Giz Edwards and Dan Naylor are two of the Founders of Clipshare from Falmouth University’s Launchpad programme, building high value companies to fill market gaps with industry partners.
Clipshare means you can make one long piece of video content that is then “clipped” to make content for all your channels.
I have been creating content for Youtube for the past ten years or so and also run a media company so have a strong interest in marketing. I worked with Launchpad a short while ago, creating films for some of the startups on the programme and was impressed with what I saw, so decided to apply.
I used to be an online professional poker player, and have a really strong interest in strategy and also in game theory. Technology changed the poker industry and the return on investment dropped, so I decided to do something completely different. I wanted to use the other side of my brain for a bit, and started a creative writing course at Falmouth University. This is when I found out about Launchpad while looking into masters courses or business development and went straight to it after my course ended.
We were put into a team of four when we joined Launchpad, and I like that if you’re creating a business team members have the option to move teams to work on projects that they are more aligned with. For example, when we got our challenges from our very prestigious industry partners, we realised that three of us shared a vision, whereas our fourth member wanted to work on something a bit different. He moved teams and it worked out really well.
I was on a different team but wanted to move as it was on a project that I didn’t feel was the right fit for me. It’s really important when you go into business to be properly invested in what you’re working on, especially when it’s a startup. One of the Founders had a strong corporate background so this new team had clear structures in place, which was actually really helpful because it meant there was a clear guideline on what each person’s role was.
We came up with the idea after I worked with a client who needed video content clipped to suit various social media – it took me so much time and I had to eventually hire someone to help. So it was time-consuming and completely cost inefficient. When one of the challenges we were given as part of the Launchpad course was to do with creating a marketing tool – Clipshare seemed like the perfect solution.
It’s probably because there’s the assumption that surely this has been done. It was almost joyful, going through every scheduler and every editor making sure our features aren’t on there and finding they weren’t!
The other people on our team are Alex Redman and Josh King. Alex worked for Bentley as an engineer for more than a decade. He drives our team forward with business management and is very analytical in his methods, which give us a strong focus – I’m quite convinced that if we didn’t have Alex on the team, we wouldn’t be as far as we are in this process.
Josh is our tech guy – he worked for a startup chatbot and AI agency in Cornwall. He makes sure it’s a great customer journey through the platform because his speciality is user experience. We also obviously have to take into account things like changing technologies, but we have a very, very detailed product innovation roadmap that spans into quite a long time-period. So, we are prepared if things change because with technology, you never know what will come up, especially because our platform is more useful than just for sharing clips.
We are aiming towards the single content-creator as an early adopter, but we do expect in-house media companies to use us later on. This sort of software does not currently exist and we can see it helping consumers in the same way that other leading social media management platforms do. We have the tools and the team to be a market-leader, which we aim to be within five years.
Right, and when you look at the functionality of our software, it’s allowing users to get more views, which means more direct interaction with your consumer, without all the time-consuming work you have to put in now. This means it’s useful to anyone who wants to post on more than one social media platform and as it expands, it’s going to just be one of those tools that’s used by multi-platform users as the norm. We have some interesting innovations coming on how subtitles can make the process easier – we can’t go into that too much right now, but watch this space!
It’s exciting that the first draft of our product is out now and is currently free. Later, we expect it to be subscription-based for a nominal monthly fee. We want to be on the same scale as Buffer and Hootsuite and I think we can be because this is something that digital creators really need. We have people testing the software in its current form now and expect to add many more features as the testing goes on. If you would like to use our fantastic video-clipping software, all the info is on clipshare.it so go take a look!
DAVE COOK AND SELOMON GOITOM:
DAVE: I have always had a strong interest in food security and have researched the subject for as long as I can remember. A few years ago, I was accepted as a researcher at the University of Cape Town to look into how African indigenous crops react to the changing climate. While I was there, it was interesting to see how there was almost no food waste in homes, in fact, I found that 90% of food was wasted or destroyed in production, quite often due to lack of refrigeration.
When I got back home to Bakewell – home of the Bakewell pudding (not tart)! – I was shocked and dismayed to discover that 70 percent of food waste here in the UK was created within the home. This was such a strong contrast to what I experienced in Africa, and hard to fathom.
I had been thinking about this for a while and had always had aspirations to have a business and work for myself. I had been looking for something like Launchpad. Seeing that I get paid £16k tax free and would also get an MA while starting my own business, it was the perfect opportunity.
I was put into a group with Selomon Goitom, who is my co-founder and also had a strong interest in food waste and security. Selomon is originally from Eritrea, and moved to the UK when he was 16 and qualified as a software developer.
SELOMON: I’ve always wanted to be in business, because I had been working in my family business from a young age and I’ve always had an interest in software and technology. I did an undergrad in computing and theology – I was the only person to do this at my university. But I work with my church and have a strong faith, so to me those seemed like the most natural subjects to put together. This probably is also what drives me to be helpful to my community. I later also got an Msc in Computing and it’s wonderful that it’s helping me now. I joined Launchpad primarily to start a business, the fact that I got a second Masters degree was a bonus.
DAVE: Our industry partners set us a food waste challenge and with Selomon’s tech background and my research, we were able to design and develop the Seefood app. It’s wonderful to be able to see the fruits (literally!) of our hard work on the App store and on Google.
At first, we created Seefood for students who we saw and talked with every day on the Penryn campus where we’re based. We found that most had no idea what to do with some of the things their parents had bought them from these huge grocery shops during Freshers’ week. But now, we’ve found interest from people across the board – especially families.
We’ve found we could save families £60 a month if they use our app and follow the tips – can you believe that is how much the average household wastes? (https://www.hubbub.org.uk/food-savvy – please link the word wastes with this link)
SELOMON: Food waste wasn’t at the top of my agenda initially. We’d been given three challenges by our industry partners but after research and working with my team, I found myself really changing how I related to food and waste. One statistic that really got my attention was 10 billion tonnes of food is thrown out a year according WRAP (https://wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/Food_%20surplus_and_waste_in_the_UK_key_facts_Jan_2020.pdf ). This results in 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. This is costing the council millions of pounds to dispose of. Since doing the research, I have a strong desire to educate people, especially younger people who have a poor understanding of food. They’ve never had to ration after the war and the fact there is an abundance of cheap food – even if it is not healthy food – has made people complacent.
DAVE: We’ve found the lockdown has got people thinking more about their food and how we relate to it. More time cooking and less time eating out or grabbing a sandwich seems to have had an impact
We really want to have an impact too on people’s pockets and the environment and truly believe our app can do that. The world’s one billion hungry people could be fed on just a quarter of what we chuck in the bin (https://www.ozharvest.org/what-we-do/environment-facts/)
We’ve found that many people aren’t educated when it comes to food, and quite often, they’ve forgotten what’s in the fridge or larder. People just don’t know how to save the food they’ve bought and we want to end this destructive process with Seefood.
SELOMON: During the lockdown, we found that there might also be a market to create an online marketplace to help Cornish producers sell their products directly to consumers. For now, we’ll use third party software but long term, we’ll develop our own platform to do this. We also hope to upload consumers’ purchases to our app, which will help people also reduce their food waste.
DAVE: The app catalogues what is in your fridge and larder and will remind you when something is close to its use-by date. It also has 70,000 recipes built in so will suggest meal ideas for the products you have left. It even has a shopping list feature to help plan your meals before you go shopping and will also let users know if they are doubling up on a product they might already have. Bread, potatoes, milk and chicken are the most-wasted foods, but with helpful tips from the app, users find they could freeze the bread, create a chicken and potato casserole and use the milk for a dessert.
At the moment, this is entered manually, but soon we plan to have a feature where users can just take a picture of their shopping receipt and this just goes on the app.
What we’ve learnt is we can make a big change with small swaps in
our life, and we would love to share the knowledge we’ve gathered with the
Seefood app. It’s available on the App store and on Google right now, and more
about us is on the website https://seethefoods.com/ . Save food, save money and
save the planet – what could be better than that?
Banking is as old as money. From 2000 BC, banks were already well established from India to Greece to Assyria and China. Of course, banking has evolved and to most young people even the world of their parents seems crazy. Yes, they would have paid for a pint of milk by cheque, or only had cash when the bank branch was open. Apps? Contactless? Mobile banking? No. Help with looking after your money? Again, not readily available. At least, not until it was too late.
