Growth in business led Kenny Cox to take on an apprentice for his software development company Snapwire Software this year.
"Kenny's 3 Top Tips"
- Planning and forecasting is essential, always know your financial situation, especially cash flow.
- Be resilient, things won’t always go your way – understand why and learn.
- Never give up!
Kenny said: “We were at the tipping point where we needed to get someone else in. The workload was building up.”
The alternative was to recruit another experienced developer, but Kenny heard about a student who was keen to learn more about software development. He was the son of one of his clients.
The student, Joe Richetta, 17, from Maidstone, had passed his Level 3 Diploma in Electrical Engineering at Mid Kent College in Medway and was looking for a new opportunity in software development.
Kenny along with his business partner, Sarah Cox, and Lead Developer, Gavin Holyday, drew up a programme of support work for him. This included software testing, development in server-side languages (i.e. C#), and client-side languages (like HTML, CSS, JS), as well as software management principles and dealing with customers’ telephone enquiries.
Snapwire Software initially took on Joe for a short trial and he joined the company full-time in May. He is following the nationally recommended QA Apprenticeships scheme for a year, which offers training in IT development and digital marketing, as well as project management. For details go to www.apprenticeships.qa.com.
Kenny said: “I have spoken to people in other companies and the general consensus was that taking an apprentice was a bit of a gamble. But Jo was just the right type of person for us to invest in.”
Snapwire specialise in producing online software applications. One of the products they are developing is for T Cards Online, www.tcardsonline.co.uk, based at West Malling, an online project management application which enables companies to customise project plans and manage progress on customised boards or via a calendar. The relationship with T Cards Online has grown from initial concept to ongoing support, maintenance and feature enhancements for more than four years.
Snapwire are also developing a new online system and mobile phone app for Better Body Group, a personal training company based in Sevenoaks and London. This will enable individual clients to access the system online and on mobile phone applications.
Snapwire have also developed their own product, Evolve, www.evolvexl.co.uk. This enables companies to convert their spreadsheets to an online application with a secure database. This allows companies to have improved management over their application, giving them greater security, version control and scaleability. One of Evolve’s customers – The Milwood Group - has embedded Evolve in their quote and buy process by uploading their pricing sheet into Evolve and have extended it by applying custom components to integrate with third-party systems.
Kenny’s wife Sarah also works two days a week for the business. She does a lot of the software testing and administration for the company. They have two children, Lucy, aged four, and Thomas, two.
Kenny started the business from a spare bedroom at their home in Maidstone.
He said: “I had a desire to run my own business from a young age. In 2010 I’d reached the limit of progress within the company I worked for and had to decide whether to look for a new job or start on my own.
“I’d already been working on the occasional job as a sideline and decided this was the perfect opportunity to start up a new company.
“My biggest challenge was marketing. The technical work wasn’t a problem but I hadn’t had to rely on myself previously to get the work in. Word of mouth took me so far and contacts from previous employment helped.
“I attended many networking events to put my face about and slowly built up a suite of contacts who were not only customers but also potential partners on future projects.”
In 2011 he moved into an office in the Medway Innovation Centre and after three years there took a cheaper desk base at Sun Pier House in Chatham. He was looking for a more professional looking office space for Snapwire when the Business Terrace in Maidstone came up. They moved there in October 2015. By November 2016, they had 4 members of staff with further plans to grow.