Meet Daniel Pedder, founder at Expand9. He presented the winning pitch at our January Pitch Night! Find out more about his work and advice for fellow entrepreneurs.
Phew! I think everyone in Liverpool needs a nap after yesterday’s busy schedule. Events were popping up as people from all over the city came together for International Women’s Day. Yesterday was all about celebrating women, their achievements, and discussing what challenges we all face and how to overcome them. At Launch22 we sat down for a big chat with an awesome panel and a great crowd over some lovely breakfast.
2 hours of discussing and debating a wide range of topics and ideas left us all feeling empowered and ready to take action. Therefore, we wanted to outline some of the things we think we can all do to #PressForProgress.
Something we took away from Women’s Day is the importance of diversity and issues that often go unsaid in conversations about gender. Women of colour, transgender women, women from different faiths, cultures, backgrounds; women who are fighting battles that some may feel they have already won. There is still a long way to go to create an equal society and we can take strides forward by considering not just what it means to be a woman or a man, but other factors that greatly affect a person’s experience. Choosing events, who to employ, who to bring on as a trustee or board member, and who to celebrate, we will be working towards actively increasing diversity at Launch22. It’s about looking beyond the issues we face as individuals and becoming allies to all types of people.
Open up opportunities to young people
When we are young, our education and experiences shape who we become and what we do. Therefore, it is important that from a young age we are encouraged to do anything and everything. Currently there is still a gender gap in a lot of industries, specifically in the tech sector. There are some fantastic groups in Liverpool tackling the gender and opportunity gap, such as OH and Liverpool Girl Geeks. They are championing alternative education and getting young people involved in the digital and creative sector. By boosting the visibility of females in different roles, we can encourage more girls to aim for them in their futures. Whatever your business, you can inspire younger generations by inviting them to your workspace, showcase the diversity and culture of your organisation, or go to schools and discuss what opportunities are available for all.
At Launch22, we will continue to approach and work with more schools and universities to show young people, especially women, that they can start a business and work in non-traditional sectors too.
Encourage men to join the conversation
We were pleasantly surprised to see an increase of men at our IWD event this year. Going from 0 last year to 2 this year is a small step, but an improvement nonetheless. Discussing these topics together is how we can learn to understand each other and achieve gender parity. Hosting gender specific events or groups, such as targeting Women’s Day events at a female crowd only, eliminates the possibility of bringing more voices and perspectives to the conversation. To truly make changes to how our society works, we have to open the conversation up for all to get involved. Targeting different people in different ways when we advertise can ensure that we are appealing to all types of people. We will encourage more of our male members to get involved in conversations about gender and make sure we have an even higher male turnout at next year’s IWD event!!
Share the positive stories
Many strides have been taken to bring about gender parity for over 100 years and it’s encouraging to hear the stories that show progress. It helps push forward the movement. The World Economic Forum's 2017 Global Gender Gap Report tells us that gender parity is over 200 years away. We still have many challenges to face, more statistics to smash, but we have achieved so much.
During our IWD breakfast, we heard from Emma Carey at MSB, who is part of a workforce of 50/50 male to female split of partners with an 80% female workforce, which is fantastic to hear. We have so many great women in business in Liverpool who are all encouraging women to get involved and take on new opportunities. We even have a whole organisation, The Women’s Org, dedicated to helping women in business. We hope to add more positive outcomes to the mix. We are working to bring more support tailored to women and to provide a space that is welcoming to all.
Please email get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are looking for business support or to chat about how we can continue to fight for gender parity!
It’s only February and 2018 is already proving to be an exciting year at Launch22. As a startup incubator, we’re always ready to celebrate the achievements of our members and it is amazing to witness them happening here in our shared work space. This week our spotlight shines on Phil, a web designer at Ballyhoo Designs, who joined us in April of 2017 with an entrepreneurial project up his sleeve. Phil began quietly selling T-shirts through Amazon a few years ago, which quickly evolved into something far beyond what he ever expected. He took the time to sit down with me and share his story so far.
Sitting in the communal kitchen of Launch22, it’s easy to turn a quick, ten minute lunchtime chat into a one hour conversation about… well, anything and everything. Especially if it’s with Phil. He is renowned at Launch22 for taking the time to talk with people and having a genuine interest in their goals, interests, and life experiences. So, when I ask him to start off by telling us a bit about himself and what he does, he replies, “oh, well you know that’s a can of worms!” Cue the can of worms, but insightful ones at that.
“Being at Launch22 has given me practice doing this,” he starts, talking about being able to share information about his personal life and work, “which I think is what I needed. I needed this particular time to move forward. In 2016 I was diagnosed with cancer and that just veered my life off. At first I didn’t tell people, because I didn’t want to be that person, you know? But I realised I had to get used to talking about it.”
