HallHang is a mobile app developed by 19-year-old Lydia Jones, a Liverpool-based serial tech entrepreneur who was recently named as one of Business Cloud’s ‘35 under 35’, recognising young tech talent. HallHang allows students to host, find and attend events around their halls such as movie nights, games nights and general get togethers.
Already available on the App Store, HallHang uses GPS technology to guide its users to events they are attending. The aim is to help students, especially international students, make the most out of their time at university through shared experiences.
Lydia was exploring funding options to bring her product to market and was keen to learn how market research could help to secure investment.
Having initially approached city investors for support to get the concept into development, Lydia came up against a number hurdles, despite having a viable business model and technology. She was subsequently referred to Activate by Liverpool Vision.
“I think, personally, the challenge I faced with HallHang was being taken seriously due to my age, even after having founded other tech start-ups,” explains Lydia. “I think the barriers that people now face are waking others up to the changes in technology and the age of some tech founders that are now showing up. Americans are not really phased as much by age compared to UK angel investors.”
Lydia enlisted the expertise of Liverpool Business School and the Faculty of Engineering and Technology via the Computer Science department to gather market research data. Using innovative data-mining techniques, the team was able to gather real-time information on its target market, which could be used as part of investment pitching and the commercialisation of the product.
After being accepted onto the Activate programme, Lydia worked with the team to strengthen her research and create a business plan that would be able to scale with the company. Liverpool Business School examined the student demographic across the three Liverpool Universities – LJMU, the University of Liverpool and Edge Hill – and through primary and second research was able to identify the behaviours of students within the city, improving the understanding of HallHang’s audience.
Liverpool Business School assisted HallHang in examining the feasibility of the app across the student population in the Liverpool City Region. According to Lydia, the support has given her a better idea of how much potential the market has to offer and how the start-up can disrupt key areas.
“I think HallHang is now in a position to be taken more seriously and comes across more as a stable tech company with the key findings to back where we want to go and how we will get there.”
Working into the future
Following the collaboration with Activate, Lydia now has a deep understanding of the market with a clear product road map to scale and intends to explore the possibilities of expanding to universities across the country.
With areas of development to improve the user experience having been identified, HallHang is currently undergoing software updates to be ready for the new cohort of students arriving in September. These updates include flat verification, geolocation and group chats to help students communicate.
“I would recommend the programme as this allows people to find out deeper insights into the potential of their businesses and also makes people aware of risks.”