Pinboard.me is a skill-sharing platform which connects students with other students to teach and learn a variety of skills from each other.
Pinboard.me is a skill-sharing platform which connects students with other students to teach and learn a variety of skills from each other, in person or online for between £5-15/hr. It was conceived and launched by Oxford Diploma in Strategy and Innovation student Daniel Garcia and co-founder Jonathan Haralamabakis.
Daniel and Jonathan met in London when they were both management consultants and developed the idea for Pinboard.me after reflecting on times during their undergraduate studies when they struggled with pieces of coursework or felt unprepared for upcoming exams. ‘It wasn’t clear back then where to turn for help,’ said Daniel. ‘It then occurred to us that university students are always looking for ways to make extra money and tutoring allows them to do that while also solving someone else’s problem. We just needed to make it as easy as possible for students to connect with each other.’
Daniel and Jonathan built a basic website to get the idea out there and sought feedback from over 200 students at Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial to test the market’s appetite for the idea and understand how to improve the website to improve the user experience. ‘We conducted a number of surveys with students to understand what they wanted to learn and teach and for what price,’ said Daniel. ‘We wanted to test all of our assumptions rather than make firm business decisions on gut instinct alone.’
‘It was only when we reached the prototype stage that I discovered that as an Oxford University student, I had the option to pitch the project to the Oxford University Startup Incubator,’ said Daniel. ‘Our presentation went down really well and we were brought on board as part of the incubator which really helped us to shape the business.’
The Oxford University Startup Incubator is free and offers a wide range of support services including the ability to start trading instantly. ‘Through the incubator, we have mentors who help us understand the marketplace and connect us with other relevant people who are part of Oxford’s comprehensive network of advisors and investors,’ explained Daniel. ‘The incubator itself is a very friendly environment to meet other entrepreneurs who are going through the same struggles that any early-stage company faces.’
The staff in the Entrepreneurship Centre at Oxford Saïd helped Daniel navigate Oxford’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. ‘We got great advice from experts in the Entrepreneurship Centre who encouraged us to visit the Oxford Foundry and join the University’s society for Oxford Entrepreneurs,’ said Daniel.
As well as being the co-founder of pinboard.me, Daniel is also CFO and is responsible for fundraising, liaising with potential investors, designing the strategic framework and considering possibilities for international expansion. ‘The future is looking really exciting for Pinboard.me ,' said Daniel. 'We’re operating just in the UK at the moment but we’re also working on plans to expand the business to China, Brazil and Portugal.’
Advice from Daniel to would-be entrepreneurs:
- Don’t underestimate the importance of market research: It's really important to do market research to understand your target market and maintain a competitive edge by sizing up the business opportunity. Having a greater understanding of the marketplace from the very start will allow you to create a strong business strategy. It’s imperative to validate assumptions behind a business idea by conducting market research as it can generate unexpected market insights that you never anticipated.
- Be very specific about your target market: I’d recommend starting by targeting a narrow market segment to make it easier to understand who your customer is and what they think about you. As you identify issues, you will then know where to make any necessary changes.
- Accept when you are wrong: The most important thing is to be brave enough to accept when some of your assumptions are wrong. Make decisions based on market and customer insights rather than reacting in an emotional or defensive way because of being so close to the business.
For further details, go to: www.Pinboard.me