From an early age John Hughes had the ambition of setting up his own business. He was however well aware that he needed to gain experience of how a company operates first before attempting anything on his own. After 10 years working as European Marketing Manager for a large Insurance company in London, he decided that it was time to leave the hustle and bustle behind and return to Northern Ireland to set up his own software business.
After returning home John began working with a number of SME’s, implementing various IT solutions from business intelligence, social media integration and user friendly SMS platforms. It was only when he had completed the automated SMS platform that he had a brain wave - to create a system that allows companies to engage with customers in real time, track customer loyalty and reward them accordingly through SMS to all mobiles.
“I thought, companies could benefit greatly if they were able to identify and engage people in real time when they entered a specific store” explains John. “I believed it would convert browsers into buyers and offer retailers better flexibility and speed when rolling out marketing and sales campaign. I decided to test this idea through some market research, which proved very positive. On the basis of the research findings I then decided to contact Invest Northern Ireland to find out how I could develop my business idea further.”
John’s business Vyu (pronounced View) is a software development company, which specializes in developing Real Time Location Service products (RTLS). Currently they are focused on the Retail & Hospitality industry in providing companies with the capability to engage customers/people in real time, this is all done by using a card, similar in size to a credit card, with an embedded RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chip. When the customer signs up to the retailer’s customer connect programme they are assigned a unique ID associated to their card. Every time the customer enters a specific area of the store they will be identified and engaged with through their mobile phone device. Ultimately Vyu are providing retailers with a direct mobile presence in real time.
To progress his business further John applied to Invest NI’s Propel programme and took advantage of the expertise and guidance available to ensure his business was established upon a stable and scalable environment.
“Though Propel’s structured workshops I’ve been able to understand what is required in setting up and running a business. The structure of the programme ensures that. The group of entrepreneurs are all very supportive of each other and work well as a team. Having this united group of high growth start up businesses has really benefited me and I am sure everyone else on the programme” says John.
Since joining the programme John has been able to secured funding to help develop his idea, and the business will complete it’s first installation during May 2012.