Episode #14 - Marty Reid

Keeping Bristol weird

To mark the re-opening of Engine Shed this week (August 2020) we’re releasing our Tough Cookies episode featuring Marty Reid, recorded before Covid-19 restrictions were put in place.

 

Marty had only recently taken on the role as Head of Engine Shed the time of recording, and chats through his decision to leave the corporate world behind after 10 years at Rolls Royce. His previous work and studies had taken him all around the world from Munich to Canada to Japan — but he found his focus shifting moving towards working with smaller companies, within the tech sector and on a more regional basis. He landed a role leading Future Space, the innovation centre at UWE, before joining Engine Shed.

 

Nic and Marty talk about what drives Engine Shed, its core functions and its place in the thriving Bristol ecosystem. Marty runs through the ways Engine Shed contributes to the community, hi lighting its core values: innovation, growth and diversity & inclusion. It functions as an incubator that supports growth and a physical hub to bring people together – but any surplus money made from this goes towards civic programmes that aim to incubate the business community and the city itself. In 2019 they ran a programme to support generating investment in the city and the entrepreneurial outreach programme takes business support services to disadvantaged communities in the city

 

They chat about how, as a well connected establishment within Bristol, Engine Shed bears some responsibility in trying to build trust and support growth within communities outside of the city centre. To support individuals who may not have access to the same business resources, and remove cultural barriers to encourage those communities to engage in existing projects that white-middle class people within the centre may take for granted. While Bristol is often lauded as a highly diverse city, Marty acknowledges that there is still plenty of work to be done in addressing inequality in a business context and is looking to deepen these existing engagements and grow the programme to include other areas.

 

Marty also shares how he feels stepping into the shoes of Nick Sturge who received an MBE for his work and helped form Engine Shed – talk about imposter syndrome! They finish by going over what they love about Bristol as a city and as a business community and Marty shares what his dream job was as a child.

 

Join the conversation on the CookiesHQ Twitter. If you want to find out more about Marty Reid, you can find him on LinkedIn.

Read the transcript

Nic:
Hi and welcome to a new episode of the Tough Cookies podcast. I hope you’ve been enjoying our recent behind the screen series with Natalie. But today I’ve got a different episode for you. A few months ago, just before lockdown hit us, I sat down with Marty Reid, newly appointed head of the Engine Shed and together we discussed about the Engine Shed place in the Bristol wider ecosystem. That would include start ups, but also scale ups. And more importantly the diversity and inclusion project that the Engine Sheds participate on and run.

Nic:
So look, make yourself comfortable, make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy the next half hour conversation with Marty. And if you’re looking for a new place to work and if your office is not really open or if you just need to be around people from two meters apart, please head to the Engine Shed. They have a fantastic coworking space over there. And it’s really a buzzing experience to be there. And all the people around are just mind blowing and fantastic.

Nic:
Thank you Marty for the discussion and over to the podcast now. Thank you all. Bye.

Nic:
Hi Marty.

Marty:
Hi mate.

Nic:
How are you?

Marty:
I’m doing good thanks.

Nic:
Cool. I’m really, really glad you joined me today. So, we are in the Engine Shed. The place you run, is that correct?

Marty:
Yes.

Nic:
Is run the correct term?

Marty:
So yeah, I’m the head of the Engine Shed so I’ve got overall leadership of it.

Nic:
Cool, and can you explain what your role is and how you ended up there basically?

Marty:
Sure. So I have overall leadership of the Science Research Foundation, which is they mechanics behind the Engine Shed and SETsquared Bristol, which is the incubator. I actually work for the University of Bristol, which again not everyone always knows. But the university fundamentally run the Engine Shed and we have a partnership agreement with Bristol City Council. So yeah, I have overall responsibility for the direction, the guidance of all the Engine Shed’s activities.

Nic:
Okay. So your accent is not from Bristol, am I correct?

Marty:
It’s not, no.

Nic:
Okay, I’m still working on my accent game, so where are you from?

Marty:
I’m actually from Paisley, which is just outside Glasgow.

Nic:
Okay, and when did you move to Bristol?

Marty:
It was six, seven years ago now. So Bristol is very much home. I got married near here. My wife lives here now as well. So we’ve settled here, but yeah I guess in some senses I’m a newcomer compared to people who have been here a long, long time.