As our focus has changed, so has what we want from our money. For Gen Z then, financial well-being, like mental and physical health, is becoming more important.
Moneystory is a financial well-being app, started by Frantisek Nushart and Jones Oviawe on the Launchpad programme.
Frantisek and Jones were matched when they started at Launchpad, and were from the kind of different backgrounds that the programme excels in bringing together.
Jones owned a sport-technology startup and spent his early childhood in Nigeria. He moved to England with his family when he was 11. Frantisek who has a background in IT came to England for the first time, from the Czech Republic, when he joined Launchpad last year.
The Moneystory team wanted to create something that would make a difference to society. Their industry partner is one of the world’s biggest banks and wanted a solution to help Gen Zs with their first bank account.
After a feasibility study, the Moneystory team found that more than being able to create a bank account, people needed awareness around their finances and tools to help their money work for them. It was financial anxiety that needed to be addressed.
Jones says he felt that when it concerns money, most people are on autopilot. They don’t look at their bank accounts, or talk about it, spend when they need to and just hope they have enough to pay the bills at the end of the month. He says this is because there is a lack of financial education, which is especially prevalent if they grew up in a low-income household.
He says growing up in tough circumstances means he can really understand how people who have less disposable income relate to money, and this is what drives him to make Moneystory a success. Jones told Launchpad: “My parents motivate me. They’ve worked really hard for me all my life and I see opportunity everywhere because I want to make them proud and myself proud.”
He adds: “Many people in fintech aren’t worried about getting their next bill, have never visited a foodbank and never worry their card will cancel at the tills. This is not who our app is for. So many people are not in that privileged position and might just need a little help getting out of the financial situation they are in.”
This is why he wanted to create an app that allows people to explore their financial identity which also offers coaching, devised by a group of finance and psychology experts who work with the team. Moneystory is also creating links with government agencies and financial advice charities to offer them an outlet for people they may be helping. The app will not, however, preach to people about what they should do.
Jones says: “It’s going to be self-reflective and thought provoking rather than preaching, and will use the individual’s real financial data.”
The app will monitor an individual’s financial health and provide them with tools for good financial well-being as well as checking-in to see how they feel about their finances. Most importantly, it will get people thinking about money, and put them in control of what they have.
“Why do you think apps like Calm and Headspace are growing?, he asks, “It’s because anxiety is at the forefront, and these apps calm people down. While we understand that money isn’t and shouldn’t be the sole reason for happiness, it can alleviate some of one’s worries, and we have to acknowledge that.”
The team expects the app to be ready by the summer on Android and IOS.
A short while ago, I was in the Picasso museum in Barcelona, which, while it was a delightful experience, was ever-so-slightly marred by the fact that we had not ordered enough tour headsets for our group. To rectify this, we would have to go back down to the reception, wait in line for an indefinite amount of time, possibly to be told that there weren’t any left. So, we decided to continue along without them, using art and history sites, mainly to find out about the individual pieces in the Las Meñiñas collection and more about Picasso’s time in Barcelona. It was fascinating and we learnt so much, but I did wonder why in this day and age, I couldn’t just download an app on my phone to help me out a bit, without me having to collate all the information myself on the go.
A week later, I met Peter and Mike. They’re on the Falmouth Launchpad programme and are creating an app called Now and Then, which does exactly what I needed in Barcelona and possibly a bit more.
Peter Kaela was doing a maths degree, competently but unsure where he would go after it was finished, when he discovered Falmouth Launchpad. He was interested in business and was really interested in getting a masters degree, while starting a business and getting paid for it tax-free. He felt like the Launchpad programme sounded almost too good to be true but he knew it would work out for him once he had come to Cornwall for an interview and chatted to the people behind the scenes.
Mike Robinson is retired – many times over. He describes himself as a serial entrepreneur, and seems unable to sit still. He seems to love working and moving and just doing things. Mike came to Falmouth after being told by his wife that this previous job took him away too often at the weekends and the Launchpad programme seemed a good way for him to create something that was really needed.
