Fit for success: University support helps graduate entrepreneur to develop new fitness app

A University graduate, who says his entrepreneurial passion was ignited at Swansea, is now developing a new social fitness app, Weqool, which has recently been demonstrated at an industry conference in New York.

Alexander Bulley, born and raised in North London, has had a passion for business for as long as he can remember.  Inspired by Lord Alan Sugar, he applied the lessons learned from The Apprentice to his school playground from an early age, using economies of scale to profit from selling confectionery to his peers.

400 x 267Alexander (pictured left, with co-founder Adrian Bulley), said:

“I’ve always liked the idea of owning my own business; working on my own terms, making my own decisions, choosing the hours I work, becoming a true entrepreneur.

“My entrepreneurial passion was fully ignited whilst studying Business, Management & Economics at Swansea University’s School of Management

Swansea is up there with the best for its student experience.  I was an active member of a number of societies at the University including the kickboxing club.  I loved going to the gym, but hated working out on my own.  I found working out at home a struggle until I tried it with friends over Skype, which was great fun, and led me to the idea of a social fitness app”.

With support from Swansea University’s Enterprise Manager, David Bolton, Alexander entered into a Santander pitching competition at Swansea University, where he won £1,000 to kick start his proposed venture, Weqool, a fitness app that incorporated real time communications.

‌"Our aim was to reinvent the concept of online fitness, by facilitating positive interactions among users with common interests, to make exercising more fun, engaging and social.

“It would help those couldn’t afford gym memberships, those who may have limited spare time or may not have the ability to leave the house – parents with young children for example or those suffering with a disability.”

WATCH: clip showing how Weqool works, linking people online to exercise together

The University provided Alexander with support through xénos, Wales Business Angel Network, who worked with him to create a detailed business report.

“Working with the xénos team was great. This team of Dr. Colin Lucas (xénos Regional Manager) and Peter Brooks (xénos business angel and Ashgrove Business Strategy) helped me look at things from an investor perspective, developing a report that explained my business venture succinctly, detailing information an investor would expect to see.

“On leaving University, I was interviewed for a Scholarship on a tech program which offered office space in Shoreditch for tech developers at a heavily subsidised rate. Thankfully I had to hand the business report which went a long way to securing my place.”

Dr. Colin Lucas of xénos commented:

“xénos has been providing Swansea University academics, researchers and students with support to commercialise their ideas and IP since 2012, and we are very pleased to see Alex’s project reach this prototype stage”.

From here, Alexander linked up with Xura partner, Blacc Spot Media, to develop a prototype that provides an interactive, user-friendly social platform designed to enable users to watch recorded workouts created by professional fitness trainers within the app, while also facilitating positive social interactions amongst its users via video call, instant messaging and SMS.

400 x 159Alexander said:

 “It has been a very exciting journey to bring our proof of concept to life. The combination of Blacc Spot Media`s exceptional development expertise and Xura`s RTC capabilities, have helped get our product to market quickly, allowing us to validate our concept prior to an official launch."

Alexander demonstrated the prototype at the Real Time Web Solutions Conference on the 3rd August in New York.

 “While this is the first step with the web-based prototype, we are working to raise early stage funding to explore several new skills and activities which bring users together in a socially collaborative and mutually beneficial way."

Dr Gerry Ronan, Head of Commercial Services at Swansea University, commented:

“I am delighted to see Alexander take his concept from strength to strength and am pleased that our relationship with xénos and Ashgrove has helped steer him along the way. Swansea University prides itself on nurturing such ambition and we all wish him and his company every success”.

For further information on the entrepreneurial support available to Swansea University students, graduates and staff, please contact the University’s Research, Engagement & Innovation Services team on reis@swansea.ac.uk / 01792 606060