Wednesday 18 May 2022

Maze - the international relocation start-up based at UoB The Exchange

University of Birmingham based start-up Maze is an all-in-one digital platform that streamlines the relocation process with the goal of reducing the administrative challenges faced by newcomers (foreign nationals). The business is made up of three graduates; Juliet Edjere (UoB, Law), Winner Adebayo (University of Kent, International Migration) and Sarah Nantume (UoB, Law).

Juliet: Maze services are designed to create a seamless transition for anyone moving from their home country to settle in the UK. A relocating user is able to organise and manage their move abroad with access to destination services and personalised support from orientation, home search, banking, registrations and utilities-setup: integrating into their new community.
Our Maze website features service packages suited to varied relocation needs, resources and free tools guaranteed to help people who relocate save on cost, time and eliminate stress.

Updated 21 June 2022: Congratulations to Maze who have been crowned StartUp Awards Midlands 2022 Winners in the Graduate StartUp category. Maze also feature in's Tech Companies to Watch list

How did you come up with your business idea and when did it start?

As an international student, I was not left out of the typical relocation hurdles and general uncomfortableness that most of us experience when moving to a new and unfamiliar place. I experienced the void of not knowing where to start to make my new city feel like home and thus made a lot of mistakes along the way. So, Maze was born out of our own relocation experience and a desire to help others get a positive relocation experience.

At first, I started building the business as a travel startup in partnership with my co-founder, Sarah Nantume, in 2017. We quickly pivoted once we’ve taken into account the potential barriers encountered in the travel and hospitality industry. Now, our business is focused on relocation management to provide international students, digital nomads and young employees with soft landing and smoother relocation experience in the UK.

Did you receive any support from the B-Enterprising Team

B-Enterprising has been very pivotal to the establishment and growth of Maze. I and one of my other team members, Sarah, successfully applied for the Start-Up Visa thanks to the endorsement by the B-Enterprising team.

As a bonus, our business also got accepted into the UOB Elevate incubator programme which gives us access to a co-working space, unrestricted access to professional support, coaching sessions and information too so many opportunities that have contributed to the progress of the business. Within the incubator, we are able to network with other startup founders and even strategies for potential partnership. The B-Enterprising team, Nicola, Mohammed, Kerry and Bob, have also been helpful in providing us with information and resources that has contributed to our growth.

What are the best and worst aspects of running a business?

The best part has been watching the ideas we conceived come to life, refined and better than we imagine. It’s awesome knowing that we are building a solution that will make an impact on international relocation. Secondly, I’m thankful that I don’t have to do this journey alone. Having business partners that are as passionate about the business as I am makes pursuing our business objectives easier. As a team, we are able to exchange ideas and support each other. We started this business solely boot-strapped and therefore there were great demands on each individual’s skills. Aside that, we are personally sacrificing a lot to make our business scale. Some months have been a lot more rewarding than others and so I believe the most challenging part of this journey is realising that there’s a possibility of failure regardless of the efforts we put in. Regardless, we are
striving to bring our ideas to fruition.

Name one thing you wished you knew before you started

In building our product, I’ve come to understand the importance of listening to the product users. While our experiences of the pain points of relocation helped shaped our product concept, we made assumptions about what the users needed.

However, we’ve quickly learnt that conducting regular user research studies as we build has provided more insight for our ideation process, improving how users will interact with our product. This has also informed our market approach in the sense that our product is user-centred first before monetisation can follow. Also, I underestimated how time consuming the build phase is, for instance, ideating, building partnerships, user research and marketing. However, I’ve realised that I’m on a path of constant learning.

What has been the biggest takeaway from your experience?

My biggest takeaway is to start/keep building even when you feel everything is not right yet. We learnt this as a team when we launched our business in February even when we felt we were felt our product wasn’t perfect yet. Over the months, we’ve iterated and implemented feedbacks which has generally speed up our learning curve.
Secondly, I've learnt that you don’t fully realise the extend of your capability till you becomes a business owner who’s bootstrapping. I built a professional and intuitive website from scratch using no code tools and I have learnt some many other processes and picked up other technical skills along the way.

The startup journey has been fulfilling so far and we’ve achieved a lot since we first launched our website in February. Maze got accepted on the SuperTech pre-seed accelerator programme and we got funding to build our own relocation management application.

Our app (mobile and web) is scheduled to be launched in the next two months and we are quite excited as it signifies a major milestone in our business. Our app will be free to download on both Google play store and Apple by anyone seeking to move to the UK. Also, Maze recently got nominated for the Startup Awards National Series West Midlands in two categories - Graduate Startup award and Rising Star award. Thanks to the support and access to UoB impact internships, we are able to get more hands to join the team.

With thanks to Juliet Edjere, Sarah Nantume and Winner Adebayo
By Bob Lee, B-Enterprising

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