Manchester businesses on the up:
An interview with Webantic
Written by Keith Andrew
It’s a testament to the rate of growth in Manchester that the debate as to whether it’s Britain’s second city within the country is long gone. Done and dusted. Over. By any measure you can think of, Manchester has edged ahead of the likes of Birmingham, Leeds and Liverpool in that particular race. For scores of businesses across the UK, the practical choice is now between Manchester and London. Indeed, it’s one that web development agency Webantic made itself when looking to set up in a city just a few short years ago.
“I think London is what you’d call an international playing field, whereas Manchester definitely feels more local,” offered Webantic’s co-founder Luke Grimes. “It’s certainly easier to lay your roots in Manchester, build a really solid reputation and get your name out there. I think if we had started in London instead it would have been much more challenging to do that, so I’m really glad we picked Manchester.
“There are so many incredible people advocating the city, not only tech but lots of different sectors and it does make Manchester a really attractive place to start your company and I think that’s just going to continue to get better.”
“Manchester is a hot bed of agencies”
In Grimes’ words, Webantic – which he founded in 2011 with Calvin Evans – is “a high end development agency, building web and mobile applications for top-tier UK start ups.” The enthusiasm Grimes has for the space Webantic has made for itself is palpable in the tone of his voice.
Webantic is by no means the only agency making such a mark in Manchester. By Grimes’ own admission, Manchester is a hot bed of agencies specialising in the digital field: “There’s so much demand in Manchester for the kind of services that we offer, so we’ve grown very quickly,” he continues. “I think the work which people like Tech North and Manchester Digital are doing for the city also really helps the agencies in the North West flourish.”
Grimes notes that Manchester is bursting with “influential people on the tech scene”, paying homage to a new generation that are pushing the city forward. But, wherever you base yourself as a startup, challenges are never short in supply. “I think you come up against challenges all of the time as a start up. When we started our company every day was a lesson, we had to change what we were doing on a regular basis,” he says.
“I think that growing your network is critical for a business of our nature, but again Manchester makes that very easy because of the amount of collaboration in the city, and the number of events that are going on, so it’s very easy to grow your network and get your name out there.”
Manchester has huge business growth potential
It’s the level of competition within the city that’s evidence of its rise, however. Can Manchester compete with London, or the big cities of Europe and the US as a startup hub, therefore? “100 percent,” Grimes says quite simply. “Statistically the number of start ups born in Manchester is on the rise and as people continue to invest in the city this only stands to get better.”
“With regards to the office space as well, there’s been more office space rented in Manchester this year than there has been in the last 15 years. It’s a real indication not only of new businesses started, but existing businesses growing and taking up bigger office spaces.”
If there’s one thing Grimes is sure of, it’s that Manchester is on the up and up. It’s a rate of growth he can see Webantic mirroring in the years to come. “If we can continue to work start ups that want to change the world and become recognised as a leading development agency in the UK – that would be amazing,” concludes Grimes of his company’s future.
“Adding our name to a product that millions of people use would be really, really rewarding and naturally great for our reputation. And I think just to keep working on exciting projects with great clients. We just want to continue to be recognised as a company that’s on the cutting edge of the latest in development.”