With their age gap and seemingly very different life experiences, they might sound like a mismatched couple, but chatting to Peter and Mike, it’s easy to see why this a partnership that works – and well.
Both of them are willing to learn from each other, and both of them see the potential of what could be a global app.
Now and Then will be geo-locating, and will alert users to walks, attractions and events in the area they’re in at the time. It will provide offers and incentives to visit museums and other areas of interest, with ready-made content in the form of audio tours, pictures and video to guide users through the places they’re touring.
It’s also not just attractions within buildings that Peter and Michael want to promote, but also walks within local areas, with archive content that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to. Mike says there’s a plan to release that content to the public rather than have it stored away in an unseen or untouched archive.
Now and Then will not generate its own content, rather, it sees itself as more of a collator of existing content, which is already readily available at attractions but occasionally inaccessible due to faulty equipment or not enough of it.
Peter says he expects the app to be beneficial in more ways than one – and hopes for it to one day replace the walking headset tour that is so often the mainstay of the attraction. This, Mike says, will be easy and accessible but also with more content that the user has control over. It will also – in the long run – save the attraction money.
Headsets need maintenance and charging up and they cost money to replace. An app on the other hand, is infinitely cheaper to maintain once it’s been developed and more accessible to a growing part of the community.
Peter says: “The content and media can also be easily updated as things change, and will benefit the area that is being promoted.”
“There are lots of people interested in history in the world,” says Mike, “Every town you go to has a history archive, with audio, video and pictures. But, in order to get to this, you have to go into the archive, and there’s quite a bit of it. Volunteers have to trawl through all of this content when a tour needs to be created, which can be a slow process and a changing one. This could be easily solved by the relevant content being uploaded to Now and Then and used as a walking tour around the attraction.”
He believes the app will be infinitely more convenient to the user, making it a better experience that is likely to mean increased visits.
The first possible tour the app has uploaded is a walk around the graveyard where Isambard Kingdom Brunel was buried, among other people of note. The Falmouth Historic Society, and other stakeholders, created an historic walk around the graveyard, using people dressed in period costumes, telling the stories of the remarkable people buried in the graveyard. This will all be recorded by the team and then all the media uploaded and written up for download on Now and Then.
Based on what you’ve said you like, routes in your area will be recommended to you, and also based on your location. Peter explains that the other good thing about the geo-location is you wouldn’t be able to do a tour of a Cornish musem, while sitting in Yorkshire. This, Michael and Peter hope will increase footfall to attraction area and therefore also revenue to those attractions.
Another useful feature of Now and Then will be that the tours can be downloaded ahead of time and used without data, which means that there’s no question of being caught out by dodgy broadband or mobile signal, if you’re slightly organised ahead of time.
The content will cost a nominal fee, if the content creator wants to charge for it, so there is minimal disruption and expense to the end user.
On research, the creators found that it’s families who need things to do at weekends, and this app is hoping to be the saviour of boredom. After downloading the app, depending on your location, the app will buzz you with information on tours, walks or offers close to you, to help you decided how to spend your time.
And finally, within the app, there’ll be a scrap-book feature, which would help people remember their experiences, which they’ll also be able to share on social media with friends and family.
The challenge for the team now, is the work that needs to be done to get the app up and running. There are quite a few relationships to be created as well as databases to ensure the content is available once beta testing is ready to start. They’ve got to do all of this, while working towards their master’s degrees, which they’ll graduate from next May.
After the incubation period, Now and Then will go into the acceleration phase with hopefully a host of attractions, walks and deals under its belt, ready to deliver to the public. I, for one, wish they’d hurry up, so I can go back to the Picasso museum with an easier walk around.
By Feyaza Khan
According to a Harvard Business School Study, 75%of venture-backed start-ups fail. Here in the UK, the numbers are slightly better, according to Real Business, which found 57% of new businesses fold in the first 5 years.
These statistics, which float around the start-up world like broomsticks in Quidditch, are exactly what made the Launchpad programme so appealing to Team Ramble.
