In depth: building game-shows for the crowd
By Feyaza Khan |

In 1982, Allan Gibb and John Ritchie wrote that entrepreneurs were ‘born not made’. It was not a unique idea at the time, in fact, it seems to have been widely accepted by a number of researchers they quote from the 70s. Researchers used the premise that because start-ups were so original and their creators so individual, with unique character traits that set them apart from everyone else on the planet, they were beyond analysis.

These opinions are now almost laughable when we see all types of people, starting all types of businesses, some failing and starting again many, many times. The Launchpad programme is proof that anyone can be taught to manage a financially successful start-up, as long as they are willing to put in the hours.

However, what is clear,  is that start-ups that succeed have three things in common. Firstly, and this is where the researchers from the 70s were right, start-ups do need to be original. They need to find a niche and fill that gap.

Secondly, they need to have a plan, yes they must be creative and enjoy the process and work hard – but to do all that, they need an idea of how the business will move forward and what it will look like.

And finally, and arguably most importantly, they need cash flow. All the greatest ideas in the world need breathing space and in an entrepreneurial context, this means money, so that the directors can focus on honing their idea, finding investment and figuring out what works for them.

These three things are exactly what students on the Launchpad programme are taught. Quite a few of them on the year-long courses may have already tried starting a business or had an idea for a while, that they have struggled to get off the ground.

Tim Edwards, founder of Codices

Tim Edwards is one of those, he’s now the only member of his Launchpad team running his startup, Codices: “I come from a mixed background, I got a computing degree and also worked in the games industry.”

But Tim had started his own business in the past, and according to him, while it made a profit, it did not see the success that he’s seen from Codices, since graduating from the Launchpad programme.

He says: “I came to Launchpad because I wanted to work on something new. I had already had my own business, but that was really hard without support and investment and then I found Launchpad, which was a good fit for me.”

Tim’s business is a forward-thinking interaction platform – the company wants to make it easy for people to interact with game-shows, something that can be made possible with tools like Amazon’s Twitch.

He says he felt more empowered to try new things and to think big once he joined the programme: “On Launchpad from day one, it’s about how to create a multi-million pound business, which really shifts the focus from small business thinking.”

And Tim is already thinking big. Within a few years,  he plans to create his own digital podium, instead of piggybacking on others: “There are a few people who have already started doing interactive game-shows that the audience really want to engage with.”

Like the other groups on Launchpad, Tim started working on business idea, after being given three challenges with his co-directors. The key difference to him between Codices and his previous business, is the backing he’s had.

He believes there is almost no opportunity to fail: “It’s great that we have this support,” he says, “we started in May last year when we were put into a team and given three challenges. We had to take about three or four months to do due diligence on each one to decide on our final idea and then nine months to develop a platform.”

Codices allows users to actually interact with a gameshow – that might include asking questions, suggesting things that could happen or just stating an opinion – almost like a next-level Periscope.

Despite being motivated and believing in his idea, Tim was apprehensive of success in his business. He says: “I am quite ambitious, but I didn’t think we would do this well in the first few months.”

Since his graduation from Launchpad, he has been working with Twitch – and has been out to LA twice in the past year – to see how they could make the platform more accessible to people. 

He says: “We have funding and investors now, which means we have money to look at new ideas and innovations in the business.”

He sounds stunned by his own success, when he says: “We haven’t done any marketing or anything around our product but already we have 100 people using it and twenty eight thousand people playing.”

In fact, it’s so successful, Codices are trying to grow the team and really need someone to look after their users. “We would really like someone to look after the community that we’re creating, which should also help our business in the long-term.”

The company is also trying to raise seed investment, and it seems like the task has been made a bit easier with backers like Twitch. Tim sounds like he truly believes he would not have had this success, had he not had the support of the Launchpad programme. He says, it’s given him the confidence to grow his business, without the financial and other worries he might have had – indeed, did have – with a business he started on his own.

It’s a confidence that’s allowing him to be bold for the company’s future prospects:  I see this idea as the next big thing for interactivity and in five years, I see us making our own content from our own platform.”

