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About Amy

Amy Hunter is studying Business Administration at the University of Bath. She has a wide variety of interests in the tech sector, with particular focus on startups and social media. Currently Amy is working on an e-ticketing platform in Bath, GoTag, which she Co-Founded in 2011.
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Company profile: The Agency

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After a fantastic festival this year we are extremely grateful to our gold sponsors, The Agency, who not only supported as a gold sponsor in the SPARKies but also as the sole sponsor of the Family Weekend in Queen’s Square.

The Agency is a Bath based advertising and communications business, servicing global brands in international markets. With more than 80% of revenue being driven from digital and technology based accounts, notable international clients include AA, BSM, Boots, BT, Del Monte, Tom Tom, Intercasino and QVC and most recently the James Caan Foundation. The Agency have also pioneered new targeting techniques using digital media channels and advertising platforms in partnership with The Times and Wall Street Journal. This has secured North American company Quintiles, the largest pharmaceuticals CRO and clinical trials company in the world, as a long term client.

Founded in 2008, The Agency is one of the UK’s fastest growing agencies. With a current team of 15-18, including two recent Bath graduates, they expect to expand to around 28 people by the end of the year. In 2012 the Agency were ranked 43 in the UK’s Top 100 Agencies (RAR) based on financial success, client reviews, as well as peer regard.

sammy

I spoke to Saman Mansourpour, co-founder and partner of the Agency, about running a highly successful international business from Bath and why they felt it was important to support Bath Digital Festival:

Which project are you most proud of?

I think it would be re-positioning BSM to the youth market. We helped to drive their business online and increase brand awareness of 17-24 year olds to 97%. We also got to work with celebrities such as Pixie Lott and JLS which was great. Helping to define and measure digital media will be the biggest part of the business going forward I’m sure because its all about what can brands do in that environment and how can you capture that activity and quantify it in a commercial way. This will help our clients know, first and foremost, what works and what doesn’t  and secondly, how to proportion their budgets accordingly so they know what the online channels are really delivering for them commercially both short and long term. Therefore, for that reason, we’ve also invested this year quite heavily in a digital media team. We’ve got a new planning director, digital media manager and we’ve started to buy quite a lot of media and it’s helping to close that loop for us. So now we’re all the way through from coming up with the strategy, the campaign, the creative to actually getting it pushed out into the media, monitoring and measuring what happens,and taking the learnings and optimising that process. The integration means it’s across all of those digital media channels.

As a sponsor for our festival why do you think it’s important to support Bath’s digital community?

Well, we’re based here first and foremost [laughs]. It’s our home city, we should support it and be seen to support it. We do business here and we do business from here so that in itself is a good reason to support the city as a whole. From a selfish perspective, as Bath thrives and the digital scene in Bath thrives, then we thrive. But equally, for that to work it needs to be a virtuous circle, and we need to give back to the city as well. So for us it’s not just about sponsoring the Festival to help the events take place, it’s about being part of it and helping to promote it as well. The more notoriety Bath gets, the more people come here and thrive here, the more people we’ll hopefully get to work, engage with and learn from. If we can make this a technological hub of advancement then that can only be a good thing for everybody involved. We will benefit from that and in turn our clients benefit from that as well. As an agency we have to be mindful of that- we’re only ever as good as the last thing we’ve done for our clients. We’ve always got to be offering them and delivering them something new  to keep their brands abreast of the market and that’s what we strive to do so the city will play a really big role in that . The university in particular will continue to play a part in that so as we grow we hope that the digital scene will grow as well and should be symbiotic.

Do you think there is anything Bath can do as a city to attract more digital companies?

I think that on a wishlist for the digital scene here to grow, the employment opportunities need to grow and by virtue of that it means we’re going to need more companies here doing business. So, as a city, we probably need to attract businesses, small, medium and large, not just start up operations. There’s a lot of start ups that come out of Bath, they’re important, they’re great, we need them and they can be the bedrock to a thriving culture. But, ultimately, it requires some level of scale and we need to have businesses that are bigger, businesses that have more money to invest in R&D and more money to invest in people and growth. I think Bristol does a very good job, it’s bigger, there’s more square footage, there’s more people, by definition it’s easier for them. However, I think Bath has a certain intelligence about the population and certainly the university helps to feed that and we have to make sure that we keep that here and we don’t just let it run off to London and come back when it fancies kicking it’s feet up and having an easier life because that’s not necessarily when people are at their best. The university provides some excellent digital students so we want those people all the way through, we want them to learn here, stay here, be here and hopefully retire here.

