MindVent: Edward Allington
A discussion forum for local issues
Tell us what your business does:
MindVent is a local issue discussion forum for the UK which organises topics based around your unique location. The site enables you to see what local matters are being discussed around you and get involved.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I found it frustrating that there was no easy way of raising local issues in your specific area, town or countryside. There were regional sites but nothing that presented structured discussions by distance from you – be it in the same street or next valley. I figured we had to avoid excluding silver surfers, so it had to work on desktop. From planning proposals to trees falling across the road or even the Hackney riots, I thought it could be very useful.
What were you doing before starting up?
I was working in a derivatives trading operation in Dubai and before that I had a similar role in Singapore. Prior to that I studied at Edinburgh University and spent five years trading in London thereafter. I discovered that British expats also want to keep track of local developments back home and they can use this site to monitor their local community issues.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes. Running your own business gives you great flexibility of direction but is also very demanding. It's a huge commitment but if you have the passion to persevere it can be very rewarding.
How did you raise the money?
It's self-funded so far.
How much do you charge?
It’s completely free to use and will be ad-free for the foreseeable future.
What was your first big breakthrough?
Getting the huge databases in place and finding an algorithm design that could return the requested data from them in a reasonable time frame, without blowing the budget on expensive hosting solutions. It is still satisfying to type in a postcode on the front page and see the results sorted. Users need to register to see the distance labels for replies within discussions and posts for themselves.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Just get on with it. I wasted years with the idea without acting on it. I had as many sleepless nights worried I wasn't doing it as I had when doing it.
Where do you want to be in five years' time?
I hope to have the app version running shortly and I have designed the database to be transferable into many other countries’ postcode systems. I hope to create a strong user base in the UK then build out into other European countries and the US.