Nic:
So, when you came here the Engine Shed was already a thing?

Marty:
It wouldn’t have existed actually. The Engine Shed is just over five years old. It was five last year.

Nic:
I thought it was slightly older than that.

Marty:
The SETsquared program, which is at the heart of the Engine Shed, and we can go into that a little bit, has been here for a lot longer as part of the university and the city’s business acceleration, business incubation activities. But the Engine Shed is a project, particularly here, right by Temple Meads, is just over five.

Nic:
Okay, yeah. Somehow I thought it was slightly older than that. I moved to Bristol probably 11 years ago now. And I remember seeing the Engine Shed being created basically. And I think that’s one thing, when I talk to people today in Bristol, we all know what the Engine Shed is as a place. We use that as a reference point. “Let’s meet at the Engine Shed basically.” But I think there’s a very big misconception about what the Engine Shed is actually doing. And we know we come here for events and Cookies HQ sometimes runs events here. We know we come here to work and have a coffee. We sometimes just come here for lunch because there’s a nice café. We know that there are multiple companies working from here. But what si the Engine Shed, at its core, really doing?

Marty:
Probably, being relatively new to the Engine Shed, I don’t have my streamlined elevator pitch yet, ironically we teach companies to do that all the time. It’s probably best to start at the core of the Engine Shed’s values, which are innovation, growth and diversity and inclusion. We’re still working on which terminology to use. But, fundamentally it is a physical space that has a number of tenants, a number of users and supports programs to either support new, innovative products or services, to support growth in a broader sense, so the growth of companies, but then economic growth in the city. And to try and make those things inclusive for everyone in the city.

Marty:
When it started the Engine Shed was developed as a home for the SETsquared incubator. So a SETsquared incubator or SETsquare Bristol, I should say as it’s part of the SETsquared partnership, is a university incubator that supports, mentors, guides, coaches high growth, high potential start ups. Usually up to say, a Seed Round, or a Series A round. But, there isn’t a hard definition.

Marty:
That program has around 20 residents physically based here at the Engine Shed and then about 80 in total with virtual memberships. So it’s quite like other incubators. Now, they physically rent space from the Engine Shed, which is the place. And then the Engine Shed obviously is a venue, a conferencing centre, there’s hot-desking, a member’s lounge, but fundamentally it’s to be a hub for business activity in the city, with a bit of a steer and a flavor towards the start up ecosystem.

Marty:
And the way it all works together, is that SETsquared has the program, guiding businesses through. Technically the SETsquared then pays rent to the Engine Shed for the offices it uses. The Engine Shed generates income from renting meeting rooms, holding events, our membership and support from partners, and then whatever comes out at the end, a part of that the Engine Shed spends on more civic facing projects. So last year there was a program to support generating investment in the city, which has now turned into the Investor Activator. We partnered on the entrepreneurial outreach program, which is all about taking great entrepreneurial and business support activities out to disadvantaged communities in the city, who have that, you know there’s still that sense that maybe this place isn’t for everyone, so that was specifically focused on the migrant, refugee communities.

Marty:
We support a lot of programs getting school kids, particularly from disadvantaged areas to visit here. And we pull in companies to support it. So overall, as you said, it touches a few areas. We run an incubator that directly supports growth of companies. We run a physical space to try and bring people together. And any extra surplus we generate from that, we try and put into civic programs to effectively incubate the business community in the city, for want of a better way of putting it.

Nic:
Okay, well that’s really something like that last part which basically the surplus of money coming back to civics, I wasn’t aware of that. And it’s actually pretty cool. One of the previous podcasts and depending on how things are going to be released, is either previews we’re after, but I’ve had actually a long chat with Nick Sturge, your predecessor and we were talking about the current problems that Bristol are facing. And one of the main problems is that diversity slash inclusion of certain parts of the city. So the Engine Shed is clearly playing a part into not solving entirely the problems, but playing a part into solving, in a way, trying to be a player in solving those problems.

