Meet the Directors (Number 3): Ian
Hi, Ian here.
I'm not going to compete with Graham or Annie on photographic excellence - most of my photos these days are taken while mostly supervising a toddler...
I’ve taken the role of Commercial Director here at Blipfoto. That basically means I look after the company, legal and financial side of things. There was a huge amount of work to do getting the new company set up, preparing for the crowdfunding and buying the assets of Blipfoto for the community, but things have now settled into a more manageable workload. I keep an eye on the finances, make sure the bills are paid, and deal with the lawyers and accountants as and when we need to. Basically I do the dull stuff behind the scenes that no-one sees or cares about unless it goes catastrophically wrong.
I’ve been a member of Blipfoto since 2007 as cyclops, and I joined after seeing my friend 42 posting regularly. I joined because I wanted an excuse to use my camera more regularly so I didn’t have to re-learn how to use it every time I went on holiday, but I got hooked. I’m really a geek rather than a photographer (I used to design microchips and software for cameras), but I enjoy dabbling and Blipfoto gave me space to experiment. Things shifted a little in 2009 when I spent seven months studying business in the States as part of the Saltire Fellowship. Blipping became a means to communicate with my wife and family back home – letting them know I was OK and sharing my new surroundings with them. Since then it’s been all about creating memories – and I love the memories I have captured here over the past 8½ years.
I’ve lived most of my adult life in the beautiful city of Edinburgh, so I’m never short of a Blip! These days I live in suburban Edinburgh with my wife MrsCyclops (an occasional blipper) and my two year old son CyclopsJnr. We have posted daily Blips of CyclopsJnr in his own Blipfoto journal every day since he was born, which the grandparents love seeing and is a great set of memories for us.
Before we had CyclopsJnr we went to the theatre often and saw many plays and musicals and cabaret and comedy shows. We are extremely lucky in Edinburgh to have a such ready access to culture, and we always took full advantage of the Fringe. In 2013 I saw 44 Fringe shows! We get out a lot less of course now we have a toddler to wrangle. SCUBA diving has been a great hobby for MrsCyclops and I for many years now, and we’ve dived (and underwater Blipped!) all over the world from Scotland to Egypt, Thailand, Mexico, St Lucia… I hope to do more soon, especially when the boy is a bit older, but I got a medical diagnosis last year that means I may not be able to dive again. I’m still trying to work that through and see what can be done. I’ve been doing some running over the last couple of years too, and my longest run this year was 10 miles for the Great Edinburgh Run. Last year I ran my first half marathon in just under two hours, and I was proud to raise a bit of money for Simpsons Special Care Babies who looked after CyclopsJnr so well when he was born seven weeks early. I’d really like to do a half marathon again later this year if I can get fit enough.
My day job is in high-tech startups, commercialising new technology. I’m a sort of jack-of-all trades and I help take things from the idea stage to the point where they are a funded business with customers. I write business plans, raise grants and investment, find early customers and generally do all the things that the technical folks who are the real brains of the operations aren’t familiar with. Since 2009 I have done that freelance through my own company, Salient Point.
Which brings us back to Blipfoto. I’ve followed Blipfoto’s journey as a business since about 2009, when I met Joe and Graham. There is quite a community of tech companies in Edinburgh, and news of their progress travels. I knew other people who were involved in Blipfoto as investors or on the board too. When I heard the company was in liquidation I was absolutely gutted at the prospect of losing Blipfoto, and I quickly contacted the liquidators to see if there was any hope for a community rescue. At that time I was told they had cash buyers, and waiting for any sort of community rescue to be organised wasn’t going to be their preferred option. So I watched and waited with everyone else.
I was delighted when last autumn the possibility of a community rescue came up again, and I was really keen to be involved. With some of the business skills from my “day job” I hoped I could make a useful contribution to a community I care about. With help from a huge amount of input from an initial group, a plan emerged and the four of us took on the crowdfunding process. As you would expect, it was a rollercoaster for us along with everyone else. We received really overwhelming support from the community which was fabulous and is the abiding memory I take from it, but there were also some pretty dark times during difficult negotiations behind the scenes and when some of the more aggressive critics questioned our motives.
I’m excited to see where this journey will go next for us all. I feel that Blipfoto is a bit like a caterpillar in a Chrysalis just now. Its previous form is gone, it is safe for now, and there is the potential for something beautiful to emerge. Re-launching the paid memberships is the next key step to sustainability and that is all being prepared behind the scenes at the moment. With that behind us, I hope we’ll be able to start looking at how we can start building on what we have, for the benefit of the community as a whole.
I do know that without the huge amount of love and support the Blipfoto community has demonstrated, the site wouldn’t be here today. As a long-standing blipper who wants to keep blipping for many years to come, I thank each and every one of you for helping to keep it alive.