Dafydd Jones, founder and CEO of Doze
Sixteen-year-old entrepreneur Dafydd Jones talks through the benefits and barriers facing young entrepreneurs in Wales.
Merthyr Tydfil College student and Entrepreneurial Spark ‘chiclet’ Dafydd Jones has launched his own tech start-up helping people across the globe get to grips with public transport.
He caught up with BQ to tell us how he came up with the idea; how he made it a reality; and what challenges he has had to overcome since launching the business…
Tell us about Doze, what does the company do?
Have you ever fallen asleep on the train and ended up at the end of the line? Or maybe you’ve been to a new place and travelled on an unfamiliar transport network? Doze is a location based alarm app for public transport.
We’re starting off on the London Underground and will hopefully expand to the rest of the UK, New York, Paris and even further afield. Due to the fact that many of these networks are by definition underground, there is limited access to GPS. So, I’ve had to come up with an alternative. Doze uses existing public Wi-Fi hotspots to get your location data and notifies you when you need to get off.
What inspired you to start up?
The idea for Doze came from a telephone conversation with my brother, Lloyd. He’d told me that he’d fallen asleep on the Tube in London the night before and had ended up at the opposite end of the District Line and had to spend £60+ on a taxi to get home. This made me consider why there wasn’t a way of being notified when you need to get off the train. This led me to do further research later resulting in the idea of Doze.
How would you describe your business to your grandma?
In a nutshell, Doze is a travel companion app both for tourists and people who are ‘tired of falling asleep’. It offers a way for people travelling on busy public transport networks to relax, and not have to worry about when and where to get off. It also prevents people like my brother and many others, who happen to doze off on public transport, from having to waste hours of their time, and in some cases significant amounts of money as a result of a quick nap.
What did you do before you started this business?
As I am 16, I am still attending Merthyr Tydfil College studying A Levels in Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science. I have managed these studies in parallel with starting up the business.
Where do you get advice, support or help?
I have been lucky enough to receive support from various different outlets including, The College Merthyr Tydfil, Big Ideas Wales, the Welsh Government, RSA Tafflab and Entrepreneurial Spark (powered by NatWest). Together, these outlets have given me access to funding, advice and mentoring and general hints and tips. I am grateful for all the help and advice I have received so far.
Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?
Finance has actually been a sticking point for the business, mainly due to my age. As I am 16, I am not eligible to take out loans nor am I eligible for most of the grant schemes. I am also currently struggling to find a way around opening a business bank account, since banks are weary to offer this to under 18’s.
I know that this is a common problem amongst young entrepreneurs, with people such as Ben Towers having the same problem. I honestly think that this is counter-intuitive, since governments and banks are forever encouraging young people such as myself to start a business, but outdated customs stand in our way. I have however received a grant of £1,000 from Big Ideas Wales which I used towards new computer equipment.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
I think my biggest achievement is the fact that I have managed to successfully engage in the development of this app, whilst still being a teenager and studying for my A Levels.
How do you differentiate your business from others?
The main difference of Doze and other similar transport apps is that it is truly a ‘one-stop travel companion’, combining features such as route planning, tourist information, live status updates and more under one roof in a simple and easy to use environment.
What’s it like to be your own boss?
I am one of those people who struggles to take orders from people if I can see a better and more efficient alternative in the long run. I love being able to make all the decisions myself without having to rely on the actions of others.
In addition, I am a perfectionist and I cannot stop on a task, especially in programming, until it is completed properly. I have been known to stay up all night (outside exam times of course) to implement a seemingly trivial part of the app which the majority of users will take for granted.
Where do you see your business in five years time?
In five years time, I hope to see Doze in many different countries and cities globally, other ideas of mine implemented and Byte IT projects affecting people’s lives for the better in various industries.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
My advice would be to power through any hurdles, focus on the details, be an optimist and get on with the task and not spend time pondering on whether you should.