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Enterprising Alumni Adapting To Covid-19


“Two entrepreneurs, who started their first business as students with a grant from Leeds University, are now looking to extend their safe bus travel app to Yorkshire.” Yorkshire Post – 1st June 2020 

A chat in a Leeds bar between two undergraduates led to the development of JumpIn, a taxi-booking and sharing mobile application for students. 

“By focusing on the Leeds student community and building in reporting networks we made the service secure,” said Accounting and Finance student Sam Ryan. “Taxi-sharing is common in the US, for example, but we’ve had to overcome the UK’s negative perception of sharing taxis with strangers.” 

Sam and Environment and Business student Barney Williamswho both studied CEES enterprise modules were joined in the project by Medicine student James Gupta who had the technical knowledge to make the app idea a reality. The three formed a company, Forefront Innovations & Solutions Ltd, with JumpIn as its first project. “We wrote a business plan and approached angel investors for our initial capital and also applied for a start-up loan through a government scheme,” said Sam. “We didn’t contact Spark, the University’s business start up support centre, until later, but when we did they gave us lots of advice and support. We received proof of concept funding which helped with legalities and also third prize in the 2013 Spark business plan competition.” 

The business was sold to Addison Lee in London in 2014, where Sam and Barney worked developing the business until 2016.  The pair of entrepreneurs then set up Zeelo, a company providing travellers with alternative to public transport.  Zeelo is a safe bus sharing company offering smart, sustainable transport services to school runs and events. 

More recently the company has adapted to the growing need for key workers to travel to work safely, whilst social distancing.  In May 2020 they announced that they would be offering the use of their technology for free to coach operators to help get coaches back on the road. 

Don't avoid public transport, this is the time to re-invent it.

By using their booking platform, contact tracing, onboard safety procedures, signage and vehicle cleaning, travellers can be confident that they will have travelled in as safe a way as possible. 

Sam and Barney are grateful for the help that The University of Leeds gave them to start their journey, and we are proud of their success! 

The Jumpin startup entrepreneurs were featured in an Enterprise at Leeds poster.