But is he ready for that? He thinks so: “It’s been so busy since I left Launchpad, and I guess I feel prepared enough. There is a lot of work involved in creating and managing your own business. But, for us, because we have big investors that believe in us, we have a lot of validation for what we are doing, it’s how we judge our success. “


By Feyaza Khan

News

In depth: driving agricultural efficiency with data
By Feyaza Khan |

Working the soil, rearing cattle and dairy cows have always carried their share of uncertainty. Recently, farms in the UK have found they’ve had to diversify in a variety of ways, with farm shops, craft areas and even tourism just to keep afloat.

According to gov.uk about half of farms in the country get an average of £10,000 extra revenue with diversified activity.

And it seems that recently, farmers in Britain have truly been bearing the brunt of market uncertainty due to overseas imports, climate change and Brexit.

According to a Food and Farming Futures essay, agriculture accounts for 4.6 percent of global GDP and 27 percent of employment. Add to this the fact that farming production volumes have increased by 76 percent in the last 30 years, and farming must be acknowledged as an important worldwide resource and employer.

Because of this, it’s of real concern that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change believes some countries could halve their crop yields in the next 35 years.

Climate Change is the world’s biggest worry and one of the key principles of the Paris Agreement [1] is to promote food production while adapting to the current effects of the weather.

But, what if there was a way to assess a farm’s yield? What if there was a tool to track – in real-time – every aspect of a farming business, bypassing the weather and climate change effects making the business hyper-efficient and also boosting productivity?

This is exactly the technology that has been created by Glas Data, right here in Cornwall with the help of Launchpad.

Rob Sanders, co-founder of Glas Data

Rob Sanders is the CEO, and coming from a farming background, he’s extremely passionate about the role his software plays in creating sustainable farms.

Rob says being brought up in agriculture, he ‘had a look at the market and saw that while there were a lot of agriculture platforms, none of them were sharing any of their data. So we decided to find a solution to that.”

So, it’s clear that while there is a vast amount of information available to farmers, a lot of it is insignificant unless seen in context, which is where Glas Data comes in.

The tool they’ve created works using each farm’s individual data, and then assessing it against real-time inputs from every agricultural information source.

Colin Phillipson, co-founder of Glas Data

Farmers can eventually use the Glas Data software to monitor every single aspect of their business – from the water, to the soil, to the chemicals to the weather.

This would mean making farming a more effective business, and not so reliant on outside factors.

The technology doesn’t just work with crop yields and weather patterns. For example at a dairy farm, farmers would be able to predict if their cows have mastitis, which would negatively alter the quality of their milk. At any given time, it’s thought that 1-2 percent of cows have mastitis, which can severely affect a dairy.

Using the Glas Data analysis tool, farmers would be able to check the quality of the milk from each cow. If it’s found that a cow is at risk of mastitis, it can be treated before that cow is milked again, bringing the level of mastitis down and making a more efficient dairy farm.

According to Rob: “The farmers who are currently using our systems are really willing to engage and see a difference.”

Of course, like every company, there are teething issues; one of which is understandably farmers being afraid to try the technology.

But Rob says: “The way the agricultural sector is going, the smaller farms that don’t incorporate technology are not likely to succeed in their business. “

A comment that is echoed by HSBC’s Climate Change Strategist, Ashim Paun, who believes farming with technology is the only way to protect agricultural businesses.

According to Rob: “Cornwall is a surprisingly good example of modern faming in the UK. The county has a small amount of large farms and agricultural businesses that are using technology to grow their business”

Another tricky issue for the company is data-sharing, which the software ultimately relies on. While government sources are very accessible – if not always up-to-date – there are some companies that don’t always want to share their data. This makes it difficult to give a wholesome picture at the moment, but Glas Data hopes to use its stakeholders like major supermarkets as leverage. They might be able to put pressure on companies that don’t want to share their data, which would make information more freely accessible and help the efficiency of the country’s farming.

And how is doing this with Launchpad different to starting this business on your own?

‘There’s a lot more support than if we had started our business alone,” says Rob, “And the support we’ve received has been very valuable. It allows us breathing space to work out the business,” says Rob.

“Launchpad enabled us to go out there and try different things until we settled on agriculture. They also paid for two contract developers”

Now, the system has been through beta testing and is also in use in small measures, as the company has pulled in its first contract.

The way it works with Launchpad is each person gets put into a team of four, who you’ll start your business with. Each team gets given three ideas, which they do research and analyse to decide the one best suited to the team. This idea then gets pursued and finally turned into a business.

