Entrepreneurial journeys: Pritpal Rehal
Pritpal Rehal is a Leeds-born entrepreneur, owner of digital signage solutions business SplashBY and the creator of Post a Picture, an image-based digital signage platform.
SplashBY shows businesses how they can use digital signage to effectively promote their products and services. Aimed specifically at small, independent businesses, charities, the creative art sector and event organisers, SplashBY has adapted technology used by large companies so that startups and smaller enterprises can easily change their promotional displays, just by uploading a new image to their TV screen, monitor or tablet device.
Having spent much of his working life in IT Support and systems development, first at Leeds University and then at the University of York, Pritpal Rehal knew there was something missing. He had always had a creative spark inside that had been left unfulfilled - and it was this desire to combine his innovative, technical skills with his creativity that led to SplashBY.
“I worked on many innovative projects as a technology lead in my role as Senior Systems Administrator at the University of York. I had hoped to introduce digital signage in various areas of the university but another solution was chosen instead which I understood, but found frustrating. So, when the IT department was restructured, I took a redundancy package. I felt that the digital signage idea could be developed and improved, so I set up SplashBY.”
“It soon became apparent that lots of people didn’t want to know about the technology behind the platform itself. They just wanted to know how they could update any digital signage devices they had, quickly and simply in just a few clicks. That’s when I came up with my second offering – Post a Picture – which wasn’t in my original plan at all.
"It evolved from conversations I had networking with local businesses. They were happy to use social media, so that’s how this works. They simply snap a photo on their phone and upload it to their digital signage screen or tablet, no difficult tech required!”
“Marketing has been my biggest challenge to date. While I am currently working with a handful of clients, I expect business to build more quickly now that I can get out and meet people in person. I’ve found that speaking to people face-to-face and demonstrating how everything works is key to building that all-important relationship and trust with them.
"I’ve had some stop-start issues with potential clients while working online that haven’t converted, but that’s all part of the learning curve and finding out what works and what doesn’t. That’s why I am focusing on networking and one-to-one interactions in the next 3-6 months to take the business forward.
“I’m determined not to put pressure on myself because I’m still learning as I go along. Yes, the pandemic has perhaps slowed my initial growth, but I am learning new things every day.
What I offer now is slightly different to my initial pitch - and that’s absolutely fine. I think one of the keys to a successful business is to be willing to adapt when necessary.”
“I feel lucky to be part of Phase One here at the University of York. Working in a shared enterprise space like this means I am surrounded by like-minded startup and scale-up business owners from the digital, creative, tech and science sectors.
"The whole idea of Phase One is to help us turn our bright ideas into sustainable businesses. We can share and pass on ideas of best practise as well as discuss any business issues we might be having - and that’s exactly what we do. Being affiliated to the university is also a great line of introduction to potential clients and gives an instant sense of credibility and trust.”
Words of advice
“If there is one piece of advice I’d give to other entrepreneurs starting out, I’d tell them to network, network, network. This is where you learn how people respond to you personally and what they think of your business. Listen and be willing to change and evolve.
Networking is also a great way to learn how to describe your business in a couple of sentences, keeping it simple with no tech jargon! And don’t be afraid to ask questions and share your knowledge.
"The principles of business are the same no matter your sector and nobody expects you to know everything.”
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