Marty:
Yeah. And I’m sure Nick would have reflected on the same things, the last few years in particular there’s been incredible success stories in terms of start ups growing to scale ups, a huge number of tech jobs, growing investments. We’ve got two companies that grew out of Bristol that are now valued over a billion dollars. There’s more to come. But the data on inclusion and diversity of where either that wealth is spreading to or even geographically in Bristol, very distinctly, what areas have high value jobs and how they’ve developed relative to others, is not improving. In south Bristol, just from the data, whether it’s wages, whether it’s engagement in the type of business communities we work with, feels almost like a different city still. And that really is someone who came to Bristol and settled because I love the cultural vibrancy. It feels quite jarring.

Marty:
So, we can see our role as being, we’re privileged to be able to have influence in levers and trusted partnerships with the business community, with the city institutions. Whether it’s the councils, the banks, and therefore there’s a responsibility to try and make a difference there. And that’s really what those projects are focused on.

Marty:
Also, even though we’re part of and have the backing of the university as one of the big city institutions, because we operate independently with a different name, we do find that we can have more trusted partnerships with community programs or community projects than the large institutions can for themselves. So we think we’re really well positioned to bring partners together to try and make a difference.

Nic:
Cool. And one thing that’s striking is every time you come here, at the Engine Shed, mainly to the member’s lounge, there’s always people working, always a buzzing community. Is this something that just happened organically? Or do you make an effort to let people know that you’re pulling and all this kind of things? How do you manage to always have people around basically?

Marty:
I think it’s a mix of both. Obviously the location is a part of it, in that you’re a minute walk from the train station. So it’s a natural landing space lounge for people there. But, it’s something to do with the way the lounge memberships here were developed. It’s not a coworking model where you say, “I’m going to sit at this desk every day.” There’s lots of great spaces in the city doing that now. But more, larger institutions have memberships. So our founding partners, the universities do, the institute of directors do, but then also Bristol Media, some of the creative agencies do. And so, you always have a nice mix of people.

Marty:
And then obviously that’s extended to individuals or groups that just want to pay and use access for the day. But I think it’s that feeling of openness. That it’s a place that you can drop in and out of, that you’ll always meet people. That’s helped sustain and grow it. Because that’s what people always reflect to me, that people often come to work here for the day, not necessarily because we’ve got the nicest furniture or because it’s the comfiest, but you’ll always bump into someone. You’ll always meet somebody and something will spark.

Nic:
So we are members for the lounge and we use that for two reasons. Either we would come and work here because we want to escape. Sometimes we need to focus and I need to escape the day to day in the office or the interruptions. So I come here, I turn off Slack, nobody can reach me. And I put the headphones and I just work. And then there’s that weird respect, even if people that you know, if they see you with the headphones, they know you’re focusing and nobody’s disturbing you. But then other days I actually want to be disturbed. I’m craving social interactions because, I don’t know, I’ve actually been focused too much on that week and actually on a Friday I want to meet people, I want to talk to people. And actually I would come here and openly be like, I’m on my computer but clearly I’m looking for those interactions. And then before you know it you have 10 conversations with people just catching up. And you just learn a lot about what’s happening in Bristol just by being in that lounge.

Nic:
I’ve been to a lot of different coworking spaces, as you said, or hot-desking kind of thing and for me the Engine Shed is the perfect mix of, you have the best of both worlds. You can focus, you can hide in one of those Nook Pods, or you can be in the middle and actually get for those conversations. So I just love it basically.

Marty:
It’s one of those that if you were to take a hard nose commercial approach, if you stuck up a bunch of walls and gave people more dedicated spaces, you could squeeze a lot more money out of a place, but then that wouldn’t support us to deliver our objectives. We have to be sustainable, we operate as a subsidiary of the university so it’s not like we’re being propped up. We have to be sustainable and generate income, but would we really be able to do that trusted brokerage? Could we really claim and be part of sparking that innovation if we didn’t have that cultural feeling, leading at that, the place for collaboration, which actually reflects what’s probably special about the Bristol business community.

Marty:
In general, I was pleasantly surprised by when I left my big corporate career behind, is that everyone is up for working together and stuff. Even competitors.

Nic:
So that leaves me, you talk about leaving your corporate culture behind, so what’s your story? Because you seemed like, I’ve looked at you quite a lot on socials and LinkedIn and whatever. You seem to have had 10 lives already. So, what’s your story and how did you lead to get here, basically?

