Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.
Every week we publish an interview with a start-up. We ask five questions, hoping the answers will give you inspiration and new views. Well, actually six questions, since we also ask the start-up to who he or she is passing the mic to.
This week we’re interviewing Danny Bull, founder of My Neighbourhoods. A service that helps you to get to know your neighbours and find out more about your local area. My Neighbourhoods wants you to improve your local community by joining theirs. You can read local news, chat with neighbours and read reviews of restaurants and other facilitations in your area. They’ve already got some coverage in The Times and TechCrunch UK.
I like the idea of bringing people together offline by using an online service. Moreover, entrepreneurs who want to improve other’s people lives will always find a stage on The Next Web.
How did you come up with the idea of My Neigbourhoods?
“Myself and my girlfriend bought a flat for the first time in London almost 5 years ago. We didn’t know anyone in the area at the time and needed to get some renovation work done on the property. We spent 12 unsuccessful months looking for a builder and I started to think there must be a better way. That’s when I had the idea to create My Neighbourhoods as a place to use the collective knowledge of a local area and get to meet new people in the process. Now whenever I need something I ask my neighbours if they have any ideas first. It also turns out there are some very nice people where I live.”
What was your biggest challenge during the development process?
“Since I conceived, designed and developed My Neighbourhoods as a sole entrepreneur, the biggest challenge was creating the site and getting it launched. In the beginning, I had a full time job so was developing the site in my spare time. My partner helped a great deal with ideas, content and promotion, but I would highly recommend other start-ups get as many people on board from the beginning to help with design and development. Even two people with development skills will help you get to market more quickly and respond to users needs faster.”
Can you describe the British start-up culture compared to Silicon Valley?
“The start-up culture in the UK is a strange one – there are no shortage of talented, experienced and enthusiastic entrepreneurs yet support from the government and established companies is limited. As a result, entrepreneurs have been forced to make their own culture by starting groups like Open Coffee and Mashup. The culture that we do have was created by entrepreneurs, and it’s working, but we could be doing so much better with better support from elsewhere. You only have to look at the debacle with Capital Gains Tax in this country to see some of the problems start-ups face. Somewhere like Silicon Valley also has a much better perception of failure, which I believe inhibits some entrepreneurs over here.”
What will be the influence of your start-up on the next web?
“My Neighbourhoods will hopefully be one of the services online that make a difference to people’s real lives. We’ve already started witnessing this with feedback from our users and the interaction happening on the site each day. For me, it is important that the next web helps people from all backgrounds with their daily lives, which is already happening, especially in relation to location-based services.”
You can make up this question yourself!
“What’s your next start-up idea?
As well as being involved in a truly exciting start-up with the team at Diary.com, I’m working on Manga Juice – a site for talented manga artists to showcase and sell their artwork in a variety of formats.”
I’d highly recommend you interview Paul Cleghorn from TIOTI.com, who are doing very well right now and are in my neighbourhood here in London.
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