Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Happy 5th birthday to us!


5 years ago today, on the 26th April 2012 Naked Element was incorporated by Matthew Wells, Chris Wright and our CEO Paul Grenyer.

Over the 5 years Naked Element has successfully developed software for a wide variety of clients, helping them to improve their business processes and to increase their efficiency, saving them both time and money.

A couple of most recent projects that we’re proud of:

Fountain Partnership - An online marketing agency. “Naked Element’s software for Fountain reduces processing time by 95%.” Naked Element were chosen to build a script which would allow Fountain to manage one of their largest clients in Google AdWords. In simple terms a script was created that allowed the user to specify AdWords accounts, campaigns and ad groups and then to enter a search, replacing each with a phrase or word.

IDSystems - Suppliers and installers of doors and windows. Naked Element developed a bespoke web application for IDSystems. The new application is designed to aid their trade partners through the complex choices and range of options available to IDSystems customers. Because of the complex nature of the product and service that this Norfolk company offer, the software used to handle their sales and quotes, both internally and when with a potential customer, has to be truly unique.

Over time we’ve evolved to not only offer software development, but also the design and build of responsive websites and consultancy services to improve development processes.

In the beginning, neither Paul or Matthew claimed to be professors on the business side of things and only really wanted to write software! In order to grow, the guys worked with a handful of consultants to keep them on the right track. Emma Gooderham, who is now our Commercial Director helped back in 2015 for a few weeks to market Naked Element. We have also worked with James Allison from WLP who took on the role of our growth accelerator coach from April 2016-2017, and we continue to undergo sales training with Ermine Amies of Sandler.

Along with other networking events, Naked Element have been members of the Norfolk Chamber for a little over 3 years, and we continue to use the events as a way to build up our network and bring in business.

Over the years we’ve built up expertise in iOS Development, Front and Back end, .Net development and cross platform mobile apps using Xamarin with our trusted team of developers.

What was a team of 3 full time employees, is now an expanding team consisting of:

Paul Grenyer, CEO
Charlotte Grenyer, Sales Co-ordinator
Emma Gooderham, Commercial Director
Rain Crowson, Administrator Apprentice & PA
Chris “Frankie” Salt, Software Developer
Jack Rogers, Software Apprentice
Emily Vinsen, Junior Software Developer
Shelley Burrows, Web Developer
Kieran Johnson, Software Developer
Adrian Pickering, Software Developer
Luke Rogers, Software Developer

Lewis Leeds also played a big part of Naked Element and was with us throughout his apprenticeship and beyond. He recently moved on to pursue his interests in Project Management and wish him well in the future.

Naked Element are very keen to help bring young developers into the industry. We offer work experience to students throughout their courses and A-levels. A couple of A-Level students, Tom Alabaster and Chelsea Crawford were especially brilliant have returned to Naked Element  to work during school holidays.

So here’s to another 5 great years of expanding our team, our clients and our network. We thank everyone who has helped us to grow along the way, and we look forward to driving our successes even more over the next 5.

Click here to read on our blog.

Monday, 24 April 2017

A hand up, not a hand out

Cities, by their very nature, aren't small (unless of course you're a pretend city like Ely). According to Wikipedia there are over 141,000 people in Norwich and over 370,000 people in the ‘travel to work’ area. I've got a lot of contacts on LinkedIn, but these numbers of people are large by anyones’s standards!

Since I came back to work in Norwich for the third time in 2011, I've been expanding my professional network at an exponential rate. From time to time, and more frequently as time goes on, I encounter people I was at school with and Rebecca White was one of those people (although she was a year or two above me at Notre Dame High School).

Rebecca is a social entrepreneur and CEO of the social enterprise Your Own Place.  Your Own Place equips young people with the skills, confidence and knowledge to live safely and securely. They achieve this by continually developing innovative and entrepreneurial solutions as well as collaborating for the benefit of  young people. By working restoratively and delivering high quality interventions they create a culture of empowered and independent young people.

After a number of exchanges on linkedin, twitter and email with Rebecca, I was invited along to hear Baron John Bird, founder of the Big Issue, speak at the St. Giles House Hotel in Norwich. This was an unusual event for me to be invited to, as there was no tech or business angle, but we’re all familiar with the Big Issue and I was already  impressed with what Rebecca was achieving, so I was intrigued. On our way to the event my wife and I encountered the Big Issue seller who is often at the top of Lower Goat Lane near the Guildhall, and I couldn’t help but wonder if he knew John Bird was only meters away.

