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StreetHub: Helping independent retailers to fight back against large chains

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Name: StreetHub
Industry/sector: Retail
Date founded: 2013
Founders: Mandeep Singh, Maxim Berglund and Alex Loizou
Location: Shoreditch

Co-founders Mandeep Singh and Maxim Berglund worked together at BC Partners, where they conceived the idea for a click-and-collect system for independent retailers. But it was Alex Loizou, part of Entrepreneur First’s inaugural cohort, that helped build the platform – a combination of geo-location technology and live inventory data.

The company explained that the click and collect service, with optional delivery “in as little as 90 minutes”, has led to companies such as Google and eBay to approach them “with a view to accessing this data”.

“When we were founded in early 2013, we knew we would be focused on mobile from day one, and mobile has only gone from strength to strength since then,” said Singh. “Mobile technology is what is allowing us to help independent retailers fight back in the face of online and larger chains.

“That’s why we opted to build a mobile website first, so we could iterate and experiment and see what customers really wanted in an iPhone app. Even this was insufficient – we then tested several prototypes with our customers and users, in-person, to really understand what we needed to build.

“It is much harder to iterate with a native mobile app as the code is stored locally and customers are brutal – if you don’t cut the mustard, they’ll delete it and never download it again.”

But it seems that many see the digital age as the “beginning of the end for small independent retailers,” said Singh.

Indeed, larger retailers can take advantage of current multi-channel trends, but independent shops lack the scale and resources to market themselves as effectively and to leverage new technologies and customer behaviours.

“Independent shops often become an integral part of the community and hold useful workshops and events, engaging people in activities that aren’t just concentrated on buying their stock,” said Berglund. “They also have good relationships with independent designer-makers who find it hard to get into the big chains as they don’t create enough units of product, so there is more chance of you finding something unique.”

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