Start-up Story: LoyalFree

We are LoyalFree – the new app for local businesses created by 2 individuals from Leicester. We launched in September 2016 and are on a mission to get people out of chains and into independent businesses in the area! We do this with an app which helps you find new awesome places to visit and save money at.

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Starting a business has been a passion of both of ours since graduating; we have spent several years gaining commercial skills in the workplace and now feel confident in pursuing our dream. Beginning our journey in Leicester has enabled us to make use of local support and resources such as the DMU Innovation Centre and Enteprise Team, Leicester Tech Startups, local news publications and regional networking groups.

We love self employment because it gives us the opportunity to work and share experiences with like minded people on a similar journey. But it is not without it’s challenges. We face challenges connecting with people who are fed up of being sold to; articulating the value of our product can sometimes prove difficult with the endless amount of marketing options available. However, by tracking analytics and results closely we are able to decide which marketing activities to focus on.

The biggest lesson we have learned is to always keep trying and be willing to adapt our views and ideas. We constantly update our offering and change our approach based on the feedback of our customers and users. Our next step is to expand the app to Nottingham and cities further afield. The future is a truly exciting prospect and the possibilities for LoyalFree are endless in a society which is increasingly favouring independent business.

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Our top tip to you is to make sure you are truly passionate about your venture. Having a business can sometimes feel overwhelming, tiring or challenging. But if you are truly passionate about it then you can work through those challenges and succeed.

Want to use LoyalFree to save money yourself?

Download our app now: www.loyalfree.co.uk/download

Know a business you’d like to see on there? Let us know by emailing us on hello@loyalfree.co.uk and we will go and visit them!

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Pitch2Win Finalist 16/17 – Viktorija Rudenia London

My name is Viktorija Rudenia and I am launching my own luxury lingerie label Viktorija Rudenia London in late 2017. The brand focuses on sustainable design and ethical production. The most eco-friendly materials available on the textile market are used for Viktorija Rudenia lingerie.

Currently I am a MA Fashion Design student at De Montfort University and I have done an extensive research on fashion textiles and their impact on the environment. This has enabled me to think through the whole design process from an alternative perspective and understand how more sustainable lingerie could be created than what’s already available on the market.

The brand focuses not only on using eco-friendly fabrics but also aims to offer garments with extensive longevity, which are produced ethically in the UK and Europe. Every process of product development is considered to the highest degree in order to avoid the use of highly toxic chemicals in dyeing and printing as well resource intense textile finishing techniques. All fabric waste will be recycled and spun back into yarns. This way the brand fully takes responsibility of its actions towards the environment and will minimize its waste as much as possible. Viktorija Rudenia London is working towards better welfare of women lives in developing countries. The brand donates 10% of its profit to a Peru based organization Awamaki, who helps women to create sustainable businesses from their traditional craft in rural areas of Andean mountains.

The brand was created because of the frustration of current fashion system and the horrific consequences it has caused the environment and producing communities. The company aims to show to the industry and the consumers that there are alternatives in fashion business without causing so much damage.

I am very grateful to receive support from the Enterprise Team at DMU. The team has given my business a useful guidance and practical advice. On top of that, the competition Pitch2Win award has enabled me to fund part of my venture set up expenses as well as to proceed towards greater good and the beginning of a fashion revolution.

Pitch2Win 16/17 Finalist – Waterwheels

I’m Chanelle and I am the founder of waterwheels – long story short – having studied as an undergraduate at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2016, I discovered a major problem linked with binge drinking and the student market. Fast forward a year, I am now studying a Masters in Digital Design at De Montfort University, developing a business and even better – winning Pitch2Win March 2017.

This is how it all started – I recognised that several national campaigns try to promote safe drinking, recommended limits and how much you should drink – fact is, as a student this is the last thing we would be considering when out with friends. With aspects such as peer pressure, freedom and the overload of alcohol promotions, drinking is very much key to the British culture; research also shows that students are more likely to drink, smoke and take drugs than the general population! Instead of discouraging students to drink before a night out, why not focus on aiding them after a night out? One thing which aids drunkenness is rehydration – which is where my business idea comes in.

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waterwheels – rehydration when you need it most.

The concept will consist of a branded van providing bottled water to students the very moment they step out of a nightclub. Why? First of all is time. Over crowdedness and long queues in night life venues make it almost impossible to gain a bottle of water. Second is location. Supermarkets are closed, and usually takeaways are a never ending walk away, especially when under the influence of alcohol. Thirdly is price. Although tap water is free (and horrible) prices of bottled water are way over £2. My concept aims to demolish the current issues, making it convenient for students to rehydrate the moment they need it most.

As part of my Masters final project, I am currently developing it digitally through branding, website design and mobile app design but I really wanted further support to make it more than a university project.

My Pitch2Win experience has been an overwhelming experience to say the least. Having only three minutes to present my idea I was amazed when I won it! The judges had positive feedback on the idea and were impressed on the research I had conducted and how the concept attempts to solve a real-life problem. I would certainly recommend this experience to anyone who wants to start a business, even if its at an early stage like mine. It has provided me with a great platform and opportunity to potentially launch it into a business – watch this space!