At Tech Nation we’re creating a national network
connecting ambitious digital tech entrepreneurs across the UK.
Whether you’re a founder looking for connections or support, a stakeholder embedded in a local community or are simply interested in what’s going on in a region, our Entrepreneur Engagement Managers (or ‘EEMs’ for short) are on the ground in towns and cities and ready to help.
In this series of articles, we’re telling you more about our EEMs’ roles and views about tech in the country. Here we speak to Naomi Nash, our Midlands Entrepreneur Engagement Manager based in Birmingham.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I joined Tech Nation after five years of managing a tech startup incubator in Birmingham. There I built a network of peers, experts and funders to help tech founders reach and exceed their dreams. I also hosted one of the biggest meetups in the city and won the Silicon Canal award for ‘Most Influential Female in Technology’ in late 2017, which just made me want to help more companies.
My remit has now expanded from just Birmingham to the entire Midlands (yes, both West and East). I am also involved in the Silicon Canal Leadership Team and am a Board Member of Birmingham Tech Week, as well as taking part in other festivals and events across the region.
What wins have you had since starting? What impact have they made?
My primary focus has been to support the tech ecosystem across the Midlands region and to expand my network of entrepreneurs, community managers, support services, investors and professional services. I spend a lot of time introducing tech companies to the people that will help them grow their revenues, team, reach and mindset to scale their company successfully. I’ve helped founders to apply to Tech Nation programmes and am pleased to say we have a record number of Midlands-based companies applying.
The introductions to investors have been invaluable as I’ve taken the time to really understand what each investor is looking for, taking the guess work out for the founders. I’ve really enjoyed helping companies to get into the public eye through publishing interviews, sharing PR and video opportunities, such as the Startup Van Tour early 2020, and having access to a national reach on social media is one of the huge benefits to entrepreneurs that is requested the most. Any positive interaction I have with tech companies is a win in my books.
Have you met any exciting companies?
Anyone who has started their own business is exciting to me. I’ve met companies utilising technology in all areas – from fintech and edtech, to the rural aspects of farming and produce line. I particularly enjoy hearing about and helping founders who are working in the Tech for Good sector such as VR Therapies in Northampton, Limitless Travel in Birmingham and Carers Direct over in Droitwich. There are amazing people doing amazing things with technology right across the Midlands and my mission is to ensure they all get the support and advice they need from the ever-growing tech community.
What challenges are founders facing in your region?
Historically, there have been many isolated ecosystems which could have all done with joining hands every now and then. I’m pleased to say that this has been seen by many people in the region who have begun to break down these barriers already such as Birmingham Tech Week, Tech Nottingham, and Leicester Startups, to name but a few.
Even the investors are longing for collaboration as Angels, VCs and grant organisations come together to co-invest in the innovative businesses here, reducing their individual risk. Access to finance has always been a struggle in the region but I believe we are seeing a change in the wind presently. Get Nourish3ed in Birmingham has secured one of the largest seed rounds by a female founder at £2m in March 2020. The startup support in the Midlands is wide and varied with many accelerators and incubators, but we can struggle when it comes to scaling, and scaling fast. I’m really pleased that the Midlands now can claim two Unicorn companies which will only drive more jobs and investment into the region.