Thanks again to The Agency for their generous support. You can find further information about their services on their website www.theagencyonline.co.uk.

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SPARKies shortlist focus: Totally Killing It

totally killing it blog postThe purpose of the SPARKies awards is to celebrate the best in tech in the South West, therefore, what could be more appropriate than the ‘totally killing it’ award for companies competing in the global market? The international performance of this year’s nominated firms was truly impressive and shortlisting just three finalists was a difficult decision. The nominees were judged on the strength and duration of their overseas operations and the value this brings to their company.

The ‘Totally Killing It’ category is kindly sponsored by Eden Ventures, investors in technology companies.

Our first shortlisted company, The Agency, is a Bath based advertising and communications business, servicing global brands in international markets. In 2012 the Agency were ranked 43 in the UK’s Top 100 Agencies (RAR) based on financial success, client reviews, as well as peer regard. With more than 80% of revenue being driven from digital and technology based accounts, notable international clients include AA, BSM, Boots, BT, Del Monte, Tom Tom, Intercasino and QVC and most recently the James Caan Foundation. The Agency have pioneered new targeting techniques using digital media channels and advertising platforms in partnership with The Times and Wall Street Journal. This has secured North American company Quintiles, the largest pharmaceuticals CRO and clinical trials company in the world, as a long term client.

Our second finalist, Catchy, is a marketing communications agency with global ambitions based in Bath. Over the last two years they have focused on becoming the leading global player in Developer Marketing, working with big brands such as Nokia, BlackBerry, Vodafone and AT&T. Catchy help build and execute their communications to engage, excite and attract mobile developers to their platforms. For example, Catchy led a 6 month global export project working with the local Nokia teams in markets such as China, India, Russia and Brazil. In another project for BlackBerry, Catchy managed their device seeding program to developers across 10 regions worldwide. For 2013, Catchy expect this trend to continue and are currently planning to open a permanent office in the Bay area of California later this year.

And finally, TechRadar, produces online consumer technology news and reviews. With an editorial and development team in Bath of nine people, TechRadar also has offices in London, San Francisco and Sydney, providing local content to the US, UK and Australia. Globally, they received 15.4 million unique visitors in January 2013 with 41 million page views. The majority of the unique visits originated from the US, closely followed by the UK. The huge volume of traffic to their site indicates the high quality and influence of their content. TechRadar is part of Future plc. the Bath based international media group and leading digital publisher.

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SPARKies Finalist Profiles: One To Watch For 2012

 

The SPARKies awards aim to recognise the very best of Bath’s tech sector and, with only one day to go until the sold out event, excitement levels are running high! One category in particular, the “one to watch for 2012”, shows the impressive range of emerging companies generated in Bath. For those of you who perhaps haven’t heard of all of them just yet, here is a quick run down of the finalists.

Artolo LogoArtolo
How many of us are too intimidated to purchase a work of art from a gallery? That’s if we can even afford the prices in the first place! Artolo is reinventing the visual art world, making it accessible to all customers and budgets alike. It is an online platform which allows any artist to present their work for sale. Customers can then view these pieces in coffee shops, hotels and studios in their local area.

Artolo will launch this summer on a national scale giving independent artists the tools they need to connect with their audience.

Jowst LogoJowst
Jowst is a free community platform for both casual and competitive gamers that aims to centralise a players gaming experience into one easy to manage competition hub. Users can create or compete in tournaments for all games on all platforms. Jowst shows every conceivable stat that gamers crave, from tournament participation and win/loss ratio to being able to discover which teams are your biggest adversaries and viewing your form over time.

Jowst is working with professional teams such as TCM-gaming and is currently accepting applications for its beta programme.

