Genius Division is 9!

August 16th, 2019 is the nine year anniversary of Genius Division. Here’s a brief recap of what we’ve been up to.

Back in 2010, I was convinced that I was going to start my own business and quit a perfectly good job to get it started. Craig, my business partner had already took the plunge of dropping down to part time and was eager to quit completely too.

At the time, we had enough money in the bank to pay ourselves for the following month. It was a scary but also very exciting time for us. Would we get paid? Would we win enough work to sustain us? Would it all just blow up in our fat faces and we’d be back at the Job Centre before we knew it?

Since then, nothing much has changed. Same old fears of failure and rejection but I look back at it and it has been great experience and sometimes, I don’t think I realise just how lucky I am.

2010—The early days

At first, with a few grand in the bank and we were working from my bedroom and things were going well.

We weren’t turning over thousands, but we were covering our meagre salaries and making enough to build a buffer. We spent the business’ money on iPads and other stuff to keep us entertained. We were terrible book keepers and had a rather large tax bill that we didn’t budget for.

We used a mixture of Mac and Windows back then.

Things happening at this time

  • David Cameron was Prime Minister.
  • First iPad released.


Fairfield House, our first office.

office to appear more professional. We met a photographer called Becky at a networking event who told us about some office space available in Fairfield House in the centre of Barnsley. This was, as we kept getting told, the old Barnsley Art College. We shared this office with Rich, a freelancer at the time. Craig and I had recently convinced him to also quit his perfectly good job and start up on his own. Thinking back over the years, we encouraged quite a few people to do this and I don’t think any of them regret it one bit.

In these times, we grew the business by first bringing Rich on-board as technical director and then we got our first member of staff, Oli. Soon after this Aaron joined us. Both of them had been students at Wakefield College’s now defunct FdA Web Design course which Craig lectured on part-time. With all this growth, we outgrew our home at Fairfield House and started looking for somewhere else.

Key events

  • Moved from bedroom to Fairfield House in the centre of Barnsley.
  • Worked with Ian Meade to create a website for GBAC a Barnsley based accountancy firm.
  • We developed Room to Grow’s website on Lemonstand–our first major ecommerce project.
  • Designed and developed a new responsive website for Dibsa Structures.
  • Worked with Ian Moss at Pixelfinity to create a website for A. Fattorini a jeweller that has been established for over 180 years.
Testing responsive websites on a multitude of devices was easy thanks to Ghostlab.

We delved into responsive web site design and development and did this by default on a lot of projects which meant that it took us a lot longer to build client websites. We feel it was worth it in the end with all the skills we acquired though and meant that when a lot of agencies started offering this, we were already well established.

2014—Getting established

We’d moved to much bigger premises at BarnsleyBIC and had taken on Marie to be our office manager to keep us all organised and to make sure that we billed clients.

Joe also joined us in this period. It was at this point that I thought we were getting somewhere as a business and started developing policies and procedures to help make our business more efficient.

We had a lot of space at the BarnsleyBIC (probably too much!) and we felt that we needed a change. We also longed to move our office back into the town centre.

Some projects we worked on at the time

  • Refreshment Systems, our neighbours at the time, website redesign and development.
  • I designed Nomad Atelier‘s new online store. Aaron and Rich carried out the development.
    -I worked with Craig on the rebrand of BarnsleyBIC by designing their new website.
  • Version two of Room to Grow‘s website built on Lemonstand with better support for mobile and tablet devices thanks to responsive web design.
  • Redesigned and developed Barnsley College‘s website to work on mobile devices.
  • Rich developed an online application system for Barnsley College. This system has processed thousands of applications over the years and has probably saved the college countless man hours.
  • Worked with Rich and Craig to create a responsive web app for YouTrack’s vehicle tracking service.
  • Craig created a brand for online beer subscription service Craft Metropolis.
  • Craig created the branding for HorrorConUK a horror conference in Sheffield.
  • We worked with Hartcliff, a newly established financial consultancy to create them a brand.
  • Rich created a solution for Smart Garage Solutions which allowed garages to record videos of work required on customer’s cars and send them so they could approve the work. - I helped him create elements of the Amazon Web Services infrastructure that transcodes video.

2017—Another move

Before Craig and I started Genius Division in 2010, we’d be working at our day jobs and then on an evening, working at getting the business off the ground. In this time, we had a small office at the Digital Media Centre in Barnsley but ended up giving up as we didn’t spend enough time there at the time.

Nearly 10 years later and we are now back in the Digital Media Centre in Barnsley.

Interior of the Barnsley Digital Media Centre.

Since our move, I’ve personally enjoyed biking to work as the Barnsley Digital Media Centre has great bike facilities (and showers). Joe, a developer at Genius Division inspired me to do this as he cycles to work every day. Craig and Rich have also started biking in on some days and relying less on cars or public transport.

Whilst at the DMC, we’ve worked on some amazing projects

  • which was used to share content across Europe for digital businesses.
  • We designed and built the website for Spicer Manor, a grand house in Yorkshire which can sleep up to 30 people.
  • Redesigned and developed Adelphi Translation‘s website, also a fellow DMC business.
  • Rich created an internal tool that allows to check in and out of work using Slack to track our flexitime.

I’m hoping to keep this updated as a running history of my time at Genius Division and it’s been great looking back at what we’ve done as a business over the years. Looking forward to the next big milestone that will be Genius Division X.

Craig and Rich have also written up their thoughts, too.

James Sheriff

written by James Sheriff