What do you do when you’ve completed your computer science degree at Bath University? Well if you are Ashton Clapp, Max Maybury and Steven Borrie, rather than getting a job as a developer in an established firm, you co-found your own consulting software development company instead.
Bringing in Giacomo Poppi from Exeter University as a director, Backslash Build has existed since last year to create pioneering software solutions in the fields of automation, data analysis and chatbots, and that’s just for starters.
“We’ve managed to strike a perfect balance between working on our own ideas and building software for local startups”
We knew we could expect great things from these guys as TechSPARK met Ashton, Max and Steven way back at the Realworld hackathon organised as part of the Bath Digital Festival at singer-songwriter Peter Gabriel’s studio in Box back in 2013.
Our suspicions were confirmed when Ashton was shortlisted for the FutureSPARK award – “an award designed to recognise a member of the digital community who is 21 or under, is incredibly talented and destined for great things” – at the SPARKies Awards 2014.
To cap it all, we also saw these guys point out what went wrong in a live demo of Just Eat’s chatbot demonstrations (a stray comma in place of a full stop!) at our own Spark Skills Festival held last December, which won them an Amazon Dot for their trouble. So with all this tech knowhow we figured it wouldn’t be too long before they popped up in a more official capacity in the region’s tech scene.
Winners: Ashton and Steven showing off the Amazon
wares they won at the SPARK Skills Festival last year
To find out more we caught up with Max, to quiz him about their new company and their entrepreneurial journey so far.
TechSPARK: What is Backslash Build?
We really do build everything. Right now we’re working on analytics for the restaurant industry, chatbots for the transport industry, and automated evaluation software for educators. And that’s still just the tip of the iceberg.
TS: How did you come to set it up?
MM: As a team, we’ve spent our time in university working closely with the startup community in Bath and Bristol. After graduating, we knew that we were ready to dive in head-first, and set up our own business. We’ve managed to strike a perfect balance between working on our own ideas and building software for local startups. The freedom to quickly switch contexts between various projects keeps us sharp, and ensures there’s never a slow moment.
TS: You are currently based at Bath Uni – how did that come about?
MM: The university presented us with two Foulathi Entrepreneurship and Innovation Awards, which included funding and space for us to start our businesses. The guidance and nurturing our businesses have received from the university has proved invaluable.
“We’ve found that everyone in the Bath tech community wants to see each other succeed, which has made our journey very pleasant”
TS: Are there any advantages to being based in Bath?
MM: The community in Bath is number one. We’ve found that everyone in the Bath tech community wants to see each other succeed, which has made our journey very pleasant. In addition, the density of small businesses has fostered a fantastic environment for sharing knowledge.
TS: What successes have you had so far?
MM: All of our projects are making steady, measurable, progress. Over the past 6 months, we have moved from having to work part time to cover our living expenses, to having a profitable consulting company. We are very proud of our progress and are pleased to see that our clientbase is growing rapidly.
TS: Have you received any mentorship when creating your startup – anyone one you would recommend to others looking to follow in your footsteps?
MM: Cognisess (pictured left) provided us with a the opportunity to work for them part-time, whilst granting us access to the office space during our own time, allowing us to start working on our first consulting projects.
We’ll also take this opportunity to thank the University of Bath and Innovation Centre for their ongoing support as we started our venture.
Dr Rachid Hourizi – researcher and lecturer in the Computer Science department – has been our mentor since we first applied for the Foulathi award, helping us in any way possible to build a successful startup.
TS: Can people get involved with Backslash Build?
MM: Yes, we are always open to meeting interesting people. If you would like to get in touch, be it for business or out of interest, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TS: What’s next for Backslash Build?
MM: In the next few months we’ll need to start bringing some other talented individuals on board, which will require us to find more office space. We’ll be taking more consultations and gradually scaling the business – whilst working towards obtaining funding for our other startup projects.