There have been a number of moments throughout Phil’s life that have had a significant impact on him. Being diagnosed with and overcoming cancer caused Phil to completely rethink his lifestyle and what he wanted to do, which lead him to go down an entrepreneurial career path.
“15 years before I was diagnosed, I was exchanging time for money doing web design work. I still have a couple of those clients today, mainly because I enjoy interacting with them. If I don’t get on with a person, I won’t work with them. I’ve done it in the past and it eventually ends badly, which I obviously don’t like,” he explains, “I moved to the internet just when everyone was wondering, ‘what’s this internet malarkey?’ and started doing web design and reprographics. I was earning a lot of money, but it was unfulfilling, and before I knew it 15 years had gone by. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy the work and working for myself. However, after the diagnosis, my brain was a little fried, as you can imagine, and I was asking myself, ‘am I doing what I want to do? What am I actually doing?’ Obviously I also started thinking about not being here at all, so I just sat around for a couple of months and did nothing. I watched a lot of TV and thought, ‘this is what I want to do right now,’ so I did nothing.”
During this period of taking time out for himself, Phil was drawn back to T-shirts which, in one way or another, kept appearing on his radar: “I went back through my bank statements and realised that Amazon had been paying me for this thing I’d set up a year previous, and I’d done very little to earn that money. My dream is to set up a recurring revenue of some sort, and the even bigger dream is a passive income source where you’re not actually doing anything. You set it up and it just runs by itself, because then that money will give you freedom to do whatever it is that you want to do.”
Phil soon returned to his web design work, but couldn’t shake the need to start something fresh and new. This lead him to join us at Launch22. After trying out cafes in Liverpool, he realised he wanted to join a space that was built specifically for co-working.
“I went over to Liverpool to test some different coffee shops and get a bit of a vibe from. I did that once [laughs]. I needed the toilet and realised I couldn’t leave my seat and my laptop. These are First World problems we’re talking about. Thankfully on that same day I messaged Cynthia, who was interning here at the time, and she told me to come over for a visit. Georgina showed me around the space and said, ‘there’s free beer in the fridge, help yourself, and we’ve got beer pong here next Monday, free pizzas, super fast WiFi…’ and she went through everything with me and showed me the roof terrace, and then asked me when I wanted to start. I was like, ‘can I come back tomorrow, please?’ [laughs] The rest is history.”
I ask Phil a bit more about how he sells his T-shirts on Amazon and how the line has grown over time. He tells me that the T-shirt community was the most surprising thing that he came across and was something that significantly drove him to continue his sales. When he first joined Launch22, Phil was still finding his feet and spending more time on his web design work.
“I was a little embarrassed about doing T-shirts to start off with, so I was doing web design here during the day and then at night I was doing my T-shirts secretively. Since then I’ve been doing T-shirts every single day uploading and designing for over six months now. I was also drawn into the T-shirt community who encourage each other to make sales and share what niches to target. I was completely filled with self-doubt and they really boosted my confidence,” he explains. “Whatever I’m allowed to upload to Amazon, I make sure I max it out, and then the next day I get a new empty batch of uploads. The more you sell, the more uploads you get a day. In the first week of January 2018, I got 2000 slots from Amazon, so that’s 40 uploads a day! But that also means 40 designs a day. That’s a lot.”
Where do you find your inspiration for 40 designs a day!?
“The way I create so many T-shirts, and here’s my now not-so-secret weapon, I’ll find funny sayings which normally relate to cats or dogs. If you type ‘funny cat T-shirts’ on Amazon, there are over 50,000 results. You’re lost. So I thought, ‘what if I put breeds of dogs instead to niche it down?’ I just got a list of dog breeds together and that’s how I fill my quantity at the moment.”
There came a point when Amazon were struggling to fulfil orders in America, so they started hiding the T-shirt designs in their search results. Phil sought other online marketplaces so as not to rely solely on Amazon for his income. He tells me that, “luckily, on Etsy, they’re bloody dog crazy, so all my sales are dog T-shirts. There’s a bit more work involved when selling through Etsy, but that’s quite nice. I like communicating with my customers and I can create mailing lists and send out coupons and vouchers.”
As the conversation continues, it is clear to me that being part of communities and interacting with people is key for Phil. A year before being diagnosed with cancer, he joined fellow entrepreneurs and business owners at a live event in Mexico, hoping to meet one particular woman who had inspired him to take action.
“I met all these amazing people, it was an emotional release, and was absolutely mindblowing. I joined this particular Facebook group, because I admire this woman who is an entrepreneur selling posters. I met her in Mexico and she’s this quiet Irish woman, and I was like, ‘you’re like a celebrity to me!’ It was a bit sad really. I was just watching what she was doing, making these posters and detailed pictures of watches and cars. Whatever she did, she just understood the right way to do it, and I admired her focus and her action taking. At the end of the course, everyone had an envelope with their name on it and anyone who interacted with them could leave a note inside. I opened mine on the flight home and was a bawling wreck of emotions. She left an amazing note that said at the end, ‘stay authentic.’ That was the year previous to being diagnosed with cancer and that statement came to mean so much to me, I even made a ‘stay authentic’ T-shirt.”
