Just a quick post to let you all know that the London team have moved to new offices. We took a considerable hike to our new location… right across the road! Seriously, we were able to walk our stuff across the street. Very handy.
So no great change of location then, we’re still in Soho and approximately 30 yards from our old pad. We’re really happy to be here. We’ve got windows, a lift AND a view! The new address is:
Hutchhouse @ Media Junction
2 Archer Street
Founded by Camille Strachan, To Hatch provides support to it’s members via a website (designed and developed here at Hutchhouse). Membership is free and users get access to an online community of advice and resources, including a full database of fertility clinics which can be compared with their local counterparts as well as being rated by members.
There are a few extra special benefits of becoming a To Hatch member – not only the great advice and information on offer, but also access to the To Hatch debate. On becoming a member, you get access to the TH_Community Twitter account which (combined with the live To hatch Twitter feed right on the To Hatch site) provides the ability to chat and debate about the current issues and provide support for other members.
A unique area of the site will also offer a lottery to its members with fantastic prizes that will have everybody excited and taking part.
The charity provides a fantastic service and we hope will be a huge help to everyone out there that needs support and advice on fertility treatments.
Our hats off to Camille on her dedication to the project and overwhelming positivity in the face of sleepless nights whilst pulling all the various parts of the charity together.
Visit the website: to-hatch.co.uk
So, after years of dabbling with POP3 iMap, exchange, Samba shares, Webdav calendars, hardware backups and endless disappointment, have we found the perfect business setup? Well we think so and we’d like to share it with other smaller business owners that want all the bells and whistles of what was formerly the domain of large business – the company intranet, file sharing and remote working… it’s now oh so easy.
With the advent of cloud computing comes a new era of accessibility – and here are the tools to do this (or the ones that worked for us at least):
By far the most efficient and cost effective (the Standard Edition is free) route to getting things kicked off is Business Edition of Google Apps. This suite of tools from Google provides just about everything you need in terms of business communication. The suite includes:
We wouldn’t be exaggerating if we said that every small business should start off using this – it’s an essential tool, it’s absolutely free and takes an hour to set up on your domain.
After initially using the usual suspects (Samba and VPN) to share files we’ve now moved everything to the cloud (Rackspace and Amazon S3). This means that we have a repository of live files as well as several backups securely stored and available whenever we need them. Moreover we automatically sync with this repository on every machine we have – be it a laptop, desktop, Mac, Windows or Linux based machine. We use Jungle Disk to do this which is a background program which essentially watches the cloud repository (online storage) which you’ve set up and linked to a directory on your local machine. If any of us make a change on one then we see the new files on the other machines as long as it’s using the same repository in the same cloud.
There’s an iPhone application which allows us to access files if we need to and a web based interface should we require it. It also allows the setup of individual disks in the cloud for users so they can backup and sync their data or even entire machine backups.
So far we’ve had few issues and it just works.
What would we do without it? It runs our phone system so we use it for external callers, it keeps us in touch via chat all day and it gives us the ability to conference call with clients and each other.
As previously mentioned we use Skype for our phone system. This is a fairly new thing but it works exceptionally well. We have decent internet connections so why not?
The way this works is that calls come into our central Skype account on a Skype-In number which then forwards the call to each of the Hutchhouse offices (using their Skype accounts thus also making them mobile). It also forwards to a landline just in case. If the call is picked up then great – if not then it goes back to our central Skype answer machine. This means we can pick up calls wherever we are. It’s been a real time saver.
A CRM keeps everyone who needs to be in the loop… in the loop. It’s a real time saving application and – because we would only consider a web based solution – it’s amazingly flexible.
Because we wanted to use a CRM which combined our sales processes (including quotations and estimates with our production process) we decided on using WorkflowMax. This works for us because it not only keeps us ontop of leads and jobs but it also does timesheeting and billing. It also fully integrates with our online accounts package Xero. This means we have an end-to-end business system underpinning our processes. Notwithstanding there are several amazing CRM systems out there like Salesforce.com, SugarCRM, Capsule CRM and Highrise from 37Signals so go and try them out.
