What was the idea for GoRoadie?
Back in 2016, a friend of ours was a driving instructor and he was looking for more business. Since we were keen to build web apps in our own time, we agreed to help him out. Once we started researching the industry, we realised that "oh wait a second, if I want to book a lesson, I still need to call a driving instructor" It felt very old fashioned. We thought - why don't we do Airbnb but for driving instructors. We took it from there.
Tell us a bit about you
I'm Michael Carr, I started my career in video games back in 2008. Fortunately, the first team I was put on were super passionate about agile and about lean delivery. That meant from my very first job, I had a solid understanding of how to deliver software incrementally. Something that wasn't so common back that. This became something that I was, and still very passionate about. As my career progressed, I started leading teams and managing software engineers. Here is where I discovered my second passion - people. Nothing excites me more than seeing employees progress and improve their skill sets. In 2018, I became more aware that I wanted to be more involved in the strategy aspect of businesses. Luckily, GoRoadie had started picking up traction in Dundee and Barry and I both decided to take the jump and try to build a great business here in Scotland.
What help have you had?
We joined ElevatorUK's accelerator programme in Dundee back in September 2018. That really helped us get used to running our own business, and upskilled us in terms of sales, networking, pitching and delivering what matters to the customer. From there we have met so many individuals that have helped us along the way. Now we have formed a board of directors, which is great as their input into the business so valuable to us. However, when you are getting advice from people, remember, it's only advice and you don't need to listen to everyone! So many times we are told different strategies and we have to understand which is best for ourselves.
Any interesting tools you would recommend?
When building web apps, it's important that business are aware of Google's tools for serving customers with a high quality application. We use Google's Webmaster Tools, Page Speed Tool and of course, Analytics. These tools allow us to see how our product is perform and how it is regarded across the web. Our platform is built ground up from ourselves using Ruby in Rails - which has been great for experimentation and of course rapid development.
What would you have done differently?
In terms of product development, we spent 6 months building the platform before getting any customers. We focussed on a lot features like "Request your city", Filtering and postcode searching (even though we were only live in Dundee). We probably could have skipped a lot of features and released our Dundee landing page that showed instructor profiles. We probably could have saved 2 or 3 months time there.
Any books you would recommend?
Good to Great by Jim Colins
The Lean Startup by Eric Reis
Getting Real by 37 Signals
What's next for GoRoadie?
We are currently closing an investment round. We are readying to get the business in a solid state in the next 6 months. Prove a few more business metrics before we look at taking on the rest of the UK!
Regarding challenges: For early stage startups, I find the challenge is spinning too many plates and having to wear too many hats. Often I have to build features, do customer service, run through financials, and prepare pitches - all before 1pm! The key is to set a clear focus for each week and each day. Decide what you want to achieve in that day and be disciplined so that nothing distracts from those goals
GoRoadie has recently launched their Driving Lessons Aberdeen - Helping local Aberdonians find their ideal driving instructor