By Julie Nixon
Andy and I attended Mobile Monday in conjunction with eclub this week, and it was standing room only at the event. Organised and expertly chaired by Geoff Ballinger of Games Analytics, “Mobile as an Entrepreneurial Opportunity” focussed on new opportunities created by the increased use of mobiles, and also on some of the challenges entrepreneurs face trading in this space. Excellent case studies were provided by Ronnie Forbes of QikServe and Nadine Pierce of Chefr.
Geoff opened with a “glass half empty” message, giving examples of how businesses can struggle adapting their websites to smaller screens and making an app easy to use and download. He used a certain pub chain’s app as an example, where to sign up for benefits the app user must fill in 3 pages worth of details. Immediately off-putting, even in pursuit of free beer!
Ronnie Forbes elaborated on the idea that what might work on a website might not translate to a mobile. He cited booking a holiday for example, where a customer takes advantage of a large screen to research their holiday requirements. Not such a user friendly experience on a mobile. The mobile device however can be invaluable for checking your latest flight details, or as a means to obtain your boarding pass. The important message for an entrepreneur here is to think how the public might use a mobile app to their advantage and convenience. It was with this principle in mind that Ronnie set up QikServe, an app that can let you pay for your food in a restaurant without leaving your seat, and allows the customer to be located through a QR code. This can solve the problem of leaving your bags unattended, for example at an airport. Now your half-time pie at the football can be brought to your seat without having to miss some of the game queueing. Truly “pie”-oneering indeed! The app can also capture data that in the future could personalise a service to an individual, like sending offers they might be interested in (although of course this could raise privacy and security issues which I won’t address here).
A foodie from a young age, Nadine Pierce had a “light bulb” moment when she wished she could re-create a recipe at home after a fine dining experience. Nadine has launched the Chefr site very successfully, partnering with well-known chefs so their recipes can be downloaded from the site. She is developing her ‘Chefr’ app which will enable foodies to purchase recipes in a restaurant using a QR code, hopefully as soon as they finish their very enjoyable meal! For the customer this allows purchasing individual recipes without having to buy a cook book. For the chefs this allows them to market themselves and increase their social media profiles. Nadine’s aim is to make Chefr a Facebook for food lovers!
An entertaining question session followed, with all both speakers giving excellent advice for would be mobile entrepreneurs. Ronnie stressed the importance of pitching the benefit of an app to a retailer, and speaking to retailers as soon as possible. He advised not to spend a year developing a product that might not generate any interest in a target market. Retailers must be convinced that a service offered will be adopted by their customers through convenience and easiness of use. Nadine had the advantage of knowing many chefs and being a well-known food blogger herself. Her proof of concept has first been through the Chefr website before moving to the app.
Geoff concluded the session with the excellent advice of “know your space and have enthusiasm”. Mobile is a hard and competitive environment to work in, but by figuring out what services work for a mobile, and finding a great use for them, an entrepreneur can have more than a “glass half full”.