Fast forward to the present day, Phil wants to use his own entrepreneurial journey to inspire others. He says, “I realised I could use the T-shirts as a way of inspiring people into entrepreneurship, or at least eliminate it as a possibility. It isn’t for everyone and that’s OK, but I just want people to explore other possibilities. I want to build a community and help people start selling T-shirts to give them the freedom to do whatever it is they want to do in life. After I was diagnosed with cancer, I just stripped everything away. The T-shirts came back to me, it felt like the right thing to do, and it fits in with my lifestyle. Someone with a job and kids can do this, even for just a couple of hours a day. I wouldn’t consider myself a successful seller, however I am successful at setting up an online market and earning money. I’ve started setting people up on Etsy and I want to run an online course so I can offer advice and give people the ins and outs.”
“I don’t give myself a lot of credit for the things I do well and my achievements. We all compare ourselves to what other people are doing, but the bottom line is that I really enjoy what I’m doing. I work, deal with some clients, do a bit of my web design, sell some T-shirts, and have some positive interactions with people at Launch22. If I’d stayed working from my bedroom, yes the work would have continued, but it’s the people and interactions that have really pushed me forward. Launch22 was a breath of fresh air that came at the right time.”
I ask Phil what would be his advice to anyone who feels stuck in a rut with their life or career. He replies, “if you’re doing something which isn’t giving you the desired results, do something different and see if that changes things. That’s what I did. I stopped when I realised it wasn’t working for me. There’s that quote that everyone thinks Einstein said, but he didn’t actually say it: ‘insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’ Not sure who actually said it, but it’s true!”
Visit Phil’s latest project here
There is never a dull moment in Liverpool, but 2018 is set to be a particularly exciting one. The city has come leaps and bounds since being titled Capital of Culture in 2008 and a number of events are taking place to celebrate this milestone. Publications like the Guardian and The Times have also flagged Liverpool up as one of the top to visit and the coolest to live in. Best of all, Liverpool is known for its supportive and ambitious community. Actor and Liverpool native, David Morrissey, summed it up nicely in his interview with the Guardian back in 2011: ‘Liverpool has made me brave, choice-wise. It was never a city that criticised anyone for taking a chance.’
Here at Launch22, we couldn’t agree more. We’ve been lucky enough to witness and work with some of the innovative startups and businesses that are popping up and growing across the city. We also sit in the centre of Liverpool’s Commercial District alongside some of the best local businesses. It was a tough call, but to give you a taste of the Liverpool we know and love, we’ve gathered our favourite independents in our very own guide to the city.
Across the road from us is this hidden gem, Panna Artisan Café & Eatery. It’s the perfect quiet spot if you’re looking for a homely feel, fresh quality food, and a proper cup of coffee. Panna sources ingredients grown by local producers and is decorated in a traditional Scandinavian style. The owners took inspiration from their travels and their sandwiches and coffee are some of the best in the city. Further afield, but in less than a 10 minute walk away, you can find Lovelocks café which is ideal for eating out whilst sticking to that healthy eating resolution (although resisting the cakes might be tricky). Lovelocks is a small oasis away from the hustle and bustle that offers reasonable prices and friendly vibes. They serve coffee roasted in Merseyside and fresh, homemade food using local ingredients, catering for vegans, veggies, coeliacs and meat eaters.
As much as we love to eat out, it’s good to catch up with everyone at Launch22 during the lunch break. We often come across the odd napkin or takeout box from Pasta Cosa or Chop Chop in our communal kitchen. These two are definitely the local favourites for takeout lunches. There’s nothing worse than someone walking into the kitchen with a box from either one of these, whilst you unpack your own sad sandwich. Pasta Cosa offers fast, fresh, tasty and cheap pasta dishes to go. You can find it on Castle Street and choose your pasta, sauce and add any extra veggies or meats. For a taste of Korea, Chop Chop is just a few streets over near James Street Station. The portions are generous for a great price and you’ll be going again and again to try everything on their delicious menu.
Veggie and Vegan
Just a 2 minute walk up Brixteth Street sits Sanskruti, Liverpool’s go-to for nutritious and delicious Indian cuisine. It’s also pure vegetarian and vegan with gluten free options, so if you have any friends that doubt the goodness of meat/dairy free food, send them there for a true taste of India’s vibrant cultures. Over on Castle Street, a couple of doors down from Pasta Cosa, you’ll find 18 inch Brazilian pizzas made from scratch at Santa Maluco. This one’s a crowd pleaser and great for keeping group outings simple. They offer a diverse selection of pizzas, including vegan and vegetarian, and also host Vegan Mondays for an entire day of 100% vegan ingredients.
