Tag: StartUps

Northern Max Accelerator – Meet the Spring 2021 Cohort!

We’re delighted to introduce the Spring 2021 Northern Max 10×10 Accelerator cohort.

These young digital and technology focused businesses joined the Accelerator programme from more than 23 applicants and we wish them a warm welcome to the Northern Max community.

At this time of COVID-19 we’re doubling down in our efforts to deliver Accelerator programmes that are both valuable and timely. The current pandemic has presented a whole new set of challenges for early-stage founders, so we’re excited to help our cohort businesses launch and scale and provide them with an online space to come together in a peer-support driven environment.

Over the ten weeks of the programme, the cohort will be offered a range of practical support, specialist workshops and expert mentoring as well as opportunities to access grants and the chance to pitch for potential investment.

They will also benefit from the support and expertise of Rav Panesar, Digital Enterprise Advisor at Bradford Council.

Northern Max Accelerator is being delivered virtually by Greenborough Business Management’s 10×10 accelerator programme in partnership with Bradford Council and AD:VENTURE, a business support programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Our new cohort’s details can be viewed below – take a look to see the wide range of businesses we’re supporting this Spring:

Beanie Media are a web design agency designing eCommerce solutions for businesses and retail brands who wish to sell their products online. They also provide online promotional services to support their clients.

Co-founder Melissa Roberts says:

“Beanie Media is a young digital agency, experienced in generating business growth through technology.

Youth is our point of difference in terms of the experiences we create. We bring together the brightest minds in digital marketing to keep brands at the forefront of what is possible. We use modern practices to craft experiences that are intuitive, engaging, impactful and enlightening.”

Brio Digital deliver IT solutions to businesses via staff or an associate model offering. An ethical brand, Brio works with specialist sectors, such as health technology, with three main areas of service – leadership, engineering and delivery.

Core Prescribing Solutions are a dynamic healthcare organization providing tailor-made primary care packages through a fully managed pharmacist or technician-led model suited to the needs of GP practices, primary care networks, GP federations and Clinical Commissioning Groups, reducing NHS reduce workload pressures and improving efficiencies.

Director of Business Development & Strategy, Adeem Azhar says: “Core Prescribing Solutions (CPS) is a dynamic healthcare organization that has amassed over 20 years worth of combined experience within the NHS, primary care, health informatics and pharmacy sector. CPS provides tailor-made primary care packages through a fully managed pharmacist or technician-led model suited to the needs of GP practices and clients in order to reduce workload pressures and streamlining inefficiencies. CPS can support with real life data driven solutions to improve patient outcomes and digitize healthcare”

Grapepedia is an interactive e-commerce site providing customers with detailed information about their wine of choice and local stock availability. There is also the option to buy wine directly from the site as well as membership of the Grapepedia wine club.

INC 360 is a community interest company tackling youth loneliness and promoting positive mental health through community events using immersive video.

Founder Steph Varley says “INC360 is a Community Interest Company looking to support young people experiencing loneliness and isolation, by connecting them to community events using immersive video. Currently funded by money raised through a successful Crowdfunder in summer of 2020, we are focussing on developing our research to enable a service for children and young people in a variety of situations, bringing the Yorkshire community closer to them and their families in a safe and accessible way.

We support our service users by promoting open conversations with family and friends, building their confidence and relieving the anxiety felt around getting back involved in social gatherings. We combine discussion, hands-on activities and immersive technology to develop young people’s resilience, all whilst letting them have some fun.”

Intentionally Left produce sound art on a large scale for publicly funded projects. They are currently developing a subscription model app to deliver music and video for people live streaming in their homes, creating the kind of immersive experience that has disappeared due to the current pandemic.

iStreetShop is an e-commerce company born of a drive to support local shops and keep people shopping locally rather than through purely online retailers. Though providing a solution similar to Amazon, iStreetShop only sells products from retailers with a bricks and mortar shop.

Toby Butcher, founder, says “iStreetShop allows Bricks and Mortar Stores to put themselves easily online and helps to increase the sales conversion rate and footfall in their Shop.

With the help of iStreetShops unique built-in geolocating software, iStreetShop helps Shoppers find Products and Shops near to them, and allows Shoppers to either buy via Click and Collect or to add Products to their Shopping List for when they are next in town.

