The creative collective start-up

In March 2016 I took ‘ErroZero’ — the web, print and sound design business my partner and I were working on progressing — to a business accelerator programme called SparkUp. Long story short, we came to the decision that actually the ‘ErroZero’ business already had an excellent following in terms of audio, specifically web audio, due to the success of the ‘Acid Machine’ web app we launched in March 2015. It made sense to keep ‘ErroZero’ in this web audio niche and for my partner to work on the development of this specialism. I took the web & print design aspect of the business and ran with creating a new company which offered these services.

Over the next few weeks I was constantly challenged to develop the new company idea and skills I was offering into a properly viable business with something truly different to offer. I have written and re-written my business pitch more times than I care to mention. I have been tested. I have been torn apart, I have been built back up and I have been challenged and encouraged, and challenged again.

Amongst all this, I had an idea. An idea for a business that I not only thought was different, but one I could get seriously passionate about. Guess what? It was challenged. But I’ve stuck by it, because I seriously believe that it’s going to be amazing. Not just for me, not just for the people who will be involved, but for the customers who will use it.

The idea began when I realised I was still relying on my partner to provide a big chunk of the services the new business would offer. I can’t code. He can. Any web work was going to need his input. Rather than see this as a negative, I saw a positive in it, with a way I could take this further. I’m a graphic designer. I know I’m a good graphic designer, but at the same time I know I can’t do everything. There are people out there better suited to certain projects than I am. I can’t code (at least not yet well enough to sell my skills commercially), I am better at print design than I am web, and although I know my way around a DSLR, I’m no photographer. But I do know people, professionals, awesome creatives who fill in all the gaps. The idea of the collective was born.

The more I thought about this idea, the more I liked it. I started to think of it as a serious way of competing with agencies. I started to look at why someone might prefer to work with this collective over an agency. Agencies can be so stuck in their ways — so many of them will always recommend a particular content management system (ahem, Wordpress, ahem) simply because it’s the one they’re used to working with, not necessarily the best one for the job. With the collective we wouldn’t need to do that because we would have a network of developers experienced in a wealth of CMS’s so we would be able to choose the most suitable tool for the project.

When using an agency you will find you’re very often speaking to an account manager, not the person actually designing your brand identity or coding your website. It leads to misunderstandings, things lost in translation, account managers putting their personal thoughts on top of what they’re relaying from the client. With the collective we would put the person working on the project directly in touch with the client.

SO often design agencies sell themselves on the basis of you getting an entire team of people working on your project. In truth, you’ll only be getting one or two people and you’ll likely have no idea who that is. It might, quite often in fact, be a freelancer anyway, with the agency just slapping their margin on top of the hourly rate of the freelancer! Why not just go straight to the freelancer?!

But of course using a freelancer can be a little nerve wracking. If you know nothing about web development, how do you know you have found a great developer? This is where the collective shines — we will only recruit tried and tested freelancers that we know are good at what they do to the collective.

So there it is; a flexible, friendly approach to design and development that won’t try to shoehorn the client into a solution that suits itself. A network of locally based (you don’t have to go to London to get great design!) professional creatives, all passionate about bringing great design to even the smallest of business.

The name? Nine Dots Creative.

I’m really excited about this, I’m sure you can tell. I’ve created the brand identity. The website is being designed, the Twitter and Facebook accounts are live, I’ve clearly started talking about it already. I’ll be writing more about the progress I make on the last few weeks of the SparkUp programme, I’m sure the idea will evolve further yet. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes. I do hope you’ll join in the journey.