It has been a great privilege to be Vice-Provost (Enterprise) at UCL and inevitably as I pack my bags to make the long trip from Gordon Street to the Wellcome Trust on Euston Road, I have been reflecting on the last five years. So much has changed and so much has been achieved by UCL.
UCL graduates launch Dibbz with the help of £100,000 investment
14 August 2013
Dibbz, a revolutionary new software interface between brands and consumers which will change the way app users and game players are rewarded, has been launched by two UCL graduates with the backing of a £100,000 investment from a digital technology accelerator.
Currently, in-game ads or banner ads on other apps intrude on the user experience and can be distracting and create antipathy to the brands involved. The aim of Dibbz is to change all that - by integrating brand experiences into the user experience in a way which will be welcomed rather than vilified.
The idea of Dibbz, in practice, is simple. A user could be using a recipe app, for example, and by clicking on a recipe would be rewarded with a message from Dibbz offering them a money-off coupon for one of the ingredients at a store close by. The aim, say the founders, is for the platform to work as a sales conversion tool and increase brand visibility.
Brains behind the business
Elliot Sochall, 25, and Nick Slater, 23, who came up with the idea for the business, are both graduates of UCL's Master's degree in Technology Entrepreneurship, and finished their studies last September.
They both met on the programme and their business emerged when they were both working on their dissertations, and began, more and more, to see the possibility of a radical new business idea through combining both of their ideas.
On one side, Elliot had been looking in depth at the functioning of game mechanics; while on the other, Nick had been looking at the applications of smart phones for hyper-local discovery of what’s close-by to the user.
Following feedback from their mentors on the degree, they made contact with UCL's centre for entrepreneurship, UCL Advances, and applied – and were given – free office space in the department's hatchery.
With progress on the business progressing fast, Elliot and Nick realised that support from an accelerator programme was the next step to ensure a successful launch.
Following that, they applied to join the Collider accelerator programme – and although they initially thought they had missed the deadline, it was pushed back at the last minute and Dibbz was accepted.
Through the programme, Elliot and Nick have been provided with £100,000 in funding – through a mixture of investment in their business and a loan – as well as mentors from blue-chips such as Unilever, Bauer Media and CBS Outdoor.
With the money, the team expanded and as well as Nick and Elliot, it now includes two other full-time staff and two paid interns. They will shortly be recruiting another developer to accelerate and broaden the scope of what Dibbz can offer. With an expanding team, the company has now moved out of The Hatchery and has just acquired offices near Mansion House.
In the medium-term, the development team is looking at expanding Dibbz to target users specifically in tune with the weather and how they’re feeling.
“Dibbz promises to be a potential game-changer in the world of mobile advertising and retailing,” says Elliot. “the support we have had from UCL on getting to the stage we’re at now has been great, and we wouldn’t be where we are without all we’ve learned on the Technology Entrepreneurship programme and the support of UCL Advances.”