Manchester_skyline_by_binary_ape

The short version: There’s a Manchester Startups Facebook group, and please let me know about startups to add to the list in this post, and ideas of next steps, in the comments. Now here’s the long version…

Today I gave a short talk at TEDx Manchester about something that’s been on my mind for a good while now – why there’s no tech startup ecosystem in Manchester. [Update: I’ve added the video to the end of this post]

The video of the talk will be online soon, but the short version is that while we have a number of successful Internet companies based in (or with a significant presence in) Manchester – hello Laterooms, Myriad and the like – and a number of young companies plugging away at innovative Internet-focused products, there’s no real ‘scene’ to support them.

I used the word ‘hub’ in my talk but that gets people thinking about physical spaces. Arguably there’s room for incubator space like that (a model being followed in Newry, Northern Ireland, for example), but even just meetups for tech entrepreneurs and an online space for them to meet, would be a good start.

When I spoke to one startup, Capsool, recently they told me that they didn’t really know any other startups in Manchester. Imagine if, instead of being isolated and looking to London for contacts and support, they could get it right here in Manchester – arguably the most inspiring, exciting, dynamic city in the UK outside of the M25.

UPDATE: Crazy of me to miss off the fact that Manoj Ranaweera runs Techcelerate, which acts as a meeting place for startups in Manchester, although events are often accompanied by a fee. That’s one part of what’s going on (and I’ve seen some great talks there and met some interesting people) but hopefully a wider, organic scene can grow in Manchester.

So, following on from today’s talk, this post is here to do a couple of things. One: host a list of Manchester Internet tech startups. Two: host suggestions of what to do next, via the comments.

Startups in Manchester

Here’s a list of startups that spring immediately to mind that are based in the Greater Manchester area, a brief description of what they do and a link where available. I’m sure I’ve missed a few that I’ve met (sorry!) so please add your names and URLs in the comments if you want to be added.

The Agile Planner – A work planning tool for developers

App55 – One-click payments solution for retailers.

CANDDi – Sales data intelligence product for businesses.

Capsool – Messaging-focused startup. First project is the Jubilee Time Capsule.

Capsule CRM – CRM solution.

Crowd.fm – Event promotion tool

Edocr – Document sharing startup.

Malinko – CRM and job scheduling software for teams

Murmr – Stealth-mode startup doing something interesting – but that’s all I can say.

Persian Cat Press – Interactive book apps for iOS.

PublishMyData – Linked data publishing platform

ReSporter – Sport-focused Twitter aggregation app from Head First Communications

Scoopd – Curated news

SurveyMe – Real-time customer surveys for businesses.

Video News Agency – A way for promotional videos and their B-roll to find use in broadcast TV, from PR firm SKV.

That’s a small list for sure (but it’s being updated as more names come in!), but they’re the ones that spring to mind as I sit on a sofa on a Monday evening. I’m sure there are more.

Please add to it with suggestions of startups that are creating innovative digital products to operate as businesses (not for clients) in the comments.

A Facebook group

One easy first move would be a Facebook group along the lines of the 1100-strong Berlin Startups group. There’s also a more exclusive Berlin Founders group where the CxOs get to swap information in a more private forum.

So, on a whim – here’s a Facebook Group: Manchester Startups. Aimed at anyone involved in a Manchester startup or interested in getting involved, please sign up if you’re interested. I know some people are Facebook-averse, but it’s a first step to get the ball rolling.

What next?

If you have any ideas, or are organising anything to bring a Manchester startup scene going, please do leave a comment below or email me (martin AT martinbryant.net).

This isn’t me putting myself forward as anything more than a cheerleader for entrepreneurial, digital activity in the city, and we still need those who lead Manchester to recognise the potential that well-supported high-growth startups can achieve.

