Interview with Duke Resident Rich Daley
13/04/17 Amy Balderston
So what do you get up to down at Duke Studios on a daily basis?
My company Fish Percolator is a software consultancy that specialises in turning people's ideas into reality. Everyone has problems that can be solved by computers (even if they don't realise it yet!) and I can help solve many of them: I can build anything from really specific internal databases to reduce an office's paperwork through to creating new internet startups and social networks. I'm also branching out into delivering training on how companies can better use technology to reduce the amount of boring or repetitive work their teams have to do.
So I spend most of my day working on interesting software projects, but it's fair to say I do spend a lot of time socialising and distracting other people from their work. My desk has a retro arcade machine built out of a Raspberry Pi that anyone's welcome to play any time.
What brought you and what do you get out of working at Duke Studios?
I'm an extravert so I have a hard time working in isolation. Being around coworkers and distractions is critical to my productivity. So when I decided to start my own business I needed a space where I could be part of a community.
Duke isn't the only collaborative space in town but it's definitely got the biggest range of different kinds of people. I've made loads of new friends here but I've also had loads of opportunities to collaborate professionally: I've helped with the backend of major websites in development here, I've built prototypes for innovations designed at our Biscuit Club, I've become part of a new internet startup that has its roots here, and I help people with their IT problems from time to time. And I've been able to work with amazing people when I've needed special skills too - before I came to Duke I'd never have known how to find a travel writer or a filmmaker!
Tell us a little bit about Biscuit Club!?
When I was in the coworking area of Duke, it was really common for a bunch of us around the table to start bouncing around product or business ideas and getting the benefits of each other's specific experience. When 3 of us were upgrading to desks, we were worried that spirit of collaboration would be lost so we started Biscuit Club.
Once a week we book a meeting room and get together (over biscuits, naturally) to brainstorm new ideas: everyone at Duke is welcome to attend. Very often someone has had a pipe dream product idea for ages that can actually become reality when people with different skills and experience add their input.
How did you end up in the world of Software Development?
There are very few things I could have predicted about my future when I was a kid, but this was one. Ever since I was typing in 10-liners from Amstrad Action in the late 80s I've known I wanted to be a person who made computers do cool new things. I worked in the corporate software world for a long time - most recently as a manager and software architect at Trend Micro and this was so valuable - it taught me a kind of discipline and ethos that you can read about on Fish Percolator's website. But I grew tired of making the same products for the same people over and over again, so I knew I had to start my own consultancy and I've never looked back.
What are you working on at the moment or any recent projects you would like to shout about?
I designed and built most of the code for Noiiz, which is going to become the Netflix of music production. Keep an eye on that one in 2017! And I'm working for another software startup that's perhaps a bit too early-stages to shout about on a public blog but I can't wait to share more information about it.
On the training side, I introduced local charity Leeds Older People's Forum to a couple of tools that have revolutionised the way they do internal communication and I'm looking forward to doing the same for other people next year.
And I had a great experience working with fellow Duke resident Lorna on crowdfunding for a Leeds travel guide. Although it didn't meet its funding goal it's kicked off some great discussions about how people can explore this amazing city.
Tell us about your favourite thing to do in the Yorkshire!?
Leeds is the food and drink capital of the North - it really is perhaps the best place in Europe for beer. I'm co-author of Leeds Beer Quest: we visited every pub and bar in the centre of Leeds and wrote about their beer options. We have so many great places to eat too, not least the Grub & Grog Shop who (I like to think) followed me here to set up shop in the cafeteria.
What’s your best joke/ What’s your party piece?
I'm always on hand for a pun. If you ever need a pun at short notice, I can provide this service for free. Although I have plenty of competition for pun-mastery here in Duke!
My friends would tell you my party piece is singing Wuthering Heights in the right register. If I ever convince Duke to host a karaoke evening it might get an outing.