Tech Pitch: Twine

Inspired by the lack of networking options for freelance creatives, this online community unites companies with designers, music producers and more

Company name: Twine
Founders: Stuart Logan (31), Damien Shiells (31)
Background: Founders of a million-pound ad-tech company between 2011 and 2013
Based in: Manchester
Launched: 2013

Very simply, what does your tech start-up do?

Twine is a marketplace that connects companies to our network of over 185,000 creative freelancers in music, design and film.

If you’re a company, Twine’s creative marketplace can help you grow your business and fulfill your audio-visual content needs – for example with explainer videos, logo design, deck design and more.

If you’re a creative freelancer, you can take control and choose which projects you want to work on. You can build your portfolio with Twine and find interesting creatives to collaborate with from all over the world.

Tell us why there’s a need – what do you disrupt?

Many people in the creative industry are dissatisfied with current options for building professional networks with services like Facebook, YouTube or LinkedIn.

Twine enables creative professionals to showcase their life’s work, grow their career and be part of a community. Ultimately, we aid creatives in getting more work – unlike LinkedIn, which doesn’t serve the creative industry’s needs. But more than this, being a creative solopreneur can be lonely, and Twine is the friend and community to empower them.

We also help companies, including start-ups, grow their business by enabling them to hire creatives who can help them create more audio-visual content.

To put this in context, there are 52 million small and medium sized companies in Europe and the US. They spend £24k per year on marketing, 32% of which is spent on content marketing. Therefore, just under £400 billion is spent on content per year.

We provide a smooth, simple service that enables companies to hire any creatives that they need for a project from our vast community. They can access a variety of creatives all in one place, unlike in niche marketplaces. For example, a buyer can have their whole array of social content produced in one place.

Is Twine funded?

At the end of 2015 we raised a $500,000 round from angels and VCs including Seedcamp and Creative England.

What were you doing before you started Twine?

I’ve been passionate about music from an early age, learning to play the guitar, produce electronic music and DJ. I fused my early love of music with tech by helping to create YouTorrent, a torrent meta search engine aggregating independent music and film sources, which peaked at over 100,000 daily visitors. This experience, along with my love of artistic collaboration, ultimately inspired the idea behind Twine.

I met Damien Shiells, Twine’s CTO and a fellow computer scientist and music enthusiastic, in 2004. Between 2011 and 2013, we created an ad-tech company, which grew into a £1.5m annual revenue business that had 6 million downloads of our products.

The experience in marketing and scaling a business gained from building this, combined with its financial success, enabled us to found Clowdy, which pivoted at the end of 2014 to become Twine.

What’s the best thing about being based in Manchester?

Manchester is a fantastic city for a number of reasons:

Firstly, it’s growing… fast. Since moving to Manchester in 2004, I’ve seen an incredible change. Our office is based between Northern Quarter and Ancoats, which was a little bit of a “dodgy” place in 2004. Now there are a ton of converted warehouses that have rustic office spaces, awesome apartments and great bars and restaurants. Money seems to be flowing into the city.

Also, if you haven’t heard, the Northern Powerhouse is something the government have been pushing to appease “those damn northerners in the regions”. I don’t believe anywhere has benefited more than Manchester.

Secondly, it’s not London. That means it doesn’t cost £1m for a small house and it doesn’t cost £40,000 per year for a tiny office. Rent is low and average salaries are low when compared to London, which means you have more money to spend on your product, your digital marketing campaigns and your PR when compared to London-based start-ups.

Thirdly, there is an ecosystem building. The start-up scene has been steadily growing over the last five years. Accelerators like Ignite and organisations like SpaceportX and Tech North have been awesome in fostering the community. There’s also investment around if you know where to look.

Oh, and we’re only a two-hour train ride from London anyway, so we can benefit from the great London ecosystem.

To find out more about starting a business in Manchester, see Startups’ free guide.

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