Andy Greener is a guy you can really appreciate. He’s grown a business his way, a way which complements both staff and clients alike.
Indeed Andy’s holistic approach and passionate pursuit of excellence has allowed his business, Komodo, to grow for 12 years.
The Newcastle-based digital design and development agency, which works with clients across the UK and internationally, has grown from one man’s love of design practice to 15 staff embracing a shared vision.
“When I started I didn’t think about what would be happening in twelve years time,” Andy told me.
“I started on my own, effectively as a practising designer and developer being very hands on with some small clients. Then, demand attracted more and more work. It became too much to manage alone.”
Three months down the line Andy hired his first member of staff, leading to working in a team of four to five people over the next eight years.
“We started out with a focus that was very design oriented, very user experience oriented. Coinciding with my kids arriving I had to think about what the next level would be and where the business could go.”
That ‘next level’ turned out to be Komodo becoming more technology focussed and development orientated. As many successful design businesses will tell you, and certainly what Andy echoed, is that being able to change and adapt to digital’s rise is key to success. To borrow an old cliche, you have to move with the times otherwise you’ll get left behind.
“Our chief technical officer, James, joined the business five year ago. We’ve been building on that since and our development focus has allowed us to be able to grow and work with those large international organisations.”
For Andy, a guy who started essentially as a freelancer growing his services modestly, it must be highly satisfying to see how far Komodo have come.
“We’ve grown organically, we don’t focus on a region or area. People find us and discover us whether they’re from Newcastle, London or outside of the UK.
“We were able to take the recession head on its actually when we hit the go button on growth. We gravitated towards the front end of technology and invested in learning how to deliver the best, fully responsive websites to excite our clients.”
With Komodo quickly invested in learning how to develop apps, in house app development became a USP. “Yeah it was a costly learning experience but it keeps you on top of your game and I think it definitely gave us a competitive edge,” said Andy.
With people wary of spending money and needing to feel confident to do so, Komodo’s diversity and indeed versatility ensured clients got this.
With Komodo currently working on a whole range of fascinating projects, two in particular certainly stand out for similar reasons. Why? They’re changing lives for the better.
Working with Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD), a Geneva-based organisation taking action to address the problems caused by mines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war, Komodo have digitised an ammunition safety manual.
Making the manual into an app, information can be easily deployed across Windows, Android and ios tablets, allowing ammo technicians to easily have the info they need to log. The app, which collects interactive data transferrable to a centralised hub, is especially useful for governments in building up ‘big data’.
“For me personally, this is one of my favourite ever projects. Its in use and we have a really good relationship with them, we’ve been highly agile with our approach, we’re now adding more functional data gathering elements with each build, its really amazing stuff.”
Equally as impressive as Komodo’s success with GICHD is their work with ITV Signed Stories, where the company created the world’s first animated storytelling app with both British and American Sign Language.
“We’ve worked on this one with ITV for over three years now. We’ve taken popular children’s books and digitised in an app which downloads the content. We’ve built different versions, there’s a family bundle and schools bundle, and its great to hear of the success that has had for them.”
For Andy in particular it seems he couldn’t picture himself doing anything else. “Its a life rather than a job,” he said, smiling accordingly.
“I never switch off and I’m constantly thinking but theres a good balance. Its looked after me over the last 12 years and I get more than enough out of it to do it.”
To learn more about some of the inspiring and genuinely life changing projects Komodo are working on, visit http://www.komododigital.co.uk/.