In the first two weeks of operation, the Edinburgh Lockdown Economy website has seen over 30,000 visitors and a huge surge of support on social media.
The free-to-list directory, which was designed and launched using a no-code solution called Webflow, now boasts over 300 businesses and continues to grow every day.
Users can search for special offers and things to do during lockdown, such as online fitness classes and live-streamed pub quizzes. There’s even a remote bookbinding course available and a special Brewgooder offer where customers can buy a beer for an NHS worker.
Founder and UX designer Tom Harries left a consulting role with Lloyds Banking Group in February to build the startup through RBS’ accelerator programme. However, he quickly realised the idea wasn’t viable during a lockdown.
“We launched Vocal to help local businesses get suggestions about their service from customers who had visited them. Clearly the timing couldn’t have been worse for us with lockdown,” he said.
“We’ve stuck to our mission though, and Edinburgh Lockdown Economy is our way of helping those same businesses using the digital product development skill set we have as a team,” Harries added.
Through the directory, Harries and his co-founder Harry Leeming hope that users will discover a local business or activity they didn’t previously know existed. During a difficult period, this could provide local businesses with vital revenue streams.
“The goal is to help people discover these amazing local services more easily, so they can enjoy them whilst they’re stuck at home and provide much-needed support too,” Harries said.
- Digital Energy 2020: Just One Week to Go
- Peter Proud: Invest in Tomorrow’s Talent with Graduate Apprenticeships
- Online Brand Protection Firm Receives Queen’s Award for Innovation
Moving forward, Harries said the plan is to include more accurate, tailored results based on user location and make changes based on user feedback.
“We’re continually looking for ways to improve the directory so people can find things they’re interested in faster. In the first week, we added popular filters like ‘Booze’, ‘Local Attractions’ and ‘NHS discounts’ before moving on to a full site search,” he explained.
“Now we’re exploring ways of using the user’s location to tailor results even more accurately.”
Interest in the project has been as far-reaching as Singapore, which prompted the team to open source the design so it can be used in similar community projects elsewhere.
The team at Vocal will offer guidance on how best to use the templates for anyone else looking to gain access and follow suit.