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Bringing Valley culture to Glasgow’s waterfront

Founder and MD of SwarmOnline, Andrew Duncan

As specialists in mobile and web technologies, SwarmOnline use cutting edge applications to deliver results for clients across a diverse range of industries.

Founder and managing director Andrew Duncan explains how he and his team have successfully transplanted the culture of Silicon Valley to the Glasgow waterfront.

 

Whether it’s building apps which use satellites to monitor the GPS location of oil rigs and potentially save oil workers’ lives or managing huge fleet teams to drive efficiencies and huge cost savings, we’re developing technology which has a real impact on everyday life and business.

Although SwarmOnline is still a relatively young business – only formed in 2011 - we’ve grown rapidly and now have a client list which includes E.ON, Scottish Power, Shell, Veripos, GlaxoSmithKline and Thales.

A couple of years ago, I was asked to speak at a conference in Silicon Valley, talking to developers and offering tips to help them create robust enterprise apps. These apps are creating huge efficiency savings in businesses and a lot of the innovation in that area is coming out of the Valley, which made it the perfect place for me to deliver the talk.

Nearly every developed country in the world takes their tech inspiration from Silicon Valley. But what is it that makes it so special?

Quite simply, it’s the unique culture they’ve been able to create there which gives people a real belief in the impact their creativity can have.

It’s that kind of culture and mentality which is being fostered in Glasgow’s Creative Clyde area and which is improving Scotland’s historically low levels of start-ups.

While I might not be able to implement the Silicon Valley approach across the entire city, there’s plenty I can do to ensure that, at our office in the Hub at Glasgow’s Pacific Quay, it permeates SwarmOnline.

That creative drive is actively encouraged across our team and, in my view, that’s a big factor in the success we’ve had in being asked to work on the projects I mentioned above and our ability to build a blue chip client list. Without the culture we’ve been able to create, we wouldn’t be able to take on projects of that scale.

Last year - our biggest yet – we merged with Open Platform, expanding our team to over 25 staff in Glasgow and Edinburgh and we expect turnover to reach £2 million in the next financial year.

2016 also saw the launch of the company’s first product, an events app. The first two customers were Shell, for a 500 delegate conference in Tokyo, and Panasonic for a major event in the UK.

Work on a connected homes energy-monitoring tool is at an advanced stage and should be launched in 2017. This is creating considerable interest from the big six energy companies.

I’d encourage other young businesses to follow our lead and if we can continue to embrace this culture and implement it properly, the opportunities are endless.

 

The above blog post has been made possible through the generous support of Creative Clyde and the named contributors.


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