What’s Forging Now in England’s ‘Steel City’?


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One of the really great parts about being a Developer Evangelist at SendGrid is getting to meet with companies when they’re just a touch more than an idea. I get to do this a lot thanks to the SendGrid Accelerate programme that supports accelerators, startup incubators and co-working spaces around the world.

Along with providing companies technical help with SendGrid integrations we get asked to spend some time talking to the companies in these programmes and answer questions about anything we have knowledge about. I’ve been asked everything from architecting an out of the gate server setup that would scale, to how best to tackle brand partnerships, to who at Microsoft can get us a tablet device for testing.

It’s great fun and, for me, an amazing crash course in what new entrepreneurs have to go through to get their idea realised during these intensive 3 month programmes.

slideOne of the accelerators I’m working with recently is dotForge in Sheffield, UK. For international readers, you may know Sheffield as the home of Sheffield Steel or the place where hit male stripper movie The Full Monty was set.

This is the first year that dotForge has been in operation and they’re the first accelerator to launch in the Sheffield area. They are 50% funded by local private investors, with another 50% of matched funding coming from Creative England’s Regional Growth Fund.

Best of all, they are housed inside the excellent Electric Works offices in the city centre, a building that features a four storey slide that gets you from the top of the building to the lobby in around seven seconds.

For this year’s run, dotForge have accepted six teams onto their programme from across the UK. Here’s a bit about each of them.

The Teams

Delver
A natural language interface to any apps’ data. Delver ensures answers are always at your fingertips by allowing you, your employees and your customers to type English language questions, and instantly receive accurate answers and rich reports.

Flowify
A cloud-based workflow ecosystem which uses algorithms and performance data to direct members of staff on which tasks to do next. Their system generates information and enables the management to track Key Performance Indicators.

GigOwl
GigOwl is a community booking service that provides matchmaking between independent musicians and the promoters or owners of pubs, music venues, studios or any space capable of supporting a crowd of up 200 attendees.

Scholarly
Scholarly aims to give everyone the power to write better, faster. The company is developing software for computer-assisted authoring of documents, bringing Natural Language Technology to market to provide automated proofreading and assistance when crafting text documents.

Motoneer
Motoneer is an online marketplace for brand new cars, where consumers can compare discounted prices anonymously and buy directly from dealers.

Twile
Twile is a web-based timeline that shows you everything you’re interested in that has happened, is happening and will happen in the future.

All the teams are currently in the third week of a 12 week programme of pretty intensive mentoring and the inevitable thinking, and re-thinking of ideas that comes with it. Because of that, some of the company outlines you read above aren’t exactly what’s going to come out at the end. Each team has pivoted slightly and now have more focussed ideas of what their services will actually deliver. I’m looking forward to doing a comparison on this in a few months time. For now, we wish them the best of luck!

If you’re running an accelerator, you can find out about how SendGrid can support your teams by checking out our SendGrid Accelerate programme.

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Martyn Davies is a Developer Evangelist at SendGrid and a creative developer based in London. He has worked in technology for over 14 years with a background in both the music industry and technology. A serial hackathon organiser, mentor and startup advisor, you’ll find him presenting, demoing, hacking and chatting at hack days, conferences and meetups in the UK & Europe on a regular basis.

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