As published in Cardiff Life Magazine, August 2012
There were only two and a half Welsh businesses in the recently announced Startups.co.uk Top 100 for 2012. They were Veritas (translation services), A-Star Sports (developmental coaching for young children), and Rocktails (great frozen cocktails company who despite a company move to London are still produced in Wales). And while it’s hardly a scientific poll, this is just one of many instances where Welsh startups don’t get enough national business coverage.
But I’m not here to complain about the London-centric nature of British media, or propose that Welsh startups get unjustly overlooked. I think there’s certainly some element of truth in that because we’re tucked away at the other end of the M4, away from the throbbing hives of startup activity in London, and the journalists and bloggers who inevitably flock around them. But I don’t think that’s an excuse for the lack of coverage.
I’m here to say we don’t do enough ourselves to shout about what we’re doing. But it’s down to us to tell the the journalists and bloggers about what we’re doing and we can’t expect them to come looking for positive stories. There are plenty of those within a few miles of central London, a short walk from their office or local pub. So we have to work twice as hard to convince them that it’s worth looking over the border and giving precious column inches to our startups.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of complaining that your company or city is overlooked. I know I’ve certainly done it. But self-pity and envy never helped anyone. Every founder needs to be out there working hard to get as much press and PR as they possibly can for their individual startup. But we should also be promoting ourselves as a city or region cluster. There are many benefits to being part of a recognised “movement”. As well as benefitting from being part of the great network in Silicon Roundabout, for example, there’s also something newsworthy in itself about being based there. And that starts to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Success begets success. Attention begets attention.
So I’m calling on you all to become ambassadors for Cardiff, and to tell the world about the city, the great startups here, and the great founders and entrepreneurs building them. Tell everyone from outside the city that you speak to. As soon as I finish writing this I’ll be asking Cardiff Council what banner or advertising space we can use. Imagine a permanent hoarding in the city with a different startup featured on it every month!
Together we can raise the profile of Cardiff as a great place to build a startup. As John F Kennedy apparently once said: “A rising tide lifts all boats”.
In the latest of our one-minute profiles, Neil speaks to another Cardiff startup making waves.
Hello! Introduce yourself.
Hei. My name is Ollie Gardener. My husband and I co-founded NoddlePod. I was born in Norway and only moved to Cardiff about 6 months ago with my Welsh husband.
So, what does your startup do?
NoddlePod is a collaboration platform for people working and learning in parallel. Its been used for leadership development programs/communities, university classes, organisational change processes and much more besides!
What makes your startup special?
We are so used to the concept of ‘working in teams’ it often overshadows the various other ways in which our work might be connected. NoddlePod seeks to leverage connections between people working in parallel and create an environment of mutual support.
What was the genesis? The eureka moment that made you realise you had to build this company?
I found myself looking for a tool I soon realised didn’t exist. My husband is a software developer, so it was natural to discuss what I felt was missing with him. The idea and the concept grew from there.
And where are you at right now?
We launched NoddlePod 1.0 about a year ago. We are starting to get some good traction and just feel really privileged to be able to continue developing our ideas and improving NoddlePod.
What’s the key to your growth?
If someone could wave a magic wand, I’d increase employers trust in their own people. I believe that organisations would be a lot better off if they could learn to value systems that encourage the more informal, social approach to learning and getting work done.
Where would you like your company to be in 5 years time?
I hope we continue to see people from backgrounds we didn’t expect “get” NoddlePod and starting using it in ways that benefit them.