The Best Coffee
A favourite amongst our members, Leather Lane Coffee is home to quality coffee and pastries. It’s ideal for grabbing on the way to work or taking a quick break from your desk. It’s tucked away just around the corner from us and has a very European feel to it. Well worth skipping your Costa or Starbucks and supporting local businesses.
After Work Drinks
Santa Maluco also deserves a shout here for providing a cocktail menu like no other. The Launch22 team often head over for happy hour from 4pm - 8pm, where they even give you a free slice of margherita with your first cocktail. Nothing says well done for a good day’s work like free pizza. If we’re heading further afield, we’ll also visit their sister, Santa Chupitos over in the Ropewalks area. You’ll also find us in Jenny’s Seafood Restaurant along Fenwick Street. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, nor does it actually sell seafood, or even food for that matter, but hidden below is a 1920s style bar that offers a chilled atmosphere. Perfect for jazz and disco lovers.
If you’re feeling a little stressed and need a change of scenery away from the buzz, turn left at the bottom of Castle Street and you’ll find refuge in Rococo, an elegant, Victorian-style coffee house that sits atop an EE store. They serve their own blend of fair trade coffee as well as a fuss-free breakfast and lunch menu. It’s a labyrinth of plant-filled, quirky rooms with comfy seats and cosy corners to get a bit of peace and quiet.
We don’t even need to leave the building to visit one of Liverpool’s best hangouts for food, drink and events. On the bottom floor of Temple sits HUS, an all-rounder that falls under each of our chosen categories. The atmosphere is relaxed, the staff are welcoming, and they offer a diverse and delicious menu. HUS can accommodate everything from a quick solitary coffee, dinner with friends and evening drinks, to live gigs and art exhibitions.
Words by Jessica Greenall
There is no denying that trends in technology move at an incredible speed. It can be mind-boggling to keep up with the ever-changing online world and ensure you stay ahead of the game. As the internet and tech introduces new ways to manage your business, it also alters the habits of your customers. Although this can bring a herd of new customers and clients to your digital door, it also increases the competition and alters how users find your products or services. Keeping up with industry trends can benefit you and your business in many ways, allowing you to make the most of them before something else comes along.
Thinking about the year ahead can help you set goals and strategies, beat the competitors, and put your best foot forward. With the arrival of 2018, I’ve researched and narrowed down five top trends set to take off this year.
1. Personalised Marketing
As technology becomes more personalised, so should your business strategy, especially in an already overcrowded market. Interactive marketing is a great way to build a community of loyal customers. One way to do this is through social media. You can reach out to your customers, encourage them to interact with you, and share their experience of your brand or service. Ask yourself what problems you can solve for your customers and the anticipated results of your service. The Internet of Things (IoT) is also set to enhance this style of marketing. By connecting our home devices to the internet, IoT reveals more information about us, which can allow campaigns to become customer specific and focus on personal solutions. Helpful or creepy?
2. Video & Live Streaming
When using social media to market your business or services, both live streaming and pre-recorded video is having the greatest impact on users. It can accurately showcase your services or products and give customers a first-hand insight into the way your company works. The trick is to create attractive and interesting content in a short time space, for consumers who are probably on a platform that already offers so much content. It has to be something that stops them mid-scroll and grabs their curiosity. Tastemade is a brilliant example of a brand that utilises both pre-recorded and live video to attract users and inspire appetites. Their live streamed Tiny Kitchen series has attracted over 3 million viewers.
3. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI is set to be another way to create personalised marketing. From customer service and conversational AI, to processing large amounts of data, it can help deliver a more customised content to each individual. You have probably come across it already whilst surfing the web in the form of ad targeting and SEO clickbait headlines. Websites will present you with ads for products you viewed, but did not purchase (sneaky) and once you’ve binged one series, Netflix will present you with another you might like. AI can be beneficial in many other ways such as digital learning. The language learning app, Duolingo, now uses Chatbots and virtual tutors power by AI to prepare learners for real-life conversations.
4. Cyber Security
A downside to personalised tech and marketing is an increased risk of cyber security. All of these devices tracking our every move, managing online transactions, and collecting our search histories is bound to make us vulnerable to hackers and security risks. Banking entirely online and our smartphones essentially becoming our wallets, is a more convenient way to manage money in an increasingly digital world, but the more of us using it, the easier it is for hackers to access information. There has never been a better time to refine your cyber security and consider the available safety measures. One of our members, David Ollerhead, is the Business Development Manager at DigitalXRAID. David recently wrote a blog post on the value of a full security assessment using both White and Black Box testing: ‘Only when bundling together White Box with rigorous Black Box testing can an organisation achieve a holistic view of its applications, networks and people, how likely it is that attackers will find them, and what it will take to fix the vulnerabilities.’