I was completely unprepared in almost every way for John Bird. We sat at the back, the only place there were two chairs left together, around one of a handful of tables shoehorned into the packed room on the first floor of the hotel. A couple of the usual suspects  such as Sarah Daniels from the Redcat Partnership and Lucy Marks of the Norfolk Network also wandered in. My first surprise was to discover that Sarah, who I know well, was chairing. I knew from that point on that with the self proclaimed, “loudest voice in room”, we were in for a fun couple of hours.

Baron Bird of Notting Hill was astounding.  A huge personality and presence in the room. He took us through the highs and lows of his life from his upbringing in Notting Hill by Irish, Catholic, racist parents to living on the streets of Edinburgh at 21, meeting one of the founders of the Body Shop, Gordon Roddick, his rehabilitation in prison where one of the “screws” taught him to read, his three wives, money, the Big Issue and admission into the House of Lords. John Bird was funny, entertaining, loud, inspiring and great entertainment. I’ve never seen someone move so much in such a small space, often with both arms in the air, a loud passionate voice and little respect for political correctness. It was refreshing.

26 years ago there were more than 500 homeless charities in London (there are now around 2000). All of them lacked something. None of those charities were helping the homeless to stop being homeless. John Bird had a vision, inspired by Street News in the USA and spawned from a case study funded by the Body Shop, the Big Issue was born. A way of helping homeless people make money to stop them being homeless. John Bird believes in a hand up, not a hand out and is working hard to prevent the next generation of Big Issue sellers.

I could have listened to him all evening. He finished by explaining some of the social ideas he’s pursuing, such as creating a Kitemark called the Social Echo to award to businesses who act on their social conscience.

One such social enterprise is Your Own Place. Following an introduction by Sarah, Rebecca White showed us a recent video which explains the work they do:


Your Own Place are looking for employer sponsored Volunteer Tenancy Mentors. The training costs the employers just £300 per person for two days. Your Own Place work with businesses to provide their staff with a unique training and development opportunity as Volunteer Tenancy Mentors and to prevent youth homelessness at the same time. Their Volunteer Tenancy Mentoring training packages include high quality volunteer training, comprehensive policies, training packs, vetting and ongoing support for the mentors.

The event was over all too soon, but as well as finding out more about what someone I was at school with was up to, seeing some regular faces and making a new contact at Leathes Prior, I was inspired to contribute and am looking forward to Rebecca coming to speak to the Naked Element team at Whitespace.



Friday, 21 April 2017

East Anglia One

Despite growing up and spending the vast majority of my life living in Norwich, I haven’t really been to the seaside town of Great Yarmouth that many times, despite it being only 20 miles away. I certainly never imagined finding work there. I’ve visited Yarmouth for business three times since Christmas this year, secured one piece of business with a local company and now it’s looking like Naked Element could be securing some more.

I’ve been fascinated by engineering since a young age. From the differential which helped drive the Lego car I had as a child, to internal combustion engines, power stations and large ships and planes, I like to know how things, big and small, work. When I was younger I even wrote to the BBC’s Playschool programme to find out how their clock worked and received a photo and a full explanation in response (I wish I still had them now).

So when a Norfolk Chamber breakfast offered the  opportunity to hear from a senior member of Seajacks, who own and run some of the most advanced off-shore equipment in the world, I was very excited. I enjoy the breakfasts and  networking at the chamber anyway, the big machines  were a real bonus!

After the customary speed networking, which is a great way to mix up the room and help you meet people, and the breakfast itself, John Vingoe, Operations Manager at Seajacks, told us about their largest vessel, the Scylla, and how it would be used to help build the East Anglia One windfarm off the coast of Great Yarmouth between July and October of 2018. The Scylla is a Gusto MSC NG14000X multipurpose jack-up which is home to 130 crew, has a massive deck area of 5000m2, can operate in waters down to a depth of 65m and does up to 12 knots. It’s a beast and will be used to install concrete jackets for the wind farm.

But what’s really great about Seajacks is their commitment to source locally and where they can, they do! There are, of course, some specialist equipment and skills which are not available locally. The East Anglia One wind farm operation will be based out of a port in the Netherlands and although equipment and labour is available in the Netherlands, Seajacks will be flying over its people and supplies from the local area, even though there is a modest extra cost.

The slowdown in the oil and gas industry and its effect, especially on employment in Great Yarmouth, is widely known. Seajacks weathered the storm in a unique way by redistributing its crew around different vessels. John described to us how usually a ship’s company is hired and released as needed on a per vessel basis.

