In Week In Digital’s ‘Start Up Spotlight’ series, WID Editor Brad Agnew interviews the founders of some of the digital sector’s most interesting and exciting start-up companies, to explore their potential and how they aim to disrupt the market. To suggest another start-up, please email [email protected].
This week, we speak with Nick Richardson, who started his market research and intelligence agency Bee Industrious in March 2017, and has since launched and secured a six-figure investment for a new start-up, Kids Insights. In less than a year, the business has grown to a team of six and has attracted clients such as Penguin Random House, the Guinness World Records, DC Thomson, and Walker Boots.
Bradley Agnew: So, Nick, what is Bee Industrious and what led you to start the business last year?
Nick Richardson: My background lies in strategy, marketing and insights, and in early 2017 I had the opportunity to establish my own business, Bee Industrious. We started as a typical research and insights agency and enjoyed some early traction. A conversation with a client led to an opportunity to develop a kids’ insight project, and it soon became apparent that there was an opportunity to develop a product which would disrupt the market.
Within 8 weeks we went from a concept to a product we could take to market, and then we got a team in place to start work on developing the next stage of the product – our online portal – which provides our clients with access to insights in real time.
Bradley: After launching the business in March, why did you enter Venturefest’s Innovation Showcase ‘Best Start-Up’ competition in September?
Nick: This was all down to Business Growth Hub. They have been with us every step of the way and I would encourage anyone who is developing an idea or at an early stage of their business journey to contact them. They encouraged us to enter and without that we would not be where we are, as at the semi-final pitch we met our investor!
Bradley: You went on to become a Finalist in that competition. What do you think makes Kids Insights an innovative service, and how will it disrupt the existing market for market intelligence?
Nick: How long do you have? We started by spending time defining what our customers wanted. That enabled us to really consider how we develop a product which would not only meet expectations but exceed them.
There are several key elements that enable us to be highly disruptive in the market, from how we collect the data continually, to the technology we have developed that enables clients to access the data in real time. The platform is designed to be dynamic and enable users to interrogate and build their own reports, making it an invaluable tool for marketers.
Bradley: You’ve also secured a six-figure investment from an angel investor. Please tell me more about how you secured that investment, and how you’re using the funds.
Nick: It was through the Venturefest competition. Our investor Adam Kara was part of the judging panel – he liked what we did, and his previous business shared some commonality and that was enough to warrant a meeting the following day. That meeting was great as we got the opportunity to discuss lots of elements and to see how we got on. The investment has been used to further develop the online portal, to expand the team and to make us ready to scale quickly.
Bradley: Your agency, Bee Industrious, has its brand identity clearly rooted in Manchester. Why have you chosen Manchester as the city to launch these businesses?
Nick: I grew up in Altrincham, and after ten years of living in London and surrounding areas I made the decision to head back home. Being a very proud Mancunian and passionate about collaboration, the Bee was always going to be part of our identity.
Manchester has proved to be a wonderful home for our business. It’s a wonderfully dynamic city, with access to so much talent, fantastic resources (such as Business Growth Hub), a vibrant business community and some elements such as office space are relatively inexpensive.
Bradley: As the MD of three companies, all started in 2017, what advice would you give to a budding entrepreneur or start-up?
Nick: Focus! Seriously though, surround yourself with great people, who will challenge you and help you shape your ideas.
Bradley: Finally, if you could change one thing about the digital sector, what would it be and why?
Nick: As a company which works heavily in the kids’ sector, we would really like to see the internet become a far safer place for kids. The GDPR legislation really promises to address some of these issues, but far more is needed. We would like to see a digital world which enables children to access great content and communities, without fear of being spied on and targeted.