5. Cryptocurrency and Blockchain
2017 was a monumental year for cryptocurrencies and the blockchain. Both are set to grow in popularity and value as more consumers and companies get involved. The best example to use here is Colu and the launch of the Liverpool Local Pound. Colu is an Israeli-based startup who launched an app-based service with transaction records on the Bitcoin blockchain network. Put in simple terms, blockchain removes the middleman and allows one Internet user to securely transfer a unique piece of digital property (such as cryptocurrency) to another Internet user. Colu allows consumers to directly support small businesses and Liverpool’s local economy using a virtual wallet that keeps banks and extra fees out of the loop. The more people and industries who use and accept digital currencies, the more value it has for everyone who uses it.
With 2018 just around the corner, it felt like the perfect opportunity to take a look back on our Members of the Month and celebrate the amazing work we are lucky enough to witness here at Launch22. We are proud to welcome a scope of talent and hard workers into our space and assist with their business journey in any way we can. So without further ado, here is a roundup of the members we couldn’t help but shout about in 2017.
Back in February we spoke to photographer and business owner, Tim Collins. His Amsterdam based company takes visitors and locals on photography tours of Amsterdam, introducing them to new and interesting locations in the city. Amsterdam Photo Safari has been featured in National Geographic’s 2017 Cool List and Tim’s own portfolio includes fashion, lifestyle and subcultures.
Next up was Jackson of Newsham Media. After an accidental stint as a search optimisation marketing assistant during his placement year at University, Jackson decided to pursue a career in digital marketing. He soon took the plunge and opened his own business, working with brands to help improve their online marketing platform and direct traffic to them efficiently.
James Pulver, founder of Spacesweets, sat down with us in April to talk about his business and plans for the future. Spacesweets specialises in 3D interactive floor plans and their slogan is to bring potential visitors straight to your door. James also works in creating content focused events using different digital formats to ensure a quality experience for all. He says that working for himself allows him to ‘offer more ideas, instead of being a passenger on someone else’s journey.’
May’s Member of the Month was Dan Holden. He talked to us about his business, D2U Coaching, which offers mentoring for academics in business to help plan their next career steps. Dan also hosts events such as HiPy in the City to teach the programming language, Python, and works part time at University of Liverpool as a postdoctoral researcher.
Halfway through the year, we spoke to Peter and Michelle from Impakt. It’s no surprise that they were one of our Members of the Month in 2017. Impakt are an adaptive design and artwork agency, heavily involved with retailer food packaging and retailer brands. You can find the team busily working away on a number of projects over in our fixed desk space. It’s been a pleasure to witness their business grow and expand during their time here at Launch22.
Heading into the summer months, we sat down with Chris Bradley to discuss his business and what advice he has for startups. Chris co-founded Publicate, a curation publishing platform for businesses to create email newsletters and web round ups from content they find online, which we use at Launch22! Chris advises startups to focus on their customers and also works with large businesses on the side to help their products become more customer centric.
It only felt right to dedicate August to the Launch22 mascot, Chip. Taking the decision to social media, we asked our followers to retweet us if they thought we should purchase the giant bear. Thanks to the power of social media, we welcomed Chip to the Launch22 family.
In September we introduced you to Bismark Djima who has launched his own shoe brand, Djima London, specialising in men’s loafers. Bismark has always had a passion for shoes and has worked hard to create the perfect designs that represent his specific style. On the Launch22 scholarship programme, Bismark benefited from attending our events, networking, and mentoring from our marketing specialist, Neil Donald.
Our Member of the Month for October was David Ollerhead of DigitalXRAID (DXR), a cyber security consultancy. David was invited to join DXR as their Business Development Manager. Working alongside digital and creative industries here at Launch22, David has made many of our members think twice about the way they design their systems in order to protect their personal details online.
Chatting with Alice Griffin in November, she shared her journey from working as a Content Editor for a travel startup in London, to starting her own freelance business. Alice writes and edits online content for brand’s blogs and digital magazines, as well as print pieces. She helps companies find their voice and enhance communication across their online platforms.
Last but not least, Louise Davison was our final Member of the Month for 2017. Louise works for The Hearing Lab and with a company called Conquer Life, for which she has helped launch a youth project called VIBE. The project aims to create a great community and raise ambitions for young people in Bootle through fun projects. She has done some amazing work to help empower young people in a number of ways, from mental health and lifestyle to aspirations and creativity.
Lacking a little motivation is something we are all familiar with. Even if you are an entrepreneur or freelancer doing something you love, you may still find yourself distracted, overwhelmed and uninspired at times. Although this is a frustrating yet completely normal human experience, I have gathered 5 tips that will shake you out of that funk. Or better still, stop you from falling into it in the first place.
These tips have come from our members at Launch22 Liverpool, a bit of research, and my own experience as a University student. The fact that there is so much information online tells me that this is an extremely common struggle. You never know when you are going to hit a mental wall and it is easy to get overwhelmed and over think your workload. Here are the top 5 tips in no particular order for creatives, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and startups.
