Bringing some Silicon Valley to the Creative Clyde

April 22, 2015

SwarmOnline are industry recognised experts in mobile and web technologies, using cutting edge technology to solve problems and deliver results across a diverse range of industries. Here founder and managing director, Andrew Duncan writes about injecting the unique Silicon Valley culture into the Creative Clyde community…


I run a growing app development company called SwarmOnline, based in The Hub at Pacific Quay. Although we’re still young, news of our expertise and success is beginning to spread. So much so that I was asked to speak at a conference in Silicon Valley. Not surprisingly, I accepted the offer and delivered the talk over the Easter break. I was excited to speak at the conference but I was also excited about the prospect of embracing Silicon Valley so I could bring a bit of it back to Swarm HQ.

My talk was targeted at developers and provided tips to help them create robust enterprise apps. Using cases studies from some projects we’re currently working on, I offered advice to the audience, which went down really well. Enterprise apps are creating huge efficiency savings in businesses and a lot of the innovation in that area is coming out of the Valley, which made it the perfect place for me to deliver the talk.

Nearly every developed country in the world bases their tech aspirations on recreating Silicon Valley. It would be unheard of for tech giants not to have their HQ in Silicon Valley, even though that means they pay a premium price for office space, compete with hundreds of other tech companies to recruit staff and pay incredibly huge salaries.

That begs the question – what’s so special about Silicon Valley? The simple answer is this – they’ve created a totally unique culture that gives people an endless belief in the impact they can create through their own creativity.

This is the kind of unique thinking that makes businesses jump through hoops to have a presence in the Valley. They simply can’t afford to miss out on the Silicon Valley culture that challenges old ideas, promotes self-starters and encourages people to believe in their ideas.

This is the kind of culture we’re trying to create in the Creative Clyde area and it’s exactly why I opened an office in The Hub. It’s a culture we haven’t had but it’s one we’re beginning to create. As a nation we’ve had historically low levels of start-ups but in 2014 we had more than 340,000 businesses operating, which was the highest since records began. Even more encouraging is the fact that Glasgow was the top area for new business start-ups with 1,515 new companies being registered in the city’s G2 postcode area.

I can’t implement the Silicon Valley culture across Glasgow but I can spread it throughout SwarmOnline. I actively encourage out of the box thinking amongst my team and that’s why we’re being chosen to do some pretty cool stuff. Things like building apps that use satellites to monitor the GPS location of oil rigs, which is then used to save lives. We’re also building apps to manage huge fleet teams to make them much more efficient and drive huge savings. We wouldn’t be able to take on these huge projects if it wasn’t for the culture we’re creating.

I’m going to keep promoting this culture within my business and encourage others to do the same. I don’t know what the Creative Clyde district will look like in the future but if we can continue to embrace this culture and implement it properly, the opportunities are endless.

After graduating with a master’s degree in Business and Management from the University of Glasgow, Andrew Duncan put his passion in IT to good use founding SwarmOnline. Following the company’s incorporation in 2011, Andrew has seen the turnover double year on year under his leadership and recently saw his hard work recognised in a nomination for Young Business Person of the Year 2014 at the Glasgow Business Awards.

Are you interested in using technology to bring some of Silicon Valley to your business? Call SwarmOnline on 0330 122 2800 or follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn.