Nebula Labs founders Dylan McKee and Nic Flynn
Dylan McKee and Nic Flynn met at school and had always talked about running a tech start-up together. Now that their plans have become a reality they chat to BQ about why they have entered their business into this year's If We Can You Can challenge.
What did you do before setting up your business?
Dylan has a vast experience of mobile app development. At the age of 13, he created his first iOS app - myAltitude, which went on to achieve over 1 million downloads worldwide. Since then, Dylan has worked on apps for a multitude of mobile and web platforms, serving a wide variety of clients, ranging from solo entrepreneurs and venture-backed startups to established SMEs and local government organisations.
Nic is very experienced in 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.
What inspired you to set up your business?
Being friends for nearly a decade, we had long discussed potential future collaborations with each other. There were many times in school where we would joke about running our own tech startup, but never really seriously considered the prospect. However, this changed, when it came to our final year at university. We began to seriously discuss the opportunity for us to work together on a technology startup.
Here, we recognised a significant gap in the market for a software development house that specialises in dealing with SMEs and entrepreneurs. Such a startup business could stand as a unique service by placing an emphasis on driving innovation amongst our client base, especially in areas of business where technological innovation is lacking.
What makes this business different?
We believe Nebula Labs to be a unique tech start-up, representing a new type of software house. Our work ethos and operations methodology contribute to making it stand out from the crowd. We treat every client’s project as if it were a startup, bringing in genuinely lean and agile principles. This ensures that the products we create possess the features that user’s genuinely want ‐ not simply features that pay us the most.
What inspired you to enter the If We Can You Can Challenge?
We were inspired to enter the competition because we believe that Nebula Labs has grown significantly in its first year of trading. We have a completed a number of significant projects for clients from a wide range of verticals. Looking to the future, we already have a number of ambitious projects that are currently being planned with new and existing clients that should allow Nebula Labs to grow significantly in the years to come.
Where do you see your business in three years’ time?
In the next three years, we envision Nebula Labs as evolving into a boutique software house, with a diversity of clients, nationally and internationally. Currently, the vast majority of our business derives from the North East. There remains significant scope for more unique collaborations with North East businesses, to help them realise their innovative ideas, or to improve their existing assets. However, we recognise that Nebula Labs must grow beyond the region, in order to scale up in the most effective way possible.
All in all, it is our firm belief that over the next few years, by continually refining our operations, as we do our development projects, we can deliver our unique service offering to a significantly expanded client base across the world, making start-up style innovation accessible to national and international SMEs, public sector bodies and even large scale corporations.
What has been the most rewarding part of your journey so far?
In our first year we’ve had several notable achievements, however the most rewarding aspect of our journey so far, would be that of a growing the team. Since our inception last year, we’ve expanded to become a five-strong team with and extended family of trusted collaborators.
What has been your biggest challenge?
One of our biggest initial challenges was finding talent that not only had complimentary skills to work within the business, but also individuals who fit culturally within Nebula Labs. Thankfully, by liaising with the local universities, especially the amazing folks at Newcastle University, we have been able to actively engage with students, and even participate in modules, which enables us to better find the perfect individual for any given opportunity.
Who/what gave you support or advice?
We have received an immeasurable amount of support and funding from Newcastle University, and their Careers Service. In the 2017/18 academic year, we were fortunate enough to be given the opportunity participate in their Founderships accelerator programme. For the first six months of trading, we were based out of their Startup Space in the heart of the campus. We are privileged to continue to have access to expert mentoring, unique networking opportunities and an amazing pool of passionate, industry ready talent.
We've also received great advice from Paul Smith, Tristan Watson and Lyndsey Britton of Ignite Accelerator and strong support from the team at Campus North and Tech for Life. We spent six months working out of our own office space at Campus North, until it’s closure in September this year. The experience of working in close quarters alongside a number of other startup business from a range of industries sectors was both insightful and fun. We’ve found that there is a really nice business community in the North East. People are generally friendly and want to help each other out.
What advice would you give to someone looking to set up their own business?
Just do it. Whatever your business idea is - get on with making it a reality. Engage in any activity you feel useful. Use your own devices, research, use free tools from the internet. Don’t pay hundreds of pounds for something that you can get free or wait around for help when there are things you could be doing yourself.
Visit www.ifwecanyoucan.co.uk for more information on the competition.
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