The three-man team are all from different backgrounds, and say while they all have a similar work ethic, they wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for Launchpad, which builds teams with the right skills to create a successful business. In fact, two of the team, Warwick New (great name!) and Ross Perry were both in Falmouth University’s Games Academy at the same time, and had never met. Their third co-founder, James Millard, came from London to Cornwall with a business-heavy background.
Ross and Warwick work on the technical aspects of their product, while James runs the business side. The team recently incorporated and are currently looking for investors for their company, which makes podcasts live and interactive. The company is using the radio industry as a base – taking the things it’s getting right and discarding the things it’s doing wrong
The team plans for the product to be beta tested soon. Podcasts are huge, with more and more people choosing to download a podcast over listening to live radio – more than 7 million people listen to podcasts in the UK each week, up by 24% on 2018. Podcasts are usually on niche topics, so being able to interact, ask questions live of the presenters, would be a real boost. This is at the crux of what Ramble wants to do – allow callers to take part in a live podcast of their choosing, in a raw, unedited way.
But, there will be accountability. Nobody who uses the platform can do so anonymously, each person will have to sign up with details, possibly attached to an existing platform like LinkedIn.
Ross says he really believes in the concept, but still sees himself as a developer before an entrepreneur: “I’m not really from a business background, so there was a bit of a transition at first, but the way the teams work mean that everyone has to get stuck in.” As well as getting their business off the ground there’s also Masters in Entrepreneurship to complete within the year, fully-funded as part of the programme.
The team’s other developer, Warwick, also did a Bsc in Computing at Falmouth University. He says: “I always knew I wanted to run my own company, which is the sort of freedom the programme gives me”.
Warwick says this works because it also means that he doesn’t have the sole responsibility for the product, which can be quite daunting. The Falmouth Launchpad teams are chosen based on personality types, experiences and the type of business they might all want to go into. Also, it seems having the backing of other people is a great support for Ramble, as each individual brings their own unique talents to the business.
How does he cope with having to make decisions as a team?
Warwick says: “Our team works because we just get our heads down and get things done.”
The business driver of the startup, James, had always wanted to start his own business too, and was very attracted to the Launchpad programme because of the benefits and support. “The security you’ve got with the year’s pay (£16,000 tax free) helps you do what you need to do, without worrying about bills or working part-time somewhere else. You focus full time on making the business a success.”
Living in Cornwall after London, what’s that like? “Refreshing” apparently. Despite the county’s small population, or perhaps because of it, it’s easier to meet people, there’s lots going on and there’s a good support system at Launchpad and the University who know what you’re going through.
One of the main challenges now is how long the technical aspects of the platform takes to create and change. The team also has changes to make to the product after investor meetings, and arguably the most important step is to get word of the product out there and get people using it. The team say this as an exciting time, and know that without Launchpad this idea would have stayed just that. Now, they know it will come to life.
The climate is changing, we need to adapt and millennials know it. More people in the UK under 40 are growing vegetables in their gardens (43%) when compared to the over 60s (32%). This will go some way to alleviating the stress of the country’s food security, but plays only a small part in doing so.
The UK population is expected to be 70 million before 2030, when the world population is expected to be 8.5 billion – a conservative estimate by the UN in 2015. Still, that is a lot of people to feed.
Add to that the fact that another UN-backed study found fertile soil is being lost at a rate of 24 billion tonnes a year through intensive farming, as the demand for food increases, and we see the problem a bit more clearly.
Raphaella Fearns is a woman of diverse talents. Before coming to Launchpad, she used to make jewellery, and worked part time for a tree surgeon. While looking for somewhere to get her chainsaw license, she stumbled upon Launchpad, and while it’s wonderful having her on the team – one does wonder what on earth had she typed into Google?
Raphaella decided to create a startup that would make a change for the better, something that could impact the world positively.
She says: “We got really interested in food security and I’m quite interested in systems thinking. I think why solve a problem when you can prevent that happening in the first place?”
This was the start of her seed swapping business, Plotty, with her cofounder, Daniel Shields. Daniel’s background is in software development, which seems almost incongruous with the tangible and authentic world of seeds and soil.
