Here Giedrius Ivanauskas talks to Matthew Evans, director at Solid State Group and at The Hoxton Mix, both based in Shoreditch, about his work and some of the recent business developments in the area.
Hi Matthew. Firstly, tell us a little about your businesses, what do you do?
My main two businesses are Solid State Group and The Hoxton Mix. Solid State Group is a technical agency specialising in web application development and mobile apps. Typically we build web apps for start-ups and provide the mobile apps to compliment the web apps. We use technologies like phone-gap and sencha-touch to develop our mobile apps which is far more efficient than native app development, and so we pass on those savings to our clients.
The Hoxton Mix is a co-working digital and creative community. We rent desk space to small creative and tech companies within an open office environment. We provide all the usual amenities such as kitchen facilities, bike storage, showers, meeting rooms, broadband ect but it’s the actual community of residents that makes it so special. It allows small agencies and start-ups to work together to win larger accounts than they would on their own. It generates increased new business and increased brand awareness. It’s also a great social life in Shoreditch.
What are the main challenges in maintaining your business and how do you overcome them?
The main challenges for Solid State Group are around attracting the best talent but more recently this is being aided by the increased buzz and networking opportunities within Tech City.
For the Hoxton Mix, the main challenge is finding the best spaces to transform into the next site. Solving that one is a trade secret.
What would you say has been your most memorable experience while developing your business?
Winning the BIMA award for best business to business website for our Haystack Online project last year was a boost for Solid State Group. Also recent startup wins that we can’t mention the names of yet ;-)
Tell us about some of the funniest moments you’ve had while setting up and running your business?
The funniest moments are mostly during the summer or at the Christmas parties, like Deniz realising after about an hour that he’s walking round in the bowling shoes from the bowling alley we had been at previously, or Mike being pelted with paintballs as he runs around in his lion costume. You also get some howlers from clients themselves, see clients from Hell…
Can you give us some tips on running a company?
Do take note of morale levels and take action about it. Morale can be lifted by more than just money. We do a Friday lunchtime barbeque each week which costs less than £50 and is well worth it.
Do have a business plan which you revisit often, to align your short term goals with the long term objectives.
Why did you choose Shoreditch as a home for your business?
We moved into Shoreditch about 8 years ago. It is a great place to socialise and was starting to become a tech cluster at reasonable prices.
What factors/organisations are contributing most significantly to the development of Shoreditch’s entrepreneurial community?
I like to think The Hoxton Mix is doing it’s part. Other initiatives like Google’s Campus are going to put tech city on the international map and get larger corporates to take note and enable investment and sponsorship.
The government isn’t doing a bad job. Organisations like Tech City IO, London and Partners, the UKTI/BIS are all doing their bit to increase awareness of the area. Hackney council are trying to maintain a certain level of low cost office space as well. Initiatives like Digital Shoreditch are also helping contribute to the vibe and creativity.
Which are your favorite businesses in Shoreditch?
Where do you like to hang-out in Shoreditch when you’re not working?
The Princess (Paul Street)
The Griffin (Leonard Street)
Byron Burger (Hoxton Square)
What does the future have in store for Shoreditch?
More corporates moving in.
More startup craziness
A much better tube station
More green spaces/chill out areas
More discussions about the gentrification/poverty
BETTER CONNECTIVITY – really?
Thank you for talking to us and good luck for the future!