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Top tips for startups: Reasons To Be Creative founder John Davey on the journey to success

Make no mistake - the UK startup scene is buzzing. Not since the dotcom boom in the 90s has this level of unabashed optimism existed in the technology world and the good vibrations are being felt all over the world. At every turn, early-stage ventures are setting up shop, challenging received wisdom, and disrupting the status quo in new and exciting ways. Whether you're an iPhone-toting partygoer or a business leader looking for an enterprise solution, chances are you've been paying close attention.

Reasons To Be Creative founder John Davey (top, left) knows the grassroots tech game better than most. A Flash developer by trade, Davey went out on something of a limb in 2006 when he founded Flash On The Beach in Brighton - since evolved into the Critters award winning Reasons To Be Creative festival. Running from 2-4 September and taking in a trio of top venues in the vibrant south coast city, it's as highly regarded as web design events come and forms one of the focal points of the wider Brighton Digital 2013.

It's hardly a stretch to say that Reasons To Be Creative represents a veritable startup success story, so what does it take for a young company or, indeed, a nascent idea to succeed? We sat down with John to take in his advice for budding businesses.

Take risks

"Brighton was an accident. I had everything planned to stage the first event in London and I just happened to be having coffee with a friend who said: 'Why don't you do it in Brighton?' I said, 'Well, I don't really know Brighton, I don't know any good venues.' So he gave me a list of venues. By the time I got to the Brighton Dome, I was so fed up – none of them were particularly good [and] I walked in with some real attitude. I saw it and immediately went: Oh my god, this is exactly what I'm looking for."

Put boots on ground

"Going to events doesn't only get you and your product in front of thousands of people, it gets you and your product in front of some really heavyweight designers and developers, who are all friendly people. If you can get them on your side, there is nothing better than one of them using your product as an endorsement or tweeting about it or putting in on their Facebook page. That really grows your social network and therefore the awareness of your product very quickly."

Listen to yourself

"It's easy to get caught up in market research or other people's opinions. At the end of the day, it's your idea. That, I think, is 90 percent of what you should listen to you – your idea and your voice. Of course, there are many stories of startups failing. But I think it's important to be single-minded. If you have a good idea, other people will believe it's a good idea."


"Your network is crucial. If you don't have a good network, you won't get the word out there. Using things like social media and asking friends to help support you by spreading the word on your behalf is vital."

Interested in attending Reasons To Be Creative? As an ITProPortal reader, you're privy to an exclusive 20 per cent discount if you book tickets for Reasons To Be Creative before 15 August using the discount code below. For more, be sure to check out our interview with John Davey, where he tells us the full Reasons To Be Creative story.