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Blog Diary: UniRent’s Tech Accelerator experience at Storm

Back in June, we launched our first ever Two Week Tech Accelerator to help an aspiring new business get their idea off the ground. This year we teamed up with the guys from UniRent: Zach Dunnett, Gus Dunnett and Fraser March.

Founding member and Bristol University student, Zach, explained all about their experience with Storm.

Zach’s blog diary

The idea for UniRent came from the experience we’ve had renting private accommodation whilst at university. When we looked for a house to live in for our second year, we realisedthat students lack access to open, honest and relevant information and so there are loads of housing horror stories. However, it hit us that the best way to know how good a house is, is to ask someone who has lived there. So we realised the best way to solve the problem is to share the experience of one renter to the next and, in doing so, give house hunters the best possible idea of what a space is like to live in before they actually do. And by flattening information asymmetry, we can empower students to make smarter decisions.

We took the idea, produced a business plan and pitched at the Bath University (where Gus and Fraser study) BizPlan competition where Dave Kelly sat on the panel. Though we didn’t win the competition we won a far better prize than on offer, Dave. 

He took a real interest in the idea and we met with him to discuss our idea further. It was talking to Dave that made us realise how little knowledge we really had on starting a business and having him around to guide us would be invaluable. 

Because of this, when he asked if we would want to spend two weeks with the Storm team to launch our idea – we jumped at the chance. 

Week one

The first day at the offices we had a chat with Dave and he really challenged us to find out what exactly our value proposition is, and so we spent the next day or so coming up with our mission statement and also our tag line: ‘House hunting with no surprises’

Once we had nailed down this, we set about creating a landing page and were introduced to Tom, Storm’s Creative Director. Working with Tom has meant we can design a sleek, professional, website that is far better than anything we could achieve in the time. 

We talked Tom through our idea and what our core values are and he talked us through everything from colour psychology to design software. Fraser was introduced to Hannah, a Front-End Web Developer, who has been an amazing help with all the coding. 

We also thought about how we could make our student survey more objective.  At present when we asked students what a house was like we were asking subjective questions such as how big is the kitchen? With options small, medium or large. 

As this is completely dependent on how a person classifies a big kitchen, we changed the options to how many can cook at one time, 1 2 or 3. Providing us with statistics rather than opinions. 

Week two

During our second week we worked on another important issue: who will our customers be?

We worked with visiting Marketing Consultant, Nick, to talk this over with him and explore possible answers. He got us to think about new and different ways with which we can potentially add houses to the site. He also advised us to think about different ways we could fail, and this has been a really useful exercise in pin pointing our weakness. 

Overall our two weeks at Storm have been invaluable. We are leaving with a professional landing page and a much clearer idea of our idea of our business. 

We’ve had a really fun time and just want to thank Dave and all the team at Storm for giving us the opportunity.