The first line of a self-introduction is by far the hardest to write, so I will keep it short and sweet with “Hi, I’m a Simon Barker too”. I’m quite glad Simon has created this “Are You Simon Barker?” section of his site and invited me to write for it because whenever I do a vanity Google of myself to check nothing onerous has appeared, this is the website I always find. In some ways that is a good thing, but, when people are trying to find me, it is definitely an issue.
I was born in 1987 in Clacton on Sea and since then I have migrated, via Sheffield for a spell at boarding school, up to Newcastle Upon Tyne to attend university. I managed to get a B.Eng in Electrical and Electronic Engineering tucked under my belt by the summer of 2008 and, at the time of the financial meltdown, that autumn I was happily starting my PhD in the same topic. I would love to say that it was fantastic foresight of mine to avoid trying to get a job at the start of the recession but, in reality, I love engineering and a PhD had my name written all over it.
I am currently writing up my PhD thesis, and although I don’t finish until this September there’s no way I’m writing a hurried 200 pages in the death throws of my time as a postgrad student. I’ve been lucky enough to present my work at a couple of IEEE conferences, one in New Zealand and the second in Hawaii. Again, I would love to say I targeted them for the location but honestly, it’s the only decent conference that covers my work. Speaking of which, I work in a rather new area called energy harvesting – in very plain speak (which I am a big fan of) it is converting small amounts of vibration/solar/heat energy into electrical energy to power small circuits. The twist I place on it is that we target high-temperature environments – think volcanoes and jet engines!
Last year I decided that startups looked fun – so I entered my universities business plan competition and came 3rd in the science and technology section. From there I started to think more seriously about what I could start post PhD. That was until a corporate solicitor friend of mine suggested I might want to broaden my business experience before looking at a capital-intensive technology startup. In answer to this, my girlfriend and I started a company called Slotzz in July 2010. Slotzz makes the worlds most customisable iPad and iPhone cases. Each case is made to order and our online design studio allows you to see and design your case before you order.
The world of entrepreneurship is fun, exciting and has given me opportunities that would I never have thought possible – I was EETimes.com student entrepreneur for 10 months writing on relevant topics, and we recently won a Shell LiveWire Grand Ideas award for our latest development in Slotzz. In the future, I am looking to develop a technology idea that can either be spun out under the Slotzz brand or started afresh all on its own.
Well, hopefully, you have found this little diversion into my life interesting, I’ve rambled on for quite long enough so I will finish with a thank you to Simon for this opportunity and do feel free to follow me on Twitter as @SimonBarker87 (someone had already taken @SimonBarker!!!)