Friday, November 6

Brussels Trip

I recently went on a trip to Brussels thanks to Karen Stone from Design Event and Stuart Jackson and his team in the North East England Brussels office.

Here are my thoughts on the experience and what I learnt:

Privacy is an important issue at the moment around the EU, and one that as a company we’ll have to keep a careful eye on to see how the current pressures and movements will play out. The two main privacy concerns are: what exactly does “private data” entail (scope) and what can you actually do with it once you have it. Another area is what happens when private data is compromised, who can be blamed, what actions need to be taken and is any compensation due as there doesn’t seem to be any current laws that address this issue.

“Open” software is a key point currently, especially after the Microsoft case. It’s now becoming a requirement during the public procurement process for development, so something that as a company we need to ensure we’re making the most of.

A main gripe was the access to market and common law system that is present in the large economies like the US and China, who were almost viewed enviously. There is a lot of talk about how to open up the European market and enable the selling of services across European borders with a single law system. One such system is the “Digital Single Market” although there seemed to be mixed feelings about the significance of this push. For our purposes we are currently using larger distributors such as Nokia and Apple for our digital content, however if it becomes easier to handle these types of distribution ourselves or it opens up the market for competitive services then it sounds like a good thing to me. Although law is only one part of the “issue” of an open European market that has language and cultural boundaries however open distribution becomes, so I’m not sure how necessary this drive will ultimately be.

A final area of interest was the vast amounts of funding available through the EU pots, that if correctly identified and the lengthy application processes negotiated could benefit companies greatly, although may not be appropriate for us just at this stage.

Thursday, August 6

What I'm up to...

I was asked by the Kauffman Foundation for an update about what I'm currently up to which I'll re-post here:

Fluid Pixel is coming to the end of its second year, which has been great for us. Our turnover has increased by 400% on last year and we now have three full time employees on the development team. We're working on a few larger projects across mobile platforms and the web and have worked with Oxford University, Adobe, Nokia, IGT and NFP Technologies. Our latest iPhone game Cleopatra that came about from the trip to Tahoe last year has just been released onto the App Store.

ImobiGo, the mobile marketing company in conjunction with Tony Solon has also now received funding from NStar to enable it to get through the proof of concept stage and we're looking to secure some additional funding to take it to market. Development on this will start in earnest this month and we expect to have the system up and running for Christmas.

I was also asked about what my top three business needs are currently:

> Bringing on executive board members for both ImobiGo and Fluid Pixel
> Readying Fluid Pixel for growth through developing processes and
> business management policies Securing additional funding

Interesting times, I'm looking forward to the year ahead.

Wednesday, July 29

It's grim up north (or is it??)

There's been a lot of aggro recently about an article written about the North East in the Telegraph by Milo Yiannopoulos. He's now writing a series of follow up articles and I finally felt obliged to chip in, especially as I've had some really good support during my time up here.

This is the comment in full from this request.

Here’s my initial take on all this...

Quick intro, I moved up to the North East to study and stayed up here to start a company, Fluid Pixel almost exactly 2 years ago. It’s been a great successfully and during that time I have experienced most of what the NE has to offer support wise.
I've used, not relied on, the various bodies at different points during the business development.

Early stage: IDI (Institute of Digital Innovation then Digital City) for business training, Teesside University for Incubation and training, UKTI & Digital City Business for Trade Missions.
More recently: Business Link for training, Codeworks for placements and events, NFM for networking, NStar for funding to name a few.

IDI are doing some great stuff and have some really exciting projects coming out of their support system. Having come out of their mentoring during its infancy, I’m now on the mentoring team seeing some great prospects that they’re giving opportunities to.

Codeworks have provided a great help, have a great placement scheme and hold the best networking events (parties) that are always worth attending. They’re also trying to raise the bar through their conferences, which have both been great this year.

Teesside Uni are helping to support new companies through incubation space and free workshops in all areas of business. They’ve got a great team and helped me out a lot along the way.

I’ve had a mixed experience with Business Link as initially they didn’t seem to provide much assistance, but it ultimately comes down to the advisor so now that I've found someone who understands the business and can guide me through the red tape I’m getting a great service from them; I’ll be clinging onto her!

Another body, Northern Film and Media are also emerging as a useful asset with project funding, events and networking opportunities, so one to look out for.

Thanks to assistance from NStar I have just started a 2nd company, ImobiGo. It took a while to get their support and they pushed us hard (I’m glad they did) to improve our offering and delve further into the technology and our implementation of it before agreeing the investment. Are they funding the right businesses, who knows – let’s hope so!

Would I be where I am, further ahead or even given up by now if I were somewhere else? Who knows? All I know is I’m here, I’m glad I started a company here and I’m making the most of the opportunities and support available and trying to give back to the community along the way. Will I be here indefinitely? I don’t know. I’ll do whatever is best for the company at the time, and right now that’s certainly here.

I’d be happy to chat with you further; this is only scratching the surface of my experience of funding and support in the area.

I hope I can add more to the story as it continues to play out.

Tuesday, July 21

Advice for Students

I've just replied to an email from an enthusiastic chap wanting advice on whether the course he was about to embark on would secure him a job in the industry. I thought my reply would be useful for others:

We don’t pay too much attention to the course that someone has done, more what they have achieved whilst on the course that is in and out of course time. If you have only completed the minimum to pass the course and have shown no desire to extend your skills or specialities beyond that then you won’t tend to stand out from the large crowd. For development roles if someone can show dedication and enthusiasm on top of some great portfolio work then that has a much greater influence on their chances of employment than a top qualification. Most courses are rigidly structured and tend to focus on technologies that aren’t necessarily used within the studio, so having the impetus to learn yourself is very desirable.

Wednesday, June 24

Game Horizon Twitter Links

At the fantastic Game Horizon conference and thought I'd post a list of the speakers and people talking at the conference, if I've missed anyone then please let me know and I'll update it!

Paul Wedgwood - splashdamage
Martyn Brown - team17
Mark Morris - IVSoftware
Paul Farley - taggames
David Jones - realtimeworlds
Charles Cecil - CharlesCecil
Simon Seefeldt - OfficialJagex
Jamil Moledina - jmoledina
Chris Bergstresser - VectorCityRacer
Richard St. John - RichardStJohn
Steve Clayton - stevecla
Mark Rein - MarkRein

Helen Harrop - iamhelenharrop
Justin Souter - justingsouter
Michael Chitty - mikechitty
Nicholas Lovell - nicholaslovell
Steve Lee - essell2

And don't forget the live blogging by Jusin can be found on his blog.