Originally Published: October 2015
Nine Studios is my tech startup that I founded whilst in university 2010. Over the years it’s gone through a number of iterations, from design consultancy, tech store to building our own smart home products. We’ve raised finance, done a crowdfunding campaign, been a team of 9 people and pitched/presented at dozens of events. Nine Studios is currently on break, after running out of money… again.
Here’s a quick history so far:
- Sept 2010 — I founded Nine Studios because I wanted a place where I could further develop the weird and wonderful ideas that come to me.
- Oct 2010 — Nine Studios is running as a small design consultancy and performs one job, building the graphics and illustrations for the Rainbow Training website.
- Jan 2012 — Whilst in my final year studying a BEng in Product Design and Manufacture at the University of Nottingham I designed Lumine for Nine Studios, a range of smart colour changing lights.
- Summer 2012 — After graduating I realised I knew bugger all about running a company and decided to pursue a MSc in Technology Entrepreneurship at UCL. A fantastic course where you run your startup as you learn more about what you’re doing. At this point the idea was for Nine Studios to be a weird sort of design ecosystem made up of the following:
- Nine Designs — A design consultancy where our employees could get exposed to a wide range of different projects, gaining new experiences in different industries.
- Nine — Our in house design team where we build consumer friendly smart home products.
- Nine Store — Our store where we sell great home design with a focus on smart home technology. Selling both our own products and those from other manufacturers.
- Sept 2012 — Jan 2013 — It quickly became apparent that this model was way too ambitious to start it all at once, so we dialled it down to just Nine Store. We developed this business idea, closely following the Lean Startup methodology, lots of consumer interviews and the building of Minimal Viable Products (MVP’s).
- Jan 2013 — At this point having been heavily involved in business development and e-commerce, I begun really missing the excitement of designing new and interesting products. The company pivoted, instead of selling consumer friendly smart home products, we were to build them. The problem we tackled was:
- Digital photo frames are shit, they all look the same and are a ball ache to setup and keep new photos on them. There must be a better way of reliving the best moments in your life.
- Jan 2013 — May 2013 — After performing extensive product, customer and business development we had developed Photine, a family of smarter, better digital photo frames. We also had a team of six people working on making this happen, and had a lot of fun building all sorts of prototypes.
- Summer 2013 — We won the London Entrepreneurs Challenge, the UCL Bright Ideas Award and got shortlisted for the Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas award and the NACUE Varsity Pitch Competition. We got a small amount of seed funding and started building towards a crowdfunding campaign to validate the market and raise the money we needed for manufacture.
- Nov 2013 — We had put together a great looking crowdfunding campaign and launched on Indiegogo. Unfortunately we failed spectacularly. However we learnt so much from the experience and I’m sure we’ll fuck up in a different way next time we crowdfund.
- Dec 2013 — Feb 2015 — Nine Studios went through a hiatus, where we didn’t know what to do anymore, so we all went our separate ways for a while.
- Feb 2015 — With my interest in futurology and mapping trends I built an online timeline tool called Nineline, as a Nine Studios venture, aimed at being a small tool for mapping trends, rather than a main focus for the company.
- March 2015 — Nine Studios starts a reboot, focussing on building products and tools that make people happier. Our first such product, Remember When, a micro journaling platform aiming to help you record and relive the best moments in your life.
- October 2015 — Back in dormant mode again due to lack of money, but plans are still in play and waiting the right moment to come back again.
- 2017 — Shut down everything related to Nine Studios. I’m now working as a freelance programmer under my new company name Curious Squid Co.