Q&A – Rob Twells, Frogspark

Rob Twells

Derby-based digital agency Frogspark doubled its turnover in the last 12 months thanks to an expanding client portfolio. We caught up with co-founder Rob Twells to get the lowdown. 

What’s the story behind the business?

“I was in my third year at university doing a placement at a company in Sheffield. I’d always had a bit of a passion for going into business so I decided to design and build websites for people who were looking for them on social media in my spare time.

“Liam (Nelson, Rob’s fellow director) and I had a real belief that we could go on and create a sustainable business from the experience and client base we had built up in our first couple of months. The business was set up while we were still at university.

“I first became interested in software and web design at school. It was what I was best at, and it was clear from an early age that I would go to college and then university to do it.

“We’re passionate about students starting up businesses and want to encourage more people to do what we did. I feel it is one of the best times to do it due to (in most cases) lack of financial or family commitments”.

What’s in a name?

“There may have been a few pints involved! We wanted something along the lines of ‘creative spark’ but that was already taken. Liam was keen to have something animal-based, and we both wanted something memorable so we ended up merging our ideas together”.

How do you plan to grow the business?

“We recently doubled our turnover after taking on a number of leading-edge clients, which we’re very happy about. We’ve been doing a lot of networking around Derby, but the plan for next year is to make more connections around Nottinghamshire and the wider Midlands. At the moment, a big chunk of our business comes from the Derby area.

“There are also plans to take on more people – ideally between 4 and 8 over the next 12 months – which will necessitate upsizing our office”.

Your clients come from a variety of sectors. Is that a deliberate choice or do you plan to focus on a particular area?

“No, we’re not planning to focus on one sector. I’ve always enjoyed learning about different industries and finding out what our clients want.

“However, we do find ourselves in demand with the fitness industry, with clients such as Fresh Fitness Food and also some high profile athletes and YouTubers. I actually have a separate business for fitness-related clients called Lift Digital (www.liftdigital.co.uk). The reason behind Lift was to firstly give us an edge in a massively growing area in fitness and secondly because we found people coming to Frogspark thought we only focused on fitness related design – which wasn’t the case!”

The digital sector is thriving in Derby. What are the advantages of being based in the city?

“Frogspark certainly has a lot of competitors, but we get on with our competitors and all other businesses really well. There’s plenty of work around Derby – enough to keep everyone happy. The networking scene is strong here, and it’s a growing city with a lot of new businesses starting up. We receive two or three enquiries every week from local businesses, so there are clearly lots of opportunities to be had”.