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.