1. Wake Up Early
Yes, one of the pros of working for yourself is that you can get up whenever you want, but many of our members would recommend getting up early. The sooner you get started, the less likely you are to get distracted or lose momentum. Establishing a quick morning routine can also get you in the right frame of mind for your working day.
2. Write To-Do Lists
Listing your tasks, or simply scripting out your day, can be both helpful and satisfying. Ticking off tasks as you go is a good way of visualising your accomplishments. You could make your list at night, so you wake up knowing exactly what needs to be done and when. Our members would also suggest doing the difficult/‘bad’ tasks first, otherwise they will be playing on your mind all day. Leave the easier/‘good’ tasks for later when your working day is coming to an end. Giving your tasks a time frame can help you keep on top of things and manage your time efficiently. You might even realise that some tasks are unnecessary and can be discarded.
3. Establish Your Working Environment
Being able to differentiate between your work and your personal life is important, but can be difficult to do. This is where co-working spaces like Launch22 come in! When asking our members for tips, it is clear that spending their weekdays at Launch22 massively helps them to stay focused. Being able to meet and communicate with people who are working in a similar way was top of the list of benefits. We have a blog post on the importance of collaborative working if you want to know more! However, if co-working spaces are not an option and working at home is better for you, there are plenty of ways to do that. Set aside a fuss-free area in your home, use plugins to stop yourself from visiting other sites, and remove all distractions. Whatever you do, do not work where you sleep!
4. Take Your Breaks
Although these are the top 5 tips to stay motivated, it is obviously important to give yourself a break. Sometimes you have to accept that something is not working for you and there is a reason why you feel stuck or uninspired. Switching things up can help you understand what the problem is or just give your brain the break it needs. You will return to your work feeling refreshed and with a new perspective. Here at Launch22, our members will go outside for walks or vacate to our social area where there are comfy seats, swings, drinks and snacks, they can chat or play a game of ping pong. Ping pong is a great way to get those creative juices flowing.
Taking the time to reflect on your past achievements and your purpose can be a great way to inspire yourself. You have surely chosen something you enjoy, so take a moment to remind yourself why. In an effort to push forward and work hard, we can often forget how far we have come and how we got to this point. Look back over your goals, check your stats, and consider where your work could take you next. This should be an exciting prospect to get you going!
Winter is coming! To bring you a little bit of sunshine today straight from Australia, we have found the perfect treat. Here is our member of the month, drum roll…. Alice Griffin. She’s here to tell us all about her passion for writing and share some amazing tips on how to write great content.
Hey Alice, thank you for letting me interview you today. Let’s kick off by telling us a bit more about yourself.
Hey guys, I’m Alice, a Content Writer and Editor. I just started a full-time freelance business. Before that I was working as a Content Editor for a travel start-up in London and, before moving to the UK, worked as a journalist for lifestyle magazines in Sydney. I moved from Australia to the UK in 2015 mainly because I wanted to travel more. My parents are British so it was easier to move to the UK rather than America, and it’s nice and easy to travel around Europe from there as well.
Do you think there are more opportunities for your area of work in the UK? What about in Liverpool?
I would say there are the same opportunities available in England as there are in Australia for my line of work. The difference for Liverpool is that it is a lot more affordable to live than London, which is vital when you’re going out on your own — that’s why I decided to move here a few months ago. The move has given me the financial leeway needed to be more creative and think outside the box.
It sounds like you really like living here! Is Launch22 part of the fun? How did you hear about us?
I heard about Launch22 a few years ago when I came to an event here. I really liked the event, so when I moved to Liverpool I thought of you guys straight away. It’s a really nice, light space. I think that if you are a freelancer or someone working alone it’s important to have somewhere to go to every day, rather than working from home all day alone. I have been lucky enough to always work in cool offices that help boost my creativity. As for Launch22, the events are really nice, the yoga is cool. There are also mentors and people that you run ideas by, which I love.
That’s great to hear. So, you are a content writer? Can you tell us a bit more about what that involves?
I do lots of different things day to day. I’m always writing and editing online content for brand’s blogs and digital magazines, as well as print pieces. My background is in journalism and I still write for magazines now. I mainly work with design, travel and lifestyle-related publications based in Sydney and London. I also work with brands, helping them to find their voice and enhancing their communication across all platforms; social media, email marketing, blogs, all that. It’s all good fun and I’m very lucky to work with some amazing companies and publishers.
How did you get into writing?
I never thought I was going to be a writer. I studied media at university and got an internship in Sydney at Universal Magazines, where I first started writing professionally. After a few months they offered me a full-time job — which I juggled with my uni work — so I kind of fell into my career I guess.
Until recently, I have always worked for companies. Earlier this year, I started a new job as a Content Manager for a leading hotel group in London, but the work culture wasn’t quite right for me. I decided to hedge my bets and start freelancing full-time. If it wasn’t for the situation I was in, I might have left it for a few more years before going out on my own, but it has turned out really well — it made me take a risk and push myself where I may not have otherwise.
