In order to make the most of creative businesses in Leeds, Laura Wellington started Duke Studios to help people better collaborate with other talent in the area. The successful co-working space is home to more than 65 businesses, which contribute over three million pounds to the economy. Here she explains why it’s so important for Leeds.
Tell us about your business.
Duke Studios is an open collaborative space in Leeds. With a company motto of people first, business second, Duke is not your usual work space provider. Based on the co-working model, it provides a range of workspaces, creative services and facilities. We currently have more tha 65 resident businesses, which collectively turn over three million pounds into the local economy.
What inspired you to start it up?
I was running a creative business in Leeds and couldn’t find a good enough space to base it in. A lot of people I knew were complaining about Leeds and moving to other cities to run their businesses or get jobs. Along with my partner, James Abbott Donnelly, I founded Duke Studios in 2011 with a two-fold vision. First, I wanted to build an inspiring, exciting and inclusive co-working space for creative individuals across different sectors to work in. Second, to turn the space into a creative hub in order to facilitate knowledge exchange, encourage networking and spark collaboration on joint projects with the aim of nurturing talent and watching it grow.
Why does tech interest you?
Tech plays a major part throughout our lives but it interests me because it provides infinite possibilities for new things. It’s an ever-changing fast paced landscape.
What does Leeds have to offer, as a city, to tech businesses?
Leeds is a city with big ambitions, but it still has a fair way to go in terms of where it needs to get to, but that means there’s an appetite and a passion from the different sectors to make their mark. So by having a business in Leeds you can make an impact to the city and also a difference of the impact Leeds has on the rest of the world.
What are you excited about for the tech and digital scene in Leeds?
Mostly, we’re excited about Leeds Digital Festival 2017. We’re opening our doors as a venue and want to put on some really exciting stuff, which isn’t the norm. We’re also interested to see how the south of the city will expand. Eventually, we’ll be smack bang in the middle of the new green space for Leeds and hopefully that development will bring us lots of exciting new creative and digitally led neighbours.
What advice would you give for people looking to start up a business in this sector?
Just crack on. Anthony Burrill says it best: “Work Hard and Be Nice to People”. Of course, if you need a place to work, make sure you check out Duke Studios.
Favourite Yorkshire eatery/bar?
If I was going to be biased, the place I’d say Sheaf St Cafeteria as it’s where I spend the most amount of time. Other than that, it would have to be Viet Guy.
What tech do you use?
To run Duke we need to use a variety of cloud-based software, as well as pretty much all of the Microsoft office suite. Our custom-made web platform called “The Bible” was built for us by Engage Interactive and basically keeps all of our information.
Creatively, we rely a lot on the Adobe Creative Suite and Sketch Up, as well as specialist software that runs with our bigger hardware such as the MotherfrickinLaser and VinylRichie. So all in all we use quite a myriad of tech in our business.
Top 3 films?
Life Aquatic, Berlin Calling, and Elf
What do you drive?
The ‘Duke Mobile’ is a black Ford Ranger Ltd but we’ve had it customised with black vinyl using #VinylRichie. Not many cars have pencils, scalpels and laser guns vinyled on to them but because it’s black on black you just have to look that little bit longer.
Perfect Sunday Breakfast?
I have Scottish parents and that’s influenced my perfect Sunday breakfast, so a traditional full English but with scrambled eggs and Tattie Scones.