Building an online social platform: An interview with Nicole Blyth

Could you tell us about RelocateGuru and how you came to start it?

The idea came about through my own experience of having to relocate house five times in two years. Each time seemed to get harder, with so many websites and forums to research and having to start our life from scratch every time. My friends too have moved around quite a bit and it always seemed to be the mums who had to handle the logistics and the details of moving. I thought it would be great if there was a tool to make this whole process a little easier.

RelocateGuru is an online social platform that rewards people for helping others by sharing their local tips so everyone can feel like a local more quickly. It also rewards users for helpful advice by offering discount vouchers from their favourite local businesses. So it not only helps individuals but also local businesses!

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Sounds fantastic! Where will you be looking to cover first?

Well the initial launch will be in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, aiming for the end of the year. Next I’ll be looking to target expat hubs which have large proportions of international residents. The main challenge is keeping focused on the mission of the business as there are a lot of avenues we could explore. I’m not ruling anything out right now but just making sure the remit never gets stretched too far.

Did doing an MSc help you in preparing for this?

It certainly did! I had a great experience at RGU and I learned a lot to help me build my business strategically as well as getting an international perspective from my classmates who were from around the world. I’ve also learned a lot from schemes run or funded by SIE (Scottish Institute for Enterprise) and Enterprise Campus. I can’t recommend these organisations enough. I wished I had known that there is so much support available for students who want to start a business when I started my course! A good network of other entrepreneurs and mentors is really important to successfully start a small business. You never know who you may meet that is a few steps ahead of you and can point out common pitfalls, like getting into partnership with the wrong person. Also I wouldn't have been aware about a lot of the funding and business support available if it wasn't for other entrepreneurs telling me about a grant scheme or course to apply for. 

For example, through Enterprise Campus and SIE, I found out about courses like the Accelerator Programme at Elevator UK and Scotland Can Do Scale Bootcamp and was lucky enough to win a place.  I would always recommend attending as many of these events and courses as possible as you can learn so much that will help your business grow. In particular the themes that keep repeating are; the importance of planning, market research, knowing your financials inside out and listen to your instincts! 

Where are you planning to get your information from for this project?

A lot of information is actually public domain so it generally won’t be a problem. Some information will be crowd sourced and grow through networking effects. Knowing where to look and having the support from people who are able to point you in the right direction always helps.

What do you want to do with the idea in the future?

Eventually I’d like the site to become a very personalised experience for the user and to have a lot of choices that match their personal preferences. The ability to leverage Big Data Analytics and Machine Learning to produce a better results for users is becoming very important for projects like mine. I hope that RelocateGuru will one day be known as the “go-to” resource to get all the information you need about any local area.

Nicole Blyth  LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/nicoleblyth1

RelocateGuru Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/relocateguru

RelocateGuru  website: http://www.relocateguru.io/

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First published on Company Connecting September2016

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