Check them out www.recommendedby.co.uk
The best thing to happen to student discounts and shopping since free Maccy D’s burgers? Promote products and exclusive deals to friends via social media and online interactions with RecommendedBy. “You Share, They Save – You Earn.” Save them money and earn yourself commissions at the same time for everything they buy!
StartupCatchup: Thanks for getting in touch Cally! We’re really excited about your site, looks like a real winner! Can you give us a quick intro to RecommendedBy?
Cally: My pleasure. RecommendedBy is a really innovative way to earn money whilst saving close friends and loved ones a bundle of cash off retail prices. The concept is based on three simple words: Share, Save, and Earn. Share products and discounts with friends through Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media, they then save money on those recommendations, and you make a nice little commission on the sale!
StartupCatchup: Brilliant concept, everybody wins! The company sells, your friends save, and you earn cash. Doesn’t get any better than that! So what made you take the plunge to actually act on this idea?
Cally: Well, I‘ve always been interested in creating something myself and RecommendedBy.co.uk is really an evolution of our last site; StudentPunch.com, and a realisation of everything we learnt with that venture.
StartupCatchup: Ah, so this isn’t your first venture at all then!
Cally: True, but this is the first venture I have thrown myself fully into and that I truly believe has a global potential. Our last site was just a lifestyle business but with RecommendedBy we are trying to do something big. We believe shopping online should be a much more social experience and we know how to achieve this and improve everyone’s shopping experience.
StartupCatchup: Sounds ambitious, we like it! So how have you been funding this little gem?
Cally: The site has been entirely self-funded so far. This has had its pluses and minuses! It has allowed us to shape our own vision of what we are building and create an MVP that we can now learn from and move forward with. By self-funding, this venture has cost us just about 3 months but I think that time has allowed us to understand our own proposition much better. Despite the positives about self-funding, however, we are now looking to raise a round to help us move forward and create the Beta and second version of the site. We are likely to raise some funds in America via a 2 month trip this summer.
StartupCatchup: Wow, you’re really going global! So how have you found the journey so far, going from an initial idea, to creating the concept and launching the business?
Cally: To be honest, the idea stage was the easy part. The execution is the part that really tests you. We are still soft launching and listening to our users; learning about what works best. We now have pages of changes and improvements for our next version. Watch this space….it will make shopping social.
StartupCatchup: And we believe you! So tell us a bit about your team, are you hiring yet?
Cally: The team consists of myself working on this full-time, and 3 part-timers who help out in certain roles. It means a much heavier workload for me but I thrive on that. We are, however, currently looking for a CTO ahead of our next stage. [They’re also hiring Student Ambassadors!]
StartupCatchup: Brilliant! So what are your current plans and where do you hope to see this venture go in the near future?
Cally: Right now we are actively looking for investment to allow us to fully create our vision. We took part at EIE [Check out: http://www.eie12.com/] in Edinburgh to raise our profile in this sense and opened the days pitching. Ideally we want to create a platform to roll out across the world but to do this we need the money first. Whilst we would love for this to come in the UK we are realistic about the chances of securing investment here. With this in mind comes our travel plans to the U.S. this summer. Past that time, well, we will see but we would love to see hundreds of thousands of people shopping socially with us.
StartupCatchup: Well you certainly have the drive to make that a reality! So what has been the most rewarding experience so far during this adventure?
Cally: Definitely being picked as the youngest company to enter Entrepreneurial Spark, Scotland’s only entirely free accelerator program [see: http://www.entrepreneurial-spark.com/]. It really helped to vindicate what we were trying to achieve at a point where it might have been easier to give up. Having Sir Jackie Stewart open for us at EIE was also pretty special. A 3 times former F1 champion doesn’t just do that for anyone!
StartupCatchup: What an honour! And what about any mistakes and what lessons you’ve learnt from them? Like you said, there are always pluses and minuses!
Cally: Indeed, and sadly, we have made a few! The absolute worst though was when we contracted a company to build our first site; none of our team are coders, and they made a total mess of it. It was a disaster and eventually set us back around 3 months. Major lessons learnt there; always make sure you know who you are dealing with and work via recommendations. Sadly there are lots of people who are more than happy to rip off a start-up company for a quick buck.
StartupCatchup: Terrible shame, but you’ve really made a comeback with your current site! Do you have any advice for others who have the ‘next big thing’ bouncing around their heads but aren’t sure how to even begin turning it into a venture?
Cally: It’s certainly been said before but JUST DO IT! It sounds like a cliché but you will only know if it’s a great idea by getting it out there and testing it out. There are lots of places that will help you but they can’t until you ask. Don’t be afraid to ask for their help – it will benefit you hugely.
StartupCatchup: Really good advice and definitely something everyone should follow, both new to the scene and experienced. So where do you get your inspiration from, who would you say are your greatest mentors?
Cally: That’s a really difficult one. I suppose it would really depend on the specifics. We have great mentors via ESpark and other resources but I think it’s probably my family and their support that inspires me. Other people believing in what you’re trying to do is vital and you won’t achieve anything without it.
StartupCatchup: Great answer. I’m sure you’ll be getting even more support once people realise they’re saving money on their purchases all because of you!
To finish off this interview, can you share a motivational quote with us?
Cally: It won’t sell if it’s not creative! Think outside the box.