11th October 2012: Setting up a Technology Business by Dr Tim Willis


Name of speaker and subject:

Dr Tim Willis, Flexpansion Ltd.
BA (Linguistics & Phonetics, Leeds), MSc (Cognitive Science & Natural Language, Edinburgh), PhD (Informatics, Edin.)

Suggested Titles of talk:

  • Setting up a technology business.

Bullet points of what you would like to cover:

  • Where to begin – What ? Why ? Who ?
  • Could you be an entrepreneur (and do you want to be ?)
  • Finance – how to raise it and minimise expenditure
  • Product Development
  • Intellectual Property – patents, trademarks, secrets
  • Markets – who will buy your product, and why ?
  • Business models (how you plan to make money)
  • Team
  • Competition
  • Pitfalls
  • Success
  • and more !
  • Your business – same questions.
  • What to do, & not to.

The Flexpansion side draws on quite a few of the concepts in linguistics. How our system takes into account the ways people abbreviate (which are regular and predictable) in order to reconstruct possible full interpretations, then orders them in the way most likely to be useful.

Suggested you-tube links, websites and / or texts where further information may be found:

Google Video on Flexpansion


A few words about you and your passion:

As you’ll hopefully see from the above, I’m pretty fascinated with language, and have thrown a lot of time, money, effort and risk into the business, which is still fledgling.  Other fun stuff I like doing – kayaking, climbing, snowsports (but I hardly ever have time nowadays 🙁 and spending time with my family.

A few lines about the history of your subject:

I founded the business in 2008 at the end of my PhD when I got some funding. We’ve had the app out on the Android store since August 2011 and have had over 15,000 downloads. We’re hoping this will increase rapidly once we start doing some marketing soon.  Linguistics & Phonetics has been studied for millennia – according to Wikipedia (!) modern studies began to develop in the 18th Century and reached something of a golden age the century after.
Flexible Abbreviation Expansion is an area of word prediction, which grew with computers, originally aimed at helping people with spelling difficulties or motor disabilities which slowed their typing. We have the world’s first fully flexible (i.e. you don’t need to memorise any abbreviations) expansion system fully-self-contained on a mobile device, as far as we know.

Anything else you may want to say:

Hopefully I can give an overview of the subjects and will be happy to try and point people at further sources and answer questions, as much as I can.

Introduction to Linguistics & Phonetics and Computational Linguistics by Tim Willis


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