12 min read
Meet Naomi Watts: our Midlands Entrepreneur Engagement Manager
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 Watts, 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 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!).
What wins have you had since starting? What impact have they made?
I’ve made many introductions which have helped founders out immensely; some have been to corporates, later stage businesses and my fellow EEMs around the UK. I’m hoping these connections will bear fruit over the next few months and I look forward to sharing stories.
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 really enjoyed meeting with Talha Ghannan, founder of Quran Club, a community app for Muslims to read the Quran online in groups and help raise money for charities across the world. His passion and hard work has really paid off – it’s had 4,000 downloads on the back of being marketed solely through Facebook.
What challenges are founders facing in your region?
As much as I love my region, I can’t claim it’s perfect. There are many isolated ecosystems which could all do with joining hands every now and then. In fact, students from the Birmingham universities have seen this happening and have since founded the Birmingham Enterprise Community to get the spin-outs all talking to one another and sharing ideas and skills. This is what I hope for the entirety of the region – less talk of competing with London, and even each other – and much more collaboration.
The startup support in the Midlands is wide and varied with many accelerators and incubators, but we struggle when it comes to scaling, and scaling fast. I hope that through my role with Tech Nation I can help to bridge this much needed gap, through expanding my network and finding out what barriers are holding companies back, and smashing those barriers down!