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First Fulbright Scholar for UCL’s MSc Technology Entrepreneurship wins Bright Ideas Award

22 September 2014

Julie Markham

The first Fulbright Scholar on UCL’s world-leading MSc Technology Entrepreneurship programme, Julie Markham, has won a Bright Ideas Award of £10,000 for her new business concept, pingWHEN, which aims to increase personal safety for women.

The idea was born out of Julie’s experiences of travelling home after a night out, and she wanted to let friends and family know she was home safely. It dawned on her that while she could easily text loved ones to let them know she was safe, if anything went wrong there was no quick, easy and – perhaps most importantly – automatic way to let them know she hadn’t arrived where and when she intended.

“pingWHEN is a simple answer to that issue,” says Julie, who pitched for her Award after completing her dissertation on how she could establish the app as a business. “Users simply select a contact – a friend or relative, say – from their address book, select a time they expect to arrive and where, like home, for example.”

“The app then automatically sends a text when you arrive safely – and if you don’t, then it will send another message after a short time-lapse to your selected contact to let them know you haven’t along with a link in a map of your location.”

Julie is planning to use the funds from her Award to get the app to a point where it can successfully reach the marketplace. She is currently developing the software for pingWHEN with Romain Strock, another UCL student who is currently studying an MSc in Web Science & Big Data Analytics.

“Several people said to me when I applied for the programme at UCL, ‘if you want to set up a business, why are you going back to school – why not just start?’.

“What I can say now is that studying here has given me the skills and the confidence to get me going on the right foot and is accelerating how I’m developing my business. I’m passionate about enabling women to feel safer in their communities and to have a sense of security and safety, and I think pingWHEN is a great step along the road to achieving that.”

Unlike other competitors, pingWHEN doesn’t require other users to be using the app to receive alerts, which Julie hopes will bring the app to a wider audience of users.

pingWHEN launches in spring 2015.

Links

pingWHEN

MSc Technology Entrepreneurship Fulbright Scholarship 

MSc Web Science & Big Data Analytics