But Raphaella says this is a space that is growing within the tech industry and should have started growing a long time ago. Technology should be used to our advantage to spread positive messages. She says : “We started researching that space of food security and found this harrowing statistic, we’ve lost 94% of seed varieties in the last 100 years. People know about pandas and people know about bees, being plastic-free etcetera, but to see this about seeds, which is the real foundation of everything that we grow. It’s shocking.”
However, this wasn’t always her plan, initially Raphaella and Daniel felt drawn by the bright LEDs and allure of hydroponics. This is the method used to grow plants using a water solvent containing all the minerals needed for growing, instead of soil.
They were quickly disillusioned with the technique, however, saying: “Hydroponics was being seen as this false fix for people, it looks great, really high tech and futuristic but it can’t produce the world’s crops, it’s quite limited in its capacity and it’s expensive, even though prices are coming down.”
According to Raphaella, people have got a false sense of security from hydroponics, and Plotty believes as a society we need to encourage biodiversity, to reduce our risk of crop failure and focus on the amount of land we have and the fertility of the soil on it. All of which can be stimulated by growing things.
Raphaella says: “Hydroponics shuts everything else out, and makes a perfect sterile system inside, but we need a far more integrated approach. We want wild species and we want natural pest control. With hydroponics if you get any bacteria or fungus in the system, everything is gone, so it is not very resilient at all.”
And this is what gave way to Plotty.
Plotty calls itself a seed bank and the way the business works is people pay network with other gardeners requesting seeds they might need or offering seeds they might have, paying a small fee to do each exchange. It’s charming in that it encourages people to talk to each other and it uses snail mail. Each gardener who applies gets an envelope, in which they could put in up to three packets of seeds to send to the person who’s requested them.
Raphaella feels that a business like Plotty comes up with challenges from both the business community as well as the gardening community, so there are a lot of minds to change and debates to be had. But things are slowly changing.
“When I noticed that there was a community of people who are resisting hydroponics, I also noticed that there’s a shift in agro-ecology, where people who initially didn’t take you seriously because they see you as the hippy ones, who won’t make money. They separate ethics and environment with real business, but that is definitely changing. We need to see the land as something that we don’t just constantly take from, but that we also give to – like no-dig initiatives.”
But with other serious gardeners, it isn’t so easy to integrate, as some in the horticultural community see initiatives like Plotty as a fad, with unsustainable produce. This is because at Harvest festivals and on its Instagram posts, Plotty promotes growing things like mini pomegranates and cucamelon – which look like tiny watermelons but taste like sour cucumbers.
Raphaella admits it might seem that way but says: “Plotty is always going to come up against people who like to think of themselves as serious horticulturists but what we want to be is the gateway to growing and people need to start somewhere.”
Plotty’s mantra of “chuck it in and see what happens” also doesn’t endear it to some gardeners and there is a question of whether it actually is a serious horticultural enterprise.
“We do see ourselves as serious,” says Raphaella, “but we are also accessible. People who have been in the field for a long time might not see us that way, especially when we say “just chuck it in, and see what happens” but it gets people talking and growing and that’s what’s important.”
Another useful tool of the business is data.
“Our users can create a huge base of research that might show something important, like the fact that watermelon grows really well in the south of the country.
The fact that the climate here in the UK is warming, does this mean we could grow more exciting produce in the future?
It’s something we should be cautious about and while this is a good thing, in some ways, says Raphaella,: “We’ve got to realise that our traditional crops, like cauliflower are actually now failing because it’s too hot and they’re yellowing or rotting in the fields. So, there’s lots of exciting things happening, but there should be alarm bells that things are changing.”
She fears that Cornwall is a ‘canary in the coalmine’ for the rest of the UK, because the county is set to warm up before other parts, which is already starting to happen. These quick changes make it difficult to prepare for, especially with the volatility of the climate.
Raphaella also says: “Things are changing really fast, and I do sometimes wonder if Cornwall is an echo- chamber, where we are all quite outdoorsy and sustainable and we can see loads of things happening around sustainability, but maybe in other parts of the country people don’t care about (the same) things.”
What’s really clear is that Plotty is a company that cares, not about being accepted, but about being the change. It wants to be part of the growing conscious consumer movement, using Cornwall as the Launchpad to do that.
Many of the world’s most successful businesses have worked when the right people come together – often by chance. Facebook, AirBnB and Instagram all started by accident and have rapidly flourished into household names.
