Mentoring a Local Tech Start-Up

Over the last few months, I have been a part of Tech Manchester; a mentoring programme created to help tech start-ups in the North West to meet business owners for guidance on their new ventures. Many of the people running start-ups are still employed elsewhere and are using their spare time to develop their new ideas. I was particularly keen to work with Tech Manchester, having started Evolution with two of my friends back in 2000, and thought it would be a great way to get to help up-and-coming business owners in the tech sector.

Tech Manchester’s vision is to create a community, first and foremost; alongside the mentoring programme, they also have an online portal providing curated collections of working hubs, resources and funding opportunities all in one place. They want to ensure tech businesses can communicate together with the purpose of making Manchester an unbeatable tech city, which in my opinion, is definitely an achievable goal!

Griper – an innovative social enterprise

I am mentoring Shreyank Nahar and Sermed Mezher, who are currently working on a social enterprise called Griper – a platform that is aimed at connecting people to their local authority and other people within their community. Griper is a report management system, which allows people to report public issues (such as pot holes and fly tipping) directly to the local authorities from their smartphones, and track the progress of each of the reports. People can then vote on issues and discuss with local authorities and other users. The aim is to create a prioritisation system which takes into account votes from people under the jurisdiction of the local authority, and then resolving issues based on their urgency.

The goal for Griper is to give communities control of their neighbourhoods, and to achieve this, the next features for Griper will be community volunteering and local petitions. Users can set up volunteering events where the involvement of the local authority may not be necessary, and this could be used for simple tasks such as cleaning a public park or removing graffiti.

Griper is currently in beta stage which can be downloaded on Android devices and used by people to report issues in their local area; the concept of Griper was derived as a result of a noticeable difficulty within local communities for an easy and interactive way to connect with the government. It may be difficult for people to find others who are like-minded and want to take charge of improving their neighbourhood, hence where Shreyank and Sermed’s idea came from.

The process of Griper is simple; take a photo of the issue you would like to raise, select a category, add it to the list of issues in your neighbourhood and then see how other users would vote for your grievance, in terms of prioritisation by comparison. As mentioned previously, for simpler issues users could organise volunteering groups for people who are happy to contribute towards the improvement of community, instead of reporting it to their local council. On the contrary, users can also create local petitions for matters that require local government intervention.

On the other side of the app will be a secure website for councils to log in to, in order for them to be able to review the issues reported by users of the Griper app. The website stage of the process is currently being developed through the guidance of our inhouse Software Architects at Evolution; one of the benefits of being the CEO of an IT recruitment company is that I know a lot of people who can help! In addition to advice regarding the website, Evolution’s Data and Development Scrum Master has also assisted with guidance on implementing Kanban to organise the development process.

Next steps

I am very much looking forward to seeing Griper’s progress over the coming months, both from a business owner’s point of view, as well as a technical one. It’s brilliant to see so many social enterprises and tech start-ups, particularly in Manchester, building on such innovative ideas with the aim of improving the lives of others.

To see more of Griper and test it out, you can download it here.