted in many late nights to make up for the time we were unable to put in during the day.
In terms of product development, the main challenges we faced included: Where do we get it developed?, What do we get developed, Website or app?, Who do we get it developed with? And many more. At the end we decided to produce an app on both IOS and Android to prevent user limitations. This was enormously expensive and time consuming.
Joseph and I agree that given the chance to go back we would have created a web app at a fraction of the cost to initially test the platform, before developing the Android & IOS apps. This would have been far more cost effective and less time consuming with development and bug fixes.
Ed – When did you feel as it was going to work or take off?
Joseph: It has been a long challenging journey thus far. Over the past 2 years we have experienced many highs and many lows. The highs are what makes this all worth it and reminds us how great UniDosh truly is and how exciting this journey has been. Over the last few years we have achieved many feats, such as:
– Securing 2 rounds of early stage funding.
– Registering over 5,000 students in our test city Manchester. (5% of total manchester student population)
– Receiving 1,000 booking on our Alpha platform.
– Being featured in publications such as: Forbes, The Guardian, EY & many more
– Winning numerous startup competitions, including (Ed-had to make a lot of notes here):
- TOG100 – Held by ‘The Office Group’ granting us with 1 year’s free office space at multiple locations, including The Shard.
- Accelerate Places Northern pitch night – This prize included a £35,000 bundle prize after winning a pitch competition up against 5 other top northern based start-ups. Interview – https://www.accelerateplaces.com/interview-with-unidosh/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=blogpost
- EY / The Tab ‘Founders 30’ – After pitching in a dragons den style pitch up against 10 other top young start ups, EY placed us in 1st place awarding us the title of ‘Young entrepreneurs of the year, 2017, alongside expert mentor-ship from Charles Taylor, CEO and Founder of ‘Debut’ app, as well as an investment from EY. Interview with EY – http://ukcareers.ey.com/schools/insights/oli-and-joseph-unidosh
- Nottingham Trent ‘The Hive’ – Awarded us with £1,500 for business development.
- Selected as 1/150 top EU start-ups/ scale-ups by Webit Festival and asked to exhibit and pitch
- A finalist for the Small Business of the year award by ‘The Great British Business Awards’
Ed – So what next, where is your journey taking you with UniDosh now?
Joseph: We’re all systems go for our relaunch to the public which will take place towards the end of March, beginning of April. Right now we’re taking a lot of interest from across the UK and people can sign up to our mailing list on our site. That way as soon as the relaunch is live, they get the notification. (Ed – Link here to be notified)