21 November 2018
I remember those first days of UKFast, more than 19 years ago. We were out on our own, Gail and I. Wearing every single hat that the business needed We learned to code, discovered how to build a business and to find balance in our lives.
At first, the balance was completely off. We passed like ships in the night, on the way in and out of the office to cover shifts, working every hour of the day and night.
There was no one there to tell us that that’s not the best way to do things. I don’t think I’d have done anything differently – the work we put in in those early days laid the foundations for what we have at UKFast today. However, having someone there to give advice and spot when you’re close to burning out would have been invaluable.
In fact, it was my uncle who, one day – some years down the line – asked when I’d last had a holiday. I proudly told him that it had been years; I thought that was something to boast about. It was clear that I worked hard, but I’d worked so hard that I hadn’t even taken a holiday. He opened my eyes.
Now, Gail, our family and I have our holidays at set times in the year. We take the time to switch off, to recharge and come back even stronger.
This simple piece of advice has proven invaluable. I never had a mentor, but I know that we would have received so many more tips and lessons if we had. That’s one of the reasons I am so proud to see the progress that Tech Manchester is making.
Just over 18 months ago, we embarked on a new adventure. Trish – Patricia Keating – took the reins of a new non-profit organisation, Tech Manchester, to provide tech-focussed businesses with a host of support initiatives including intensive educational workshops, PR and communications support, as well as a structured mentor programme. The likes of which weren’t an option for us all that time ago.
Reviewing the programme’s progress with Trish, it was clear just how many businesses, entrepreneurs and startups the team have helped in such a short space of time.
In a year and a half, the initiative has helped 536 unique businesses which have attended workshops throughout 2018. Through the mentor programme 125 businesses have been matched with mentors, while the Tech Manchester team has trained 116 new mentors too.
Being able to tap into the resource of UKFast has also provided an important tool for startups. This year alone the UKFast comms team has helped Tech Manchester and its startups publish 10 press releases. These were featured in the likes of Manchester Evening News, Scottish Herald, Prolific North, and Insider North West.
Not only has Tech Manchester provided the perfect vehicle for its own people, the UKFast team and beyond to really get to know more of the Manchester digital community, it’s also having a tangible impact on those who need it too. That’s thanks to Trish and Nicola’s extraordinary commitment, and everyone who has supported the initiative so far.
Planning the next year with Tech Manchester is incredibly exciting. As the UKFast Space team transforms the latest UKFast Campus building, the new tech incubator space and media centre moves ever-closer to completion. We already have a few businesses in there – well before we were scheduled to open the space! Even with these few startups in there, the atmosphere is always buzzing. There’s a certain magic that comes with gathering startups together in one space. The cumulative energy of so many agile, new businesses is unlike anything else. I know that once the space is completed and fully occupied, it will be a collaboration space like no other thanks to this energy.
We’re far from alone in our mission to help tech startups to grow. Know and Do Consultancy, the IP Office and We are Nova CoFoundry are just a few of the organisations who’ve partnered on workshops this year. Our 119 mentors are sharing their time and energy to help others grow too. Of course, there are also tech and business heavyweights like Naomi Timperley, Jacqueline de Rojas, Vikas Shah and far too many to list by name here, who regularly take the time to share their knowledge and experience with others.
Thank you to everyone who has supported Tech Manchester so far. We’re all incredibly proud of the progress we’ve made so far. However, we know that this is just a part of the journey. We’ve still got plenty of fire in our bellies to create a wide-reaching, lasting impact on the digital world around us.
If you’d like to find out more about joining Tech Manchester get in touch with Trish and the team, or drop me a message.