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Startup Events App yada aims to create a 360-degree event experience
by Startacus Admin
Mehram Sumray-Rootsis the Product Director & Co-Founder of yada, a Event Tech Startup that pitches itself a the complete Events App. With an all-round holistic approach to the events process, we were keen to speak to recent graduate Mehram about her Startup, what makes yada stand out, and what challenges she has faced being a young, post-graduate Entrepreneur...
Hi Mehram! You are starting up in one of the most competitive areas of mobile app innovation, so of course our first question is, what makes yada better than all the other event apps on the market?
I believe what really sets yada apart from other events apps is its versatility and interactivity. Event organisers can fully customise and personalise their event pages depending on the type of event they are hosting and their guests. Attendees and organisers can also interact with one another in real-time before and during the event, sharing photos, videos, messages and connecting with other users; the app provides everyone at the event with a 360-degree view of what’s happening around them - from a variety of different viewpoints and perceptions. The yada LiveView feature takes this a step further, allowing organisers to broadcast all publicly shared actions on screens around the venue.
Organisers and marketers have a variety of information available to them via yada after the event too – images, feedback, public comments, and more. We really wanted to focus on the curation benefits of an events app like ours. So many apps out there allow event planners to push their information out to guests without being able to collect feedback, images and information that tells them whether their event was a success or not.
As we are a start-up app, yada is always improving; we’re constantly adding new features and functionality to our app based on feedback from our current users and prospective clients. At the moment, we’re working on adding Twitter and Instagram APIs to integrate hashtagged photos into yada LiveView. We’re also improving location based services by working with What3Words, integrating push notifications and installing a ticketing feature.
What would you say have been some of the biggest challenges of creating a feature-heavy mobile app like yada, and were there any aspects of the process which were more straight-forward than anticipated?
Although has been an incredibly exciting process building an app like yada it has at times been challenging. The versatile nature of the app has fantastic benefits for our users but also causes us a lot of problems. Because our target market is so wide, it means that we have to cater to a lot of different functional requirements which means that development can tend to slow down a little. However, in the long run this is a positive thing because it means we really are building the complete events app. We have come a very long way since we started our market research last summer and have grown incredibly quickly. A lot of this is to do with the fact that the app can be used by everyone and for every kind of event from networking and corporate events such as conferences, seminars and meetings, or personal and life events like weddings, dinner parties, birthday celebrations or bar mitzvahs.
How much traction has the team been able to demonstrate to date, and can you give us some insights into acquiring users within such an incredibly crowded marketplace?
Since launching our MVP in February we have had over 2500 downloads and know that we have an 87% conversion on the App Store from download to sign up. We have some very exciting projects coming up this summer and expect to have over 20k users by the end of September. We have also recently doubled our Sales & Marketing Team and taken on offices in Central London so the opportunities to gain new users are bigger than ever! We seem to be acquiring new clients and users through strategic promotions, word of mouth and though the app itself as you need to invite your guests to the event page for the LiveView to come to life. We are approached by new potential clients every day either via social media or email and they all have their unique ideas of how they want to use the app so it is a very hectic but interesting time for us and we have an incredibly busy few months ahead.
Of all the Startup / technology related events you have attended, could you pick a favourite and what made it so worthwhile?
We were lucky enough to be able attend The Collision Conference that was held in New Orleans this year. We were one of 600 startups selected from 16,000 applicants to join their Alpha programme. It was an incredible event because people had come from all over the world and the energy was palpable. It was so worthwhile because not only were we able to build some incredible connections with other like minded individuals, we were also able to gain exposure, press and interest from investors. Furthermore, it was a brilliant opportunity to learn because there were talks from experts, networking events and seminars every day. We can’t wait to return next year where we hope to have graduated and moved up to their Beta programme. The only thing that let the event down was their app, but I think we might be able to help with that…
Can you give us a sense of the demographic that is currently using yada and the kind of events for which they are using it?
Our initial target market was the 18-35 age group due to their active social lives, online social connectivity and the fact that 50% attend live events. However, since we launched our app in the Apple Store & Google Play Store in February, our app is being used by people from all age groups. We have a real mix of events on the app at the moment, from off-road experiences to office parties and family holidays to festivals. We were recently described as ‘a must-have app to survive this festival season’ by The Festival Guide and since then our users have built their own events on the app as a way to share their festival memories with their friends and family.
The trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship, and particularly building a tech startup are well documented, but on balance what are the most enjoyable parts of being a startup founder?
I jumped into the experience head first last year and started a week after I graduated. My degree had absolutely nothing to do with apps, business or marketing and I had to start from scratch. I have been able to learn so much in a year and really understand the startup market. Within my first month, I was managing a team of 10 interns and starting the process so I had to learn very quickly. Obviously you make mistakes along the way but the most important thing is to pick yourself up, stay motivated and view them as a learning opportunity rather than a downfall. I am incredibly lucky to have a team of experts behind me that have mentored, guided and helped me along the way.
Founding a Startup straight out of university is a challenge which an increasing number of young people are taking up, what was your thinking behind making this decision?
I didn’t really have too much time to think! My dad came up with the concept along with his colleagues a few years ago but since they are all successful IT Consultants, they didn’t really have the time to put things in place. As soon as I finished this was presented to me as a project and I ran with it. It can be a struggle to work with family at times however I was largely dealing with the day-to-day challenges myself. It is the most rewarding experience to see something through from a scribble on a piece of paper to a potential success and I can’t wait to see where yada takes me and my team next.
Following on from that, have there been any groups or organisations which have been helpful to you in creating your business, particularly from the perspective of a recent graduate?
Startups are a seriously hot topic at the moment and the opportunities are endless. There is so much on the Internet to help you out and once you start attending networking events you soon find that everyone is positive and willing to help you succeed. Tools such as Slack and Facebook are great ways to chat to likeminded people in your area. The best advice I can give to someone that is thinking about starting up straight from University is read, attend lots of events and do not be afraid to talk to people. Don’t ever feel like the dumbest person in the room because chances are there are lots of people that feel the same and you can all help each other whether it is through sharing contacts, information or advice.
Mi-IDEA Manchester Networking Event
27th Sep 2016
The teams from CISCO and Manchester Science Partnerships have teamed up to create Mi-IDEA, a post-accelerator designed to foster and nurture digital innovation in the North West of England.