Innovative dating platforms, ground-breaking social networks and forward-thinking creative agencies – these are the start-ups making waves at Platform.
The tech hub at Platform is home to some of the most exciting start-ups in the city. They’re challenging the status-quo, they’re changing the way we do things and they’re using technology in ways that no one else has thought of. But if you think what they do is impressive, just wait until you see what they’ve achieved – because they may be small, but their ambitions are big, really big.
When George Pepper was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 22, he decided to turn a negative into a positive. He started Shift.ms, a free social network made for people with MS, by people with MS. It helps the newly diagnosed make sense of the illness quickly by providing support and resources when they need it most. It’s much more than a charity, it’s a global network of MSers.
In the last 10 years, they’ve built a community of 27,000 users around the world and attracted 1.5 million people to their website. Now they’re embarking on an exciting new chapter that holds the promise of international expansion. They’re hosting their second festival for young people with MS in Europe and releasing a series of new films about the challenges of having kids and relapses. They’re growing fast, so Platform was the perfect choice – not only do they have the flexibility to expand their team, but they can connect with like-minded entrepreneurs to find new opportunities together.
In 2011, Jimmy Forrester-Fellowes saw a gap in the market for a fit-for-purpose LGBTQ dating platform, so he built one. Well actually, he built three and they really took off. In fact, their almost 4 million members have exchanged 170 million messages over the last eight years, and that number continues to rise, as over 1,000 people sign up every day.
That growth wouldn’t be possible without Platform. Jimmy is a developer. He has a team of moderators who work remotely, but when it comes to design and infrastructure, he works with his fellow hot-deskers. They’ve helped him get the business to where it is today and he’s now ready to take the next step, by integrating all three dating apps into one inclusive platform. One Scene will become the go-to dating app for the LGBTQ community.
As an artist and curator, Louise Atkinson had to send out open calls for exhibitions, but organising them felt unnecessarily difficult, so she decided to do something about it. She launched CuratorSpace in 2014 with the help of web developer Phillip Bennison. It’s an open access platform that brings together curators, galleries and artists to make organising exhibitions easier. Everything you need is all in one place – you can set up open calls, manage submissions and contact artists through one handy portal.
There are now over 36,000 registered users, with an eclectic mix of curators and artists, so it’s a great way to build relationships and find new opportunities. As well as making it easy to apply for open calls, they offer artist profiles, which allow curators to browse your work and contact you directly about exhibitions. The service is so good that Bruntwood used it themselves. They commissioned a new mural for Platform by sending out an open call on CuratorSpace – you can see result in their tech hub.
After years working in creative agencies and for some of the world’s biggest brands, Matt Hitchcock and Richy Pears decided to go it alone. They wanted to do things differently and put their clients first, even if it meant not always doing the work themselves. Sounds crazy, right? But it’s not, because by empowering the clients’ in-house team to do the work, they can free up their marketing budget to spend on the big ideas.
They’re trailblazing a new way of working between clients and agencies, but it hasn’t been easy. They launched Other Things from their kitchen table in summer 2019 and moved to Platform a month later – it was a game-changer. The help and advice they received here helped them hit the ground running and the people they’ve met have become their colleagues. You see, they use a network of freelancers to bring their creative strategies to life, allowing them to bring in industry experts as and when they need them to create a full-service approach.