Right – I’m hitting ‘Publish’. Let’s see if this leads to anything…

Image credit: Binary Ape

33 Comments

  • Hi Martin, really gutted that you completely ignored the fact Techcelerate has been building an tech ecosystem in Manchester since 2006, especially when tech was not that sexy. We may not have achieved similar traction to other cities, nor have met your own requirements, but to simply ignore, especially given you are part of the Techcelerate community, is difficult to understand. I am surprised Capsool mentioned lack of a tech ecosystem, Paul knows very well about Techcelerate.All the best for your own efforts!Best regardsManoj

  • All strength to you in getting something started. I was so disappointed that barely 30 odd people turned out to hear Julie Meyer of 1st Tuesday fame speak at Cornerhouse recently.What I’d really like to see is the developer community get together with entrepreneurs to discuss ideas. Both need to share a common language if start-ups are to flourish, but to my layman’s eyes developers seem to be in a geek/hack orbit and the entrepreneurs are scattered across all sorts of vertical industry events or worse still, garbage networking events where everyone is just trying to sell at one another.Fair play to Techcelerate in this field but it’s one organisation with limited resources.Anyway, how can I help?

  • Manoj, I’ve replied to you on Facebook but I will do here too for the sake of completeness. This was written at the end of a long day so I’m very sorry I missed out what you do, Manoj. It certainly wasn’t deliberate. Your work shouldn’t be ignored – I’ve updated and added it in. Please do join the Facebook group though – this is about a fresh push, building on what you’ve been doing, embracing it but taking in (hopefully) a wider community. Techcelerate is an important part of that but not everyone goes to it.

  • Hi MartinGood on you for stirring the debate. I launched http://www.IdeaAlive.co.uk in Nov 2011 and like Manoj am working to build the startup landscape in Manchester – but it isn’t good enough!We are aiming to run our second accelerator shortly – and two startups for you to include are http://www.FamilyStori.com and http://www.Audlive.com from our first pilot.For our next accelerator we want more mentors – who have been there and done it – not just who’ve read the book or heard the lecture….and here lies Manchester’s problem – we’ve got digital BBC – great resource, but not startups….we’ve got great digital agencies, but these are not true scaleable startups and rarely get past 20 or 30 staff.Hence, we lack startup digital entrepreneurs who have exited. Too many of Manchesters business angels are finance professionals – not enough are tech entrepreneurs.This is going to take a 4 year cycle to turn around – because the businesses you are listing will grow and entrepreneurs will exit – with skill, experience and money…… and then we will have a vibrant startup sector.So, good on you for stirring the debate. Let me know how we can collaborate and please give @idea_alive a plug.BrNeil

  • Hi Martin,Nice work, it’s about time someone highlighted the burgeoning tech scene here in Manchester. I’m not convinced that a Facebook Group is the best platform for this, but I’ve signed up and am interested to see how it develops.As Ric Roberts pointed out, we’ve recently formed the Bootstrap Business Club; a small, informal group of techies who are either running or are in the process of setting up their own local tech businesses. The focus is very much on setting up sustainable, profitable businesses that are self-funded, so a very different beast to something like Techcelerate.Anyone interested should come along to MadLab next month (http://madlab.org.uk/content/bootstrap-business-club/) and join the Google group https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/bootstrap-club to be kept informed.Cheers,Tekin

  • Hi Tekin, yes – the Facebook group may not be the ultimate focus of the community, but it’s a start – and as I mention above, there’s a popular and useful one in Berlin. There definitely needs to be some kind of online presence for people to focus on an use as a sounding board, I think. The Facebook group is just a starting point.

  • Martin – thanks for getting the ball rolling, but to be honest I’m not that keen on it being a facebook group, as I tend not to use my facebook profile for business-related stuff.

  • Hi Ric, I just didn’t want to post this without somewhere to continue the discussion beyond the comments here. I agree that FB isn’t ideal for everyone – but it’s a start.

  • Martin: fair enough. I’m not what the alternative is – I just don’t log in to facebook often enough to keep up with their privacy settings 🙂

  • Hi Martin, great idea this. Why not try a LinkedIn Manchester Startups Group instead? One added benefit: CxOs can mingle in the background without spamming their friends

  • Hi Chi-chi, if anyone wants to do something on LinkedIn, that’s fine, although I find it a little too stuffy a platform for relaxed and open chat about this kind of thing, which is why I chose Facebook..

