What&Where success with Union Enterprise Funding
A local student start-up company What&Where recently won funding from the Union’s Enterprise Fund, enabling them to begin connecting students with local businesses and services.
During his time at the University of Southampton, Paul Musa founded the online search platform What&Where, with help from the Union’s Enterprise Fund. The website offers students a tool to locate products and services from local businesses in their university city. “This means that for students, rather than relying on erroneous search results, clunky swathes of information on search engines, the hope of word of mouth reaching them and travelling home to the communities that they are familiar with, we offer students category-based search that also allows them to be aware of local deals and discounts. This not only makes the search process simpler and hassle-free but it also makes it more rewarding and more community-centric.”
So where did the idea come from? Paul credits his housemate from his second year of university: “It all stemmed from when my housemate… asked me where he could buy an Afro-Caribbean hairbrush from. I knew where he could because someone else had told me.” After this, the idea began to form in Paul’s mind. He realised that he’d been the middleman, connecting a happy customer with a happy business owner. After considering the inconveniences he faced as a student, and talking to students and local businesses, he uncovered a huge disconnect.
After attending a Law fair, Paul met with Sarah Rogers, a representative from the Student Enterprise team. She introduced him to the various funding opportunities at the University, which resulted in the Union’s Enterprise Fund awarding Paul £500. This allowed his team to begin to build their online service, which will launch on 10 September 2018.
“We require students to sign up. This is free, all students need is a University of Southampton or Solent University email address. There are so many other ways that students can get involved… The platform is by students for students, and everyone in the team is a student or recent graduate. Ideally, we want our users to shape the future of the business. It’s the user experience and their feedback that is going to shape the product.”
What’s next after the launch? Paul aims to scale his business across the UK, but still keep hold of the community-based nature of the business: “I believe that we have created a product that is essential for students and local businesses… We want our student community to support local and independent businesses. Many of the businesses that we partner with are sole traders, family-run businesses and businesses set up by people who balance that with a full-time job. Local businesses that face rising leases and extreme pressure from established chains and e-commerce competitors can put away the shop window leaflets that do not guarantee consumer demand. Instead, they can buy into What&Where and our community-centric brand.”
“We want students to know that there is a huge community-centric slant to what we do.”
What&Where has been awarded a place on SetSquared’s UK Space Tech 2-day programme, which will allow Paul and his team to explore geolocation and other tools to improve their platform and build their business.
“We are also actively looking for more bloggers, content creators, copywriters and brand ambassadors to help us drive our mission. We are always on the lookout for ambitious people with different specialisms.” If you’d like to get involved with What&Where, contact them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.