Like all businesses, sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Rob says: “We identified that none of the ideas worked for us and decided we wanted to go into agriculture.  I already had some knowledge of the sector and just saw an opportunity. Launchpad helped us validate our idea.”

The group were well prepared.  “We did our research, created a business plan, presented it to Launchpad,” says Rob. “They looked at it, and saw that it was financially viable and helped us turn it into a reality.”

He says that being part of a very promising start-up is ‘really exciting’, but there is quite a bit of work that goes into it. 

“You have to put a lot of time and effort in. and of course, the monetary benefits come a long way into the future, but if you’re willing to work hard, then I think it’s worth it.”

It also seems like working with Launchpad and by proxy, significant stakeholders and investors gives Glas Data both the assurance and confidence to break effortlessly into the agricultural sector.

With this patronage, it’s no wonder Rob believes: “Success to us looks very like a multi- million pound turnover with an international presence.”


[1] The Paris Agreement is made up of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, which are the climate change action plans that most countries have created to show their priorities and procedures.

By Feyaza Khan

News

ENGIE UK Innovation Showcase
By Ben Sewell |

Jo Banks, our Business Development Manager, represented us at the ENGIE UK Innovation Showcase last week in Birmingham, judging ‘Big Pitch’, eventually selecting Net2Grind. It was a truly collaborative approach to innovation – working internally and externally to progress the company’s vision and strategy and to promote different innovations within the energy sector.

Take a look at the event video here:

By Ben Sewell

Events we are attending

Glas Data featured by IG online trading and investments (video)
By Ben Sewell |

Glas Data, one of the five teams Launchpad is incubating this year, has been featured by IG, a “world-leading online trading and investments provider”.

To see the video, head over to the IG website.

If you want to build a start-up the way that Rob and Colin have, then take a look at the Launchpad programme and apply today to start this September.

By Ben Sewell

Investment News

Hertzian featured as Trailblazing AI Company by UK Government
By Ben Sewell |

Today the government recognised Hertzian as a leading light of the British AI industry in their announcement of a £1bn deal to put the nation at the front of the industry. The deal includes more than £300m of newly allocated government funding for AI research.

Hertzian were incorporated in 2015, one of the companies out of the Launchpad programme. The main programme is now underway, with five more companies in formation, and 15 new teams planned for September 2018 start.

Find out more about the deal: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tech-sector-backs-british-ai-industry-with-multi-million-pound-investment–2#provider_moreover

Find out more about Hertzian: http://www.hertzian.co.uk/

Find out how to become a founder of a Launchpad company: https://falmouthlaunchpad.co.uk/become-a-founder/

By Ben Sewell

Investment News

Launchpad at EGX Rezzed
By Ben Sewell |
Launchpad Stand at EGX Rezzed

Launchpad Stand at EGX Rezzed

Launchpad are at EGX Rezzed today, tomorrow and Sunday. Come and find us in the Careers Fair – and try playing the first level of Get Packing from Moonshine Studios, one of the teams that we’re incubating this year.

By Ben Sewell

Events we are attending

Incubator Showcase – 30th April, London
By Michael Dickinson |

We’re holding our London Showcase soon:  Five new digital businesses build to meet market demand will be presenting their products and plans.

Date: Monday 30th April, from 6pm

Place: Digital Catapult, 101 Euston Road NW1 2RA, 

This is your opportunity to see the tech that our incubating companies are developing, and where their businesses are going. It is an invitation-only event, so please contact us by the 20th of April if you’d like to attend.

 

By Michael Dickinson

Events we are hosting

Incubator Showcase – May, Falmouth
By Michael Dickinson |

This is your opportunity to see the tech that our incubating companies are developing, and where their businesses are going. It is an invitation-only event, so please contact us if you’d like to attend.

 

By Michael Dickinson

Events we are hosting

Silicon MilkRoundabout
By Mark Picken |

19-20 May

We are looking forward to attending Silicon MilkRoundabout- if you’d like to meet up whilst we’re there, then contact us.

 

By Mark Picken

Events we are attending

Dublin Tech Summit
By Mark Picken |

18-19 April

We are pleased to be partnering Dublin Tech Summit on the 18th and 19th of April. Ben Sewell (our lead software engineer) is speaking on Thursday afternoon at TECHxFACTORY, or you can find us at our stand.

If you’d like to meet up whilst we’re there, then please get in touch!

By Mark Picken

Events we are attending