Marty:
Yeah so I’m actually relatively new to the world of start ups, incubation, even local economy. I’ve only been working in this space for about 18 months. And actually my 10 year career before then was all with Rolls Royce, so part of a massive corporate. And on a really simple level, like maybe a LinkedIn review, it would be like oh, I’ve just gone through, progressing jobs at a corporate, but actually I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to have a really diverse corporate career, enabled by being part of an institution. So, I started as an engineer. I learned quite quickly joining the company as an engineer that five years of uni was probably enough of that for me. And I still love the technology, I love understanding the science behind work. But I don’t miss doing it, it’s not the bit that I’m best at.

Marty:
My very first job was in Oslo. From Oslo, I was sent to Finland on another assignment. I did a bit of time in the UK, ended up in Munich for a few years. And right through I started seeking out international opportunities, so I’ve done work in the States. Before my career I had studied in Canada, I did part of my master’s in Japan. I’ve been really fortunate that there was a huge number of opportunities to grab, and almost to get supported to work in other places. Because I’ve never had the time traveling. I’ve not taken six months off and gone around the world. I’m lucky enough that work or study have taken me places. So, I moved steadily from a technical role to a broader and broader engagement role that ended up with a corporate strategy job, thinking really long term about where to invest for the future, where to invest in what countries, how do you move talent and people and money around the world for the good of a company.

Marty:
And that was amazing and projects were really exciting and loads of intellectual challenge, lots of that feeling that you were doing important in the world, working for a big corporate. And you’d engage with the government about billion dollar contracts, but after 10 years, it does get to the point where you start feeling who and what is this for? So Rolls Royce make amazing technology and make a big contribution to the UK and European economies, but at the end of the day, the mission is to make money for shareholders. And I thought I had been there for 10 years and even though I had worked in lots of business units and with joint ventures in other countries, I thought if I stayed for a lot longer, I’d be there for life. And that filled me with dread in a way. Even though my career had been really diverse so far.

Nic:
When you started to have, it’s too cushy to leave kind of thing, that’s the difficult tipping point I guess a lot of people find.

Marty:
And also it was getting to the point where really exciting projects would come across my desk that if you looked at the parts of them you’d think, that’s a really cool thing to be doing. Thinking about copper venturing or thinking about how do we best work in China and all the technology and regulatory challenges around that, but I didn’t have the buzz anymore. I’d be like, “Oh yeah.” And I thought other people would think that’s incredible opportunities and so it was time to move on and do something different.

Nic:
So where did you move from there then? That was directly to Future Space.

Marty:
Yes, so I left through a redundancy program. So I was in the fortunate position that a program to be able to leave with a bit of financial support came up. So I could take the jump and leave with nothing set up. I was actually thinking of going and doing an MBA or further study, because I recognized that I needed to maybe de-corporate and de-Rolls Royce-ify my mind a bit. But I did think I wanted to work with technology, I wanted to work with smaller companies. I wanted to work with a more regional or city focus. And that was where it was moving towards. And again, the timing was just perfect. A role came up leading Future Space, which is the innovation centre up at the University of West of England. And I put myself forward for it. It fit a lot of the things that I wanted to do.

Marty:
I applied thinking I can do this job but I’m probably not going to be their ideal candidate because I had no experience of working with small companies or investment or running a physical centre, and I got the role. And afterwards the leadership actually told me that I was the wild card interviewee. You know if you’re putting together a panel of people you interview, you’ll often have three or four maybe that are a good core fit, and someone else you just think just are a bit different. And I was that person.

Nic:
Good, well it worked out well I guess. I’ve recently been to Future Space again and that space is fantastic. It’s just beautiful. As beautiful as here but yeah, it’s just a really good space and obviously they do a really good job. And you’ve done a really good job of putting Future Space on the map. Now, I guess there’s one big elephant in the room here, which is your taking over quite a character, well known Nick Sturge in the city, you’re taking over him now on the Engine Shed. How do you feel about that and how do you make your mark and how do you, not trying to forget Nick Sturge, but how do you assess now we’re going into a new direction maybe?