What advice would you give to someone who want to start as a freelancer?
Going freelance is really tough, especially when it’s unexpected. I would say to other people; make sure freelancing is something that you absolutely want to do and are 100% committed to. Don’t have a backup job if you can avoid it. Part-time jobs are great for some, but I didn’t want to be reliant on that position and take away my focus from what I’m really passionate about. I’ve seen lot of freelance friends stuck in that in-between phase.
Growing your network before you go freelance is important as well. Reach out to your contacts, and ideally have a base of clients at the ready for when you do go solo.
Blogging is becoming increasingly popular; can you give us some tips on how to write an effective blog article?
There is no one size fits all. My first ever editor told me that people respond best to other people and their stories, and I always try to stick with that. For example, when I’m writing an blog article on a home renovation project, the design of course is super important, but it is how that design will inform people’s lives that makes for a great story. Also, don’t be too serious, play around with ideas and words and be original. People want to read something that is relatable, so don’t try to sound clever for the sake of sounding clever. Big words aren’t always best.
Where do you see your career going?
While I’m busy at the moment, I always want to be busier. I only have a few Liverpool-based clients currently — most of my work comes from clients in London and Sydney — so I’d love to work with more local businesses here, that’s a short term goal of mine. And long term, I’m not quite sure yet. I definitely want to continue working with the brands, businesses and publishers that inspire me, and create more connections along the way. So far, so good!
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Last Thursday in Manchester, the region’s top tech startups battled to win the UK’s most exciting pitch competition, Northern Stars. 20 of the North’s finest will delivered their 3-minute pitches in front of an audience of investors, press and tech industry peers, in the prestigious Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester. With just 10 of the startups to be crowned this year’s Northern Stars, only the very best will survive.
It’s October, it’s Autumn, Friday the 13th is this month and Halloween is fast approaching. Most importantly though for us here at Launch 22 we’re celebrating our member of the month! This month we’re excited to shout about our member David Ollerhead from the cyber security consultancy DigitalXRAID (DXR). I sat down with David this week over a cup of coffee at our Liverpool office space and asked him some questions about his involvement with DXR and his experience while at Launch 22.
I started by asking David about how he got involved with DXR. David says that in his previous position he was involved in a professional manor with DXR and that “they liked the way in which I dealt with them, and asked me to join” so eventually this year David joined the company as their Business Development Manager.
I then went on to pick at David’s brain about what it is DXR offer clients.Prior to meeting David, I had visited DXR’s website and came across phrases like ‘social engineering’ and ‘penetration testing’. ‘Social engineering’ had reminded me of a YouTube I had watched about hacking one late night, but that was the extent of my knowledge on the matter so I was eager to listen to what David had to say.
We started by discussing social media. The concept that social is media is a part of a lot our lives and that we need to be conscious about what we’re posting is nothing new for most. We know that it’s probably not a good idea to take a photo of the outside of our house, street name and address in full view and then caption it ‘we’re all going on holiday for two weeks!’ — a scary concept and not a good idea. However, if you imagine the house was a multi-million-pound company and instead of someone breaking in and stealing your television it was hackers gaining access to the companies accounts or client information, the odds then get significantly higher!
What attackers can do utilising social engineering is to use social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to build profiles on their targeted company’s employees. What this means is that an IT technicians page on LinkedIn can give information on software that they are a specialist in, this then can help hackers in deducing what types of software the company utilises. Furthermore, an attacker can target and build a profile on a particular employee of a company in a department they would like to access.
“For example, a hacker may target the accounts department of a company, and has identified through social engineering that “Dorris” in accounts enjoys her shoe shopping from a particular retailer. If a legitimate looking email is created and sent to Dorris offering 50% off her next purchase and she follows the link enclosed…boom goes the dynamite. Clicking on the malicious link would instantly infect / compromise the company’s entire system with Ransomware or remotely executable code.”
I get the feeling I’ve only reached the tip of the cyber-security-iceberg, but from what I can surmise DXR simulate methods that ‘the bad guys’ use to infiltrate a company’s systems, providing client’s with a thorough risk assessment of their current security posture. From there DXR advise on how to mitigate and remediate the risks / vulnerabilities identified.
David then went on to explain another extreme engagement they can provide called Red Teaming. DXR will send an employee to a company’s offices to attempt to gain access to the building, furthermore a company’s IT assets / server room / an employees workstation. I got this very excited about the method as to me it sounded like real-life spy work.
I then move on to ask David about his time at Launch 22 and his feelings about working in a cooperative office environment. David tells me that it’s great to be around driven people in an amazing environment with everyone working towards their goals day to day. David goes on to cite a benefit of working in a cooperative environment being that the discussions you have with people can be very informative for both parties.
