YellowDog is an innovative and fast-growing tech company based in Temple Quarter’s Engine Shed. Recently they’ve picked up nominations and awards galore, being named Bristol Post’s Start Up of the Year, receiving the Bristol Life Technology & Innovation award, and being shortlisted for Business Leader and Digital Entrepreneur awards. With that in mind, what better time to have a chat with YellowDog’s founder and CEO, Gareth Williams? He gave us a whirlwind introduction to the company.
Business age: 2.5 years
Number of employees: 16
Length of time in Temple Quarter:
We’ve been based in Temple Quarter, in Engine Shed, since the company was set up – unless you count the first month, which was in my loft! However, we’ve had four different offices here: we started out in SETsquared’s shared office space and we’ve been fortunate enough to get gradually bigger spaces as we’ve grown. That’s one of the lovely things about SETsquared – they try and accommodate you as you grow.
What does YellowDog do?
We’ve built a platform that is able to securely harness unutilised computer power, and, today, we offer this power to 3D artists and animators to help speed up their computer generated imagery rendering. So it fuels everything from kids’ TV shows to commercials, architecture visualisations to computer generated art. We’re currently looking at how we can take our product and platform to new markets, such as banking and retail.
What motivated you to set the business up?
No one else is doing anything quite like what we do in the way that we do it. The idea for the business came to me during a conversation over a cup of tea in café in Paddington, and from then on it became something of an ‘idea worm’, constantly nagging away at me. Everything I read pointed to it being good business idea. Also, all my previous roles had been broadly about product management – and part of me just wanted to do my own thing.
The name is a reflection of our values: things like friendliness, reliability, adventurousness, protectiveness, being hard-working. We worked with a small agency to come up with our brand, and YellowDog was born!
Tell us about some of the most memorable projects you’ve worked on.
One thing that always amazes me is what people create with our tools. Some examples are No Ghost’s innovative and artistic data visualisation for Wimbledon, Powell Dobson’s photorealistic house, our work for CGI animation studio Blue Zoo. We’ve just had our 1000th sign up, and have customers across 38 countries.
Why did you decide to base the company here?
I moved to Bristol in 2000 and fell in love – with my wife and with the city. As a place to live, it’s a perfect mix of city and proximity to the countryside, ideal for raising a family. As a place to work, Bristol has an amazing mix of businesses and people, creating amazing stuff in the technology and creative sectors. Through luck it also has SETsquared and the area around Engine Shed, which has become something of a creative ecology of businesses and opportunities for collaboration.
How would you like to see the area develop in the future?
I would like to see it become better for bicycles, with more separation from traffic and pedestrians. There’s lots of great stuff coming up – Engine Shed’s expansion and Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus are great examples – but getting supporting infrastructure and improving public transport will be a big challenge.
I’d also like to see some more recreational stuff around: more variety in places to get lunch with colleagues and investors, and more green and open space.
It would also be great to have some more diversity and more collaboration with schools and young people, especially from deprived areas in Bristol.
What are YellowDog’s plans for the future?
World domination! We want to grow, and grow sustainably, in a way that is good for both our team and our customers. And of course we want to stay in this area.
Describe the business in 3 words.
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