Supporting female entrepreneurs with Sprinters

I’ve been involved with supporting diversity in tech roles for a long time, so it was great when I was recently asked to feature on the Sprinters blog, which aims to support and inspire female entrepreneurs.

Being given a platform to tell my own story in support of other women in business was a great opportunity, and I hope that my experiences might resonate with someone and encourage them to continue on a tough path, or even to transition to a happier one.

The interview covered some of the challenges I faced in my early career…

“When I was 24 I was the IT manager at a German manufacturing plant. They did not want me there: young, female and English; it was probably the toughest year of work I’ve ever had.

They insisted on speaking in German, which I wasn’t good at, even though they were all fluent in English. I faced roadblocks on everything that I wanted to implement, and every day felt like an impossible battle”

… but also the things I’ve learnt as a result:

“I find that the biggest help has always been to surround myself with the right people. People who inspire me and make me feel accepted, but also won’t accept half measures.”

If you’re interested in reading the interview, you can find it here.

Sprinters is a not for profit organization creating a network of empowered women who feel confident in their abilities to build amazingly successful businesses. If you’d like to get involved, we’d be happy to have you!


Bauke Scholtz (BalausC) awarded Oracle ‘Java Champion’ status

M1 and our clients already knew that we were onto a winner with Bauke, but we’re extremely proud to announce that he has been officially chosen as an Oracle ‘Java Champion’: one of an exclusive group of Java technology and community leaders.

Bauke was awarded the honour for investing his time assisting others in the developer community and progressing understandings of JSF, Java EE, and Java EE frameworks. He has previously been named as a hero of Java, and we can personally attest to the love of Nespresso coffee he mentions in his part of the hero series. All that caffeine also fueled the creation of, a  social platform built with Java EE 7 that lets people find and share high quality development and tech resources.

You can learn more about Bauke’s award here, and about Java (or Bauke himself) by following his blog or visiting his personal Zeef page.

Congratulations Bauke!

Evgeniy organises developers’ conference ‘Yappi Days’

Over the past few months Evgeniy has been hard at work preparing for Yappi Days, an IT conference he organised in Yaroslavl, Russia. Hundreds of attendees were expected to participate in a programme built around the architecture of enterprise applications, BigData processing, IoT (Internet of Things) and best practices in software development. Speakers were drawn from experts and leading developers from IT companies, and the event attracted multiple sponsors.

I asked Evgeniy to tell us a bit more about his inspiration, and what it was like to organise such a big event.

Where did the idea for Yappi Days come from?
I planned to create an IT event in my city last April. In Yaroslavl we have around a thousand developers and QAs of all different kinds – working with Java, .net, Javascript, etc – and we also have a local university that trains programmers for the market. The thing we were missing was events: we didn’t have any IT professional-oriented events for local IT folks; that’s why I started conference preparations in June.

What was your motivation for the program?
My main intention was to invite experienced speakers from other cities so that we could show developers in Yaroslavl that giving a tech talk is awesome! By both giving and attending talks we increase the value of our local IT community, and this type of event could potentially drive new IT companies to the market. Yappi Days now also provides a platform for Yaroslavl programmers to share experiences and communications in an informal setting.

I know a lot of work went on behind the scenes – were you able to relax and enjoy the day?
Well, I was exhausted Friday evening, but now I’m okay! Most of the attendees were programmers with experience from our local companies, but there was one young boy of 16 years old who approached me after the conference to tell me that he was so amazed by developers and how awesome they are. His mom said later that the boy has decided to become a programmer when he finishes school. I accidentally affected this boy’s life, hopefully for good 🙂

It sounds like it went really well?
Yes – it was the first ever full-day IT conference in the city, and to my surprise more than 300 developers took Friday 13th off and attended the event! We did some surveys afterwards, and more than 85% of the attendees said that they liked the event and the program, and 95% said that they would gladly join the event next year.

Aha, so there will be more?!
For sure – the question is: can I handle the creation of a second conference?!

Evgeniy Kokuykin joins Mercury1

Evgeniy Kokuykin

Mercury1 have been working with contractor Evgeniy for well over a year on various projects, but, as Mercury1 is growing (and he’s awesome), we took the decision to buy out his contract and invite him to work for us directly: happily, he agreed!

Evgeniy is a highly skilled full-stack Java EE developer, with expertise in mobile applications. Having enjoyed some time together in Slovenia in July, visiting the city of Ljubljana and the coastal town of Piran, we know that Evgeniy is a great fit for Mercury1. He’s extremely intelligent, super helpful, diligent, and great to work with – so the whole team are excited to have him on board.

Over the coming months, Evgeniy will be working alongside Bauke Scholtz on front-end development for our current projects, as well as producing new versions of our clients’ mobile apps and assisting with performance improvements being carried out on some of our older projects.

We’re also proud to announce that, in October 2017, Evgeniy will be leading a developer’s conference in his home town of Yaroslavl, Russia. With over 600 attendees expected, it’s sure to be a great event: if your Russian is good and you’d like to attend, details can be found here.


