I must be the luckiest girl in the world. Since moving to London almost 4 years ago, I’ve met some really inspirational people who I’ve also been lucky enough to call my friends. One of those people is most certainly Will Ryan. He’s a passionate programmer with incredible vision on the future of mobile technology. After deciding to leave the security of working for a large successful company, Will spread his wings and ventured out in to the big bold entrepreneurial world where he established a company called Electric Labs. Since its inception, the company has worked on some amazing projects, one of which I blogged about last week, called ZEEBOX. Will even met with Stephen Fry this week who then tweeted about the whole online initiative saying…
‘Awesomely exciting hour being shown
#zeebox and its potential. It may change everything about the way we watch tv for ever.’
I graduated with a 1st class Computer Science engineering degree from the University of Edinburgh, winning the class medal. In the early years of my career I worked for an agile software house called Kizoom based in Shoreditch where I learnt my trade from some of the best software engineers in the industry. We built software for clients such as TfL, the Trainine.com and the major UK network operators. It was here where I became particularly interested in mobile. I’ve been interested in web technologies since the age of 12 when I got my first PC. During my teen years and university I designed websites for pocket-money and to fuel my addiction to travel.
What is Electric Labs?
Electric Labs is a new digital agency which specialises in web and mobile with a strong emphasis on user experience. It was founded in January 2011 and currently consists of myself, Christopher Anderson and at present we also use contractors to add capacity when we’re working on larger projects.
How and why did Electric Labs come to life? What or who inspired you to do this?
I was working on an app in New York for the subway system whilst interviewing for permanent positions in the city. I got some great offers from a number of companies, but my heart was telling me that something wasn’t right. I’ve always felt I would start a business. My mum is an entrepreneur who has always inspired me and all of a sudden I felt the time was right. I may be young, but I felt I had something that was better than the competition- combining sound software engineering principles with beautiful UI design.
What is the major difference you have found working for yourself? Is there any advice you would give to other young entrepreneurs from your experience?
The best thing about working for yourself is picking and choosing the work that you do. We want to be known for creating some of the best digital work on the market, and our reputation will grow as we complete each project. I also love the flexibility in when and where I do my work. I enjoy my work as much as other aspects of my life. As soon as Electric Labs becomes no fun for me, I’ll have lost sight of why I set it up in the first place. I don’t think I’m in a position to give advice to other young entrepreneurs yet- I’d like to answer that question a few years down the line when I’ve learnt from the mistakes I’ll undoubtedly make. Someone once told me that you can learn one hell of a lot from failing, so never be afraid to give it a go and fail rather than regretting the decision not to give it a shot when you had the chance. That being said, starting a business isn’t for everyone and certain people may not have the discipline/contacts/skill sets to make a success of it.
What, for you, have been the biggest developments in technology that have affected popular culture?
Location perhaps. Maybe the proliferation of powerful mobile devices. The ability for anyone to publish their ideas and thoughts. The next big development that will have a profound impact will be voice recognition and the way we interact with our personal devices. I think SIRI (Apple’s new voice control system) will be the first mass adoption of such a technology and it is only the first iteration- it has a lot of potential.
How has the development of the mobile technology affected your job?
I suppose that being a mobile specialist at this current period is very exciting. There is lots of work available- everyone thinks they need a mobile presence (even when they don’t). We were mobile experts when mobile was in an awful fragmented state and it was very difficult to deliver a coherent mobile solution. Nowadays it is much easier, if not still a little fragmented. Some people don’t think about WHY they need a mobile presence but want to be seen as forward thinking, and perhaps a good way of spending some marketing budget. However, if used right, it can be one of the most powerful ways to engage consumers with brands and more generally, information.
What projects has team Electric Labs been working on of late?
After completing work for Casio/Baby-G alongside our sister agency Pencil, our next big thing has been zeebox which was only launched about a week back. This iPad and web application will revolutionise the way we interact with television. It adds all sorts of social context to the programmes that we watch in real time, as well as live “zeetags” which tell you more about the things that are mentioned on the show. It has already been featured as “App of the Week” by Apple, beaten Facebook and the iPlayer in the App Store charts, and has really caught the media’s eye. This is the initial offering to the market but the product has a huge amount of potential and I predict a very bright future for zeebox…
What do you see as the major trends that are going to affect day-to-day life and socialising in the next coming months?
I feel that more niche social networks will arise over the coming months and years as people of similar interest come together. Zeebox is a prime example of this where we move from the granularity of a general social network such as Facebook towards a more targeted social network based around TV. What websites would you recommend to keep up to date on the tech world? The RSS feeds I subscribe to are mostly quite technical and aimed at programmers less for a general audience (slashdot, readwriteweb, Smashing Magazine etc). The more friendly sites I would recommend include: CNET, Engadget, Tech Crunch, TUAW (for Apple news). The Guardian tech section is well written and keeps its finger on the pulse of the UK tech scene.
Finally, where can we find out more about Electric Labs?
Check out www.electriclabs.com and check us out on Twitter @ElectricLabsLtd