Lee Hicken and Simon Zimmerman, Hebe Works
Hicken and Zimmerman started their first business together, 20 years ago, at the age of 16. In 2010, they co-founded Hebe Works, a media and technology company based in Leeds (UK) with a mission ‘to offer a deeper understanding of cities and city life’.
There are two distinct, complementary parts of Hebe Works that are expressed by their two flagship products, The City Talking and Solomon.
(Above: Lee Hicken, one of the founders of innovative media company, Hebe Works. Image: Hebe Works)
The City Talking is a media brand. Driven by a talented and creative team who make films, newspapers and digital content, its presence has spread from Leeds to Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, York, London and Taipei. Latest projects include partnerships with BBC, Sky, First Direct and Tech North.
(Zimmerman (above) and Hicken have created two complementary divisions to Hebe Works. Image: Hebe Works)
The City Talking focuses on telling stories because the Hebe team believe that’s how people interpret cities best. In October 2016, three new stories, in the shape of feature length documentaries, will be told to audiences for the first time.
Solomon is Hebe’s flagship technology product. It is a software platform for creating self-service dashboards that combine local, personal and professional data and help users extract value by making it easy to organise and understand. The Solomon team is comprised of engineers, developers, designers and data scientists.
Solomon has been used to create dashboard products for NHS England, Yorkshire Water and Leeds BID (Leeds Business Improvement District). A Software as a Service variant of the later, which combines a Customer Relationship Management system with real-time dashboards and reporting tools will launch to the UK’s market of 200+ business improvement districts at the end of September 2016.
With funding from Innovate UK, Solomon is also being used as part of a partnership between Hebe Works and one of the UK’s leading communications infrastructure companies Arqiva to explore ways that data gathered from network connected devices and sensors can be used to help improve people’s experience of cities.
Among their many achievements, in 2016 Hebe Works was named as one of the country’s 50 most creative companies by Creative England. In 2015, it was handed two New Radical awards by Nesta and The Observer for its contribution to changing British business for the better.
The company describes 2016 as a critical year, as it talks to potential investors and other partners about how to build momentum and continue to grow a team that has tripled in size in the last two years.
Previously, Lee and Simon established the digital strategy for the record-breaking launch of Land Securities PLC’s Trinity Leeds retail centre, and have led large scale projects for clients including Arts Council England and Hyper Island.
In 2013 Zimmerman graduated from Leeds University Business School's 10,000 Small Businesses, a programme for high growth potential businesses, funded by Goldman Sachs. Meanwhile, Hicken has taken positions on a number of boards with the aim of shining a spotlight on creativity in the north of England.