Some startups prefer to create many things rather than deliver a specific product, and this is the case with Manifesto.
The 40-strong London-based digital agency was founded by Jim Bowes, Simon Bates and Curtis Fox in 2011, and specialises in consultancy, technology and design services for clients looking to create digital platforms and apps.
We fired our spotlight questions at Bowes to find out more about his startup.
Why did you set up Manifesto?
The co-founders and I had worked together previously on a large project for Barclays. After that we went our separate ways, but got back together to create Manifesto.
We met every two weeks for nearly six months to plan the type of business we wanted to build. We felt there was a gap in the market for an agency with the technical skills of a systems integrator, but the creativity and user-centred approach of an agency.
Tell us how you got your business off the ground.
We each put £500 in and bought our professional indemnity insurance and started contacting people we'd worked with previously.
What technology do you use?
Most of the tools we use are cloud based, covering everything from accounting to project management.
We use a wide range of platforms such as Acquia and WPEngine, and cloud infrastructure including Rackspace and Amazon Web Services. We also have teams that work with front-end technologies such as Java and PHP.
What level of funding have you received so far?
We're entirely self-funded.
What challenges have you encountered?
Challenges occur whenever you're trying to break through to the next stage in your business. Initially the challenge is finding the balance between client work and managing the business, while growing it at the same time.
More recently the challenges have been around implementing the best possible leadership team to take us to the next stage of our journey. Finding technical talent is always a challenge in itself.
What's been the biggest highlight of your business?
It's always amazing to see work we deliver make a real difference. Highlights have included projects like Dryathlon for Cancer Research UK, and an application we developed with the National Autistic Society.
In addition, it's extremely rewarding winning awards such as the Google Global Impact award for the We Farm project we worked on.
Aside from the results, it is always fantastic to see the team improve and achieve their goals. On a personal level, I love taking on new challenges and growing new areas of the business.
What does your company do to relax or have fun after a busy day?
We're a pretty sociable bunch. Popular activities include bowling, the theatre, movie nights in the studio and cocktail-making lessons. Each year we do a company day with the whole team. Last year we re-wrote the principles for the agency using Lego.
What did you do before starting up?
My last job was running the web development team for Cancer Research UK. They're an amazing organisation who we still work with.
I've worked in digital or digital content for the last 15 years, and prior to that my career has included everything from Ibiza DJ to tea room owner and comedian.
What are your favourite and worst things about running your own startup?
I love the ability to shape my own future and create opportunities for the people around me. There's also something really special about working on projects that make a real difference.
The worst thing is how difficult it can be to truly relax. It's incredibly important to properly unwind and step back, as taking time out offers a real sense of perspective which in turn leads to better decisions in the office.
If you could emulate the success of another startup, which would it be?
In the world of agencies I've always been impressed by ThoughtWorks and their ability to transform organisations.
For a product-based startup I've been really impressed by Peek, an app and device that can really transform lives by saving the sight of people just using a smartphone.
Do you work remotely, in a shared environment or have your own office space?
We have our own office space in Clerkenwell. We use Agile methods and believe working face to face is still the most effective option.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee. My entire career since I was 19 years old has been built on top of the internet, so I definitely owe him a debt of gratitude.
The power of instant access to information has transformed the world, and although this has good and bad aspects, in my opinion this is hugely beneficial.
Smart or casual?
It depends on the occasion. Most days I ride a scooter to the office and dress more casually, but dressing up is great every now and then.
Coffee shop of choice?
Brill on Exmouth Market in London. Great coffee and bagels.
Beverage of choice?
Dead Dolls House.
Running your own business can encourage unhealthy habits, so recently I've been using Fitbit to keep track of my exercise.
Do you benefit from startup communities and related networking?
Yes, we've definitely benefited from startup communities. These have opened up partnerships, hiring opportunities and work for Manifesto. We've also had the benefit of trying out lots of new products and services which has been extremely valuable.
If you want to take part in the V3 Startup Spotlight contact Roland Moore-Colyer.
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