Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Project Makes a Difference to Start-Up

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Project Makes a Difference to Start-Up

Article excerpt

THE lure of The Difference Engine Project enticed developer Paul Rawlings to travel to the North East.

The Wigan-born entrepreneur is now looking at Newcastle offices for digital start-up ScreenReach, which allows users to interact with digital displays such as TVs and billboards via their mobile phone.

ScreenReach can be downloaded to iPhone and Android. Users take a picture of a compatible TV or billboard to complete quizzes, receive media, enter competitions and acquire vouchers for products.

Rawlings said: "It makes screens more appealing by making them more interactive.

"Looking at a screen is a one-way experience. ScreenReach allows users to engage with the screen."

Rawlings and Chris Farrell had been working on ScreenReach for about eight months before applying for The Difference Engine project.

GROWTH the founder of They emerged from the pitch process with investors and customers, and are now in talks with a large museum and a big television company to develop uses of the technolog y. Rawlings said: "I'm a big believer in the programme and what it's done for us. It took us out of our comfort zone and put us into a position where our only option was to work.

"Some people were working full 24-hour days. But it was a fantastic experience. We had the technology when we went in, but we came out with a team, a product, a customer and funding as well."

Rawlings had been involved in development before, creating the Twe2 product, which allows Twitter tweets to be sent free via SMS messages. However, it was the access to mentors that was most useful in this case.

He said: "We would have eventually got to where we are now, but it would have taken a lot longer.

"It put us in front of the right people, but it doesn't do the work for you. You've got to want to do it. We were given an opportunity to take advice from people you can only dream of getting in front of, and it would have been silly to waste that opportunity." ScreenReach is attracting interest from several investors and companies, and will be launching a bid to become a global brand from a starting point in the North East. It has since begun expanding its workforce with four new developers, a finance director, a commercial director, a chairman and an office manager. …

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