Pinboard, who participated in last year’s RG YEP programme and won the Young Leader award, is a platform where students and alumni of Oxford University can teach and learn a variety of skills from each other in person or online. In today’s blog we catch up with Jonathan Haralambakis, Co-Founder and CEO of Pinboard. Jonathan and his co-founder are both from finance backgrounds specialising in venture capital and private equity. They have a keen interest in technology companies with a focus on marketplaces, fintech and AI platforms. In today’s blog, Jonathan shares his experience of participating in the Young Entrepreneurs Programme, gives us more information about Pinboard, and tells us what happened after winning the ‘Young Leader Award’ at the final Pitch event.
– What was the initial inspiration for your idea?
University students come from all parts of the world, where they are equipped with a number of different skills and experiences in addition to having difficulty when starting their courses and meeting new people.There is no single platform where you, as a student can connect to a fellow peer to help you solve a particular problem, in relation to your course at your university. So, we created a marketplace platform that enables students to teach each other, either online or on campus, one to one.
– What led you to name the platform “Pinboard” & who is the platform for?
Universities have notice boards where students can request help or offer their services. When you think of it, the platform acts like a Pinboard for skills. Need help? Post a request or go online and find the skill you need help with. The platform is initially directed at University students who need help with their university work and for those who would like to earn an extra income by helping other students in their free time.
– How did you find the RG YEP experience? Was there a bit of friendly competition between the teams or more of a collaborative atmosphere?
The RG community is truly supportive and we found our cohort to be very close to one another, which allowed for each team to collaborate and share their expertise. In addition, the community was fantastic, supportive and innovative and truly nurtures its startups by proving a good mix of specialist advice and mentorship. We would highly recommend the program to any startup on their journey.
– What do you feel were the key benefits of participating in the RG YEP programme?
We found the programme extremely helpful in terms of the tailored support and workshops provided by a number of industry leaders. We received support in Marketing, Sales, Finance and strategy that was specifically tailored to our startup. Most of all, the community is always there once you’ve completed the program.
It felt fantastic to win the award the Young Leader Award as this has helped provide further validation to our idea and product, which is evolving over time through user feedback and the RG community’s support.
– Winning the Young Leader award offered you four sessions with Wide Strategy Consultancy. Did you find that the sessions made you re-think your approach, solidify your current take or maybe both?
The Wide Strategy sessions were well structured and effective, and examined a number of points in our business’s strategy and brand imagine. After each session we had several objectives to examine, test and achieve before the next session. This proved to be very useful in exploring our customer acquisition strategies and user growth coupled with bespoke analysis and advice that the Wide Strategy provided.
Wide Strategy has been crucial to our brand development and business strategy. The bespoke advice they provided helped us gain unparalleled insights towards our customers and business. We found the sessions very productive and we highly recommend them.
– Being an entrepreneur has many rewards (and worries, but that’s another story). What do you feel keeps you on course in a workday?
Every startup needs to have a roadmap of what they would like to achieve and how long it will take them to achieve it. This has helped us keep track of our progress and measure which paths are the most effective and successful. Most importantly, perseverance and grit are key to developing any business.
– At which stage you think the venture is at the moment and what are your future plans?
We plan to scale to an additional 5 universities within the next year and will begin to explore the Asian markets.
It’s so inspiring to see how RG YEP business ideas have developed to become startups, which evolve and grow over time. We are looking forward to seeing Pinboard scaling more in the years to come, and it will be our pleasure to keep supporting and following its progress.
If you have a business idea or a problem you want to solve, we hope you will join us at one of the RG YEP upcoming workshops and events. The programme begins with the Ignite workshops, which take place in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Greece and the U.S. Specifically; our first Ignite workshop is taking place next week in the University of Birmingham. Other UK Universities the programme will be visiting include: Imperial College London, University of Manchester, London Business School, University of Oxford, University College London and Warwick Business School. By January 2019 we will have also visited Berlin, Munich, Rotterdam, Heraklion, Ioannina, Xanthi, Thessaloniki and New York. We are looking forward to meeting more aspiring and ambitious young entrepreneurs and helping them kick start their entrepreneurial journey!