Young Innovators Success Stories: Adam Derradji, Studio Nefce, Yorkshire and the Humber
The Leeds-based entrepreneur helping young people fight mobile distractions
Before winning the Young Innovators Award, Studio Nefce was a passion project for Adam Derradji. The former University of Sheffield bioengineering student wanted to explore why we get distracted by product hooks and social feedback systems online, and how this fosters tech addiction.
Adam had done some initial research, mostly with friends and acquaintances. He’d also built a prototype of his app, where users earned “karma” points for spending time away from their phone.
However, he still needed unbiased validation that the problem was a real pain point and that current solutions weren’t meeting people’s needs.
During the Young Innovators programme, Adam surveyed over 180 people. He also conducted 16 interviews with people who demonstrated traits of potential early adopters.
“The user research exercise helped me to become familiar with people’s habits, motivations and unmet needs. It enabled me to come up with product ideas and game mechanics that could meet those needs,” he says.
Adam describes the Award’s funding as “impactful” in helping him to conduct the research successfully.
“The financial support allowed me to incentivise students to take my survey and participate in user interviews. It was probably the achievement of the year: validating that there is a problem and using learned insights to craft a compelling player journey that solves problems in an engaging way.”
Launching a beta app
With the initial research successfully completed, Adam is now making strides to turn his passion project into a fully fledged business.
He’s currently recruiting for a game designer and an artist, and is working with a freelance UI/UX designer to develop a website and brand. Studio Nefce also recently won a grant from Innovate UK’s Fast Start programme.
“I’m pretty excited about what’s on the horizon. The funding will help us prototype game mechanics and test our core habit-building loop, using our early adopters as test subjects. These findings will influence which features and experiences to prioritise in the first stage of product development,” Adam explains.
Adam is planning on launching the first playable version of his mobile game with local students in April 2023, as they prepare for exam season. He’ll use the feedback and data insights from the alpha test to design a compelling onboarding experience over the summer.
“We’ll do another launch of our beta programme in September and start getting students excited about how we’re going to help them succeed,” he adds.
Over the last 12 months, Adam’s network has grown significantly. He highlights the programme’s bootcamps, meetups and networking opportunities as helping him to solidify new relationships.
“I’ve connected with both current and past Young Innovators, as well as programme partners. These people have helped me on so many occasions this year, and I’m super grateful for their generosity with recommendations, introductions and their time,” he says.
“My network has ballooned since joining the programme and the Award has lent me credibility when meeting potential mentors and industry experts.”
Adam has built close friendships with two other Young Innovators in particular. They have daily meetings and are working together to support each other in the next stage of their businesses.
“I feel like they will become lifelong friends. We do power hours every weekday morning (sometimes on weekends as well) which helps us to start the day productively.”
Explore support options
The programme wasn’t just about business progress either – Adam believes he’s also grown as an entrepreneur. He’s more comfortable asking for help and worries less about things being perfect the first time round.
“I’ve managed to push past psychological barriers where I cared too much about what people thought of me. I’m much less sensitive about looking weird or asking for favours. However, the biggest thing I’ve learned is to have faith that things will work out, even though I feel like an impostor sometimes.”
Adam encourages future awardees to make the most of the opportunity by exploring the extensive support options available.
“People are almost always willing to help in some capacity, so pick up the phone or send an email and reach out to them. There’s so much support available, and it is up to us to explore and exhaust all the relevant options,” he says.
“Treat the role model opportunities as exercises to develop leadership and public speaking skills too – not just a box to tick.”
Join us and become part of the Young Innovators community. Find out more about the programme here.
Read the other Young Innovators’ success stories here.
The Young Innovators Awards are an annual competition from Innovate UK that finds, supports and celebrates young people with great business ideas.