If We Can You Can: Nebula Labs

(L-R) Dylan McKee and Nic Flynn

If We Can You Can: Nebula Labs

Nebula Labs, a tech business founded by friends Dylan McKee and Nic Flynn, is entered in to 2017's If We Can You Can Challenge. BQ caught up with the pair to hear about their plans for the business.

What did you do before setting up your business?

Dylan has a vast experience of mobile app development, developing his first iOS app - myAltitude - at the age of 13, which went on to achieve over 1 million downloads worldwide. Since then, Dylan has worked on apps over multiple mobile and web platforms for a variety of clients ranging from solo entrepreneurs and venture-backed startups to established SMEs and local government organisations.

Dylan studied Computer Science BSc at Newcastle University achieving a first-class degree with honours, and is also an alumnus of the Ignite Accelerator Programme, completing their Summer 2014 programme and working with many of their portfolio companies on mobile apps.

Nic has a vast experience of network configuration, security and resilience, and web development. Nic has worked on a wide range of network and web projects, as well as gaining significant supervisory and managerial experience in the leisure industry.

Nic studied Computer & Network Technology at Northumbria University, and holds Cisco Certification.

What inspired you to set up your business?

Being friends for nearly a decade we had long discussed future collaboration with each other, often in school joking about running our own tech startup. Knowing that we were both about to leave university the following year, we began discussing the opportunity for us to work together on a technology startup.

Soon we recognised the current gap in the market for a software development house that specialises in dealing with SME’s and entrepreneurs and has a real focus on driving innovation, especially in areas of business where technological innovation is lacking.

What makes this business different?

Our business model is particularly innovative as it is a new type of software house ‐ no others exist in the region (or indeed outside of London in the UK) that has been founded by a team that possess genuine venture‐backed startup experience, and treat every client’s project as if it were a startup, bringing genuinely lean and agile principles to every client to ensure that the products we create have the features that user’s genuinely want ‐ not simply features that pay us the most, and making startup‐style innovation accessible to established SMEs.

What inspired you to enter the If We Can You Can Challenge?

We were inspired to enter the challenge by Superconnector and collaborator Paul Lancaster whilst discussing our partnership for the Newcastle Scaleup Summit mobile application. We think it would be very beneficial for our business to receive the support available to contestants.

Where do you see your business in three years’ time?

We would like to expand our team dramatically to increase our capacity as well as begin working with larger enterprises to help drive technological innovation.

What has been the most rewarding part of your journey so far?

Nic: For me the most rewarding part of the journey has been the physical processes involved in starting your own business, I’ve found no greater satisfaction than that of working day-in day-out to build something that is wholly ours.

Dylan: Having had greater involvement in the pre-startup process, due to my development of the business idea as part of my studies and our application to the Newcastle University Founderships programme. The most rewarding part of the journey for me has been seeing an idea that has previously only existed in our collective minds being dragged into reality, culminating with our official business registration on 2nd August, and us both starting full-time to give the business our full attention.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Our biggest challenge so far has been managing demand and capacity. We have been blessed with great interest in our business however success has been a double-edged sword as it can be rather challenging at times managing the current demand for our service, without deterring future interest. This will as likely lead us into the challenges of growing and scaling the business to meet both current and future demand. 

Who/what gave you support or advice?

We have received support from Newcastle University, and we're currently lucky enough to have the honour of participating in their Founderships accelerator programme, where we're based out of their Startup Space for the next six months, as well as receiving expert mentoring and funding. We've also received great advice from Tristan Watson of Ignite Accelerator and strong support from the team at Campus North and Tech for Life. Northstar Ventures have been indispensable with their early stage cash flow and finance advice – particularly from proof-of-concept investment genius James Foster, and we've also received the continued support and advice of Paul Lancaster from Plan Digital UK – including the incredible opportunity to become the mobile partner for his Newcastle Startup Week and Newcastle Scaleup Summit events, creating highly acclaimed mobile apps to support his innovative community building events.

What advice would you give to someone looking to set up their own business?

Our advice would be akin to that of nike or Shia LaBeouf “Just Do It”.