Tim Elliott knows a bit about business in Derby. Involved in a number of city-based creative communities, he’s also a public speaker, start-up mentor, podcast host and more.

With more attention landing on the city’s business landscape we caught up with Tim to chat about Derby, business development and what’s next.

Tell us a little about your current role?
The ‘day job’ is as a design strategist and head of The Spill Teem® in the UK. The Spill Teem® are a global team of design strategists who partner with organisations worldwide to help them shift their thinking culture. With comprehensive experience in service, behaviour, communication and product design, we’ve helped SME’s, large companies, nonprofit organisations, higher education institutions, and government agencies keep people at the centre when solving interesting problems using a creative process called Human-Centred Design.

Outside of that, I do a couple of things. I’m involved in a few Derby-based creative communities, I do some public speaking, some start-up mentoring,  I have a podcast and am a proud Entrepreneur in Residence at Nottingham University (sorry Derby)

How did your past experience equip you for what you’re doing now?
I’ve always worked in the creative industries mainly in marketing and brand strategy which by nature focus on people first, or at least they should right? so I’ve naturally worked in a human-centred way in whatever role I existed in. When I officially discovered ‘human-centred design was a thing back around 2010 I knew I was hooked and I have been working with leaders and their teams to overcome interesting challenges through designing solutions that help them do better work and do work better ever since

Honestly, though, it’s more a mindset than a set of skills, you have to care, the client has to care, empathy is a biggy, you have to be comfortable with not knowing because answers are discovered not known. This can be challenging but that’s why its great, human-centred design not only makes changes that are sustainable and effective but changes the people involved too. 

Tim Eliiott

How do you rate Derby’s position as a digital city?
Although not born and bred Derby it is my adopted home. And I don’t think I will offend people when I say as a digital city it has some amazing pockets of digital and creativity but also has plenty of opportunity to grow into a pretty special place to live, work and play. 

Who are some of the standout upcoming entrepreneurs in Derby?
There are actually so many, You have the Frogspark duo Rob Twells & Liam Nelson who have been doing great things since I met them a few years ago and continue to build. You’ve got the guys from Think3 Lee Marples and his team, Yvonne Gorman at Essential Print who is a massive part of the cities business community, and some more famous like Dean Jackson who has built an amazing brand and just seems to go from strength to strength and not to miss out those in shire like Jenny Lowthrop who is putting Matlock on the map and runs FeelGoodDoGood.co.uk.

I’ll stop there it’s by no means exhaustive and I by no means no everyone, big love to those I’ve not mentioned 🙂

What advice would you give to new start-ups in the area?
Easy, seek out connections and communities. There are a few great ones… Mainframe, CreativeMornings/Derby, DerbySwapShop, to name a few. There are some great young businesses and startups especially in the digital and creative space here go join them 🙂

How do you see Derby developing over the next 5 years?
Well it’s just been announced that Derby is bidding to be ‘City of Culture in 2025 so I’m expecting the development to be epic, there are already so many new developments coming to the city and I know pocket cultures of folks all chomping at the bit to be part of that story. It’s an exciting time to be in this city, moves are being made.

What do you think will be the biggest factors affecting businesses over the 12 months?
Good question, I think we as a whole, as an economy is in a period of change. There are so many factors that are affecting us from social and environmental change, the pandemic, of course, consumer behaviour changes, technology changes and development.  We are in a period of unlearning what business and work means to us from every perspective so it’s an important time. Change is in the air I think and the choices we make as businesses over the next 12 -18 months as we come out of full pandemic mode are key to long even medium term success

Study abroad in Spain


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