As some of you will know last Friday we closed entries for Digital Derry’s first ever SeedComp, a competition for prospective entrepreneurs with ideas for digital businesses that they would like to set up in Derry.
Exceeding all expectations, we’ve had nearly 30 entries from people keen to do just that. To put that in some kind of context, there are something like 60-70 digital media businesses in the area at the moment, ranging from ‘one man bands’ to established firms like Learning Pool and 360 Production. If every one of those business ideas were to go ahead at start, it would increase the size of the sector locally (in very rough terms) by nearly 50%.
Moreover, everyone involved in the judging so far has remarked on the high quality of the entries with one prospective investor noting several that could attract real funding. Of course there’s an enormous amount of work yet to be done; ideas aren’t the same thing as profit-making businesses. Far from it. In reality on a handful of the ideas proposed are likely to become established, profitable businesses.
Even so, with so many good ideas being put forward, and a maximum of just four winners to come from those ideas, it would seem a shame if we didn’t set out our stall to support each and every one of the people who proposed an idea.
The great news is that there are plenty of supports available on the ground already, through organisations like InvestNI, and growing interest from private sector investors keen to support local startups. We’ll be working with every business idea suggested to help identify which supports may be appropriate to them.
But there’s also a lot that these prospective companies can do for themselves, not just individually but as a group. Which got me thinking about something I’m calling Start Club.
The idea of a Start Club is something akin to a self-help group whereby startup entrepreneurs meet regularly over some beer and pizza to share ideas, collaborate, update each other on their progress and, to a greater or lesser extent, hold each other accountable for hitting their own business goals.
Mix in a little help from the likes of Digital Derry to signpost opportunities, make introductions and answer questions and you’ve got something that many of our potential startups could really benefit from. Setting up a business can sometimes be a stressful and even lonely occupation and this kind of idea would seem a nice way of introducing a enjoyable social element to the process as well. After all, starting a business can actually be fun. In fact, it really should be.
So what do you think? Is this something that would appeal to you? Should we have a go and see what happens?
Working Space Opens at Magazine Studios
Supported by Derry City Council and managed by The Nerve Centre, Derry’s first collaborative workspace for digital media professionals has opened at Magazine Studios. Designed with freelancers and startups in mind, this shared workspace offers desks, broadband, meeting rooms, storage and a regular calendar of events for as little as £49pcm for part-time use (up to 8 days a month) and £99pcm for unlimited use. For more information visit: www.magazinestudios.com
Mark Nagurski is Derry’s Digital Champion, based at the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce. You can contact him by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting www.digitalderry.org