Marty:
Yeah, there was a few pieces to that. There’s obviously the personal side of it first, I’m not going to lie, I think everyone, I suffer from a bit of imposter syndrome now and then. And I think it’s healthy actually because I think people should always challenge and not get too over confident or arrogant in thinking that they’re the one that does everything. So I think it’s healthy in people but if ever you want something to cement a little bit of imposter syndrome, it’s stepping into someone’s shoes that got an MBE for their work.

Nic:
Are you looking to get an MBE soon?

Marty:
I think it would be a long, long journey to consider that. Nick did amazing things for the ecosystem and this city and the people and the companies over such a long career and time, much beyond this building and structure.

Nic:
Was the taking over like looking for a new direction? Or is it more continuing what was already in place with a new flavor?

Marty:
Firstly I wasn’t looking for a change. At Future Space where I was, was a really cool place with huge potential too, but the Engine Shed was part of the reason that I was interested in working with small businesses in the first place. That reputation that you could do growth of start ups, helping develop new technology, but do that in partnership with a city. That felt special and it was just too cool an opportunity not to go for.

Marty:
I think we’ve got very different skills. And I think for me the next phase of the Engine Shed and SETsquare Bristol is about making sure we understand and capture and protect what’s made it special, what’s made it turn into a city institution that works and supports a lot of people, but how could we scale that and do it bigger, and do it more. So, there’s a few direct opportunities in the city. The university’s investing in building a huge new campus in the Temple Quarter, specifically aimed at enterprise. And has a vision for companies and researchers and the public all working together there.

Marty:
If you were to look around the city in general for a test bed of that, it would be here. So we can have a really cool part to play in that. Or indeed directly there’s a near term opportunity hopefully, for Engine Shed too. Which would be bigger, better, a slightly more modern facility to compliment the institution here.

Nic:
When is that starting? I’ve seen the plans and they’ve been talking about it for quite some time now.

Marty:
Our partners at the city council are still working through it. Obviously with any big infrastructure projects and particularly one that’s a bit more complicated than just any other office space or flats, the fact that it has that broader civic ambition, it takes a lot of work to go through.

Nic:
Where is it going to be located?

Marty:
Directly across the road.

Nic:
Okay. It’s a genuine question I haven’t prepared at all but the fact that there’s such a desire to talk about these civic grounds and inclusivity and everything, was there any discussions about actually moving Engine Shed to another location, South Bristol, St Paul’s, Montpelier? And has it been part of the plan?

Marty:
I don’t know detailed enough plans about whether it was part of that, but there is a growing interest, appetite, desire I think, to take a lot of what is good about business support, the entrepreneurship culture, and make sure that that’s benefiting those other areas too. I was actually at an even this week where there was a debate about do you do outreach projects where we have a community centre in south Bristol and try and set up financial advisors or a coding program or something there, or do you need to try and support bringing of young people from disadvantaged communities into the Engine Shed or other centres, to show that this kind of place is for them too.

Marty:
And there’s the two challenges of it, if you do the latter, are you accidentally cementing the message that some communities are places you want to escape from, which is wrong. But if you try and just pack up an Engine Shed team and plonk them into a community centre in an area, are you really going to have the engagement you need? Because, you might not understand it enough. And I think the answer we came to was, you definitely need a mix of both. There’s some really cool projects doing that already, but really need to form partnerships between a city centre based institution like ourselves, and a community organisation who understand what people need. But also who will be able to have the trust.

Marty:
I think a lot of the entrepreneurial work and outreach that’s been done in the more disadvantaged communities in the city has been very academic. People feel like they’re getting studied all the time or people feel like they’re getting experimented on. And these programs don’t have roots. So some of the more recent projects, and I think where we’d like to do more of, is with real partnerships to put in something that is on an equitable basis. So the community led aspect is just as important as what we would bring to the table. And that it would be sustainable.

Marty:
A brilliant example is the entrepreneurial outreach program which has been led by ACH, a great Bristol institution. It used to be called Ashford Community Housing. They do a lot of work supporting refugee and migrant communities in the city. And they led a project backed by the Engine Shed and now with support from the body university and the council and the West of England combined authority, but that was all about, rather than saying, “Let’s have another academic program where we try and figure out how to support entrepreneurship and migrant communities.” Because there’s an incredible entrepreneurial culture and flare in these communities already there, but how do you break down barriers for entrepreneurs there to access the same privileges that say, white middle class people take for granted in the city centre?

