Northern Stars: Jack Barmby, Gnatta

Northern Stars: Jack Barmby, Gnatta

What started as a university project has evolved into a thriving business. Jack Barmby, of Gnatta, caught up with BQ to tell us more.

Tell us all about your business, in 100 words or less...

Gnatta allows businesses of all sizes to listen and engage with their customers on an individual basis via one single interface. Enabling customer services to be handled at scale, Gnatta ensures operators can be agnostic towards communication channels, reacting to tweets, Facebook messages, SMS, email, marketplace and review sites without the need of deep channel knowledge. An integrated analytical suite within Gnatta provides a detailed understanding of what customers are saying delivering real time valuable intelligence.


Where did the idea come from? What motivated you to start your own business?

Gnatta was a university project. It was originally designed to solve one problem - letting a small team of people work on one Twitter account.

When I first started struggling with tweet volumes, I went to download a solution to help assign things intelligently. I couldn’t find anything and decided I would make something to help manage the process. It began as a solution to a problem, not a business idea, just a solution. It worked well, and after some time businesses I had connections with through family and friends began using it to solve the same problem.

After some time we began taking on larger clients, the solution was given a name, a brand, a message; since then, we have expanded the concept from a way to help people manage a single Twitter account to a way for businesses to manage and respond to conversations, proactively and reactively across any channel.

The main obstacle I came across was focus. Trying to hone in on ‘what do we want this to do?’ is very difficult. I always say to people, ‘imagine you’re telling a five year old what you do, can you explain it clearly?’ Most would struggle, and maintaining focus was definitely a challenge.

As a business grows, focus remains a challenge – I would empower anyone wanting to develop an idea to get a clear focus and not lose track of it.


Have you raised finance so far? If so, how?

We're seeking investment in the next 12 months. While the benefit of investment in terms of opportunity outside the initial cash injection is most important to us, we would be looking to raise £1-2 million as a ballpark, but this needs developing and finalising before taking this any further.


What are your most and least favourite parts of your job?

My favourite part of running a startup is being able to do what I love and see an idea that I had at 18 become a reality and grow before my eyes.

The worst part is needing to say no sometimes. Now that Gnatta is growing I need to start refining my business model and this means staying true to my original vision and not getting side-tracked.

While I am always open to ideas, sometimes you have to say no to opportunities which I know are a departure from where I see my business going.


How did it feel to be crowned one of TechNorth’s Northern Stars?

We are so excited to be one of the winner’s of the 2015 Northern Stars. It’s so inspiring seeing so many businesses thrive in the North and this is just a further endorsement of all the work we do to help businesses improve their ability to communicate with consumers at scale across multiple platforms. Thank you Northern Stars!


Which of the prizes do you think will be of most value to you and your business?

Out of all of the amazing prizes, we feel TechCrunch will be of most benefit to Gnatta. TechCrunch brings so many amazing startup’s together alongside some amazing entrepreneurs and investors which will hopefully help elevate Gnatta to the next level.


What’s next for you, and where do you see your business in a year?

We are currently developing partnerships with telephony and IVR providers, which will widen the scope of the client base we currently service.