Joel and Daniel, founders of Grabble
Top ten on the AppStore in 108 countries since its launch in August 2014, Grabble is one of the most exciting new fashion apps available today. Founded by University of Nottingham alumni Joel Freeman and Daniel Murray, the “Tinder” style app provides users with millions of products from thousands of big brands including Topshop, Zara and Selfridges, which they can swipe right to ‘grab’. Then displayed in the ‘My Grabs’ tab, the app offers direct links to retailers for purchase and notifies users when the items drop in price. Another feature is the ‘Collections’ tab, which offers inspiration from daily trend edits, directed by ex Net-a-Porter Global Head Stylist Cherry Collins.
Having raised £1.2m from angel investors, including that from their success as Best Commercially Viable Business at the Pitch@Palace competition in March, it is unsurprising that the app has already received over 100,000 downloads, with 10,000 daily actives generating over £500,000 in tracked transactions. Another key accolade for the entrepreneurs was being named best new app in 34 countries on the AppStore, recognition made most commendable by Apple’s objective stance towards apps.
Graduating in 2007, Daniel and Joel became friends while studying english and art history and economics, respectively. Though Joel engaged with the entrepreneurial support services that were provided by the Business School during his time at the University, as a graduate he joined Price Waterhouse Coopers as an accountant and business advisor. Similarly, Daniel spent time as an employee before his entrepreneurial ventures, working in advertising on accounts including Amazon, Spotify and Intel.
While his degree might not have been the best indicator of a future in fashion and technology, Daniel argues that other Arts undergraduates may have an entrepreneurial edge not explicitly encouraged through education: “If you are that creative, you will want to be in control of the whole creative process and the easiest way to do that is to run your own business or do your own product”. He shares that he “massively regrets” not having made a connection to entrepreneurial services while at university, judging “I think planting a seed at the right stage would have maybe catalysed that path”.
Speaking from the experience of three business start-ups (the pair previously experimented with playing card advertisement and a Daily Deals site), Daniel admits that having the kind of support offered by the Ingenuity Lab “would have been amazing: we started from absolutely zero knowledge whatsoever, no contacts, not even an understanding of the basic stuff”. Setting up the business without the support of the University or any other incubator or accelerator made overcoming a start-up’s initial hurdles a timely task, including the organisation of business addresses, phone numbers and HM Revenue and Customs administration. Daniel shared that the high level of admin and “reading rules and regulations” was “the complete and utter enemy of creativity... nothing is more demotivating”.
Starting up independently the pair had to learn through experience. Daniel reflected that mentorship that Ingenuity Lab members can receive would have been the most useful element of support to them: “If you just go out with your idea and try and do it a little bit blind with no mentorship and no advice from someone who’s done it before, you are much more likely to fail”. He further reflected that the student community connected through the Ingenuity Lab offers “a huge potential to help marketing; marketing is one of the biggest blockers for every company, and from personal experience and also from a genuine belief, universities with interesting alumni provide one of the easiest ways to put a business on the radar of the customers you want to serve”.
The University of Nottingham has the reputation of being ‘a truly global university’ (Times Good University Guide 2013) and Ingenuity Lab members are encouraged to make the most of its international connections. Looking to the future, Joel and Daniel have spoken of expanding the app globally, with plans to launch in the East and a US launch scheduled for June 2015. Daniel stresses that an international standing could prove to be “massively valuable” to students starting a business with the support of the Lab, noting that start-ups in the tech industry “should be thinking globally, because customers are global and mobile and web devices make reaching them really simple”. With campuses in China and Malaysia and links to over 320 institutions in more than 40 countries, Ingenuity Lab members are provided with international opportunities such as the Asia Business Prize in this year’s Undergraduate Ingenuity Prize.
Having reached key markers of achievement in its funding, industry recognition and user base, the Grabble app indicates real promise for the future and evidences that students and graduates from any course can hold the potential for entrepreneurial success.
The Ingenuity Lab’s services are available to all University of Nottingham students and selected alumni.
The Grabble app is available to download on the Appstore.
Posted on Wednesday 29th April 2015