Twile selected to join Pitch@Palace boot camp

Twile has been selected to proceed to the next stage of the Pitch@Palace competition, which means we’ll be attending a boot camp in Oxford later this week.

A couple of weeks ago, we had the honour of presenting Twile to The Duke of York in Sheffield, as part of the Pitch@Palace program – and we are delighted to again be presenting Twile to royalty and to showcase our unique timeline to an audience of investors and mentors.

Pitch@Palace on Tour event at the AMRC Factory 2050 on Tuesday September 20th 2016 with HRH The Duke of York. Pitch: Twile
Pitch@Palace on Tour event at the AMRC Factory 2050 on Tuesday September 20th 2016 with HRH The Duke of York. Pitch: Twile

Believe it or not, genealogy is a multi-billion dollar industry. Times magazine found it to be the ‘second most visited category of websites, after pornography!’, so we hope the investors find our presentation interesting… the pressure is on.

This time around, Co-Founder Kelly Marsden and myself will be up on stage to tell everyone how Twile came to be and where we are going.

We have spoken several times about our journey and how Twile has evolved.  As a startup in the North of England, we joined an accelerator scheme – DotForge in Sheffield, which helped us launch our product. We have received various rounds of investment from ‘Dragons’ in Yorkshire and London, plus investment from Findmypast, all of which helps us continue to make Twile even more amazing.

We need your help!
As part of the Pitch@Palace boot camp, we will record a 1 minute pitch, which will be our entry into a ‘People’s Choice’ award, voted for by the general public. After our success at RootsTech in February, we would love your support again! We will be circulating information soon, so be sure to keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Thanks!

Caroline

Twile visits the US west coast

Twile are visiting the US in October, as part of a cohort of companies chosen to help raise the profile of the tech industry in the North of England.  Arranged by Tech North and the UK’s Department for International Trade, the visit will take in San Francisco and Seattle – and we’ve added a few days in Salt Lake City for good measure!

tech-northBesides local events across the North of the UK – such as the recent Northern Stars and Pitch@Palace events that we were involved in – Tech North also promote export opportunities for tech products and services created in the UK.  There has been a flurry of activity in our region recently and it is fantastic to be a part of such a thriving digital community.

Our CEO and Co-founder, Paul Brooks, is looking forward to meeting with like-minded entrepreneurs in some of the most successful startups on the US west coast.

 

 

 

 

 

Olympic Memories

On Saturday 6th August the Olympic Games begins in Rio. As the World gears up to watch their countries’ best athletes compete, I’m sure I’m not alone in enjoying some 2012 Olympics nostalgia.

As the Olympics approached, we had the torch relay which toured the UK over 70 days. 8,000 people carried the torch a total distance of around 8,000 miles london-2012-olympic-torchstarting from Land’s End in Cornwall. I have memories of carrying my then 8-month old daughter as we watched the torch pass through our town – she had no idea what was happening but it was a fantastic atmosphere and something we had to see.

Prior to London 2012 there was apprehension about whether Britain could stage an opening ceremony to reach the standard set at the Beijing games 4 years previous. We didn’t need to worry – London’s effort was a huge success and became the most-viewed Olympic opening ceremony in both the UK and the US. The content showcased Britain’s technological and cultural contributions to the world, including the Industrial Revolution, literary heritage, popular music and significant inventions (many of which are included in our new Inventions stream to add to your timeline).

 

The event acknowledged how the digital revolution, arguably sparked by World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners Lee, has changed everyday lives potentially as much as the Industrial revolution before it. In 2012, Twile was an idea, it was only just beginning and the invention of the Web made our product possible.

We joined the chaos, visiting London during the games. Everyone was in a good mood, everyone happy to be a part of something so special that would potentially only happen once in their lifetime. We saw part of the marathon and returned home satisfied that we had ‘taken part’, taking our very tiny slice of history home with us.

