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By Chris Griffiths, CEO of Droptask, Tec Marina, and OpenGenius

 

What will you be speaking about at the conference?

I get to speak about two things that I really love, technology and innovation. I have started several tech companies over the years, some successful, some not. I have also become fascinated by the science surrounding the process of innovation and how technology can facilitate this. I hope to share some of the insights I have gained over the years, and more importantly, I intend to challenge the audience to think differently by making them aware of what might be killing their creativity.

Why are conferences like this important not only to the digital sector but also to business in general?

It is about the merging of minds. You may listen to a speaker who may spark a new train of thought, or you may meet a potential partner with whom you can combine strengths to collaborate on projects. Steve Jobs explained this brilliantly when he said that 'innovation is about having more dots to join'. The more knowledge, contacts, and information you have swimming around in your subconscious, the more likely you are to be able to connect them together to come up with your next great idea. We definitely need more of this in Wales. We have an opportunity to make Wales the hub of digital innovations over the next 10 year, but we need to do more.

What do you do?

Greatest job ever. I get to daydream and create things. I am involved in several tech projects. iMindMap is a digital thinking space used by more than one million users where you can brainstorm, plan, and present your ideas. Droptask, selected as one of the Digital Dozen in Wales this year, an early stage company, takes a very fun visual approach to task management. OpenGenius is a training organisation focusing on teaching innovation skills. My newest project is Tec Marina, where we are converting a 20,000sq ft warehouse in Penarth Marina into a tech hub aimed at providing creative workspace and offices for early stage digital companies.

How did you get into your line of work?

I failed computer science at A level. In fact, I got an 'unclassified' - the lowest of the low from Barry College! There was a distinct disconnect between what was being taught in school to what one needed to know in the real world. The problem still exists today and is getting worse. I persisted because I loved computers. I had a friend in school, Philip Bond, who was a genius on the ZX Spectrum and I asked him to teach me to write code, which he kindly did. I sold my first computer game when I was 16 and my first company when I was 25. I have been creating companies ever since. Some succeed, some fail.

What did you do before?

Always been an entrepreneur.

How do you convince people that they should embrace a digital future and what do you say to people who are nervous about getting involved?

I don't try and convince people. The change is happening so quickly we all have no choice.

What would you say to anyone wanting to follow in your career footsteps?

Just go for it but make sure you have a strong and understanding spouse or partner! People fear failure too much. Success and failure are not opposites, they are part of the same process. I love what I do, it is great fun creating things and helping them grow. I am sure most entrepreneurs will say the same.

How has your business/sector changed over the years and what do you see as the future?

The digital sector has been in an accelerated state of change over the last decade. This is why it is such an exciting area in which to be involved. Now, more than ever, it provides a level playing field of competition. I believe touch and voice technologies are still in their infancy and will develop quickly. We focus heavily on providing highly visual products that work well on touch devices for this reason. I mean who really wants to be using a keyboard - the only reason we do is it is still the fastest way to enter information into our machines.... but that will change!

Will you be making any big announcements at Digital 2015?

At Droptask we are excited to confirm that Jan Muhlfeit, who was thechairman of Microsoft Europe until last year, and who spent several years travelling around the globe with Bill Gates, has become our chairman. It is an honour to have such a high profile and successful individual want to become involved with a start-up here in Wales.

Anything else you think we should know?

I hope that Tec Marina, see www.tecmarina.com, my latest project, will be the home to 30 or 40 home grown start-ups and early stage companies. We aim to open in the autumn of this year. More than 40 per cent of the space will be used for communal areas such as cafes, boats, open plan meeting rooms, gyms, and breakout areas. The goal is to create a location that creates a highly innovative based environment, where people and ideas can flourish.