By creating a single online marketplace for Bricks and Mortar Shops, iStreetShop provides a platform for Shops to compete and fight back against Online Retailers, without having to turn themselves into Online Retailers. iStreetShop deals with the Online site maintenance and advertising (Google, Bing, Instagram, Facebook, etc), while allowing Shop Owners to add or remove Products from their Online Shop, initiate Sales and update Product availability in real time from their Phone or Computer.”

JB Digital specialises in Digital Transformation and Technology Modernisation programmes for businesses but looking to grow to deliver to both the public and private sectors.

Digital agency Jublo provide a full range of digital services from digital strategy to website design and build. They are also a certified translation agency, helping clients take products to market both in the UK and internationally.

Founder and MD Joshua Atkins says

“Jublo is a certified UK translation and digital agency and we work with a team of over 160 people across 39 countries from developers to linguists to project managers which allows us to work with experts in their fields. We’re an incredibly agile and scalable company which allows us to adapt to the needs of our clients and this approach has seen us work with social media giants such as Facebook, leading online retailers as well as smaller automation and IT companies based in Leeds. We develop long-term relationships with all our clients and our team are empowered to work flexibly around their commitments and lives.”

Legend Communications are an internet services and telecoms provider, that also provide data centre services. They launched an Internet Exchange in Bradford in November 2020 and there are plans to build a new data core network to deliver even faster connectivity for business.

Leuly PR are a PR and marketing consultancy, working predominantly with clients in the digital and technology B2B sectors. Expanding rapidly, they offer a range of services including strategic public relations, creative social media campaigns and photography.

MobiFuel is the first on demand fuel delivery service in the North, delivering to private and corporate clients through an app.

Director Murad Mirza said “MobiFuel is the first on-demand fuel delivery service in the North. Just think, the Uber of fuel. Simply put, we bring the petrol station to our customers, saving them time and money. For businesses this means no more hidden costs typically associated with fuel cards, better productivity, increased revenues and a greener way of refueling their fleet. For residential customers, no more waiting around in petrol station queues! Whether at work, gym or at home, just tap on our app and have us fill up your car”

Navant Lighting develops bespoke lighting and lighting components for RVs, motorhomes and boats.

Orcula provide event technology, registrant and delegate management and event websites. They have developed a new onsite badge printing and registration system, and they are now developing that to facilitate contactless events, through facial recognition and other technologies.

Out of Place Studio are a full-service digital design agency specialising in the cultural sector. Due to COVID-19, they had to pivot their market and are now aiming to develop more digital products and services.

Sched Ltd have developed a B2B booking and membership platform aimed at the fitness sector, but with broader applications.

Joel at Sched says “Sched (as in schedule) is a booking and payments platform – features include recurring scheduled events, one off events, pre-recorded video content as well as live broadcast events, monthly memberships and payments – built by industry experts to support fitness and wellness businesses, using cutting edge technologies and securely hosted in the Amazon Web Services cloud. The platform provides all the tools necessary for a small or large business to succeed – to acquire, engage and retain your end customers. As a team we are highly customer led with a published product roadmap, taking suggestions and votes on new features. We can also help out with bespoke marketing websites or implementation services to truly embed our platform within your business and give you the best chances of succeeding.”

Tribus IT deliver project management in software, particularly around agile software, as well as software testing.

James Clark, director says: “TribusIT is an IT services company. We have two main areas of specialisation;

  • Atlassian Software configuration, support and licensing, including the popular Jira, Confluence and Service Desk products – we’re Atlassian’s only solutions partner in Yorkshire
  • Non-Functional Testing services, including Performance, Resilience, Monitoring, IT Ops procedures and Security

We’re based in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire and serve clients all over the UK.”

And that’s the 2021 Cohort.

We’ll be sharing the progress of the businesses and the programme, so watch this space for updates!

Five Agency Trade Secrets for Building Brilliant Small Business Websites

Picture of the Other Things Agency

If you’re reading this then you’re probably thinking about building a website for your business. That’s a great start, because if you don’t have a website then you could be missing out on a ton of business that might not come your way otherwise.

Having a well-made website can help with the perception of your brand and help to build trust with your potential customers.

But where to begin? The team at my creative agency, Other Things, has built successful websites for some of the world’s biggest brands. We also work with start-ups that want a shortcut to website excellence.

When we did the brilliant AD:VENTURE Northern Max accelerator program last year, we met a lot of start-up founders who were looking for varying degrees of help with building their own websites. Should they make it themselves or get help from the professionals?

There’s no silver bullet to it, and every business is different, but there are a few bits of advice that apply to many if not most small business website builds.

