10 offbeat business apps to support entrepreneurial pursuits
15 min read
27 October 2015
A smartphone is a key weapon in the arsenal of the modern entrepreneur. As such, we've rounded up ten apps that have either a quirky concept or origin to help you stand out from your rivals.
Mobile is playing an increasingly important component in the business world – regardless of the size of a firm, or the sector it operates in.
Real Business visited the London office of Facebook in October and spoke with SMB director for EMEA Ciaran Quilty, who highlighted the power of the growing channel.
“Any entrepreneur you speak to knows what’s going on. But they’re wondering: ‘How do I get my mobile strategy?’. Mobile means people are always on,” he said.
Of course, Facebook is today a household name, but let’s all remember the business was created by an “intoxicated” teenager and started as a hot or not-like ratings platform.
So, with mobile booming and bizarre origins leading to success, we’ve rounded up ten somewhat offbeat apps that can be embraced by entrepreneurs and professionals.
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Dave Legion is a designer and animator by trade. A man who oozes creativity, which has been supercharged by him working as a freelancer for a better work-life balance.
Bit weird then, that he decided to launch an app for tax – an industry he loathes.
It harnessed Legion’s design expertise, but he held his hands up and admitted he’s no accountant. However, he believed he could provide a better service than the existing software on the market.
Legion, said: “It feels a little strange to have spent most of my life studying and working in the field I love most, only to set up a business in the area I once loathed the most.
“I knew if I could create something simple enough that I could use and understand then there would be many others like me who it could help too.”
2. M&A Game
Do you like to unwind from the daily stresses of life by playing Angry Birds or perhaps Candy Crush? Whether yes or no, the M&A Game is perhaps a more productive title that should be downloaded onto your device.
The app boasts more than 40,000 players globally who are out to build a digital business empire. Who knows, maybe the skills learnt in the game can transfer into the real world of mergers and acquisitions.
Version three of the app was released in October to enable a multiplayer option, which caters to users with competitive streaks to allow challenges with friends and colleagues.
You’ve got a meeting with someone you’ve never met before. You can go down the LinkedIn route, but what if you need more than that – and I don’t mean stalking them on Facebook.
That’s where Charlie comes in. The app claims to save more than 30 minutes a day, eliminating the need to complete multiple Google searches by aggregating details on an individual with a one page summary, almost like an infographic.
Executives from Dynamo PR, Groupon, Ogilvy are among users of the app, while some have admitted to feeling “naked” without using it before a meeting.
“Charlie aided me in closing my biggest ever, multi-million dollar deal. With over 30 stakeholders, this tool was instrumental in keeping abreast of all the movers and shakers to get us to close,” said Beth England, sales director at Hootsuite.
Want to close a multi-million dollar deal? Charlie is available on the App Store.
Continue reading on the next page to check out an app that may dazzle Alan Sugar, how you can avoid piling on the pounds even when you’re working long hours, and what can prevent leaking information – like TalkTalk.
4. The Link App
Does Lauren Riley look familiar? If so, that’s probably because she was in The Apprentice last year and had the pleasure, if that’s the right word, of working alongside Alan Sugar.
A qualified solicitor, Riley specialises in family law, which includes divorce, finances, separation, domestic violence and children.
She claims she developed The Link App in a bid to save time and money for both lawyers and clients, having noted how much time is spent keeping everyone updated with emails, calls and letters.
“I see myself as a bit of an entrepreneur and was using these skills to dramatically increase turnover of my family law department,” Riley said. “I was convinced there must be a better way for lawyers to communicate with their clients. After all, this is the 21st century.
“After listening to the continued grumblings of my colleagues I had my eureka moment and The Link App was born.”
Lawyers download the system onto their computers to access a list of clients they’re working with; from there they can choose from a list of pre-defined options to make case updates, which clients can then view on the iOS or Android app.
Although Riley was fired by Sugar in week seven, even he may be impressed with her persistence.
Having worked at Goldman Sachs, Rahul Parekh is well aware of the long hours and little free time that professionals have – especially when it comes to having a healthy diet and fending off the easy option of fast food.
