As many of you reading this blog will know, I founded Refresh Teesside and earlier this year we had our first event. The idea behind Refresh Teesside was to provide a local event for the developers and designers who run most of their business in the region and give them a vehicle to get together and chat.
I went to Teesside University and was lucky enough to get a job in the industry as soon as I graduated. I am originally from Leeds; However I have grown to be very passionate about the digital industry in the North East. There are many networking events in the region. Adam, who I work with at Koodoo Creative , attends many of these including BNI, NECC, Network North and Entrepreneurs Forum. These business networking events are great for him to generate leads and network with other businesses. He enjoys this and enjoys handing out business cards and talking business. However, I am much more interested in getting together with other people who do what I do. What I mean by this is I am not that interested in what clients other businesses have, I am not interested in generating leads because thats not my main job. I work as part of a reasonably small team, with only a couple of developers in our development team. Therefore, I dont get to chat and run ideas by other people who have similar knowledge and mindset to me. This is one of the reasons why I started Refresh Teesside.
Recently I have noticed there are quite a few networking events and many individuals and businesses who are trying to get people together and advertise the talent in our region. Many of these events take place in Newcastle which is another reason why I started Refresh Teesside which would be a local event. There are many events in the region and many have their own individual agendas and target audience. Super Mondays, run by Ross Cooney, is a great event and is targeted at a specific audience. Thursday Fizz is again another event which seems to target creatives in general; However this event has been setup very well and has been well marketed. Its a successful event. Mark Easby is running a Twestival in Teesside this year after last years successful event in Newcastle. Robert Page has more recently setup NOCCI Middlesbrough which targets creatives in the region. I believe Refresh Teesside has its place as it has a unique agenda and target audience.
I am aware of the Digital City event First Wednesdays and Codeworks with the membership and events they run. I have this really frustrating feeling that there are quite a few people and organisations trying to promote the region and its talent, but some may have the wrong agenda themselves. By this I mean getting involved with setting up ‘another’ event for self promotion of some sort rather than trying to promote talent or the region.
I was recently made aware of a:design association which really interests me. I was invited to attend a focus group on Tuesday (25th Aug) which was very interesting. I really like the idea of having a not for profit organisation as an umbrella for all things in the region to make sure everyone stays on track. There were some really interesting points brought up at the focus group and I will be sure to stay in touch with the guys to make sure my thoughts are taken on board and also to offer my time to help out. I am going to see if we can run the next Refresh Teesside event in association with a:design so we show our support.
I cannot help but feel really frustrated that there are many many many people talking up the North East when it comes to digital media. Codeworks, Teesside University, Digital City and the government are all talking the talk about the talent in the Teesside region; however it really does seem to be all talk. I say its time for someone to stepup and group all the efforts and make sure they all stay on track. I would say running an event in assosiation with a:design would be a good start. You would have to prove the event in terms of how it will promote and how it is unique. I will be looking to do this with Refresh Teesside, lets see what happens!