Our experiences of the day are recorded on our Twile timeline so that our daughter can see the photos. She will know she was in London during the Olympics, she will view our comments. She will see that we got wet in the rain, that Daddy forgot his waterproof jacket, that the Team GB duck she plays with in the bath now, was purchased from the shops outside the Olympic village by Grandma, who joined us for the day trip. One day she may be lucky enough to get tickets for the Olympics somewhere else in the world and she can record her own experiences on the same Twile timeline.

We look forward to watching the games in Rio this month. Records and memories will be made. Good luck to Team GB!

Twile supports #CreateUK

This week we have been supporting The Department for Culture, Media & Sport’s campaign #CreateUK, a week long celebration and showcase of the creative industries in the UK.s300_CREATE_UK_GOV.UK

As a tech startup in the UK, we’re delighted to be amongst a community of fellow creatives who are generating almost £10m every hour for the UK economy!

When asked why we create, many reasons sprang to mind and it reminded us of an article that Paul Brooks (Twile co-founder) wrote to TechCityInsider earlier this year:

“When we first started Twile in 2013, we had dreams and expectations of quick success, exponential growth and big investment. As it turns out, building a startup is a lot more than that. Along with my co-founder Kelly Marsden, I launched the company as part of the first Dotforge accelerator in Sheffield and quickly managed to close a small seed investment round from local angel investors.

We soon found that growing a consumer userbase with a small budget and an early product is not easy. We regularly worked 70-weeks with very little to show for them except a little more understanding and gradually improving product. We managed to maintain the confidence of our investors and they put more money in to two more rounds over the next two years, giving us the runway we needed to experiment, pivot and chase product-market fit. There were many times when we didn’t think we’d last long enough.

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Based in Yorkshire, it has been difficult to attract big investment and raise our profile in the tech community. While there are initiatives such as Tech North , to address the challenges faced by entrepreneurs outside of London, the capital is still very much the centre of the UK tech community.

To secure investment, you need to meet as many investors as possible and work to build long term relationships with them, keeping them updated on your progress and successes. With limited budget, it hasn’t been possible for us to travel to London regularly or spend large periods of time there. The fact that everyone involved in the business has young children has made this even more difficult. Of course, there are investors in the North, but from our experience most of them are lacking an understanding of the tech industry, especially web software. For example, it is fairly typical for a consumer app to prioritise growth over revenue at the start, but most investors we have met in the North East, for instance, expect to see a healthy turnover and strong balance sheet before they’ll even glance at the cover of a business plan.

Despite these challenges, our perseverance and hard work is paying off. In 2015 we started to gain recognition as an innovative visualisation tool for the family history market and started to acheive real growth.

We attended the RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City in February and won two of the four innovations awards as part of the innovator showdown competition – returning to the UK with $16,000 in cash and another $10,000 in “in-kind” support. We are looking forward to returning to RootsTech in 2017.

On our return, we learned that we had secured investment and a partnership deal with Findmypast, one of the leading names in family history. This gives us the resources and support we need to grow Twile into a global brand.

In under three years, we have evolved Twile from an early concept into a robust, fully featured product that solves a real problem for our customers. We have made a point of talking to our users as often as possible and we’ve used their input to intelligently prioritise development. We’ve put a huge amount of effort into every phase of the business and we’ve acknowledged our failures as essential steps to success.

If there’s a moral to our story, it’s that our own hard work is going to deliver the results. It’s easy to blame market conditions, geographical location, lack of government support of any other external factors for the failure of a start-up, but we’ve seen a number of early stage businesses (including Twile) succeed in recent years and every one of them has put a lot of effort in to overcome the obstacles they’ve been faced with.

Fortunately, recent investment in the infrastructure for start-ups outside of London is beginning to amplify the hard work that entrepreneurs are willing to put in.

Organisations like Creative England, (who have been hugely supportive in our journey, backing us from the beginning) and Tech North and accelerators like Dot Forge and Ignite are making it easier to start and succeed. If this can be matched by investors with an appetite for opportunities outside of London, I believe we will see many more successful northern startups in the near future.”

The #CreateUK campaign this week reminds us that with hard work we can continue to thrive and take advantage of the new opportunities which are opening up to do business across the world. Why do we create? Because it’s our dream, our passion, our mission to succeed.

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