Sponsors of the ‘Future SPARK’ award for 2014’s SPARKies awards, Bath digital agency Deep Blue Sky is no stranger to pushing the boundaries of web design and tech development. We picked the brains of Deep Blue founder, Jim Morrison, to find out what makes the agency tick.

Established in 2008, Deep Blue cover a broad range of digital services, “from creative, design and branding all the way through to technical systems”. Digital consultant Jim’s motive for founding the business was typical of the creative industry: “I was working elsewhere doing the same work and I wanted to do it my way and be the master of my own destiny,” he says.

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Deep Blue guy: Jim’s business covers everything from branding to Twitter stocks and shares

There may have been an underlying, “more philosophical reason”: “I have always enjoyed building things and figuring out how things work – as a kid I was constantly taking things apart and putting them back together again.”

Whatever the reason, Deep Blue Sky works: the agency now counts Dickies, Walmart, American Express and IBM as clients, providing branding, business strategy and web design services on an international basis.

Work and pleasure

Jim’s team still find time to have fun. The group built twiDAQ – “the world’s biggest stock exchange” – in gaps between work. Jim explains: “On the face of it, twiDAQ’s a game.

“TwiDAQ’s a game where you buy and sell shares in anyone on Twitter; the more popular they become, the better your shares do”

 

You buy and sell shares in anyone on Twitter; the more popular they become, the better your shares do. You then sell them when they’re high and make some twiDAQ dollars and invest in someone who’s having a bad week and hopefully ride the curve again.”.

TWIDAQ

Daq to the future: Trade Twitter users like stocks and shares with Twidaq

So why did they build the app? “The long term view of it really is to try and liberate or democratise the sense that we all have about who is famous – who is notorious, and who is up and who is down”, Jim says.

“We all find that there are very few people who get to determine who is popular in the media or in the press and ultimately I would like to democratise that a bit – to give the people who play the game the voice to say who is popular and who is not in an up-to-date, real time, live kind-of way – to take back that control from the few and give it to the many”.

Talent recognition

Giving back is a central to the agency’s ethos, and explains their sponsorship of the SPARKies awards. “I’ve been vaguely involved since they [the SPARKies] started a few years ago”, Jim says.

“I think it’s important that we recognise the emergence of new talent in this area, and I think that there’s a huge amount of very exciting new businesses – and old businesses, to be fair – in Bristol and Bath and the surrounding areas”

 

“I think it’s important that we recognise the emergence of new talent in this area, and I think that there’s a huge amount of very exciting new businesses – and old businesses, to be fair – in Bristol and Bath and the surrounding areas, and I think it’s important to celebrate people’s successes, be they big businesses or in our case, people just at the start of that journey”.

The ‘Future SPARK’ award the team have sponsored recognises young, local entrepreneurs about to make a splash in the tech world.

Future tech

Which area of tech does Jim believe holds the most potential for the future? “In the medium term – the next three to six years – I would say most interesting is that tech bridging the divide between software and hardware.

By that, I don’t necessarily mean robotics in the old fashioned sense of bipedal robots running around; I mean the divide between your washing machine and the way your goods get delivered, and your burglar alarm and your fridge; your shopping, car, phone and watch, and the blurring of those lines between software and hardware.

That’s what I think will be the most exciting tech over the next few years: wearable and home technology”.

Thanks to Jim for taking the time to talk to us. Follow Deep Blue Sky on Twitter, and check out @TechSPARKuk for the latest Sparkies news.

Callum Dunbar