Startup for 10: Col8

Startup for 10 is showcasing all the great startups in the region. One startup, 10 questions - all you need to know.
3rd July 2019

Col8 is the video and data specialists improving the security, defence and intelligence of our cities. Founded in Bristol in 2016, the team of 4 are creating the next generation video system.

Answering 10 questions about the company for us is CEO & Founder of Col8, Charles Smith.

1. In your own words – what do you do?

We make video more powerful and easier to use at scale for organisations by combining it with data. Our technology can be put together in different ways to solve the problems our customers are facing. For some, it is how to manage an entire cities worth of video and for others, it is how to present media in a new way to help engagement.

We are working in a variety of industries but have a particular focus in the security and defence issues around video use including helping organisations manage their obligations under GDPR requests from the public for video they have been captured in.

2. What’s the most exciting thing about what you’re doing?

Doing something that has the potential to fundamentally change one of the most widely used sources of information on the planet. With over 75% of all the traffic on the internet being video, we are still shocked by how hard it is to use and understand the footage we produce. So much has been done to progress our use of things like text and imagery but when it comes to video, how we use it is, in our opinion, antiquated!

Having the opportunity to try and tackle this problem at a fundamental level by actually changing how the video and data are presented to the user is both exciting and quite scary.

3. What are you most proud of so far?

I always try to reframe pride as humility because I think pride can make you focus on what you have done rather than humility that can keep you grounded but moving forward.

We recently put our first formal job advert out for a business development manager; what took me by surprise was the quantity and quality of candidates who applied. This was a humbling moment for me.

To take an idea with my co-founder, Rupert Jabelman, from working in our bedrooms through to getting funding and then having countless people engaging in our story and mission has been incredible. The great thing is we are continuing to grow, so get to experience this more and more.

4. What have you found most difficult about being a startup?

As a startup one thing you lack is the company credibility when you are trying to sell something. Having previously worked for Dyson and then IBM, the latter being the definition of the expression “no one ever got fired for buying IBM” you don’t realise how far up the confidence curve that puts people before you even meet them. It is obviously not an insurmountable problem, but it definitely means you need to work harder for it.

5. What would you do differently if you started now?

Critically it would be two things, first would have been to probably bring on a marketing sales based founder from day one to balance the skills between myself and Rupert.

The other is to have very early conversations with investors while we were developing rather than when we had a product built, not because it would have changed the direction of the company, but that we would have had a group of investors warmed up that had seen us deliver and had an existing relationship with.

6. Where do you think you’ll be in 12 months?

We will be well in to a scaling phase of the business after completing our full Seed round and probably having to deal with the really tricky side of how you take a business to the next level both organisationally and technologically – like we say a lot, good problems to have!

7. What tools/people/services/organisations from the cluster have helped you most?

There have been so many direct ones like our partnership with Techmodal and participating in the NatWest Accelerator.

8. What’s the best thing about the Bristol & Bath tech cluster?

The best things are the less tangible benefits of the Bristol & Bath cluster. Being able to reduce the time to find help – there are too many people I would need to thank to do that name by name.

9. Who will you be nominating for a SPARKie next year?

Probably us 😉

Actually, there are a number of clients we are working with to deliver ground-breaking solutions to problems and I think there might be some of them that should really get some recognition for the work they are doing.

Techmodal – for their work supporting us into the defence market as well as being an investor.

Snaptech / Jenny Griffiths – Great company, Jenny the founder is super down to earth but incredibly clever!

10. Where can we find out more about you?

Col8 website – we have a new site which has more information about us and our offerings.

Thanks to Charles for taking the time to talk to us.

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