Marketing multi-touch technology

Entrepreneur Ralph Cochrane wants to go to LA to market the multi-touch technology produced by his company,
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The Independent Online

"I started with two friends," says Cochrane. "I created a giant touch-screen experience back in 2007 for the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. From this work, I met our technology partner, TacTable Inc, who provides our multi-touch software engine and is a spinout from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US.

"Our products are used for everything from public showcases, reception areas and ways of engaging people (for education or at museums) to creating corporate spaces. At the end of the day, I like to challenge how technology helps us as people, rather than the other way round.

"I lead the company and look after the marketing and sales. I am fortunate to have Jo Burke, one of the most talented set designers I've ever worked with, who designs all of our products, and Jonny Andrews, who we lovingly call the Artful Bodger because no technology ever seems to defeat him!

"We create multi-touch technology that mirrors the real world and our senses, in terms of both technology and content, and have been working on this for a long time. We are one of only a handful of companies in the world that have perfected technology to work in most conditions to create this. We're also a solution provider, which sets us apart. Our clients come to us with a desire and we design, create and make their vision a reality – we don't just sell software.

"We've expanded our range of products, including a new VIP range of interactive coffee tables that even change colour, but I'd like to be able to invest more in our marketing and partnerships, as working with agencies and creative people is key to us.

"The company is UK based and focused on our local market. However, we receive requests from all over the world, through our website and online videos, and we'd like to be able to build a network of like-minded partners to help us to service our clients, particularly in the US."

Cochrane has been shortlisted for the current round of Great Britons (for which public voting is taking place now), a programme run by British Airways to celebrate The London 2012 Games. BA, the official airline partner of the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, is looking for people who need support to develop their talent in the areas of innovation, sport, community, fashion, performing arts, and art and design. The winners get flights to BA destinations anywhere in the world, and Cochrane hopes to win flights to Los Angeles to meet agencies and production companies who have expressed an interest in his company's products.

"We applied to Great Britons because we're a small British business with big ambitions and ideas," he says. "This campaign seemed to capture the spirit of that. I requested three flights to take our core team to meet clients. It’s partly so that we can generate new partnerships and business, but it’s also about saying thank you to the team for all the hard work they've put in.

"We realise that we need to meet prospective clients and demonstrate our technology. It would be brilliant to see our technology used for real in a film, instead of it being CGI.

"It is fantastic and also humbling to be shortlisted for Great Britons. I see that others are involved in charities and I feel a little unworthy. I've always been into innovation, creating new things and making money, hopefully, from them. It’s great to be recognised for it because people like myself dedicate a huge chunk of our lives to our ideas, even if they then don't work out.”