Olwg Turns One
On 16th June 2020 in the midst of the first wave of the Covid pandemic, Olwg was born. Over the past twelve months they've been on a interesting and challenging journey. Since that first day twelve months ago much has changed. The company has grown, figuratively and physically into what it is today. Although there is still a way to go yet, what started as a little spark of an idea has evolved into something all involved are exceptionally proud of.
Here's the story so far.
Spring 2020 was a time that many of us won't forgot in a hurry. Due to the emergence of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) the government told us we all had to:
With much unknown about the virus there are an air of apprehension in the country. However for Tony and Rosie it meant a slower pace of life at home enjoying the beautiful spring sunshine and spending proper time with the kids rather than just ships that pass in the night.
It also gave them time to address their priorities. For some time Tony had not enjoyed work as he once did. He no longer believed in what he was doing. Changing careers when the world was at a standstill was not the ideal time, so he carried on with the zoom calls and work as normal. That was all set to change when Tony received a phone call at the start of June advising him that his team was being streamlined and that by the end of the month his services would no longer be required.
After the initial shock wore off and a bit of soul searching Rosie and Tony decided to take a risk and set up on their own and reassess after 12 months. After much deliberation they settled on the name Olwg and promptly registered the name with companies house.
"I think this was the moment I'd been waiting for for years: The chance to explore an original way of working, help Rosie get back into work, make a more meaningful impact on the world, and have some fun doing it. There was no way I was going to start applying for jobs with established companies, and my mission from day one was to address what I saw as problematic decision-making in energy developments, and at the same time dedicating the rest of my career to doing the right thing with clean + sustainable energy sources (which I knew to be a massive challenge needing a blend of real-world skills). I would rather put my back into this and fail, than not try. We started literally with a blank canvas, and gave ourselves one year to try to make a business self-sustaining, learning as we go about what's required to make a business a really good one. [Sort of like doing a real-life MBA, but without doing a MBA]. Well the year is up, and between us - and with lots of generous support - we have crafted something original and good. Being self-sustaining is close!" - Tony (Technical Director)
Rosie too was looking for a new challenge but didn't want to go back to work after an extended career break but was looking for the right opportunity to put her skills to good use.
"It was never in my plans to take such a long extended break from working. Thinking back to when I was expecting our first child, I was adamant that I would be straight back to work as soon as possible. However as soon as Flora was born, the reality was a different story. I did return to work for a couple of years when she was 6 months old, but struggled juggling being a mum with working life. Then we had to opportunity to live the expat life in Oman and along with it the chance for me to take a career break to focus on caring for our young family. Two more children, a move to London and 5 years single parenting while Tony worked on rotation, somehow 14 years had passed. With the children growing up fast and needing me less and less the time was right to focus on making my life more productive. I'd been considering getting back to work for a couple of years but ever indecisive, coming up with ideas continued to elude me. What did I actually wanted to do with my life? Starting Olwg made that decision for me where I could put my new found talents and interests in graphics and design alongside my previous engineering knowledge and experience to good use to help make a real difference. A new chapter in my life had began " Rosie (Creative Director)
By chance Tony and Rosie discovered some (cheap) office space available in the heart of Brentford, only a few minutes walk from home, only problem being that it was in a derelict warehouse with no flooring, windows or electricity. It even came complete with a birds nest!
Over the coming weeks, with the help of the kids, eager to take a break from home schooling, they transformed the derelict shell into a usable office space.
With the office ready it was time to decide what would be the right thing for Olwg to do.
Starting to grow
Very quickly Olwg grew from 2 to a group of 3 when Harry agreed to join the team. Harry had recently completed his Masters in Energy Engineering and was integral in the start up of the company.
With Harry's youthful enthusiasm ideas for the company began to evolve. It started to become apparent that there was indeed a need for quick, cost effective solutions for renewable energy projects based on traditional engineering experience and novel decision making. Work on developing the company actively began.
After working together in the past, Tony reconnected online with Simon though a shared interest in the truth behind renewable energy developments. They quickly realised that they were both working toward the same goal and that collaborating was a no brainer.
Simon officially came on board as Commercial Director in January 2021.
"The last flight I took was a helicopter to an offshore oil and gas platform in the middle of the North Sea. One of the reasons for going there was to talk about mental health from my own experiences. It is not easy talking about mental health to the people who like to call themselves the ‘North Sea Tigers’. Shortly after that trip I left the business. It was not until a few months afterwards I was able to connect my lack of performance with my own mental health, one of the reasons I exited the business. More importantly I realized that my mental health and performance were connected to the fact that I had become uncomfortable with the ethics of what I was doing, working for a business in which profit was the primary motive, and even worse I was working on ruining the planet. I did three things to change my life, I became chair of a charity focused on well-being , I started an MSc in Energy policy, and I joined a business with a truly ethical purpose." - Simon (Commercial Director)
Continuing to evolve
With Simon on board pace picked up and Olwg won their first piece of paid work advising on the Holyhead Hydrogen Hub project and were accepted on the prestigious Climate Change Innovation Greenhouse Accelerator Programme for innovative new start-ups.
With the help of the advisors on the Greenhouse Olwg's purpose continued to grow. Rather than just advise on projects they wanted to make a real difference by allowing others to drive their own solutions, and the idea to convert complicated engineering spreadsheets into easy to use standalone apps was born.
However to make the idea a reality the help of more clever individuals was required. Meera had recently completed her MScR in Computational Neuroscience and wanted to put her knowledge and skills to good use so agreed to join the team.
"Today marks one year since Olwg's fruition and happily coincides with the approach to my third month with the team. Not so long ago, fresh from a masters and without a clue of what to do in a sea of the typical jobs targeted towards mathematicians (think speeding up credit card transactions or optimising data storage), I stumbled across a data scientist position advertised at Olwg. Having always felt helpless in face of the climate crisis and thinking there was little I could barring some bizzaro parallel universe where I became a top-dog cabinet member or CEO of a corporate giant (though still gripping tightly on my reusable cup + vegetarian diet of course), I was incredibly excited to see a job which aligned my beliefs and skill-set. On first speaking with Tony, Rosie & Simon I was heartened and refreshed by their transparency and a drive to provide an honest assessment of green energy solutions. Since then, I have had a wonderful time settling into the team, whilst also seeing our plans develop, solidify and take-off in exciting new ways. It's been an incredible experience and I can't wait to see where it takes us. Happy Birthday Olwg!!!" - Meera (Data Scientist)
With the addition of Computer Scientist Maxim to the team the development of the apps could begin in earnest.
Since then huge progress has been made with a prototype apps for modelling residential solar installations now ready for testing and a hydrogen app is coming close to completion.
Looking to the future
Things are looking bright for the future of Olwg. Prototypes are continuing to evolve and develop and are gaining interest daily. Progress is also being made to creating an ecosystem to host not only Olwg apps but apps created by others. The aim of the ecosystem is to not only host apps but to create a community of like minded professionals to bring together the right people at the right time to do the right things.
The Olwg team is also continuing to grow. As a business Olwg is dedicated to investing in the next generation of talent, hiring young dynamic graduates from diverse backgrounds. That commitment is in progress as three interns are due to start over the coming weeks to continue to add to the talent pool.
Watch this space....exiting times are ah