After years of being tied to our desktop based accounting package we have finally moved to Xero. As we currently run two offices we require multiple accounts in multiple locations. We couldn’t continue using the desktop software which had served us so well for years because (although very good) it just wasn’t flexible enough. We have to admit, the move has been refreshingly simple.
We now have a single touch point for all of our contacts, sales, quotes, invoices and reports. It’s revolutionised the way we work and frees up so much time that are able to expand as a result. All for a few pounds a month.
That’s it for now – we just felt compelled to write this as it feels good to have this stuff at your fingertips… and it’ll just keep on getting better.
But the story gets better. By 11am we had an enquiry from a restaurant in Shoreditch, London, who we are due to meet on Monday. They mentioned that they’d seen us in this article and it had persuaded them to get in touch. Looking at the email enquiry it’s clear to see how this customer found us. Midway through the email is written:
“…and I would like to redesign our website and branding to have a ‘wow’ factor”…
I’d hazard a guess that this sentence contains the choice keywords that might be responsible for leading the customer to us. Maybe I’ll ask on Monday.
Still, we look forward to the meeting and we give a big thank you to Jad for the lead!
The Book Club proved to be the perfect venue for a cold December evening and the atmosphere was dimly lit and cosy. The crowded room cheered as the auctioneer (appointed from Sotheby’s) sold off the Dolls one-by-one.
There was the usual interesting talk, and sponsors Digital Gurus supplied drinks. As always, the (free!) nibbles were good and came as a welcomed companion to the flowing drinks.
I hear there’s a break in January so hopefully we’ll all be back in the Book Club again come February. Look forward to it.
Back in February we won a fantastic project with BT. There’s not much we can say about it unfortunately because it’s all under lock and key, but needless to say it’s kept all of us at Hutchhouse very busy. We’re excited about its implications and with phase one out the door, we can’t wait to get stuck into phase 2. This is a huge project and likely to be ongoing for the rest of the year .
In May we did some work for a local company based here on the business park: CMS Industries & CMS Ergonomics. They required two websites to cover both aspects of their business. For the ergonomic website they saw a requirement for some videocasts which we filmed, edited and compressed for the website. You can see them here (bottom right video library). A big thanks to Matthew Royan for his help as the cameraman on this shoot.
Around this time I went to New York with my good friend@NickClement. We had a fantastic week meeting up with old friends, cycling around Manhattan and generally enjoying the trappings of the metropolis. We visited the MoMa and theNew Museum. Both rammed to the rafters with inspiration.
During June I did some designs on behalf of White October. Working in conjunction with the RSA and Carbon Limited to create an online web application based around the emerging Carbon Trading Market. I was particularly happy with the design for this and think it’s easily one of the best works to date. I’ll post up here when it’s live.
July also saw the release of allthingsbeer.co.uk. One of our first projects where we gave our Junior – Paul Clement – as much control as we could. Paul got stuck right in and produced a good website which the client was more than happy with. He also did a fine job of the business cards, logo and comp slips, also producing a glossy brochure that eventually reached over 1000+ copies.
August saw us push through two more websites for local businesses Space2Think and Landscapia. Neither of them are live yet but they both went through the design/build process seamlessly and should be ready before long.
Another two happy customers added…
We’ve just finished designing/building our first WordPresstheme for an overseas client. After advising them this was a cost effective way to get what they wanted the client was happy to install all the plugins themselves before handing over to us for styling. Check out youropex.com to see what we did!
That brings up up-to-date. Along the way we’ve done plenty of other bits and bobs which has also kept us on our toes. We’ve started using Harvest to clock our time-sheets for the larger projects and our ‘high tensile project line’ has been put to the strength test at last.
We were also (un)lucky enough to have regular visits from the wasp nest that’s formed in the wall below our window this summer. There’s a picture of what we called ‘The Killing Fields’ after the jump. Because of this we’re glad to see Autumn coming.
That’s all for now. More to come…
We were delighted to have received an award for Best Overall Business by Oxford based accountancy company Inca