Twenty Question Tuesdays #5

Hello there!

Welcome to the latest edition of Twenty Question Tuesdays with TechHub Swansea. This week, we turn to Jeremy North, co-founder of Datris Solutions.

Don't forget - If you want to get involved just click: I want to Play 20 Questions with TechHub Swansea!

So, over to Jeremy and his 20 answers...

1. What is your expertise?

I'm a software engineer and architect. I've been designing and writing code since around 1982 (yikes) starting with BASIC, Pascal, Forth, C, Perl, C++, Visual Basic, Java, Python, UNIX & Linux shell scripting, PL/SQL or anything else that I needed to get the job done. More recently I've moved into the "Big Data" area and natural language processing.

2. Tell us what a normal day for you looks like.

Right now I'm engaged in providing technical architecture services for a public sector company in Cardiff. Day-to-day I'm reading requirements, developing specifications and designs and working with a team of architects and engineers to specify and build a new system. Alongside that is the role of getting a new company off the ground, establishing the links into government schemes and sticking our flag in the ground so we establish a decent profile.

3. How long have you been involved in Tech?

Well, as I mentioned earlier since about 1981/1982 when the ZX81, Jupiter Ace and VIC-20 machines hit the market. At school I remember using a CP/M machine - a Research Machine 380Z and some Commodore Pets. I guess I got hooked then and haven't been able to break free since.

4. What does your company do?

We are a start-up working in several target markets, including Big Data, Semantic Analysis, Cloud services and Geo-spatial systems. Our team came together working at a company that went to the wall due to a lack of funding and poor planning - we've learnt from those lessons and are determined to grow organically, building our products on the back of consistent revenue from multiple sources.

5. What role do you have now and how long have you been in it?

I'm a co-founder of the company along with my business partner Dave Taylor. We started the company in April 2015 as a vehicle to explore a number of product concepts and technologies that we gained experience of whilst employees of a previous company, that failed due to funding issues. We are determined to be self-sustaining and have been building slowly on revenue from consulting work, that is now funding the development of our first product.

6. How did you end up in your current role?

As I just mentioned, my previous employer went to the wall having overspent and under-delivered. Dave and I decided that we could make a better hash of it than they did so came up with a cunning plan!

7. Whats the most rewarding thing about your job, what makes it all worthwhile?

Working for myself. It has made an immeasurable difference to how I approach things. Being able to have the freedom to make decisions that are not second guessed or have to go through committees and project boards is amazing! Knowing that I have both this freedom and the responsibility to get things right makes the whole thing real and tangible to me. I'm no longer a tiny cog in a giant machine. I'm not sure what I am, but I know that I make the difference.

8. What are your greatest achievements to date?

Not work related for this, but my wife and daughters. My wife, as I somehow managed to persuade her to marry me and my girls because they light up our lives. Bit soppy that answer I'm sure, but I can live with it!

9. What do you do when you�re not in work?

We've been doing up a house for the last few months and we are nearly ready to move in, so instead of being in a constant state of scheduling builders/decorators/plumbers/electricians/roofers/glaziers deliveries of all sorts of equipment, fixtures and fittings, I will shortly be able to sit back and take a rest. Though what that probably means is that I'll be thrown feet first into something else!

10. Which area do you live in and how long have you been living there?

My wife and I moved to Cardiff back in 2000, having lived in Southampton for about seven years because of work. We're originally from the Swansea area and wanted to get back to Wales to raise our family, but only made it this far past the bridge before laying down new roots.

11. What would you like to see happen to your Tech Scene immediately and in the future?

De-mystification! A huge proportion of the country has a smartphone, a device so complicated in design and functionality yet anyone can use it. We need to move the baseline again so that what we are doing becomes ubiquitous.

12. If you had to recommend one book, film or game to me, what would it be and why?

Difficult question to answer this one, though I have to choose Bladerunner. The story twists and turns, you never quite now what or who Dekkard is, the neo-noir, future dystopia with oriental vibe is so atmospheric, all combines to a thoroughly amazing film. Never forgetting Roy Batty's soliloquy, part written by the actor Rutger Hauer - "I've... seen things... you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion; I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannh�user Gate... All those... moments... will be lost, in time, like [chokes up] tears... in... rain. Time... to die."

13. Name three things you would take with you on a foreign holiday.

Has to be four I'm afraid - tickets, money, passport and family!

14. Mac, Linux or PC?

It depends on what needs doing, though I am using a Mac currently because it can do the office tasks, development and host a windows virtual machine if I need to all in one package. On the server side, for more grunt, definitely Linux based and we've been using the Oracle Linux recently (a derivative of Red Hat) because of the excellent support.

15. Xbox, PS4, or PC (or other)?

When I get round to replacing my PS3, it'll likely be a PS4 simply because I like the Sony technology. I'm not a big gamer, but the ones I've wanted to play have always been available on the Playstation range. They integrate nicely with Amazon Prime, Netflix and the Blu-ray player is an added bonus.

16. What is your claim to fame?

Back in the mid 90s I was working at the Ordnance Survey on map generalisation software and was part of the team that was responsible for building the data for the County Street Atlas. Every time I open a printed copy and see a particularly nice shaped roundabout, I feel a sense of pride that I wrote the bit of code that did that!

17. If they made a film of your life, who would play you?

It would obviously have to be a dashingly handsome, erudite and intelligent performance, so Robert Downey Jr or Johnny Depp. It's more likely to be Johnny Vegas putting on a welsh accent shudders

18. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

I think I'd have to stick on the nerdy side so it would be a shortlist of Dara O'Briain, Professor Brian Cox and Sergei Brin. But I think when it comes down to it Dara wins for the c'raic!

19. Tell us something about yourself that people wouldn�t expect.

I'm really not sure about this one, perhaps that I'm a welsh speaker, born and bred, despite having a very english sounding name?
I think I'm a pretty open book in general so I don't think there is anything that people would be surprised about.

20. What's your superpower, or what's your spirit animal?

Unfortunately, I am Captain Pedantic. I'm a nightmare when it comes to reviews of documentation or code as I will pick up on the most minor of issues and seem to have an eye for the detail. I think the "power" extends to other aspects of my life where I always like to have the facts straight, as family and friends will attest!


How long has your company been operating?

5 months

What is your company�s expertise / core product?

Natural language processing, Big Data, semantic analysis, data analysis, data visualisation, geo-spatial data.

What are your company's greatest achievements to date?

Getting launched! We've been up and running only a short time, but we've already got consulting clients and are actively bidding on further work, with our own product development scheduled to bear fruit late Q3/early Q4 this year.

What will your company be doing in 5 years time?

We have a suite of products that we will launch in tranches over the next five years to the open market as well as having a targeted set of public and private sector organisations as direct clients. As an organisation we will have grown organically to support the client base and will have taken on ten employees by the end of year two and then repeat the growth every nine to twelve months subsequently.

Are you looking for investment?


Thanks, Jeremy! Remember, if you want to get involved just click: I want to Play 20 Questions with TechHub Swansea!

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See you next week!!