This is one of the ways in which Falmouth Launchpad builds its successful graduate start-ups – by putting the right people into the right teams.
Polargryph is a gaming start-up owned by Johanne Bergill, Ross Everson, James Hellman, Oscar Værnø and Georgia Higgins. They’d all studied at Falmouth University’s games academy, but would never have started a business together had they not applied for the Launchpad programme.
Johanne, who is Norweian had previously worked within Launchpad and says: “I learned first-hand what the programme was about, and decided to apply myself.”
Ross knew about Launchpad through friends, but after launching his own game and going through the difficulties of having a business without support, he decided this was exactly the programme he needed to realise his dream of owning and running his own company.
James came to the programme after initially considering either joining a company, doing a masters or setting up on his own, but he says: “The fully funded Masters, links with the industry giants and the stipend made so much sense which is why I finally applied. Plus, I convinced several of my friends to join as well which helped me settle in.”
Georgia has a background in maths and physics, and was told about Launchpad by a number of friends. She says: “I looked into it and thought it would be a great opportunity. I was happy in Cornwall, but wasn’t sure there was a big enough games industry here to reach the market. I was very wrong.”
Oscar, another team-member from Norway, joined Launchpad after trying to start his own games business after graduating from a bachelor’s at Falmouth University and found there was so much he didn’t know. He was attracted to getting the Masters to increase his confidence and help him with the skills needed to run a successful business. Oscar says: “I got far more than I bargained for. Launchpad really challenged me in many ways and I learned so much about working with people and managing projects. I was tossed into business development head-first and learned to thrive in stressful situations.”
According to Ross: “Cornwall is becoming a hub for games development in the UK, and much of that is to do with tech companies in the county collaborating and innovating together. There are also numerous networking events, which people can attend in person or remotely.”
With technology allowing companies to meet and work together wherever in the world they’re based, you can see people choosing where they want to live much more carefully than before. Cornwall is very attractive from that point of view, according to the team who certainly see the county’s attraction.
The team agree that they all felt both the stress and challenge of starting a business straightaway and the first few months were a huge learning curve.
This is when all new teams on the Launchpad programme meet with industry partners like the BBC, Amazon or Sony. They are then given three industry challenges, which could be anything from helping a company create new content or establish news ways of interacting with clients.
The teams have to then decide which of the challenges they’ll be able to tackle, often by designing a software solution that will have potential to be customised for other similar companies. This gives the team the basis for their business, which they can then build upon. While teams build their businesses to an identified market gap, they also undertake a Masters in Entrepreneurship.
James says: “Balancing the coursework and business is a very difficult process, as you can easily focus too much on one and end up struggling to catch up on the other. Getting over my “imposter syndrome” was and is a difficult ongoing battle as every day presents new challenges that leave me unsure if I can do it, though from working with my team and pushing through I keep managing to overcome these challenges.”
But they all agree working with Falmouth Launchpad to build their business is an exciting opportunity, especially when many of the previous cohorts have created and manage successful and profitable businesses.
And they all have ambitious plans for the next five years of their business careers. With the backing of the Launchpad coaches, mentors and industry partners, the team plan major things for their 5 year plan:
James: I see us creating a company that works with the community in producing the highest of quality games, ensuring that our customers stay happy, whilst also maintaining great employee health by eliminating crunch culture, and promoting equal opportunities.
Ross: In 5 years I see us creating our 3rd game with a growing thriving company that game developers want to work for.
Oscar: I have a solid team that has been forged into the strongest steel with trust and openness being at the core of our business philosophy. My colleagues inspire me every day to continue to strive for success and Launchpad has absolutely created a culture of cooperation and collaboration that stands as a fundamental pillar for our daily operations.
Johanne: In five years I can see us working on fun and unique projects that spark joy and imagination in our audience. I want us to set an example that a game developer doesn’t have to sacrifice their physical and mental well-being in order to make great products.
Georgia: In five years time I can see our company developing its first debut title with a team of diverse and talented individuals. With which we will set an example of certain AAA studios, by encouraging a culture that puts the health and wellbeing of our employees first.