Marty:
There’s so many meet ups, there’s so many support organisations. And there isn’t a physical barrier. Maybe transport and the cost of transport aside for people joining those, but there’s a big cultural one about, “Is it really for me? I don’t see people like me there. My business isn’t a big tech business. Can I take part?” So the entrepreneurial outreach program has all been about going out in partnership with communities. So the focus was in Barton Hill with community leaders there, to understand what local businesses or local entrepreneurs there really needed or wanted. And what were the barriers to them engaging and the projects that were already running. But not just asking questions, as part of the project doing some of that. Taking advisors with you, giving engagement so people saw benefit. And steadily trying to build up trust.

Marty:
And after a year it’s been very successful as a first phase. There’s been a lot of very positive qualitative feedback from individuals saying it’s a different approach. They respect it. They trust it. And the question now as ever is, how do you grow that to maybe other areas? How do you grow or deepen it in areas we’re working in already? And keep it going.

Nic:
And do we as businesses, do we have a role to play in that? And how can we help if we wanted to?

Marty:
So there’s a mix I think as a first stage it would be really worth people reading the output of reports from that and understanding them.

Nic:
I can’t read a report for the life of me.

Marty:
Engaging with the partner institutions, so I think that the Engine Shed have a good role in that in terms of supporting businesses translate what, theoretically cookies, what you would have to offer in that program. The simple things like funding of the projects. But also, being willing maybe to support some of the entrepreneurial outreach activities. So we have an investor in residence here in the Engine Shed who comes in once a week, it would be great as part of a trusted community project, that we had an investor in residence out in Barton Hill or in Easton or in another area in south Bristol.

Marty:
And I think as that broadens, there could be a role for marketing support or engagement or hosting meetings here. I think a lot of the businesses can have a role to play just by being open and engaging in it, but in a way that they see as a benefit to the business in the city. Not just for some corporate social responsibility badge that you see bigger corporates chase sometimes. But actually, how could a project like that become part of people’s ongoing business? Because the way we see it is, this isn’t chartered outreach projects, these are to support the growth of an entrepreneur community that has a lot more potential that’s been realized for one reason or another, that by growing there it’s going to be economic benefit to the city in general. More jobs, more engagement, that’ll be good for business overall for everyone.

Nic:
Cool. Well, we’re going to talk after the podcast about how we can work on that together. That’s something we as Cookies `always try to do, it would be pretentious to say there’s a social element to it, but there’s certainly a focus onto this kind of inclusivity and diversity in Cookies in everything that we do, all our events. So, yeah, let’s talk about that after the podcast.

Marty:
I think there is that about shared values and actually I think that’s something that’s really cool about the Bristol business community, especially the emerging start up communities. So there’s a lot to be done on the rest of inclusion and we’re not there yet. But as one element of a value of what good business looks like, what’s really cool when you look at I think, the start ups that are coming through, there was something I noticed this week reading the Fintech report that came out from Fintech West.

Nic:
Another report.

Marty:
Oh there’s plenty of reports. This one’s quite good because it looks at the Fintech sector.

Nic:
I look at the outlines and I look at what other people are like. Snippets, Briony Thomas is fantastic for that. She’s brilliant for that and yeah, I look at the snippets, but I can’t sit down and read a whole report sometimes.

Marty:
Well in fairness yeah, I remember there’s a bit of a role of some of the connectors ourselves, me included, to try and make sure that we hook people in with good ones. So I’ll try and do that with this. What jumped at me in the report, so you know it said, “Fintech is great in Bristol, we’re the second highest number of start ups.” And I thought, well all that’s great, Fintech sector is good, it attracts investment. I love the engineering and technology so it’s not my passion but I see the place it has, but what jumped out at me was not all the stats about it being great in general. It was the fact that the start ups highlighted, all had some kind of values at their core. So, I think Fintech in particular if you look at a lot of the big growing London Fintech giants, they tend to be about, all right, making business more efficient, making transactions more efficient, helping people buy stuff online. All that’s good, I guess it helps the flow of finance and overall economics.

