Let’s Do Mentoring Case Study: Digital champions biTjAM grow with the help of Let’s Do Mentoring

Ben McManus and Carl Plant

Company: biTjAM, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent..

Activity:        Digital development

Mentor: Charles Oskwarek

Programme: Let’s Do Mentoring

From unorthodox beginnings as a digital music collective, biTjAM has evolved into an innovative technology business.

Ben McManus and Carl Plant had been making music together for several years when they took the brave step of launching digital development business biTjAM.

The company creates digital solutions for education, charity and industry, designing hi-tech, innovative and inspiring interactive tools such as museum guides and e-learning applications.

Now biTjAM has embarked on a period of expansion with the help of the Let’s Do Mentoring service.

Mentor Charles Oskwarek is working with biTjAM as the company cements its reputation as leaders in the digital field.

“Charles is a fantastic sounding board but he also pushes and challenges us,” said Ben. “Every time we meet we are given a clear set of actions designed to help us achieve our goals.

“For example, Charles made us focus on our vision and mission. He helped us to establish regular business reviews which have given us greater clarity on what needs to be done to develop the business.”

Ben said that biTjAM were told about the mentoring service after the company had joined the Chamber of Commerce.

“As a new company we recognised it was important to get involved in the business community and made the decision to join the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce.

“This led to an introduction to the Let’s Do Mentoring service. We had been through a successful launch which gave us momentum, but we were concerned that we might stand still once the initial interest had died down.

“We saw mentoring as one way of gaining expertise to push biTjAM forward.”

Working with a mentor has helped biTjAM during a period of growth which has seen them diversify their customer base and employ two new members of staff.

A move to the Innovation Qube, at the YMCA Hanley, in 2014, kick-started the expansion of biTjAM. In a successful move, the company took on two interns from Keele University and both have now joined biTjAM as full time members of staff.

The business now works with a diverse range of clients including North Staffordshire MIND, Birmingham Museums, the Staffordshire Hoard touring exhibition and Staffordshire University.

biTjAM’s solutions, while highly technical, are focused on inspiring participants, whether they be visitors to the Birmingham Coffin Works or exciting pupils at the Birches Head Academy through a hackathon.

“Our focus is always on using technology to provide a better solution. That could lead to an interactive guide book, a website or a series of interactive workshops. We are committed to working in collaboration with the organisations who commission us to provide exceptional customer solutions.”

Charles said: “It has been a pleasure to mentor biTjAM, both Ben and Carl are so full of forward thinking ideas that can help the Business, Arts and Education sectors grow and enhance the User/learner/Customer experience.  Their enthusiasm is infectious, I have seen first-hand how it has impacted on organisations and people of all ages to make the most of all the possibilities technology can offer.

“Through the mentoring programme biTjAM have become more focussed and measured using a range of business planning tools but in a very flexible way to add value to the organisations they work with and also keep biTjAM at the cutting edge.​”

Positive outcomes

Job creation: Two new jobs created and potential for further growth.

Business Practice: Vision and Mission statements completed; SWOT analysis, objectives and goal setting now in place.