Pidge is a software platform for the sports, fitness and wellbeing ecosystem. Think the Uber of the sports, fitness and wellbeing. Toby co-founded Pidge with Adnan Al-Khatib MBA (oxon) and takes care of our strategy, business development and marketing. Pidge currently has six employees: co-founder Adnan Al Khatib MBA (oxon), part time CTO Muhannad Shelleh (a highly sought after CTO in Dubai) and a team of devs. Pidge is powered by Oxford University Innovation, is a Vodafone BrightSpark (mentored by the Global Director of Business Development and Sales for Internet of Things (Cellular IOT and SmartHome)) and has successfully completed a seed funding round.
I have a background in consultancy. First in strategic communications then strategy and implementation with a focus on high growth start-ups. Setting goals in fitness, the benefit of mindfulness, meditation and sport (boxing in my case) benefitted my physical and mental health and developed interpersonal skills and friendships that have lasted – it gave me a meaning external to work. As part of this personal process, it became apparent to me the eco-system had zero digital tools. No digital tools to organize teams effectively and no marketing tools to sell plans, schedules or interact with clients meaningfully. This is initially how the idea of Pidge came to fruition. I put the idea through the MIT course where I was tutored by Erdin Beshimov (he runs the course with Bill Aulet who now helps entrepreneurs at the Oxford foundry). The idea was showcased on Entrepreneurship 102 and I decided to go for it.
Finding the niche value. Developing a global vision of that value. Proving the hypothesis then turning No’s into Yes’s. I knew we were onto something when we were gaining traction for the app before developing our MVP. Nearly 90% of what we term “activity organizers” (PTs, yoga instructors, mindfulness practitioners, sports team coaches and captains etc..) signed up to have a central organizational platform to manage their clients and team members in our schedule and chat functionalities. All activity organizers we spoke to (hundreds) wanted better marketing tools to generate revenue and a platform that clients could find them.
1. Persistence – No’s are typically opportunities to better refine the product or pitch, not indicators of potential.
2. Sacrifice – I’ve asked my family, friends, investors, and many many independent ‘activity organizers’ to make sacrifices and trust in our product. The notion of sacrifice is therefore important not just to us as founders sacrificing our time, energy and other opportunities but everyone else who believes in our product and vision.
3. Humour – We’re not doing it right if we’re not having fun.
I’ve always been an all or nothing person. In Entrepreneurship, it makes a lot of sense and its the singular characteristic I believe defines the successful ones from the unsuccessful.
John Anthony Bird MBE – I learned about Baron Bird in my Social Entrepreneurship course. With some hindsight now, I understand why he argues stubbornness and perseverance as the key characteristics of entrepreneurship.
Would you of been able to persevere with the Big Issue if you yourself hadn’t experienced homelessness? Would you of done anything differently?
We utilize an Agile / Scrum based management approach for our product strategy. Mistakes we’ve made have been in a lack of communication internally. This was compounded by our remote locations and it took a while for the business strategy/growth implementation and product strategy to harmonize.
We achieved seed funding through Oxford University Innovation. We’ve both inserted cash into the business when needed.
Are there any sector-specific awards/grants/competitions that have helped you?
We find entering pitching competitions to be interesting for networking, but not an effective fund raising strategy.
We’re well known in the Oxford eco-system. I co-founded the Oxford Hackathon society and we both work in the tech sector through our consultancy company Kernel Associates. Kernel has a strong network of Oxford CS experts and it’s been great to spend so much time with so many brilliant minds. I’m not someone who looks for negatives but coming from London Oxford certainly runs at a different pace.
Speak to Catherine Spence at Oxford University Innovation, she is really brilliant at her job. If you want exceptional advise go to Roy Azoulay, the CEO and founder of Serelay. Keep going.