Walking around Event City in Manchester on Wednesday, I was struck by the number of cutting-edge tech firms I could pass in less than two minutes.
From chipmaking giant ARM to podcasting platform Podcast.co and social media agency Digital Media Team, the room was buzzing with conversation between company and consumer, with the odd freebie being handed over with a smile.
Tech Show North highlighted over 100 businesses and start-ups to attendees – with an impressive 2,500 people registering – while there was an array of panels and talks taking place throughout the day.
There was a panel discussion from BusinessCloud, while we also had a stand in spot No.1 as a media partner for the event.
Away from the competitions, food vendors and double-decker bus bar, the room was teeming with innovation.
One start-up I spoke with was Wattl, a video platform which merges content from across a variety of social platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, and creates ‘worlds’ of themed content to be viewed in one place.
Emma Ryan, co-founder and CEO, said it was now looking to incorporate an eCommerce area within its mobile app, where businesses such as Missguided could create a ‘world’ of video content based around their products.
Consumers would then be able to purchase the items there and then.
“We’re not telling you ‘you have to see this content’ – it’s been placed on that world by a user, so it’s all user-generated. You only get good quality videos,” she told me.
“If a video isn’t popular it gets deleted so it’s not a forever platform like YouTube, it’s quite transient.
“We’re not trying to replace YouTube, we want to be best friends. We want to complement what’s out there and make it easier to have a good video experience in one platform.”
Another business looking to change the way we consume video is paus.tv. Rishi Kapoor worked for large studios such as Universal and Warner Brothers before ditching the film industry to focus on where he could help content creators.
“There’s a huge problem in video streaming: every single minute 400 hours’ worth of video is uploaded onto YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. It’s very difficult for you to find the things you want to watch,” he told me.
“Algorithms that tell you what you want to watch, they’re focused on clickbait because they need people to click on things to generate ad revenue.”
The paus platform allows creators to upload their content and viewers can donate tips to support their work. Current YouTubers can only earn around 70p per 1000 views, as Kapoor said only the top three per cent of content creators are making meaningful salaries.
“I didn’t [start my own business] because I wanted more freedom or I wanted to be my own boss, they’re all nice things to have but it’s mainly because I wanted to help people. My role was helping big films make more money and that gets tiring after a while,” he said.
“From a job security point of view, it was a risk. But that’s fine, it’s a learning curve, so starting your own start-up, there’s a lot of risk involved, the other side is that the up side is huge.”
Established tech firm UKFast had a large presence as the lead sponsor of the event, and were offering a free drone for the best time on a lap of Mario Kart. I decided not to enter as it would have been unfair to everyone else.
There were also start-ups in other areas of tech, such as Caroo, which is disrupting the recruitment industry. More on their story to follow in our newsletter tomorrow.
The firms I spoke to on Wednesday are only the tip of the North’s creative iceberg, something that is becoming more and more apparent to me at BusinessCloud.