Virgin Startup mentoring

Virgin StartUp is a not-for-profit organisation that helps entrepreneurs in England with the funding, resources and advice they’ll need to make their business idea a reality.

One of the unique elements to getting a loan through Virgin StartUp is that new entrepreneurs are matched with an experienced business mentor to help them achieve their goals and realise their potential.

I am happy to announce that, this year,  I have been matched with two female business owners from very different businesses, and that they have kindly allowed me to share a little about themselves and their new ventures here on the M1 blog.

Donna Popplewell – Bakerwell

Bakerwell Logo
What they do in a sentence: Ecology surveys and advice for development projects

Bakerwell specialise in protected species surveys, protected species mitigation, bat surveys, great crested newt surveys and phase 1 habitat surveys, and are based out of Kent and Sussex.

I love how Donna is so enthusiastic about learning more about all aspects of business and picking up new skills. Find out more about Donna and her business partner, Fiona’s, unique business here.

Debbie Harding – DoodleCraft Design

Image result for doodle craft design

What they do in a sentence: Cross stitch kits, Blackwork kits, Stitched Games Boards (Chess, Backgammon, Ludo, Snakes & Ladders, Cribbage).

DoodleCraft Design call themselves ‘the home of Stitched Games Boards’.

Debbie is extremely interesting and inspiring, because when a medical condition meant that she couldn’t work anymore, her answer wasn’t to give up, but rather take on a whole new type of work. Check out their gameboard designs and kits here.


Virgin Startup Logo

Being a mentor is always a privilege, and I’m excited to watch these two businesses and their owners grow and develop over the coming months!

If you’d like to find a mentor for your new business (not to mention a loan), take a look at the information on the Virgin StartUp mentoring page.



Helping Avon Tyrrell with site improvements

It’s time for the annual team event that results in us getting very dirty and sweaty (and being treated with plenty of tea, biscuits and cooked meals): the Avon Tyrrell weekend! We have been returning to Avon Tyrrell for an onsite working weekend for the past eight years – each year we get a new challenge, have lots of fun, and help to improve the center’s facilities in the name of charity.

This year we were put to work erecting new fencing and creating a path to the new archery area, which also needed a new shelter. Although the brief sounded simple enough, the team can attest to plenty of back-breaking work – especially the fencing. I had no idea that digging holes in clay and mixing concrete was quite so tough!

Avon Tyrrell is a fabulous outdoor activity centre based in the New Forest:  They are also part of UK Youth:, a national charity providing opportunities to  young people. Mercury1 have been supporting both UK Youth and Avon Tyrrell since 2010, and we know how worthwhile their work is: it’s a pleasure to be able to help them with whatever we can.

Team escapes room in record-breaking time

Mercury1 Escapes

Remote working can be lonely, so at M1 we like to get together regularly for a catch-up and some team-building fun. This meet we decided to visit the new escape room ‘A hidden past’, at Exciting Escapes in Southampton (  The opportunity to run identical rooms concurrently made a head-to-head contest inevitable, and the group eagerly split into two teams ready to battle it out and exit their room before the other.

My team’s glee at finishing in 39 minutes, and seemingly first, quickly dissipated when we realised that we had been squarely beaten… and that Phil’s team was hiding around the corner having secretly watched ours scrambling around for clues! Although we would have loved to have won, we were happy to discover that their escape was made in a record-breaking 31 minutes – average room time was 50 minutes, according to Dave (the owner)!

I maintain that a full English breakfast slowed us down, and that a rematch would be much closer, but, for safety, perhaps next time we won’t put puzzle specialists Dom, Phil and Gem in the same team!

Gemma Minihan joins Mercury1 from JP Morgan

Gemma Minihan

We are delighted to share that Dr Gemma Minihan has joined the Mercury1 team as a Business Analyst and Project Manager. She comes fresh from a strong client service and process background at JP Morgan and we know she will be able to add a lot of value to our clients with her quick thinking and excellent analytical skills.

Gem studied Medieval history at St Andrews and later achieved a PhD whilst working with the National Trust. Her thesis is something to do with the life of Sir Thomas Couen* who was the first owner of Ightham Mote in Kent (—our-earliest-known-owners)..

In her spare time she rock climbs, hikes, and mountain bikes across beautiful Dorset – and may or may not be writing a book.

Gem is extremely intelligent and logical, with a good grasp of process improvements and managing a service team. Natalie and Phil have known Gem for many years so can attest to the fact that she is really straightforward, super honest, and really cares about the quality of her work.

We are sure that she will be an asset to any project that she is involved with and we hope that our clients will have the pleasure of her thoughtful insights soon.

*We have not accidently misspelt Sir Thomas Couen’s name: there is a difference between the spelling used by Sir Thomas in his will of 1372, and the spelling popularised in the Nineteenth Century (prior to discovery of the will). Although the National Trust prefer to use his popular name, Gem won’t budge on using his ‘real’ name. Copies of the thesis can be obtained through the British library