This was Caroline Williams, CEO of Norfolk Chamber’s, last Great Yarmouth breakfast before she moves on to pastures new after 17 years. I’d like to thank Caroline personally for the help, advice, support and friendly engagement she has given me over the last few years since Naked Element has been a Chamber member.  I wish Caroline every success in the future and look forward to bumping into her, as I am sure I will!


Networking takes time. It’s not unusual to come away from a Chamber event having started to build some excellent relationships, but without much more than a warm lead. From this Great Yarmouth Chamber breakfast I came away with two solid leads and another demonstrating future potential. A morning well spent!

Friday, 14 April 2017

The Iron Tactician: A Review

By Alastair Reynolds ISBN-13: 978-1910935309

This book is quick and easy to read at only 98 pages. It’s a long way from being Reynold’s best work, but it’s enjoyable enough. Often I struggle to put books down, but not so with the Iron Tactician, not until the last 30% anyway, which I read in a couple of hours one afternoon.

Possibly the smallest number of characters Reynolds has ever had in a story I’ve read of his, each of them is likable and easy to relate to. A couple could have been explored in more detail.

It was clear there was a twist coming, but if the clues were there to what it was, I missed them and was oblivious right up until it was revealed, which is how I like it! Sometimes nothing spoils a book like a predictable ending and in fact there were two surprises for me!

I’m looking forward to Revenger which is released in just over a month (18th May), but I’ll be reading the next book in Peter Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga first, so it may be a while until I get to it.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Today Nor(Dev):con, tomorrow The World!

“Speaking at nor(DEV):con  is a good indicator that people know what they’re talking about”

If anyone knows the truth of that sentence, it’s Dom Davis. People in the tech industry know him for many different reasons – as CTO of TechMarionette, providing consultations through Somewhere Random, or perhaps even his YouTube gaming channels – but his speaking career was launched by nor(DEV):. “I started doing the local talks for the Norfolk Developers evening sessions, then speaking at nor(DEV):con, eventually graduating to larger and larger rooms at the conference. That eventually led to offers to speak from outside Norfolk.”

‘Outside Norfolk’ ended up being Israel. A conference over there was looking for interesting international speakers and found Dom’s talk from nor(DEV):con on YouTube. After negotiating travel arrangements, they flew him out to give the closing keynote. “Off the back of that I got to speak at Foundercon in Berlin. So now I can say I’m an international keynote speaker!” He’s also got talks at GraphConnect and ACCU coming up later in 2017.

Dom has also been engaged as a trainer as a direct result of being at nor(DEV):con. “I was asked to provide training on Go to others, based on the fact that I am a respected member of the community - Paul Grenyer’s opening keynote gave me glowing review! Speaking at Nor(DEV): is a good indicator that people know what they’re talking about.” Dom also bumped into the founder of one of the companies formed at the last SyncTheCity at the 2017 nor(DEV):con, who offered him consulting work. “There’s work and business to be done with all this talent and business in one place!”


Words: Lauren Gwynn

Sunday, 2 April 2017

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)

by George R.R. Martin

ISBN: 978-0007548231

This is an epic story. The breadth of George R.R. Martin’s imagination and attention to detail is incredible. Of course I’ve seen the HBO TV series, which is what inspired me to read the book, but that’s a doubled edged sword. Having seen the series it helped me to understand what was going on, but also it spoils it as I generally remembered what was going to happen, removing some of the mystery and excitement. Having said that, I did spend a lot of the book hoping things would turn out differently.

My biggest frustration is, why didn’t Syrio Forel pick up one of the Lannister swords and defeat Meryn Trant? The book is ambiguous, so maybe he did survive and will be back? There’s time and my fingers are crossed.

Catelyn Stark is an excellent character. However, I really don’t like her. She is proud, stubborn and ultimately causes her husband's death and the downfall of her house. Although, Eddard Stark does a pretty good job of that all on his own. All the characters are well thought out, it’s just a shame that some of them were cast badly in the TV series, changing them significantly.

The TV series follows the book really closely. Of course there is more detail in the book and things happen which are not in the TV series or are left for later, but it’s still remarkable how true to the book the TV series is. However, there are many scenarios in the book which take place in different places in the TV series. I spent quite a bit of time trying to work out why.

I’m taking a break from Westeros to catch up on some sci-fi, but I’m looking forward to coming back and if you haven’t been there yet, I strongly suggest you give it a try.