London’s status as a hotbed of digital talent is well justified, but it should be remembered that, before the spotlight had fallen on Old Street’s Silicon Roundabout, Innovation Warehouse had already spawned some of the capital’s greatest success stories.
As an incubator, Innovation Warehouse is known less for hype and boastfulness and more for impact and influence. Established in 2010 as a community for digital high-growth start-ups, the organisation rapidly began to draw in the kind of raw talent that had yet to find a home elsewhere.
One of its earliest success stories was the social media marketing platform Comufy, which, before its acquisition by King Digital Entertainment in 2014, gave businesses a tool to manage their social media communication.
Founded in 2009 by Philip Mohr, Sebastien Marion and Puji Liyanagama, Comufy joined the Hive at Innovation Warehouse in 2011. At that time, they were renting an office space from another company and saw the change as a cost-effective move.
Comufy specialised in monetising social media activity by converting customers to clients based on their Facebook ‘likes’. The company’s social media suite enabled companies to gather information about their online fans, analyse it and send targeted messages.
Such was the effectiveness of the platform, the team managed to convince corporate giants such as the BBC, Dove, Universal Music, Unilever, PG Tips and Cisco to try out their tool.
But growing up in the Innovation Warehouse ecosystem, the Comufy team learnt early on that it always takes much longer for the business world to realise the importance of your “great idea” than you would like.
“Running a start-up is much more expensive than you’d imagine. If you have £5-10k in the bank, don’t even think about it,” said Marion.
“If you’ve budgeted for three months, multiply it by three and be prepared to stick to it through nine months.”
Mohr said he particularly valued the access to mentors at Innovation Warehouse and the support they offered, especially the advice on sales, hires and shaping strategy.
Comufy’s eureka moment went through many phases. They began with the end user in mind and went full circle, solving enterprise needs. For Comufy, the best thing about being at Innovation Warehouse was the people. “People know people”, said Marion. “And like they say, if you don’t know anybody you’re nobody.”
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