App encourages student interaction in university halls

Lydia Jones

A 19-year old serial tech entrepreneur has developed the first of its kind mobile app to boost interaction between university students within halls of residence across the Liverpool City Region, following support from the Activate programme.

‘HallHang’ is an innovative app that uses built-in GPS technology to guide users to student-hosted events around their halls, such as movie and games nights, and general get-togethers.

Through the Activate programme, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Lydia Jones – who has been developing apps since the age of 15 – was able to enlist the expertise of delivery partners the Faculty of Engineering and Technology (FET) and Liverpool Business School (LBS) to gather market research data.

Using data mining techniques developed by Dr Carl Chalmers from the FET, the team gathered real time market research, which is now being used as part of investment pitching and the commercialisation of the product.

Project partner LBS examined the student demographic across three universities – Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) the University of Liverpool (UoL) and Edge Hill – to identify the behavior of students and improve the understanding of the target audience.

HallHang, which was created to help students make the most out of their time at university through shared experiences, has already been incorporated by all three Liverpool universities.

Lydia, who has previously pioneered two other start-ups, was referred to Activate through Liverpool Vision after previously exploring other funding options to get the product to market.

She said: “Before I approached Activate, a big problem I had was investors wouldn’t take me seriously due to my age, regardless of having founded start-ups previously.

“The support from Activate has provided me with a much better idea of how much potential the market has to offer, and a clear product road map to scale. HallHang is now in a position to strengthen our offering as a stable tech company and have the key findings to back where we want to go, and how we will get there.”

Jonathon Clark, business and technology manager, LCR Activate, said: “Launching a new product business can be extremely hard for SME’s in the creative and digital sector.

“There are so many young entrepreneurs, like Lydia, who have the skills and ideas but lack the resources to examine the feasibility of the product – and that’s exactly why we saw a need for the Activate project.”

HallHang is available on the App Store and is currently undergoing software updates to incorporate flat verification, geolocation and group chats to expand to more universities across the North.

LCR Activate provides support and funding to help digital and creative SMEs in the Liverpool City Region grow using emerging technologies.

Help provided includes bespoke 1-2-1 support, workshops and grants. It enables businesses to launch new products, promote them effectively and sell them to new markets by unlocking barriers.