Marty:
But the companies here, you had ones like Flexys who are a brilliant company based up at Future Space where I was before, they’re focused on making the approach to debt and the debt markets more fair, more ethical and more balanced for everyone by using machine learning and AI. Which is good for business too, but has a value at its core. Lockbox who are in SETsquared, they have a really cool way and a platform of enabling people to develop and build a credit history through their regular current account management, without having to take out a credit card that obviously carries risks if you overuse it.

Marty:
So people who previously didn’t have access to financial services because banks say, “Sorry, you’ve not borrowed money and paid it back before, so we can’t trust you.” It’s a weird quirk of our banking system, but they have an approach that’s really exciting to get over that, it could help a lot of people.

Marty:
Tamello are another one, they are helping people be empowered through their investing. To understand right down, what principles and values or things that really they’re investing in, rather than it being this mysterious thing that some know and some don’t, and you’re not quite sure what your money is being spent on. So, I think that’s cool that there’s a value at the core.

Marty:
And I like Fintech one because that’s not a sector you’d normally go and look at for that kind of thing. But even in Fintech it exists.

Nic:
I think that’s one of the elements of Bristol that I hope we, and I say we as a community, will manage to protect. There is a different vibe in everything Bristol does. Businesses in Bristol, individuals, the way the city is run, the way the community interject with each other, the way when we started our business 10 years ago, we received help from what you would consider competitors. And everybody was here to help. And there is a real value of that openness and sharing that I think is eroding a bit to be honest. Being in there, I think the stakes are higher now, there’s a lot of more businesses. There’s a lot more higher budgets, we’re not Bristol 10 years ago where everything was to make. It’s now the stakes are higher and that erodes a bit that cooperation between businesses or between competitors sometimes. Which can be seen as a shame.

Nic:
But, there is still the openness in everything Bristol does. And there is still a core value towards the people compared to just the money that you can find in other places like Manchester and London. And that I hope we will manage to protect for as long as possible because it’s what makes Bristol, Bristol really. After that if you remove that, you’re just like another city that’s making start ups and making money. But yeah, keeping what makes Bristol weird…

Marty:
I like that, keeping it weird.

Nic:
Yeah, keeping us weird is what we need to make sure happens. I guess we are going to wrap up soon. So, I’d like to ask you a few questions about you from a personal level if that’s okay. The first one is, when you were nine years old, I guess you didn’t dream about running the Engine Shed.

Marty:
I probably didn’t dream of working in this world three years ago.

Nic:
So, what did you want to do or be?

Marty:
Probably like every west of Scotland young person, hopefully still now, I probably wanted to play for Celtic. I probably should have said, just be a footballer, but I’ve declared my allegiances now. But having left Glasgow, you can do that. I was quite interested in computers and software. When I was very young my dad bought me a BBC Acorn. That’s a good test of age of anyone watching. When I was young we had to used to do some coding even to load up the floppy disks. And I did have a passion for it right through when I was younger, I took apart and rebuilt computers. So, I did think that a career in and around technology and software would be interesting.

Marty:
Weirdly as I went through school I still did it and was involved in it but I moved towards engineering in the end. At the time a guidance councillor in school told me that, “You could do software, but I don’t know how many jobs there is in that.” And this was probably at the time where the big software giants were still taking off and booming. But equally it was probably still that some of those people had a mental image of the first dot com boom and bust. So that’s why I ended up going down the engineering path, because I liked the physics and maths and how stuff works.

Nic:
I think that’s what a lot of people younger these days don’t realise, we probably, coming from an era where we’ve seen the internet being a thing. And there were a lot of people that didn’t understand it. For a lot of people the internet was just a fad, it was just another thing that would pass. And being French actually, we had that French reluctance where we used something called the Minitel, I don’t know if you had that?

Marty:
No.

Nic:
Which was really big in France, it was almost the internet on a terminal that you could find in post offices or you could have at home. It was a telecommunication network, the only thing you could have is text basically, and you could see past orders. This is where I found out my equivalent of A levels results for example. But it was almost like an internet alongside the internet` if you see what I mean. And that was very popular until the internet took over, thankfully, because if not we’re still in the dark ages. But we’re coming from an era where the internet was not a thing, where today obviously nobody disputes that the internet is there to stay.

