opencoOpenCo conferences are ‘inside-out’ conferences that let you meet up with the movers and shakers behind top innovative companies, often on their home turf.

OpenCo Bath and Bristol, on 2 October, will let you get up close and personal with leading app developers, social video companies, robot makers, people making machines and devices truly ‘intelligent’ or people who can show you how to build a billion-dollar tech business without managers.

Oh, and did we mention it was free?

The informal talks will take place in the offices of the companies themselves, or in some of the region’s most impressive tech innovation hubs like Bristol and Bath Science Park, Pervasive Media Studio, Bristol Games Hub and Engine Shed.

The OpenCo conferences celebrate the open collaboration that so many innovative companies and startups embrace, and it’s an idea that has clearly appealed to 14 up-and-coming companies in Bristol and Bath, as they have opened their arms to anyone who wants to see what makes them tick.

We caught up with three of them, Genius Digital, Wild Seed Studios and Zynstra, to find out what they do, and why they are getting involved with OpenCo.

Genius Digital are hunting for more genius

gd-logo2Jonathan Sykes, Co-founder and executive chairman of Genius Digital, a company that makes sense of customer data for the TV industry, can’t wait to meet the OpenCo crowd. “We want to show off that we are fun,” he explains, “and we want to mix with smart people who value excellence and energy.” He loves the idea of collaboration because, as he explains, “Genius is contagious.”

“Genius is contagious”


Jonathan is also keen for OpenCo to show off the innovation taking place in the Bristol and Bath region: “Helping to retain and grow the South West as a “tech hub” is important. London is so overrated.”

He’s got a lot to show off too as Genius Digital which is based at the Innovation Centre in Bath has had an explosive growth since it was begun: “In less than one year since our formation,” he explains, “we are now an integral part of the digital infrastructure of TV and telecommunications operators in Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East. And the journey has only just begun…”

Openness is at the heart of Wildseed Studios

Miles-Bulloughth_1f5e467fe6d549eeeb5be1f13c2f41e8_1378237989WSS450Miles Bullough, Managing Director of Bristol-based Wild Seed Studios also believes OpenCo is a great thing to happen to Bristol and Bath. “We love being in at the beginning of events like this and are always keen to open up our mission and offering to people who are interested in learning more about Wildseed Studios, and what we do and stand for. We suspect that this will become a key event in the Bristol and Bath calendar. Openness is something that we strive for in our business.”

The company showcases creative content online focusing on live-action comedy, genre fiction and animation. We wondered what he and his company were hoping to get out of OpenCo. “We want to be in at the start of something exciting,” he answers. “We want to strengthen our ties with the Bristol and Bath tech community, to raise awareness of the company in our city, and to connect with the local community; business and otherwise.”

“We want to be in at the start of something exciting”


So what can OpenCo attendees expect to hear about from Wildseed Studios? “We are an ideas accelerator operating in a unique way,” explains Miles “We are seeking to enable new creative talent to take what they do to the next level by providing investment, creative and business mentorship. In doing so we are creating a library of fresh, innovative content that will populate a Wildseed channel which we intend will become a major entertainment destination for millennials.”

Join the Zynstra community

zynstra_colour_logoBrian-BuggyLast, but by no means least, we caught up with Brian Buggy, Co-Founder of innovative hybrid IT solutions company Zynstra. He too thinks OpenCo can help uncover what is being achieved in the region: “As a Bath-based company we wanted to support the OpenCo event as it showcases the talent and opportunities available to businesses who choose to locate in the South West. We are proud to be able to help promote the area and attract new businesses and grow the community to drive innovation, growth and opportunity.”

He believes it’s also a chance for Zynstra to expand its community: “to learn more about other organisations in the area to help drive further innovation, collaboration and growth for the region.”

“The OpenCo event as it showcases the talent and opportunities available to businesses who choose to locate in the South West”


Zynstra, also usually based at the Innovation Centre in Bath, is no stranger to innovation, as Brian explains: “The company was started by entrepreneurs who understand the challenges of running a small to medium business. Zynstra was started to give small and medium sized businesses access to enterprise IT but on a budget they can afford.”

Get involved

These are just three of the 14 companies showcasing their entrepreneurial skills at OpenCo Bristol and Bath, so it’s clear it’s going to be an amazing opportunity for other like-minded innovators, early tech adopters and market influencers to mix with the people already driving innovation and identifying the next big things.

If you haven’t booked your free ticket yet, hurry up, it takes place this Thursday! Want to know more? See a Reuters video of the organisers behind the OpenCo events taking place across the UK.

Jamie Middleton