ICE Accelerator member, Vicky Mann is in the pre-revenue, concept stage of a new and innovative digital platform.
Near Me Now will provide support for local communities through an app where users can access their local consumer community and make use of last minute opportunities that they otherwise might not know were available. For example, a last minute hair appointment due to a cancellation or a butcher with an overstock of meat. The app aims to create micro economies where people in the local community are feeding back into their immediate retail community, supporting local regeneration on the high street in a digital way which doesn’t currently exist.
Vicky had the idea in a hairdressers on a Tuesday morning. She recalls:
“It was myself and four hairdressers plus three empty chairs and I started thinking about how I could help these people generate revenue for these empty spaces. They were only available on an immediate basis so the only people who could benefit were the local community.”
The idea has evolved from the empty chairs in the salon to something that could digitally support a range of local businesses. There are (on average) around 145,000 small businesses in the UK that have no digital access or interaction with their customers. This app could generate revenue and additional footfall from opportunities which would otherwise be missed in a cost effective way and takes the traditional shop front advertising, putting it straight into people’s homes to help plough money back into the local high street.
Using digitally targeted footfall, small businesses will have an overview of how many people are in a specific area at any one time the second that they advertise. It’s great for business owners who think that their only option is e-commerce Vicky explains:
“There is another option, they can keep their physical shop front, they can be on the high street, they can be in the community. They don’t have to sell their soul to Amazon but they can still exist and there is a digital support there for them.”
Regarding the Accelerator, Vicky describes her fellow ‘Acceleratees’ as ‘a great, very diverse group of people with lots of very different business ideas’ with Welsh ICE providing the support and the structure that they need but also giving them the environment to feed off each other.
“The interaction has been invaluable. People from totally different backgrounds are adding value to my business and vice versa. We’re all part of each others boards and our board meetings are amazing. The support is exemplary and tailored to our individual needs.”
As a result of feedback from board meetings, Vicky’s five year plan has changed. Other delegates are suggesting solutions and ideas that hadn’t even occurred to her and are helping her move through different thought processes. Vicky loves the challenge that comes with being on an intense course.
“I’m definitely being challenged and it makes my idea stronger. It’s good that although my idea is in the early stages, being on the Accelerator has validated it and everything feels more real. No ideas are suppressed, we’re coached, encouraged and motivated.”
Vicky is currently in discussions with pilot communities and would love to hear from you if you’re involved with commercial improvement, urban renewal or town centre planning. Whether you feel that your location is ready to embrace a digital solution to increase footfall or would merely like to be involved in the project team or provide insight, please email Vicky and introduce yourself, she’d love to hear from you at [email protected]
The closing date for the next round of applications is 30th of April. Apply here.