“There’s people in the creative / technology industries here and it’s great to make them think twice about the way they’re designing systems”.
Wrapping up our discussion I ask David if DXR has reached any milestones while being part of Launch 22. David informs me that they have recently gained a large client in the North West of England, after only eight days of DXR trading out of Liverpool, I may add! To finish our discussion David tells me that they’re currently planning an event for next month. The event will invite businesses along for free to raise some data protection issues (GDPR) — particular thanks to Alex Clark from Professional Liverpool network for their help organising so far.
by Bradley Welch Harley
Summer has come and gone and it’s time for our newest Member of the Month! Introducing Bismark Djima, who tells us all about his passion for shoes and his upcoming launch event for his line, Djima London.
Hey Bismark! Thanks for letting me interview you today. If you could just start off by telling us a little about yourself.
I’m the founder of Djima London, which is a shoe brand that specialises in men’s loafers. As you can already guess, I’m very passionate about shoes, and that’s how I got started. I always used to be asked, and still do, where I got my shoes from and always received compliments on them. I have a very specific style, and people seemed to like it, so I thought to myself, why not create my own designs and my own brand.
I hear you’re launching soon, can you tell me about what you have planned?
Yes! I’m very excited about it, I’ve been working so hard to make sure it’s going to be as perfect as possible. There will be a lot of entertainment, even a fashion show with a red carpet catwalk. There’s also going to be giveaway competitions, and of course, I’m going to reveal all my designs. It’s definitely going to be an amazing night, so be sure to come it! It’s on the 22nd of September at 7 pm here at Launch22.
Sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun. So what is your experience here at Launch22 and being on the scholarship programme?
My time here at Launch22 has been really great, and it’s really helped me a lot. I started off working from home, but it was terrible, I couldn’t stay concentrated and was less productive. So I came to work in Launch22, an organisation that helps guide you and allows your business to grow. One of the key things that helped me specifically is the Launch22 events. It’s a great place for networking and meeting different people in the business sector. As a result, I’ve built up so many contacts that have all helped me in different ways, and in turn who I’ve shared my ideas with.
Further to this, Launch22 also has mentors who are experts and knowledgeable in different areas so you can always find someone to answer a question you have. For example, marketing was really important to me so I spoke to Neil Donald, a mentor here, and the guidance has been invaluable.
I would like to say thank you to Georgina, the community manager here at Launch, she’s been the best support and she is always ready to lend a hand and do whatever she can to solve something for me.
So if you’re looking for somewhere to start your business, or to give your start-up a home, Launch22 is perfect for you.
Launch22 is such a great place, you immediately feel comfortable and there are not many working spaces like that. What are you planning to do after your launch event?
Well, I’ve been getting a lot of women asking me where my female line is, so my next step would be to launch that. I’m planning to do some samples and some researching about creating female versions of the loafers I have. Following that, I’m hopefully going to expand my brand into clothing as well, such as suits and shirts etc. Those are my next two plans, there’s a lot of work I have to do to get there though, but I have so many ideas.
I’m sure you’ll reach all your goals Bismark, you’re very dedicated. Have you had any struggles or made any mistakes you’ve learned from in your path to creating your own line?
I’ve definitely had a few troubles, for example, I made the mistake of using the wrong material when I was designing my shoes. I had to go away and look more into it, research as much as possible in order to find the right tools I needed to create my vision. There’s a lot of small details you can trip over, and I’ve learnt a lot about creating and manufacturing.
Okay, last question! What advice would you give to someone who is looking to create their own line?
If it’s your passion and your dream, and you’ve been thinking about it for a while, my advice would be to get started as soon as you can. I personally had the idea in my head for a long while before I actually pursued it and I wish I had started a lot earlier
You will face some struggles and some obstacles, but there are no boundaries to what you can do, so just go for it. It’s an indescribable feeling when you get that first sale of your service, it motivates you to do more because there’s nothing that compares to that. Also, when you do start, there is a lot of support and guidance available to you, so you won’t be alone in your pursuit. The Sky is the limit.
Follow Djima London on Instagram: djimalondon
Want to find out more about Launch22? Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Roda Musa
So you’ve started your business and everything is going well, so you decide it’s time to host your first event.
Here at Launch22 we know how important events are to our members, whether it’s to raise their profile or simply a way of bringing everyone together.
There are a number of ways that hosting an event can benefit you personally, and of course, your business.
Every time we walk past the Impackt team they’re always busy working away on different projects, speaking to clients and occasionally sneaking in some pizza and ping pong! It’s no surprise that they are our June Member of the Month, naturally we needed to hear more about them and what they’ve been up to!
Joe Rees and Nick Tappin founded their recruitment company in 2016 and have now been with us at Launch22 for just over a year. Their business has been successfully accelerated towards the next level and as a result of this, they are now moving onwards and upwards to fulfil the next step of their business venture.