Nic:
The software, as you said, moving to software and people not thinking that there was a future in software, it’s weird to think back about those things and be like, “Yeah, there was one, we were right.” We were right to pursue that. And I guess the last question is more about Bristol itself. Your favourite, favourite place in Bristol? Could be anything, it could be a restaurant.

Marty:
So let me have a think about this, there’s lots of places.

Nic:
No, no, no. I like to be on the spot.

Marty:
It’s possibly the Canteen in Hamilton House. I’ve lived in Bedminster and Montpelier, and now I’m in Cotham. And probably the whole time I’ve been in Bristol, as someone who moved here but worked out of the city first and was getting to know it, it always felt like this hub that represented the city. You get all kinds of weird and wonderful people. You’ll almost always end up with a great chat with someone, does good food and drink. And it being right in the middle of Stokes Croft which has that strong independence, just a little bit wild, rebellious streak still. It always felt like it captured what made Bristol feel like home as I’ve stayed here over time.

Marty:
And probably the only other place that would reflect on it as more just that, right down by the harbourside outside the Arnolfini when on a really nice warm day in the summer after work, you can get down there…

Nic:
Sit down on the docks with a beer.

Marty:
Exactly. With your legs hanging over the side and I’ll be doing it, students will be there, people from the art community will be there. Whomever and anyone. It just feels like a community coming together place.

Nic:
I’m pretty sure there is, and I keep saying that, and someone has to write the report that’s important about it, I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure there is an unspoken rule by all the businesses that are around the harbourside where when it’s the first nice, sunny day of the city, every business there shut down around two or three o’clock and then all of a sudden you have everybody on the docks having a beer. And then the docks become that big mass and I’m pretty sure there’s an unspoken rule that everybody, all the businesses do it. On the same day. And I don’t know if it’s a people’s mass, like you see one or two offices doing it and then all of a sudden everybody does it, “Oh yeah, let’s go for a beer.”

Marty:
People are looking out of their window and saying, “We’re having some of that.”

Nic:
Yeah, the first sunny day you can be sure if you go there at three o’clock, every single office is shut down and everybody is down there having a drink. And that’s what is Bristol for me. That’s the beautiful, everybody together in the same place. I just love it.

Marty:
It’s the community, almost, mini festival feel that you get from it. It’s probably like when, so I got married in the middle of last summer and a group of my friends obviously came through and they stayed in the centre of Bristol. And I wasn’t with them the night before the wedding, obviously, because I wasn’t allowed because of the risk of them plying me with drink, but they were sending me pictures of, it was the beautiful picturesque July evening down by the harbourside. And there was quite a few jokes about maybe we’ll just stay, do we have to go back to London or Glasgow? Lovely, wonderful cities, especially Glasgow, but yeah, you don’t have that same vibe, especially of a summer evening.

Nic:
No, and I think the sight of the sea is perfect, there’s a lot of things that are perfect with Bristol, but yeah, loads of things we can talk about.

Nic:
if people want to find out more about you or the Engine Shed, where do they go?

Marty:
So, engine-shed.co.uk. As with a lot of the jobs I do these days, there’s a big picture of me on the contacts page. You can get in touch that way. But feel free, I encourage people to have a look and reach out. And the whole purpose of our institution and what we do is about collaborating, engaging, connecting people. So if anyone is interested in either start up worlds, business connections, particularly the more civic outreach projects, if you want to be a part of them just give me a shout. I’m always open for a coffee and having a chat.

Nic:
Cool. Thank you very much. So the Engine Shed website, basically, is the best way. Nobody is going to be flooding your Twitter or your LinkedIn?

Marty:
Or Twitter or LinkedIn, one of those as well.

Nic:
Is it Marty Reid?

Marty:
Marty Reid, M-A-R-T-Y on LinkedIn and on Twitter I think I’m Marty in Bristol.

Nic:
There you go.

Marty:
Yeah.

Nic:
Is there a Marty in Glasgow?

Marty:
That’s the one where I just talk about football and Tennents lager.

Nic:
That’s a secret account that nobody knows. All right, thank you very much for being part of the podcast today. And we will carry on that discussion around civic engagement and how we can help on that. Thanks a lot.

Marty:
Cool. Thanks very much.

Nic:
Take care.

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