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Interview with Peter Francomb of Cahootify

Bath has so many exciting startups at the moment. One of those is Cahootify, which is about to launch in July. I spoke to CEO Peter Francomb about running a tech startup, raising funds and getting noticed.
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Pete, tell us what Cahootify does?

At Cahootify we believe in helping people do more of the work that they love by giving them the tools and resources to make projects happen. At core, this means an online, beautifully designed and fun to use team-building platform. You can use Cahootify to post projects / build a team, find projects / join a team or manage a ‘talent pool’ of freelancers, consultants or volunteers.

What motivated you to start Cahootify?

Until a few years ago, I’d almost always been an independent professional. For twenty years or so I made a living from various disciplines – freelancing as a graphics operator, freelancing as a web developer, working as a musician, running small businesses… all sorts. During this time I was also involved in projects that were about developing new skills and abilities, or about doing something that I felt was of value to people, or both. Cahootify is the online platform I always wanted.

There must have been some big challenges along the way – how have you overcome them?

Well, we’re pre-launch so I guess most of our challenges are still to come. It’s been amazingly plain sailing so far in terms of building the team and attracting interest from potential partners and the like but we’ve just hit our first real challenge, which is to close our seed investment round – and we haven’t yet overcome it.

Whilst Cahootify is going extremely well in many ways, that’s also making things difficult because we don’t have the resources to follow up on the tremendous and rising amount of interest. None of us is of independent means so we do now need cash investment in order to be able to continue.

What has been your biggest success to date?
Speaking personally, and bearing in mind that we are still pre-launch, the biggest success so far was probably when we enrolled a certain Mr. Simon Starr on to the team, who’s now our CTO and Lead Developer. In the world of tech startups, there are far more people with bright ideas looking for partner technologists than there are technologists on the other side of the equation. Finding a truly talented and experienced co-founder to take responsibility for the technical arena, who also has the right kind of entrepreneurial spirit, is like gold dust. I feel honoured.

Have you been able to access any funding for startups?
Not as such, no, though I estimate that the core and supporting teams have put in around £70k worth of “sweat equity” thus far. We launched a crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs about a month ago and there’s currently about £5k sitting in our account, which we can’t get our hands on yet and we’ll lose if we don’t reach our £60k target. Of course, we are going to reach our target – one hundred percent no doubt! (Gulp.) We’re also in the process of applying to the Nominet Trust and the South West Local Enterprise Partnership “Going for Growth” fund, both of which we seem to tick all the boxes for.

What would your advice be to others looking to start a tech startup?
Well if you’re asking about how to create a successful tech startup, then I don’t think I’m in any position to give advice yet! I’m not entirely sure who is, either – it’s a highly chaotic world and I often think that people ascribe meaning in hindsight to what was, in fact, just good or bad luck at the time.What I would suggest, however, is that whatever you imagine might be there for you at the end of the startup rainbow (wealth, status, security, magnetic sex appeal…), it won’t be enough to sustain you. Despite all the hassle, the inevitable setbacks, the insane hours, the financial insecurity and the mundane chores, you have to basically love what you’re doing. Otherwise, you’ll never stick it out.
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About Katrina

Founder of Pepper PR & Marketing, a company specialising in marketing and event management for the digital and tech sector. On the BathSPARK organisation team and involved in running the SPARKies, the south west's best tech awards.

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