I’m going to list some of them for you:

1) You CAN Build It Yourself

If you’ve got a social media profile and you know your way around the internet, you can build yourself a website. There are some well-established services out there (such as Wix, or Shopify if you’re looking for an online store) that will hold your hand through the process.

That said, it might be awful and do more harm than good for your brand. I mean, you could tailor yourself a cocktail dress if you really wanted to. Doesn’t mean it will be any good.

Still, if you stick to the pre-defined templates, have a decent eye for design and can string a meaningful sentence together then you should be able to create a simple website that meets your business’ needs.

2) You Don’t Have to Figure It All Out From Scratch

Take a look at your competitors and other businesses that you admire. What are they doing on their websites? What are they doing badly, and what are they doing well?

What ideas can you draw inspiration from that would work with your website and brand?

That’s not to say that you should create a carbon copy of a competitor’s website, or plagiarise their copy and messaging, but you will likely identify some things that you think they do well and then you can put your own spin on them.

3) .co.uk Might Not Be the Way

If the .com domain name that you want is not available, but the .co.uk one is, it still might not be the best option.

People searching for your brand will probably find you either way, but you will inevitably and inadvertently be sending traffic to the .com version of the website domain. Not great, especially if it’s a competitor or a brand that could be mistaken for yours.

It’s still worth buying the .co.uk domain if it’s going cheap, and if you only ever plan to trade in the UK, but better to rack your brains for that .com domain name. Common ways around this are to add ‘we are’ or ‘this is’ in front of a brand name e.g. weareyourbrandname.com

We experienced this at Other Things, and we opted to go for otherthingsagency.com (we also grabbed otherthings.xyz to be what’s known as a ‘vanity URL’, but that’s another story…)

4) Cut to the Chase

When people visit your website, what action do you want them to take or what opinion of your brand do you want them to leave with? Make the fulfilment of these things the filter for all of your website-related decisions.

But don’t beat around the bush. Keep your choice of words and messages short and to the point. Challenge yourself to say what you need to say in as few words as possible, right up front on the home page, so that visitors know exactly what your business offers straight away.

This is your website content, and visitors to your site will form an impression of your brand based upon it.

It’s an area where professional help might be worth investing in if you’ve no experience in writing or producing content for the web. But if you want to DIY then keep it simple. Avoid using crappy Word art or DIY sketches. Stock photography can be great, but some of it is very cheesy. If you don’t think you can tell the difference then rope in someone who can.

And make sure you proofread it ad nauseum. If you’re not confident in that area, have somebody who knows how to properly use an apostrophe take a look at it.

5) Don’t Try to Reinvent the Wheel

Usability is essentially how well people can use your product to achieve their goal, and websites more often than not are built to a format that is familiar to the average visitor so that they can find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.

At Other Things we love to see experimentation in this area, but if you’re looking to DIY build yourself a website for your business and you have little experience of doing such things then sticking to the ‘norms’ is your best bet. No need to reinvent the wheel. It will probably just confuse your visitors.

If you use a website building platform (such as Wix, Gator or Squarespace) there are templates and ‘themes’ that are put together with usability in mind. You won’t be winning awards for website innovation, but visitors to your site will have a better chance of navigating around your website nice and easily and developing a positive impression of your brand.

These platforms can also take care of some of the basic nuts and bolts stuff around hosting your website on the internet, and help you avoid pitfalls with potentially baffling things such as optimising it for mobile, SSL certificates, SEO and other acronyms.

So there you have it. The above is by no means comprehensive or universally true, but it might help set you on the right path if you’re considering how to build your small business website.

If you’re going DIY then keep things simple, utilise the templates and simplifying tools available to you and don’t go too left-field with your creative ideas. You’ll learn something and maybe even enjoy it.

And if it’s terrible, at least you tried. Give a good agency or freelancer a call and they’ll see you right.

Matt Hitchcock is the co-founder and Managing Director of Other Things, an alternative creative agency that specialises in producing disruptive advertising and marketing solutions for the gaming and entertainment industries.

www.otherthingsagency.com

Photo credit: Jodie Beardmore (www.jodiebeardmorephotography.co.uk)

Northern Max backing Bradford startups for 2021

Young digital and technology focussed firms in Bradford are being encouraged to sign up for a free business support programme to help them accelerate their growth.

The popular Northern Max Accelerator, launching early 2021, will be delivered online and is for businesses that are pre-start or less than three years old with growth ambitions.

