Real Uni Guide: Will Donnelly

A social search engine

Name: Will Donnelly
Age: 18
Company: Real Uni Guide
Staff numbers: 5
Company description: A social search engine which helps you find the perfect university for you
Tell us what your business does:

Real Uni Guide is an intelligent social search engine. It allows you to input your every want from your perfect university, whether that be academic rankings, sporting prowess or the price of a pint, we’ll find the perfect uni for you.

Where did the idea for your business come from:

The idea for Real Uni Guide was born from the frustration of applying; my brothers realised they were spending a lot of money on visiting universities and still they were not able to attain the ‘all rounded’ opinion that they wanted. They decided

to create the Real Uni Guide to allow people to accurately choose their top three-five universities.

How did you know there was a market for it?

After the initial idea, we spent a few months researching the current tools on the market that help students with choosing which university to apply to. We quickly came to establish the ideas we had were unique. We then took our ideas to the public by visiting a number of schools and universities and explaining our model. The response was awesome.

What were you doing before starting up?

The Real Uni Guide is run by three brothers, two of which are currently attending university (1st and 3rd years) and the eldest who has just returned from America after completing his degree in Minnesota. Therefore, before beginning Real Uni Guide all three were carrying out their studies.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

To put it shortly, yes. After completing a number of work placements in various work sectors, I quickly established working behind a desk wasn’t for me. I love the excitement of owning my own business.

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How did you raise the money?

Real Uni Guide took an angel investment. Nick and Chris own their own design companies and invested their services. Therefore Real Uni Guide has a full design, development and marketing team.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

The construction of the brand and web assets has certainly been the most challenging; many design companies have inputted into the process, but we feel we now have a brand that truly identifies with students as well as a website and search engine that is accurate enough to truly aid a student’s choice.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

The service has many revenue streams, firstly, through online advertisement and secondly through universities signing up to our premium profiles. There is also the opportunity for selling related products and services through our site.

What was your first big breakthrough?

I think the response to the launch of our beta website has been our biggest breakthrough. We didn’t know what to expect when we launched the website but in the first two weeks the site experienced nearly twenty thousand hits and hundreds of students registered online. We hope the launch of our complete site can top this.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Make sure you know exactly what service your customer requires and what you are in fact going to give them.

Where do you want to be five years’ time?

We would like to see students all over the UK using Real Uni Guide to enhance their application process and to have expanded the business to encompass more areas of student life once we have refined our current service and business model.


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