YearDot: Smart timing for a smart app

Simon Hill wanted to work out exactly how old his dog was in a puppy photograph, but couldn’t find an app that could help. After extensively searching but to no avail, Simon decided to launch an app of his own to make his problem his profit.

Simon was studying enterprise and entrepreneurship at Coventry University which helped give him an insight into the world of business and self-employment.

Following the completion of his degree he went on to lecture in the field but despite this never lost his entrepreneurial appetite, which led him to launching YearDot.

He told BQ: “YearDot is a mobile phone app that allows users to calculate the time between the ‘Year Dot’ and each picture taken.

“The app is ideal for people with kids, pets, projects and more that want to see how they have developed over time, but can’t remember the exact date or time a picture was taken.

“So for example a new father may take a lot of pictures of a new born child, enter the time and date of birth into the app and the app will then tell the user to the second or minute depending how long it has been since the birth.”

As the app has already been launched on android devices via the GooglePlay store, Simon is hoping its early success will continue and see it expand across the globe.

He continued: “I started the app as I wanted to work out exactly how old my French Bulldog Izzy was in a puppy picture, but couldn’t find an app that would do this.

“I’d tried other business ideas before, but mostly to just pay the bills. YearDot is solving a real problem and I’m trying to get it to take off globally and play the long game with it rather than make a quick buck, as it’s an idea I truly believe in.”

Being no stranger to entrepreneurship, Simon knew there were many funding avenues out there for budding start-ups to help them get off the ground.

He added: “I applied for a competition within Coventry University that funds app start-ups worth £15,000.

“Since spending this money I have began self funding some elements of the promotional process and protecting the intellectual property of the business by trade marking the name YearDot.”

Simon also realised that you can never know it all, and despite being a lecturer in the field, continued to seek support from other avenues.

He told us: “As a lecturer in Enterprise & Entrepreneurship I occasionally think I know it all; but then realise that is very far from the truth.

“Since starting my first business at 17, I have tried to surround myself with experienced business people that can advise me.

“Most notably I had the opportunity to meet Peter Jones and a piece of his advice has stayed with me to this day and is something I often repeat to my students. He said ‘there is no such thing as failure, only feedback’.”

Although the app would be available for free online, Simon knew he would have to market the product as much as possible to drive downloads towards it.

He said “My biggest challenge is realising that just because the app is being given away for free, does not mean the world will download it.

“The eternal optimist in me hoped it would be a viral hit, but the realist in me knew like most other business successes, it would take hard work, sleepless nights and a lot longer than expected.”

After being an early success via the Android market, Simon is now looking to launch the app via Apple so it will be available on even more platforms.

“The next target is to launch the app on iOS devices, it is currently in the pipeline but due to funding issues is taking longer than expected.

“Coventry University has massively helped me get this far, but now I need to push on and potentially seek other sources of funding.

“Hopefully in a year’s time the company will be providing a multi platform app that is being regularly used to publish images on social media, whilst potentially developing revenue generation methods that keep the app free to use, but give the users options to improve their user experience.

“The idea is not massively different from others, but it is unique enough to stand far enough away from billion dollar companies like TimeHop to be useful to billions of users worldwide.

“We’ve designed the app to be simple and do exactly what it says, rather than trying to be many things to many people.”

BQ will continue to follow Simon's journey as the company continues to grow.