Pursuing entrepreneurship as a Durham graduate

Sonny Saroya

What inspired the creation of this app?

It all began the summer before I started Durham. I was completing my final coursework for my A-Level Graphics Design class at secondary school. The idea stemmed from the need to transfer files with ease from my mobile device to the computers in the IT suite but all my devices were different brands and had much less capability than computers have now (Apple iPhone 7 and a Dell Desktop).

I then decided to research more into how this type of transfer would be possible, given that most brands have transfer features but these are only available for use between products of the same brand. I quickly realised that this type of solution would not only help people with different devices but people who may not be able to afford the latest tech, people that are more technologically challenged and people that need to move large media/files quickly.

Progress so far

In August 2019, I registered my start-up (Cabinet) and ensured that all of the necessary legal documentation was in order. Following this, I conducted market research and identified a clear vision for my proposed solution. My goal was to make technology more inclusive and user-friendly, which led me to develop a seamless user flow for transferring files with the fewest clicks possible.

When I began conducting market research to identify potential technology or software solutions to address the issue, the Covid-19 pandemic had already begun to spread. Unfortunately, this hindered my progress in starting up, but the experience taught me invaluable lessons. First and foremost, I learned the importance of having a clear vision of the problem I intended to solve. Existing solutions on the market had tried to do too much around the issue instead of tackling the issue itself. As a non-technical founder, I had to rely heavily on my development team to explain many technical terms to me, including “bloatware,” which refers to unwanted software that runs in the background and slows down the device. These solutions were complex to use and not user-friendly. Therefore, having a clear vision helped me streamline the user flow for my proposed solution. Consequently, we managed to develop a solution that enables users to transfer files with the fewest clicks possible, ensuring a seamless experience.

Teamwork made my dream work

During the pandemic, I spent most of my time indoors and decided to utilize my time productively by watching a lecture series on YouTube by Y-Combinator recorded at Stanford University. The series emphasised the importance of having a competent and enthusiastic team to support your vision. Initially, as a solo founder with limited technical knowledge in coding, I felt that I would ultimately fail. However, after conducting extensive research, I managed to assemble a team consisting of a project manager, two lead developers, and a UI/UX designer. This team has been instrumental in turning my vision into a reality. As a solo founder, it’s crucial to delegate tasks based on everyone’s strengths and not allow ego to cloud decisions that would ultimately be beneficial.

My final piece of advice

Prioritize cost-effectiveness whenever possible. While I was fortunate enough to have support from my family and some capital I had raised from personal portfolio management, I understand that not everyone has this privilege. For simple tasks like designing a logo, you can use platforms like Fiverr to get the job done quickly and inexpensively. Additionally, you can learn to do some things yourself by watching YouTube tutorials or reading books, depending on their complexity. For my social media engagement needs, I use a subscription to Canva, which enables me to create aesthetically pleasing posts rapidly. The idea here is to save as much money as possible to accomplish your desired outcome for legal, accounting, and marketing tasks. Even small costs can add up, so it’s essential to test/soft launch a Minimum Viable Product before investing more time or capital into the project. This approach will enable you to gauge your audience’s preferences and develop a leaner and more targeted solution based on their feedback.

How did Durham support me as an entrepreneur?

As I started my entrepreneurship journey during my undergraduate degree, I did not have a chance to sign up for Durham Venture School. However, just as I am ready to launch, I contacted the senior enterprise manager (Marek Tokarski) at Durham by email for any help that they would be able to provide me in regard to my start-up. Marek was extremely helpful and kind! We got on a video call the next day and he detailed to me how Durham can help alumni start-up founders.

In addition, he introduced me to Dominic Lusardi, an award-winning digital business leader who helped me refine my start-up concept and develop a more targeted marketing strategy. Speaking with Dom was invaluable as he possessed a deep understanding of the field I have been working in and was aware of the nuances of developing solutions in this area.

Discover more

I would highly encourage all budding entrepreneurs to reach out to the Durham Venture Lab Team to find out what they can do for you!

Check out the Student & Graduate Enterprise Impact Report 2019-22

Follow the Cabinet Instagram @cabinet_ltd for updates and check out the website at www.cabinet-ltd.com!

Sonny Saroya

I am a recent Finance graduate from the College of St Hild and St Bede. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of my college experience, and it provided me with many cherished memories. At present, my focus is on making a significant impact in the cross-platform technology sector by enhancing user-friendliness and inclusivity in tech.

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