We caught up with Ryan Green at Pebble – a cloud-based software tools that help schools manage their activity funds and enables them to syncronise online payments with their finance systems.
What are your first impressions of Digital Union?
The concept of bringing North East creative digital businesses together is a noble cause. Long has the region needed a champion to promote and showcase the talent that resides within and around our community. It’s great to see the spectrum of digital businesses being invited to become members of Digital Union. As a software company that operates in the education sector we can sometimes be overlooked by high profiled web design agencies. Recognising that we also have a valuable role to play in developing the North East as an epicentre for digital business will help Digital Union deliver effective regional and national media strategies that highlight success.
What is your main motivation for joining?
As a business owner I have a responsibility to support initiatives that promote the community my work depends on. There’s no point in sitting back, grumbling, and expecting everyone else to take on the effort of change. When the team came to talk to me about Digital Union and what it could do to help all tech, digital, and creative businesses in the region there was no question about whether we were going to join.
Are there specific elements of the membership you think you will utilise more than others?
I’m looking forward to the breakfast meetings with other peers from the region. Knowledge sharing has always been an excellent gauge for learning more and bench marking my business plus I love a decent cup of coffee.
What are your thoughts on the tech/digital/creative scene here in the North East?
There’s a lot of history to the tech/digital/creative scene in the North East. I’ve only lived here for 12 years, but when I talk to others about the scene in the late 90’s and millennium they tell me of the big advertising agency days. These tales are always accompanied by the prolific rise of Sage, and the less well know companies like Orchard Information Systems, and Visualsoft. Now I feel like the scene is made up of a lot of smaller businesses. Everyone is finding their niche and specialising. I found that by setting boundaries for where my business is going to operate, promotes focus. Add challenge or competition to the mix and hey presto you’ve got creativity and innovation. The more excellent niche agencies we can produce the better as far as I’m concerned.
How do you see the scene evolving over the next few years?
At present businesses a suffering a massive skills shortage/drain to the South and London. The North East is developing graduate talent that aren’t from this region and hoping they will stay. We can try and encourage people to make a new home here but this is proving a thankless task. We need to look at up-skilling those people who want to stay in the region and would enjoy a different lifestyle in the tech/digital/creative scene. There’s not enough skills transfer programmes in the region. You’ve got to take a minimum of a year out of work to re-train as a designer or developer. Who’s got that kind of money saved up? Who want’s the debt that comes from loans? The education and training authorities within the sector need to, and will do more to help these people in the future.
Why should someone relocate to the North East and/or invest here?
Personally, I love the North East. I live in Gateshead and it’s 20 mins to the coastline, 40 mins to the Cheviot hills, and 5 mins to one of the most culturally exciting cities in the UK. I’m always encouraging friends and family to consider relocating here. You’ve got a work life balance waiting for you on your doorstep. Our offices are in the Ouseburn Valley and new developments including cafes, offices, housing, and pubs are popping up all around us. There’s not many places in the England where you can be working in a city office and then take your lunchtime stroll along a river, passing a city farm, a notorious live music venue, and independent coffee roasters all within 10 mins.
Investors should really consider the North East as their preferred location for investing in tech, digital, and creative businesses. Newcastle has been rated best city to work and the cost of living means that businesses can operate with reduced overheads. As the world embraces online meetings and virtual working there’s no need to be sat in the expensive pandemonium that can be other cities. North East businesses can operate as a local business while delivering to a global market.