Using tech to take your startup to the next level

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Breaking into an industry can be a challenging task – especially considering the huge amount of new companies established across the UK every year. In 2017, this figure reached an impressive 589,000 – that’s 100,000 more startups joining the market than 2016. Yet with only around half (53 per cent) of new businesses launched in the UK in 2014 surviving until their third birthday, entrepreneurs need to take heed of the resources available to them when creating and developing their own startup.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact ingredients to business success, but for startups seeking to scale-up and grow, they must be aware of existing tech can truly enhance their product. Indeed, some of the most famous and successful companies have built their businesses on the back of existing infrastructure and technologies.

Take Uber as an example – although the service filled an obvious gap in the market, the transport giant’s success was built on the foundation of tech services that were already available on the market. The GPS location feature and automatic credit card payment system were not innovative digital technologies – these had been used for many years by companies before Uber came along. The base of its success was much simpler: Uber uncovered a consumer need for fast and convenient transport and utilised these technologies to create a service that met these demands.

Importantly, these technologies are not limited to the realm of large companies – startups can also take advantage of digital solutions. A few months ago, Studio Graphene was able to demonstrate this on a smaller scale by creating a new app for UK-based charity Signalong within a matter of days; simply by harnessing the power of AI and Google Vision technology. The Signalong app was created to assist those with hearing, speech, language and communication needs. The app allows people to take photos of everyday objects on their phones and then uses image recognition technology to inform the user of the correct sign to use for that object.

Readily accessible technological innovations can therefore inspire new ideas, help you refine your business model and stimulate impressive growth – and to stand out in such a competitive climate, entrepreneurs need to take advantage of all the opportunities available to them.

APIs

Most of the products and services we use on a daily basis function with the help of APIs – or Application Programming Interfaces. In brief, this is an interface used by software to access whatever data it needs to operate and function. Practically speaking, this allows technologies to interact with each other and aggregate huge reams of information from different sources.

Without APIs, it would be incredibly difficult for us to enjoy services like Deliveroo or even search for hotels and flights online. Modern businesses often rely on this technology to power its core functions – Twitter, for instance, uses APIs to share the information uploaded on its platform as widely as possible and reach an extensive audience. Developers, meanwhile, are also provided with a suite of APIs to help businesses create and manage ad campaigns – a system which stimulated business growth by generating huge ad revenue.

Smaller businesses are encouraged to adopt APIs into their own business models, as this can be a great way of increasing your customer base and getting your business seen by more people. Simple ways of harnessing the power of these interfaces is to connect your business with products and services that can enhance your reach. Uber, for example, forged links with TripAdvisor and OpenTable to allow people to book a ride when they plan a day out or a meal. Forming these online connection networks is a great way to divert more people to your business.

Contactless payments

Contactless payments and auto-pay systems are slowly but steadily replacing traditional cash-based transactions. With the demand for these flexible payment options increasing, businesses would be shrewd to take advantage of what these technologies have to offer.

Prominent industry leaders like Spotify and Amazon Prime already rely on such services to fuel the growth of their business. An auto-pay function that underlines these businesses makes it much simpler and far more convenient for customers to use their services – overshadowing competitors that do not offer easy payment options.

Innovations like Apple Pay, which allows customers to use their smartphones for transactions, is a great solution for businesses looking to improve their efficiency. And with changing consumer demand, it is important to keep up with these evolving tech trends to ensure you provide a competitive product or service.

GPS trackers

GPS trackers are a powerful technological solution that has become integral to any company offering a delivery service of any nature. Consider all the hugely successful companies that have disrupted their industry by relying on this one digital innovation – Deliveroo, FedEx, and ASOS are just some of the more prominent examples.

There is plenty of room for new companies to utilise the power of GPS trackers to develop their own innovative solutions and address persistent gaps they find in the market. Particularly with shifting consumer demand, the need for quick deliveries and accessible transport is ever-growing, and young startups are in the fortunate position of being able to effectively integrate this tech as part of their business.

Available GPS trackers can significantly reduce costs by pinpointing dispatching in real time, reducing fuels costs through enhanced monitoring, and most importantly – providing a responsive customer service experience. Not only do these technologies offer businesses the convenience of extensive control and oversight, they also drastically increase productivity by simplifying business operations.

Cloud services

Finally, the growth of cloud services over the past few years means it is now a lot easier for entrepreneurs to monitor and manage their internal business operations – without having to build their own system in order to do so. Cloud storage and cloud-based programmes helps companies run much more efficiently by offering a platform where information can be stored and accessed at any time, obviating the need to spend valuable time and resources on basic procedures.

The advantage of working with accessible infrastructure and innovations is that most of them are readily accessible. Companies facing time or resource constraints can easily take advantage of services like contactless payment and cloud storage to enhance their business – allowing more time to work on developing an innovative and competitive service or product. For – in order to reach the three-year milestone – entrepreneurs must seize any opportunities that present themselves, including cutting-edge tech.

Ritam Gandhi, Founder and Director, Studio Graphene
Image source: Shutterstock/violetkaipa