I’ve decided to close down NOCCI in its current form. It’s been a while coming, but it feels like the right thing to do.
The network started in the summer of 2007 in Cardiff as an antidote to the many business networks that seem to be populated by middle aged white men thrusting business cards at each other, only interested in where their next sale was coming from. At NOCCI events (which was called “Pollen” in the early days), there was very little agenda – just the chance for likeminded creative people and entrepreneurs to come together, have a drink on us, and make some new friends. It was a huge success and hundreds of people came to the early events in Cardiff.
Since then we’ve run NOCCIs all over the UK, had people meet at them that have gone on to form businesses together, seen hugely productive business relationships established, firm friendships forged, and been asked to help everyone from marketing agencies to the Welsh Assembly Government with communicating with people in the creative industries.
However, in the last 18 months my time has been increasingly pulled towards my main business, Dizzyjam, and I’ve had little to no time to put into NOCCI.
I realised that certain things needed to be improved with the network and website for it to flourish and fulfill its potential to be a creative industries network that was useful for anyone and everyone who wanted to be part of it, wherever they were in the world.
Firstly it needed some strong editorial input. Secondly it needed to be a central “calendar” where anyone could post relevant events. And thirdly it needed a better profile management and search system so that people could find likeminded people in their desired location in order to collaborate with them.
But with no time to devote to it, and with NOCCI having been set up as a pure labour of love, it needed an investor of some sort. I spent a lot of time speaking to potential investors, but ultimately it was a difficult sell. And without the backing, I found it difficult to administrate the network, set up new events, respond to the requests to run events from all over the world, plus justify the expense of adding the required functionality to the website.
But in that time there’s been a few other sites that have launched and/or come to the fore that are doing a brilliant job of either offering those services or improving on what NOCCI does.
Firstly, Creative Boom has loads of great articles about the creative industries and has started running events around the country, too. It’s also a fantastic looking site.
Secondly, Creative Everyone has just launched, which fulfills a really important function that I wanted NOCCI to have. Namely, to provide a place where anyone can list an event they’re running. There’s so many great events running around the world, it’s fantastic to have somewhere that lists them all.
Also, I’ve often had ideas that I haven’t quite had the skillset to fulfill myself. And it’s been difficult to know where to find fellow entrepreneurs who have those skills I lack, and might want to join me to bring them to fruition. It looks like new startup Matchfounders might just be the place I’ve been looking for.
These sites all fulfill important functions that I wanted NOCCI to have. I wanted NOCCI to be all these things and more. But with them all appearing to do such a great job it seems silly to spend a lot of time and money bringing NOCCI up to speed.
However, the work I’ve been doing in the creative industries will continue. I’ll still be running events that bring creative people together, most notably Ignite Cardiff and TEDxCardiff, which I organise with Claire Scantlebury. I’ll also continue to help out any organisation that needs help with creative business, creative entrepreneurship and the creative industries in general.
Huge thanks must go to Claire Heat, who was a massive source of help and support in the early days when we were setting up, and Jo Burnett who was constantly helpful and willing to lend a hand. And also Bob in Middlesbrough, who started running events there that were the most successful of any NOCCI events outside of Cardiff.
I’ve had an amazing time running the network, met some incredible people who’ve gone on to be great friends, and I just hope it was of some benefit to the thousands of global visitors to the site, and the many, many hundreds of people around the UK that attended its events.