By Ian Cornwell, Kraken IM
Back in January of this year (2017) our business (Kraken IM) was picked as one of the teams for the Ignite accelerator. Ignite 11 was based in Manchester and we are from the North East, so for three months we upped sticks and straddled the Pennines like a colossus.
Our home for the duration was to be The Federation and a “death mirror” Airbnb (a story for another time). Information about The Federation was remarkably scant at the time, Google had virtually nothing and street view yielded a building covered in scaffold and a closed road so it’s fair to say we didn’t know what to expect from our office space, but at least it was handy for the station.
Our first day at The Fed we discovered that we’d be sharing a floor with the Co-op digital team and we’d be taking over a corner of their office. It’s probably fair to say the building itself was more building site than office space at the time, with just floors five & six completed. To stretch the metaphor a bit though, we were three founders and a building site, so that seems equitable looking back.
We made ourselves at home on part of floor five, which was an amazing open plan space, with sanded floors and best of all, beanbags. For the first few days we hit a few snags, some of the desks didn’t have power and the firewall blocked access to our dev database but these were soon resolved and we got on with getting on.
For 12 weeks though, it’s probably fair to say we created havoc for the poor co-op digital team, drawing on their walls (oops), liberally sprinkling Haribo around the joint and stealing beanbags. Plus nine teams of giddy start-ups generally being rowdy probably wasn’t conducive to their work. I for one, am famously soft spoken for example. In spite of our best efforts we were never made to feel like we were not a part of the family, offers of help with our tech, invites to events and even buying us beers.
On top of this, the space was an amazing place to work and great place to start to build a business. During the time we were there we got to hear all about the plans, what the Co-op was trying to build and the passion and values of the team building it and even a few sneak peeks at the partially completed work.
Twelve weeks went by in a flash and before we knew it showcase day was upon us and we would soon be moving out. Showcase day meant we again, caused havoc, putting 100+ chairs on floor six and taking over yet another part of the building for the afternoon.
Then, that was that, Ignite was over as was our time at the Fed and we had to move on. That’s when the really cool stuff started to happen both for us and The Fed.
Over the months since we moved out we’ve been back to Manchester reasonably regularly both to visit clients and investors. If I’m in town and I have the chance, it’s great to see the team there and look at how the space has grown. One of our Ignite cohort is still resident in the co-working space so it’s a good excuse to catch up for a brew (either kind) as well.
Every time I visit it seems there is more great news, recognition in award nominations, another floor has opened or they have a new tenant. The last time I was there the cafe was about to open and they were dishing out free coffee for testing purposes and the launch was imminent. The big thing though has been watching the numbers and vibe of the space grow and now when I‘m there it definitely feels like a community where the co-op values shine through. In the months we’ve known The Fed it’s grown from two floors and a building site into a full blown hub for digital companies.
Kraken make software for engineering projects, it’s pretty esoteric and if you aren’t us, I can see how you *might* think it’s pretty boring. We’re really passionate about it though and we really do want to change the world with better engineering. When we lived in the Fed we had what we thought was a really good idea and a good market to go at. During our time there we refined that idea and also living in a space like that helped us to refine the things we cared about and stood for, which is easy to overlook.
Now Kraken IM is really starting to see the green shoots of our efforts, we’re getting traction on big projects, we’ve been nominated for our own awards, secured funding, approved to work on some of the UK’s most sensitive sites and now some of the largest companies in our sector are approaching us to see what we’re up to.
As I type this, The Federation is officially launching very soon and the last time I was there, it really did feel like the finished article, I know that Kraken has a long way to go still, we definitely aren’t the finished article. That said, one of the things we enjoyed most at our time on Ignite was the cohort effect and growing with the other teams, the Fed feels like it was one of our cohort, we grew up together and watching them kill it is awesome.
Fancy a nosy round? Give Sam a shout on firstname.lastname@example.org. We still have space on our co-working floor if you want to join.