  • Yawn.I hear this discussion every couple years from Leeds/Manchester/Sheffield/Everywhere*If anything Manchester is oversupplied with meetups and forums about startups.What’s missing, and what’s hard – is to actually startup. Go do *that*.Martyn – you namechecked 13 startups, write a story about each one, interview each founder and each investor. Find the patterns and tell their stories.

  • Imran, I understand your cynicism/apathy – people say these kinds of things all the time, but there really is more of a community that can be made out of what’s happening (and could be happening) in Manchester. This is just about helping that along.

  • Hi Martin,We are another one to add! http://home.malinkoapp.com is a Manchester startup. It has similarities to Capsule, but differs in that its focused around servicing businesses with a mobile workforce. So, for instance it integrates with TomToms.For me, personally I would prefer something on Linked In, rather than FB as I used FB for my private life and not my professional life. I’m not sure I recognise Linked In as stuffy per se- the many groups I’m a member of have very different characters from each other.

  • Apologies Martin, I didn’t intend to come off as cynical or apathetic.I’ve worked in 5 startups over the last decade, successfully raising finances for the last I was involved in and never really found it difficult to access people, investors, talent or knowledge… and I live in Bradford!Also, I kinda like that Manchester doesn’t have an identikit scene or aspires to be a Silicon Something, but is forging a more bohemian direction with the likes of DataGM, FutureEverything and MadLab; more Portland than Palo Alto.I appreciate what you’re seeking to do, but I think the problem isn’t the accessibility of a tech scene (Manchester is pretty good) but actually the quality of ideas that’re investable… and maybe better local media on what’s going on.

  • I would agree with most of whats been said (specially with Imran)… I don’t really want to see Silicon Alley or Roundabout replicated in Manchester. However I think there is something unique which Manchester can foster.Its certainly something I’m working on in a tiny part, but less said about that the better right now. 🙂

  • I don’t agree with the statement that there’s no tech start up ecosystem in Manchester. There is no shortage of the right people, talent, business support, facilities, spaces, ideas, networks, events etc.- there is some work to do on improving access to finance, but it does exist and there is a high level of activity on the ground. Granted that a lot of the busines support services and networks can be too generic and there are some gaps in the existing provision – but if it’s a dedicated network to support the development of tech start-ups you are looking for then that is exactly what Techcelerate is and does!So instead of trying to set up yet another network or group it would be much better to support and work with Techcelerate to see how value can be added to this. One of the issues in Manchester is that the system is too fragmented and the impact / effectiveness of these support services and networks ends up being dissipated. It can be difficult for new start ups to see, navigate and access the support which does exist. This is something that comes up time and time again in the never-ending economic and business research reports and innovation reviews which have been conducted in Manchester over the last few years. It’s an issue of making the existing offer more visiable, accessible and easier to navigate.

  • I’m surprised there are so many startups in Manchester. I’ve never heard of any of them. I have an idea of my own actually, more than that, a detailed specification and I’m trying to put together a team. If you’re interested in learning more please contact me on Twitter.

  • Hey guys, I am in touch with some of the best developers on the E scene in Pakistan. From Erm/crm, new bits of software, phone apps, latest web apps etc..they can do it all. What they lack is funds for their projects. If anyone is interested please email me at foxland45 at yahoo.com. I will be investing my own funds but it would be good to spread the risk. It may not sound like a great location but their is huge potential there. Many of the key figures from silicon valley have already invested. Please email for further info, we can meet up to discuss further? Some of these teams actually want their companies to be based in Manchester.

    • Thanks for asking, Adam. It’s going well! There’s been a great response from the community and the city as a whole. We’re still only a few months in but there are already some great success stories that we’ll be sharing soon.

  • Hi Martin, what’s the latest on your Start-up initiative in Manchester? There seem to be several groups all set up now, that probably need better co-ordination.
    Plus, for creatives and other marketing types, there is NorthernSoho – Meetups on the last Tuesday of each month – and a hugely successful Mentoring and MentorMatch scheme and drop-in clinic ont he afternoon of each Meetup!

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