Lancaster students take a Stride into the app world

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Lancaster’s Start-Up weekend in Michaelmas Term was the starting point for an idea that has since developed into a web application with a huge amount of potential that is likely to have a big impact on the world of business, and beyond. Lancaster students Michael Palmer, Oli Monks, Olly Heron and BCU student Chris Cerra have been able to take ‘Stride’ from its inception through to a stage where it is ready to be launched onto our phones and tablets in the very near future. The ‘Stride’ app fulfils what is for many a vital service; the ability to instantly share ideas when groups are unable to meet face to face, saving vital amounts of time for both parties. SCAN has spoken to the guys to see how their idea has evolved within a short few months, and what more could be gained from it:

In what ways had ‘Stride’ been thought about prior to the 2014 Start-Up event? Did you ever believe it would evolve into what it has now become prior to the event?
That’s all that Stride had been before the Start-Up weekend event in November. We had spoken about it over a coffee and we realised that there was a real pain that existed for people who lived their lives “on-the-move”. We weren’t sure where to take it but decided to take it as far as the Start-Up weekend to just give it a go and see how far we could take it.

We always hoped that it would continue but wouldn’t have believed that it would take the direction and have the capabilities that is has now. Each time we talk to somebody about the business, there’s a new idea, perspective or way we could improve it.

Was the idea for the app something that came about because you felt that you had ideas worth sharing yourselves, or because others had voiced their own wishes for a platform on which they could share?
Most of the ideas we’ve come up with have had some element of personal experience to them. It’s a lot easier to run a business if you yourself have experienced the problem and can relate to your customers. In answer to the question though, it’s definitely both.

There are great platforms now out there that exist for total team communication but there are still a lot of great ideas that go to waste. But we’ve found that it’s about sharing your idea in the fastest and most persuasive manner.

Do you see ‘Stride’ as a tool that not only gives entrepreneurs a means of getting their ideas off the ground, but something to be used by businesses? If so, how?
We’re aimed at anyone with ideas to share, not just entrepreneurs.

Our tool is for the early-stage of capturing and then most importantly, facilitating those people who will take those ideas off the ground. This is the tool that you’ll be able to see on your iPhones within the next month or so – stay tuned!

As for businesses, this is part of the slightly longer-term plan that we have. We found many businesses, ranging from small to larger firms are particularly interested in working in an agile and collaborative way.

However, they do struggle with sharing ideas when many colleagues are travelling across cities and countries. Our tool will be developed and coupled with an integrated desktop management platform to allow colleagues to capture and develop ideas in real time, anywhere.

Has the app’s development been mainly as a result of your own work, or has the support found around the university been just as valuable?
This has been one of the tougher challenges for us so far as a business. We found ourselves in a situation where nobody in the team had the technical skills required to fully develop the app.

We had the problem of either finding a technical person to come in and join the team, or outsource the initial development of the app. There’s not a right or wrong answer in this situation and it’s definitely dependent on the business. Fortunately, the University and LUSU had given us a lot of help from different areas and contacts. Eventually we were put in touch with a developer working in UCLAN who’s been brilliant throughout the whole development.

How have people responded to ‘Stride’ since its launch? Have they given any feedback as to how it might develop in the near-future?
It’s been a really positive response which has been great for the whole team. You can never be totally sure how people are going to react.

It may be strange to say, but we never wanted all the response to just be 100% positive. Most useful has been constructive feedback on what the app itself is and will be. Just as importantly, we’ve had feedback on how we communicate the product and tips we should be sure to mention.

What advice might you give to someone hoping to successfully launch their idea at a Start-Up event in the future?
We’d be lying if we said the doubt goes away. It doesn’t, that’s just part and parcel of being an entrepreneur or putting something you’re passionate about into the public. So, JUST GO FOR IT. Seriously, there are only good things that can come from launching your idea, meeting interested future partners or customers. It might be that your idea ends up being something completely different from how it was first intended.

That doesn’t mean it’ll be any less fun!

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