David Levine, founder and ex-CEO of guided design platform DigitalBridge HQ, is the inaugural Entrepreneur in Residence at Exchange, a start-up/scale-up support programme based in Enterprise City, Manchester’s new district for media, tech and creative businesses. A partner and founder of growth and strategy consultancy WeAreGsi, Levine is also an experienced non-executive director and advisor to tech startups outside the Exchange programme and, at any one time, has a number of additional projects on the go. With such a busy schedule, David relies on the support of his tech stack to balance his workload and stay organised. Here are the five tools he couldn’t do his job without.
Notion allows me to connect my teams, projects and documents. Working on multiple projects, it is vital to have a space to collate all my work. Notion has a great real-time collaborative function so I can allow my teams to share and comment on my tasks. This is a great help on Mondays when I spend most of the day catching up on anything I missed over the weekend and planning the week ahead. I personally don’t work on the weekends. However, I am discovering that the enthusiastic entrepreneurs of the Exchange scheme rarely take a break!
I use Figma for graphic design and content creation. This comes in handy when advising the Exchange cohort as visuals are often the best learning tools. One of my favourite features is the workshop feature which allows my team to brainstorm virtually. This has been great during the pandemic, when remote working has rocketed in popularity, as I really value brainstorming sessions and the input and experiences of others. Start-ups are full of great and exciting ideas, and it’s really useful to have a space to record and treasure them.
WhatsApp is a great messaging app, as it allows me to have direct relationships with businesses. I feel this is very important when working with the smaller businesses of the Exchange scheme as they often appreciate one- to-one specific advice. Through my advisory work, I end up doing lots of introductions on behalf of start-ups and I often use WhatsApp to keep the businesses updated when remote – it’s much quicker than email.
Slack is another messaging application, albeit more tailored to business use. Group channels mean I can have different channels set up for the different teams I am collaborating with. The Connect function has been great for me as I can add all the companies I work with at Exchange as well as any other business I have dealings with. Although I meet face-to-face with clients every Wednesday, calling and messaging has been a great option through the pandemic as people’s circumstances are constantly changing.
Mailbird is basically my personal assistant! It manages my emails and arranges my calendar. It allows me to connect my Gmail account with private emails and social media accounts, enabling me to organise tasks from multiple sources. I often use the ‘send later’ feature as for religious reasons I cannot work from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. By scheduling emails to be sent out on Fridays I don’t have to worry about rushing to get everything done before sundown, which is very early in the winter months!
Developed by Allied London, a property development and investment company, Exchange runs 6 to 12-month support programmes for 30 early-stage tech companies. Together with knowledge partner Tech Nation, it aims to provide the tools, infrastructure and community that ambitious start-ups and scale-ups need to thrive, including free work spaces/social spaces in the Department Bonded Warehouse, Enterprise City, Manchester; workshops and events; a community of local enterprises; tailored support from corporate partners; and expert advice from Entrepreneur in Residence David Levine.