The programme will offer a range of practical support and provides opportunities to access grants, specialist workshops, and expert mentoring over ten weeks, as well as the chance to pitch for potential investment at the end of the programme. Delegates will also benefit from the support and expertise of Rav Panesar, Digital Enterprise Advisor at Bradford Council.

Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s portfolio holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “This programme has already proved itself with some tangible success stories, so we are delighted it is being offered to businesses again.

“Times are really hard for small businesses right now and we are determined to give them the support they need to survive and grow. A buoyant economy is so important to the city and to the region, and never more so than in these times of Covid.”

Twenty one companies took part in the Northern Max programme when it was run earlier this year. Seven of the businesses were supported to bring a product to market; four were successful in applying for AD:VENTURE grant funding of more than £14,000, and one was supported to apply for a £50,000 Bounceback loan. In total the cohort created 13 new jobs.

Many of the companies also forged formal and informal collaborations, such as sharing best practice, sharing contacts and making plans to bid collaboratively for tenders.

Among those who have benefited from the Northern Max programme is Rachel Mather, who launched her bid consultancy firm &Mather early in 2020 and had this to say about her experience

Rachel said: “This is such a brilliant programme for any digital tech business owner seeking to become stronger, scale up and continue to grow. It’s immersive, experiential, thought provoking, and delivered by an incredible range of leaders, mentors and peers”

Masterclasses and one to one mentoring will be available using a host of business experts including Sharon Jandu of The Northern Asian power list and Jag Panesar of Xpand Marketing. In addition there will be weekly workshops on key topics including developing your business model; business goal setting; partnerships and collaborations; business finance, and funding and growth strategies.

Northern Max Accelerator will be delivered virtually by Greenborough Business Management’s 10×10 accelerator programme in partnership with Bradford Council and AD:VENTURE, a business support programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Since AD:VENTURE started at the end of 2016 it has helped more than 3,500 businesses and individuals in the Leeds City Region, and approved more than 160 grants.

To register your interest or for more details on the Northern Max Accelerator, visit https://ad-venture.org.uk/northernmaxaccelerator/

For more details about AD:VENTUIRE go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/

POWDER COATING BUSINESS GETS A WELL TIMED BOOST FROM AD:VENTURE

Riverside Coatings, the Castleford based professional paint powder coating business, has secured more than £18,000 thanks to the AD:VENTURE start-up and growth grants, which provides businesses with the opportunity to reach their potential within the first three years of trading.

Having launched the business in April 2017, Managing Director of Riverside Coatings, James Wilson, quickly realised that he would need to invest significantly in machinery with orders coming in for larger pieces of steel and architectural frameworks to be coated.

With no previous experience of running a business, James turned to AD:VENTURE for support and guidance. A dedicated Business Advisor was on hand to provide him with the insight that he needed and to help to put together a detailed plan and necessary budget forecasts.

As well as having someone to sit down and go through the business plan with him, James also applied for a grant for £18,523.39 that would allow him to invest in an auto-wash, a large piece of machinery that would allow him to take on larger commissions.

Further contributions were also made towards maintaining and repairing older machinery including a compressor and spray equipment that he knew would be vital to his future success.

In addition to delivering a professional service, the business can now take on larger pieces of work; plans which wouldn’t have come to fruition this soon had it not been for AD:VENTURE support. As a result, the company now employs a team of four operatives to support in the workshop.

James comments: “When you start a business you don’t always have the time to sit down and go through your plans in any great detail and putting pen to paper can be a struggle – you simply feel you have bigger priorities, like getting the work through the door. Looking back, if I hadn’t have gone through this process with AD:VENTURE, there’s no way I could have invested in the industrial sized machinery I needed.

“Having the funds to purchase the auto-wash was a real game-changer for us. It meant that we could take on larger commissions and really establish the business by delivering the professional service we are now known for. As a result, we are working with huge steel structures and I now have a team in the workshop to help me.”

Riverside Coatings is looking to extend its services further with more demanding work. As a result, the company is considering making additional appointments to the team.

The Leader of Wakefield Council, Cllr Peter Box CBE, said: “It is great to see a local business grow and develop, and this shows just how useful support and funding from the AD:VENTURE programme can be, and the real benefits it can bring to our local economy.”

For further details about Riverside Coatings please visit www.riversidecoatings.co.uk and for information about the support, advice and funding that is available, visit AD:VENTURE.