Meanbee beeMeanbee
Meanbee use the Magento e-commerce platform to build websites for clients and have become experts in their knowledge of the platform. They aim to build websites that look great, maximise user experience and focus on increasing conversion rates. They also build custom Magento extensions including DIY Mage which makes it easier for a store owner to edit the look and feel of a site without needing to contact any developers.

Since graduating from the University of Bath last summer, Meanbee have moved into new offices with views of the Abbey and in 2012 they plan to double their team from three to six team members.

Topic Logic LogoTopicLogic
TopicLogic’s mission is to make it easier for information workers to find, share and publish their information wherever it is stored. All your files and emails are organized by topics and presented in your own personal online map. Files can be shared within teams with a single click. This increases productivity and collaboration by reducing the time spent sending and downloading information within a company.

TopicLogic are currently in private beta and are working with UK lawyers to trial and market the product.

Treehouse
Treehouse is an online tutorial service to teach web design and development to beginners. Users pay a monthly subscription fee for access to video tutorials and reinforce the content through quizzes and coding tests to unlock badges.The service is brilliant for any entrepreneur who wants to learn how to build their own web products or simply for people who wish to increase their employability prospects.

Treehouse currently has 8,000 paid users and with investors such as Kevin Rose and Reid Hoffman this is certainly a company with some serious credibility.

Urban Tribe LogoUrban Tribe
Urban Tribe is an online student community which gives members access to discounts at local venues and tips and recommendations for the area. Users can create their own “circle” of friends to keep track of the most relevant offers being used and share activity on Facebook. By allowing members to be paid for signing up their friends, user acquisition has been very successful.

Urban Tribe have worked with over 200 clients so far and their user base has doubled in the last month alone. They are planning to launch nationwide in Fresher’s week this September.

 

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One to watch: Treehouse

treehouse logo

Web design is a daunting prospect for any beginner. The number of programming languages available to choose from alone makes it hard to know where to start. Thankfully, Bath resident and entrepreneur Ryan Carson has given all newbies a solid foundation in which to make those first vital steps towards becoming a capable web developer.

Treehouse is an online educational service to teach web design, web development and iOS. Users can watch video tutorials on their chosen topics, then complete short quizzes and coding tests to reinforce their knowledge and unlock badges.

The site itself has a very clean, easy to use interface and the videos are comprehensive yet broken down into manageable chunks. This is definitely a major contributing factor to Treehouse’s success. When I first began designing the front end of websites I wasted hours reading forum posts and watching tutorials containing either too advanced or irrelevant content. Treehouse provides a clear pathway to guide users from the very basics or jump straight in at a relevant experience level.

 

Treehouse asks what do you want to learn

Treehouse lets you decide which topics you want to learn.

The service is provided on a monthly subscription fee which ranges from $25 to $49 per month depending on your membership level. Students get a fantastically cheap deal at only $9 p/m but even on the higher price plans I would strongly recommend Treehouse if you are just starting out in web design.

Ryan Carson

Ryan Carson, CEO of Treehouse

Ryan Carson kindly gave me a quick interview in which I asked for his thoughts on learning to code and starting a Business here in Bath.

So why should a complete beginner join Treehouse and take up web design or coding?

I think, really, coding is becoming the new literacy. In the future, for kids, it will become an essential part of their high school diploma. It is very important to have an understanding of programming as these days almost every device and business is connected to coding in some way.
Is it just complete beginners using the service?

At the moment treehouse is being used mainly by beginners, we don’t expect you to have any prior understanding of programming so it’s really people who haven’t had any experience before. However, we will be expanding to more advanced material soon.

What was it like trying to start a tech company in Bath?
I think Bath is becoming a good place for tech. My best advice is to try to have lunch with as many people as you can and get involved with the scene wherever possible. Even though it can be hard with work and family commitments, you really need to get out and socialise. Location doesn’t always matter, I started Carsonified in Bath then sold it and started Treehouse in Bath too.
What do you think Bath needs to do to become more established as a tech city?
I think Bath needs to have its own established incubator programme with seed-funding such as YC or seedcamp. There’s a lot of people in Bath such as Chris from TED or Peter Gabriel who could really throw their weight behind Bath projects. David from Bath Digital is doing really great stuff at the moment. But definitely for Bath to get national credibility it really needs an incubator programme.
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