Understanding that many Londoners endure the same problem, the idea for EatFirst was born. Billed as an “online restaurant”, the app allows users to order balanced meals that are then delivered to them.
Michelin chefs are behind the guilt-free meals, which include herb roasted chicken, salmon nicoise salad, butternut squash quesadillas, grilled peach salad and more, resulting in delivery of over 100,000 dishes.
“Eat First brings the restaurant experience wherever you are and solves the dilemma of coming home to an empty fridge after a long day and giving in to a guilty take-away,” said Parekh.
6. The Dry Cleaner App
Admittedly, The Dry Cleaner App doesn’t have the most imaginative of names, but you immediately know what it does, so brownie points for that.
Having launched in Manchester, the service is expanding across the UK and Ireland to support busy – and lazy – Brits with the means to book the services of local garment care shops directly through its app, which acts as a marketplace.
Beyond dry cleaning, the app supports shoe repair, ironing and more on-demand, which is ideal if a heel decides to snap off or if an outfit is looking slightly too crushed after travelling for an overnight trip.
With government-grade, military-approved encryption, Pryvate claims to be the only app on the market to deliver security across voice, conference and video calls, as well as instant messenger and email.
To maximise security, new encryption keys are generated within the app for each communication session. And unlike many of today’s apps, Pryvate doesn’t need 4G or high data speed to work.
Continue onto the next page to find the app that will deliver absolutely anything you need in just one-hour to make the undeliverable deliverable, and the wine connoisseur-cum-tech entrepreneur that raised $60m to power sales in small retailers.
Henchman is the Fulham-born delivery service that has completed two six-month sessions as a part of PayPal’s Start Tank incubator.
Having graduated from the second cycle in October 2015, the app has achieved 24 per cent week-on-week growth over the past six months.
What’s particularly interesting about fast-growing Henchman, however, is its ability to provide Londoners with the goods they desire in just one hour.
Although it’s started to partner with companies such as Wasabi, app users can order items that are typically undeliverable, including McDonald’s, KFC or even flu tablets.
So, should you be trapped at your desk with a craving for a cheeseburger Happy Meal, a new set of footwear for a last-minute evening out after work or a bottle of wine to take to a client, Henchman has got you covered.
Jason Richelson started off as the owner of a Brooklyn wine store, which he grew into a $7m business with 70 members of staff.
Seemingly he’s made quite the transition as the beverage connoisseur went on to become the founder and CEO of ShopKeep, an iPad-based sales platform designed to act as a till for small retailers.
The idea came to him when his Windows-based POS system was experiencing difficulties when he was on holiday, which resulted in a server crash that halted sales at all stores.
Having secured multiple investments, the most notable funding round came in the form of a $60m Series D that will allow the American firm to enter the UK.
Richelson said: “From the moment I founded this company in the back of my grocery store in 2008, we’ve worked towards one objective – making independent retailers and restaurateurs more successful. We now provide a one-stop-shop for merchants looking for cutting edge technology and 24/7 personal customer service.
“With this funding we’re looking to fundamentally change how small businesses are run in the UK. We’re essentially becoming an affordable IT department for the small business owner, democratising access to the kind of technology and data that used to be the preserve of big corporates.”
Does your till seem like it’s on its last legs? ShopKeep could be for you.
Nobody likes going to see the doctor – and if you do then you should probably see a doctor. It takes up time, they’re always running behind schedule, and it’s all a rather tedious experience.
This is where PushDoctor comes in.
The online service prevents sitting amongst ill people in a waiting room with a digital experience that provides face-to-face communication between a patient and doctor via a video conference.
Users simply book an appointment, receive a text reminder, sign in on the website or via the app and then have a consultation with the doctor. The medics are also able to provide prescriptions and referrals too.
Dr Adam Simon, chief medical officer at PushDoctor.co.uk, said: “At PushDoctor.co.uk, we support the needs of busy patients who increasingly do not find the time to get away from work or busy home lives to get to the doctor; our patients are prepared to pay a small fee in order to see doctor at a time and place that works for them and enjoy healthcare that works around them.”