In Startup Smart

London startup UrbanThings has launched its app TripChecker in Sydney, allowing locals to access real-time maps and service information when catching the bus, train, light rail or ferry.

UrbanThings is based in London and works to create tech solutions for public solutions, founder Carl Partridge says.

“We help people get from A to B in a smarter way,” Partridge tells StartupSmart.

TripChecker is a spin-off from BusChecker, London’s first live bus times app which has been downloaded 2 million times.

TripChecker itself has enjoyed rapid success in New York, Washington DC and London, and Partridge says he wants to launch it in a new city each month for the next year.

“At any one time we’re probably working on half a dozen active development branches of apps and platform solutions,” he says.

“Simultaneously we try to set a healthy amount of time aside to work on a similar number of blue-sky R&D projects and proposals.”

He says the key to TripChecker’s rapid growth is ensuring great customer experience.

“People seem to love the simplicity of the app,” Partridge says.

“We offer great user support and we keep updating the apps in response to user feedback.”

UrbanThings began as a one-man band led by Partridge out of his bedroom.

“I was working in London and a friend tipped me off that the local transport authority were going to make all their live bus times data available to the public,” he says.

“It struck me as an amazing opportunity to create an app that was genuinely life-changing.”

The inspiration for BusChecker was to build an app that could show people when a bus was actually going to arrive in real time to prevent them waiting at a bus stop.

“After pulling some frantic all-nighters I was able to be the first-to-market with London’s first live bus times app,” he says.

“The initial revenue was modest but importantly it was regular income and sufficient to draw up some basic projections to help to persuade my wife that there was a sound, if risky, business plan.

“For some time the company consisted of just myself and another developer, then eventually I took the leap and have now expanded the team.”

The team will be continuing to further develop the TripChecker app as it expands around the world.

“We’ll be significantly testing and revamping the user interface and user experience of the app,” Partridge says.

“Getting the right people who share your values and operate at the top of their game is vital. In a small group there can’t be any slack.”

He says that it’s important for startup founders to not let their pride get in the way of seeking outside assistance.

“Don’t stubbornly insist on remaining self-funded if the right deal comes along,” Partridge says.

“Growing your company more quickly might give you that vital edge over the competition.”

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