Member stories
 

The tech start-up helping visitor attractions manage the safe return of customers

The tech start-up helping visitor attractions manage the safe return of customers
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation
 

Posted: Fri 18th Dec 2020

Data Duopoly's technology for helping visitor attractions manage queues could not be more timely. Launched before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold as a pilot project with the Eden Project in Cornwall, the tech start-up has now added new features to help universities and other venues manage the safety of people using their spaces.

Tanuvi Ethunandan shares the inspiring story behind the brand and the benefits of taking part in an Amazon Small Business Accelerator Bootcamp for service businesses.

The free Amazon Small Business Accelerator e-learning programme is advice from more than 30 business experts in 218 bitesize videos.  
 
If you're already an Enterprise Nation member, log-in to your learning dashboard to access the e-learning. If you're not an Enterprise Nation member, you can join the Amazon Small Business Accelerator for free here.

Tanuvi is a speaker at a special event, Women innovators in a changing world, on 10 March at 9.15am. Book a free ticket.

How did you come up with the idea for the business?

Me and my co-founder Erin Morris met on an incubator programme at Falmouth University called Launchpad.

We were posed some industry challenges and the one we took to heart was about the issue of queuing at venues. It stemmed from our own personal experiences of how annoying it is when you get to a visitor attraction really excited for your day out and then you follow the same set of people around the same route. It really detracts from the great experience you should be having. We thought there must be a way to send people on personalised routes to alleviate that frustration.

We went to industry events and spoke to lots of venue owners who said it was something they had a real problem with.

We come from very different backgrounds. I'm a chartered accountant, I studied at Cambridge and then worked at EY while Erin is an award-winning film director. We are a data analytical mind and a creative mind coming together to solve the problem.

We came up with a product called Xplor-IT. It's a way to give people the information they need to navigate around a venue, but also for the venue to get the data analytics.

We did a pilot with the Eden Project. It was absolutely fantastic. A third of people responded to our monetary offers, which meant they shifted location as a result of what we were sending them. A narrator, who was putting on a talk, said it was the best attended talk of the day because we sent a notification to people. Having that little nudge helps people make the most of their day out, increases the dwell time and increases spend as people are more likely to buy that extra coffee or go to the gift shop. It also helps prompt a positive review on Trip Advisor and encourages return visits.

We are constantly learning and pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone. We are non-technical founders, so our biggest challenge has been how can we execute our vision. Fortunately, we have been able to quickly adapt, upskill and work with some fantastic developers to overcome this.

How have you funded the business?

While we were at incubator, the minimum viable product (MVP) was funded via the programme. Since then, we've got funding from the South West Creative Technology Network to build out our AI algorithm. On the back of that we secured our first paying client, the National Trust Cornish Tin Coast Partnership. We're currently working with them and are due to roll out early next year.

That generated new opportunities and we're currently completing a seed round of £250,000 which is match-funded by the European Space Agency and Aerospace Cornwall.

How have you responded to COVID-19 pandemic?

We've got two features in the pipeline - we're calling them our COVID reporter and crowd tracking features. The venue can already see where visitors are in real time but the new features will give the information back to the visitor in the mobile app with a traffic light system telling them which areas are busy with suggestions of other places to go. We're not directly telling anyone where to go, we're using the nudge theory by suggesting places.

Our next step is working with universities. We've got a pilot coming up with Falmouth University and hopefully Exeter University in the near future too to use our technology to help students and staff come back to campus safely with the information they need to know where the busy areas are.

When the pandemic started, it was a shock like it was for most businesses. Our studio closed and we had to quickly adapt to remote working. We were in conversations with the National Trust and we thought they might go cold but it actually expediated the whole process as people were revaluating their digital strategy and rather than seeing it as a nice to have, they thought it was essential to be enable them to reopen.

That has been a big positive but at the same time those we feel we're missing out on those chance connections you get at networking events when you meet that person who might be able to make a key introduction to someone else. While Zoom and Teams try and replicate it, it's never quite the same.

Tanuvi Ethunandan, Data Duopoly

How did you manage to secure National Trust as your first paying client?

We were trying to reach out to them through various channels and had a chance conversation with the project manager. It was one of those fabulous things when you're in the right moment having the right conversation. It was an element of luck but we were also putting ourselves out there. We were trying to speak to as many people as possible. The graft eventually paid off.

Why did you apply for the Amazon Small Business Accelerator Bootcamp and what were the benefits?

Enterprise Nation and Amazon are very highly regarded so we thought what better chance to learn than from the experts. We registered interest and were thrilled when we got accepted to join the Bootcamp.

The talk from Deliveroo's restaurant relationship manager was inspiring. It was good to hear how hold the company holds their first customer with as high regard as they do the next 1,000. That really stuck with us as something we hold as important. The people who supported us very early on are people we don't ever want to forget. It showed us how building meaningful relationships with your customers will help the business in the long term.

The advice on marketing was helpful too. You need to get out there and be where your target audience is. It's all very well thinking you could be on every platform under the sun but you'd be sending your life on social media. It's about identifying where your potential customers and decision-makers might be and targeting those.

We were already using AWS Cloud Services before the Bootcamp, but it was also nice to get a refresher on the final day about how AWS can help your business grow.

What are your tips for running a successful business?

Running a business is a rollercoaster. Having a co-founder makes celebrating those highs great and during the lows when you can't see where the next step is, you have someone to tell you to keep going.

For us it has been the constant belief that our customers like us and our investors like us so we keep going because there's belief in the company. Sometimes it's so easy to doubt yourself but the perseverance will pay off in the long term.

Tanuvi is a speaker at a special event, Women innovators in a changing world, on 10 March at 9.15am. Book a free ticket.

The free Amazon Small Business Accelerator e-learning programme is advice from more than 30 business experts in 218 bitesize videos.  
 
If you're already an Enterprise Nation member, log-in to your learning dashboard to access the e-learning. If you're not an Enterprise Nation member, you can join the Amazon Small Business Accelerator for free here.

 
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation
 
Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.
 

You might also like…

Start your business journey today

Take the first step to successfully starting and growing your business.