Business Incubator member, Caroline Syson, prepares for January launch of Pocket PA
Caroline Syson first came up with the idea of Pocket PA to help her young daughter with her new beauty business. At nineteen, Caroline’s daughter was inexperienced with the many complex factors involved in the running of a business, from staying on top of her finances to keeping track of her appointments. The idea of Pocket PA was to produce a simple, all-purpose, fully integrated mobile app – a sort of ‘business-in-a-box’ - that could assist with the fundamental day-to-day aspects of running a business without the user requiring any strong aptitude for accountancy, numbers or cashflow.
Over the last few years, Caroline has single-handedly gotten Pocket PA off the ground, investing her own money and time into the project. Working tirelessly with third-party software design agencies, she has succeeded in producing a simple to use business application targeted at those who are running start-ups and SMEs. It is easy to use, easy to navigate and most importantly, easy to digest.
Caroline has been a member of the University of Hertfordshire’s Business Incubator, since July 2018. The start-up community gives members the opportunity to connect with innovative entrepreneurs through its bi-weekly meetups, alongside access to the University’s campus and its facilities, hundreds of academic experts, mentors, networking events and marketing. “I loved the idea of meeting with like-minded, small business owners”, explains Caroline. “I’d been on a solo journey for a long time and was experiencing the doubts and concerns that many entrepreneurs suffer with. I like the consistency of the bi-weekly meetings and being in a safe space where I can discuss the challenges I’ve come up against”.
Alongside the meetups, Caroline has taken advantage of the fantastic academic support opportunities the University offers, to the benefit of both Pocket PA and the students involved. The entrepreneur was able to offer a 4-week summer internship to a Marketing student, which was a huge support during the fledgling company’s development stage. An undergraduate student is currently writing a 10,000-word dissertation on Pocket PA, which will validate the audience the app is aimed at, through comprehensive market research.
A group of second year Marketing students wrote marketing plans for Pocket PA after Caroline delivered an inspirational lecture on her journey to date as an entrepreneur. Several excellent ideas came out of these presentations, alongside an exciting collaboration with a student who is running his own business and immediately saw the value in the app. “He will be creating video material for my social media channels and website, as well as how-to tutorials. I hope this leads to an ongoing working relationship. I would never have connected with him without the University”, explains Caroline.
It’s been a stressful, difficult but equally rewarding journey for Caroline. She has poured everything into her business but is now ready to launch in January 2020. Her mission for Pocket PA is clear – to make running a business simple and accessible for all, especially young people on their first venture when everything can seem overwhelming. With a fantastic product, developed in collaboration with industry experts and supported by the Business Incubator, Pocket PA has great potential to make good on its mission.