Simon Bland in Investment


Interview: Kelly Marsden, Co-Founder of

Twile offers users the chance to organise and store images of friends an family members via an easy to use mobile app.

The product was founded by Paul Brooks and Kelly Marsden and received funding from Creative England via the Sheffield based business accelerator Dot Forge.

Paul has over 15 years of web development experience and 10 years in project management, including six years managing his own web agency. As a contract project manager, key projects included The Open University, HSBC, First Direct and Reed Business Information (RBI).

Kelly is a user experience consultant and information architect with more than 15 years’ experience. Kelly has spent a large portion of her career working with Halifax bank, with key projects including their online banking, consumer website redesign and the Halifax share dealing mobile app.

We talked to Kelly Marsden about the formation of the app and how small businesses can strive in today's economy...

Tell us a bit about your background and how you got into this line of work

Paul came up with the idea of a timeline to record everything that he was interested in, be it music, film, history etc. When he introduced it to me, we both discussed the benefits of the tool also recording family life – a private, family version of Facebook. Paul applied and was accepted onto the Dotforge Accelerator Programme in Sheffield and I responded to his request for a co-founder. Since both of us were contractors, we were able to drop what they were doing and devote all of our time to making Twile a success.

How would you describe Twile and the service it provides?

Twile brings together the creation of your family tree, diarising your family memories and online photo sharing into one place. Each person you add to the Family tree has a timeline waiting to be filled with photos, stories and milestones. The Family tree is collaborative; the more that get involved in building it, the more you will learn about your family.

What were the main inspirations behind the concept?

Our family and the idea that they will know everything about their lives when they grow up – their children will know about their parents and grandparents, our children’s children will have access to the stories of their relatives, and through to our future generations.

The huge amount of photos we have stored on multiple devices can now be enjoyed and explored in one place. We have family living abroad that we share photos and stories with in a private and secure environment.

The collaborative nature of the family tree has no limits. It will bring family closer together to share in each others lives. You may learn about family you never knew existed.

Connectivity is a big part of Twile. How difficult was it to design a product that you can share with a wide range of people but still retain privacy?

It was tricky but having two completely different user types in both Paul and myself helped when building user journey scenarios. I was very concerned about security and would never share photos of her children on such as Facebook. Paul was more relaxed but was still cautious and selective about what he shared. Taking our different expectations and considering other user types in between, helped to shape the design.

How have you found launching a start-up outside of London - what have been the difficulties / advantages?

Difficulties - are predominantly around our location and the fact that all the key networking and pitch events take place in London. It’s a lot to do with ‘Who you know’ in order to help accelerate relationships and exposure of your start up.

Advantages – we save money on travel and office accommodation

What advice would you offer to anyone about to do the same?

  • Make sure you’re prepared…
  • Spend a lot of time networking – the more people you talk to, the more exposure you and your product will get
  • Travel to London – to attend as many networking/start up/pitching/conferences as possible
  • Gather user feedback – as often as possible with many different users. If your users don’t like it, they won’t use it – find out why, amend and test again.
  • Financially – If you’re looking for investment you need to be having meetings at least 6 months before you need the money.
  • If you have a revenue model it may take longer than expected to implement it so be prepared for change.

From your experience, what should companies consider when expanding?

Finding the right people - previous working relationship/recommendation is ideal but if not, make sure you get as much information as possible inc referees and give a trial period before giving them a permanent position.

Costs – it’s possible you may have to pay others more than you which hurts!

Location – if an office is required, where will it be – ensure it’s a location convenient to the majority.

What does 2015 hold for Twile - are there any new functions you hope to launch?

The Android and iOS apps will be first on the list. Followed shortly by many new features which our users have been asking for such as Editing/Filters, Scanning and Digital prints, Video and so much more! We’re very excited about where we are taking the product this year so watch this space…

To learn more about Twile visit their website.

Paul Brooks & Kelly Marsden will be attending our Creative England Live event in London tonight (January 20th). To keep up to date with the latest event news follow us on twitter using the hashtag #CELive2015.

  • Creative Industries
  • Creative England
  • Business Advice