Richard Hunter has created an app to cultivate an online local shopping community solely for independent retailers in a bid to maintain and develop the vibrant and diverse high streets of the UK.
Hurry Here Now promises “no vouchers, no coupons, no gimmicks” and hopes to connect local shops with shoppers to compete more effectively against the bigger brands out there.
Hunter sat down with Business Advice to discuss the appeal of collaborating with a local university – Hurry Here Now is partly financed by a Low Carbon grant from Anglia Ruskin University, and the product’s market launch in his hometown of Cambridge.
(1) Who are you and what’s your business?
My name is Richard Hunter and I’ve spent most of my working life running a small aviation supplies company. Now aged 59, eschewing a quiet semi-retirement, I’ve embarked on a new venture called Hurry Here Now. An interactive app based on a digital map, Hurry Here Now enables independent retailers to post their offers, with both images and text, to shoppers all around them, 24 hours a day. Simultaneously, a “Spot & Share” feature allows shoppers to share great offers they find with their friends and other users.
(2) How long have you been around for?
Hurry Here Now has been in development for around 12 months. The Cambridge launch is a market test which we hope will lead to the roll out of the app nationally and internationally.
(3) How will you make money?
My passion lies in promoting independent retail businesses. The app is free to download and free for retailers to use. Our vision is that Hurry Here Now becomes a natural part of independent retailers’ marketing efforts and an invaluable tool to help shoppers find the best local deals. As the app becomes indispensable, so too will grow the ability to introduce multiple tiered offers ranging from free to premium and super premium, for those retailers wishing to really stand out.
(4) What makes you different and why should people take notice?
We are not aware of any other apps that offer both retailers and shoppers what is a free digital presence. Yes, there are plenty of websites offering vouchers, coupons, loyalty schemes, online menus, deliveries and goodness knows what else. We offer none of these. Our concept is much simpler – a free upload for all independent retailers to shoppers all around them.
(5) What was key in terms of getting started?
Meeting Tim Froggett of the Lord Ashcroft International Business School at Anglia Ruskin University. Tim brings not only a wealth of marketing experience, connections and practical hands-on approach to business, but also an infectious enthusiasm.
(6) What’s your biggest achievement to date?
It’s still early days but we are now out there in Cambridge, and each day brings in more and more enthusiastic retailers and users.
(7) What setbacks have you had along the way?
Touch wood, none so far, but you know what they say – one person’s setback is another’s opportunity.
(8) In five years’ time, I will be…
Using the Hurry Here Now app whenever I’m out doing my shopping. My aim is that checking the app will become as normal as looking in a shop window, or at a board on the pavement, to discover a retailer’s daily offers and promotions.
(9) What one tip would you give to others starting out?
Contact your local university. They can be great sources of expertise, opportunities and funding. Also, it’s vital that you believe in yourself.
(10) Who are your business heroes and why?
Hugh Day, who was my bank manager at Barclays Bank in Edgware Road, London, in the mid-1980s. It was my first startup and things after the first year of trading were pretty terrible. But he believed in me, extended my overdraft, gave me a year and some basic hard truths about running a business – and it worked!
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