DigitalCity-supported start-up SockMonkey Studios celebrates two years in business with new contracts

Projects include working with police forces on app for officers and rebooting vintage Amiga games for the mobile market

SockMonkey Studios are a DigitalCity company which design apps. (front) Darren Cuthbert, (right) Bob Makin, (back) TU student Dave McCann and (left) Jacob Keane
SockMonkey Studios are a DigitalCity company which design apps. (front) Darren Cuthbert, (right) Bob Makin, (back) TU student Dave McCann and (left) Jacob Keane

A Middlesbrough-based mobile games and app development studio is going from strength to strength after trebling its turnover in its second year of business.

SockMonkey Studios was founded by Bob Makin and Darren Cuthbert in 2013 with the help of DigitalCity and in its short life to date has landed a number of major contracts.

Having moved to new offices in the Phoenix Building at Teesside University to accommodate an expanding team, Mr Makin was also invited by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) to attend the renowned Games Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Both Teesside University graduates, Mr Makin and Mr Cuthbert enrolled on the DigitalCity Fellowship scheme to found SockMonkey after leaving their jobs at a large games studio to set up their own business.

Their first app, Wurdy, a word guessing game, was featured by Apple in 147 countries and reached the number one spot in two of them.

More work followed quickly and they have collaborated with several other studios on games` apps.

The company has likewise worked with former Cleveland Police officer, Paul Cooper, to develop Pocket Sergeant, an app which provides up-to-date information, advice and procedure for police officers on duty.

Discussions are now underway with a number of police forces about rolling out the app among their officers.

Other work on the horizon includes rebooting vintage Amiga games for the mobile market and working with Hello Games to bring the hit video game Joe Danger to Android platforms.

To help deal with the increased workload, SockMonkey has taken on Teesside University student Dave McCann on a six month work placement.

It also employs full-time freelancer Jacob Keane, who is likewise a DigitalCity Fellow, having been encouraged to take up the route by Mr Makin and Mr Cuthbert.

Mr Makin said: “The last two years have been a real whirlwind - it’s just been non-stop contracts.

“We’re concentrating mainly on mobile games but we’re still interested in developing for consoles and other gaming systems.

“The trip to America was fantastic, the Games Developer Conference attracts people from across the world and I had some very positive meetings.

“The DigitalCity Fellowship was a great help to us in getting set up and gave us the confidence to leave our jobs and set up a new business.”

The Fellowship scheme offers graduates up to £4,000 to cover their living costs while they develop their business product or idea.

Fellows also access industry-specific mentoring and can use facilities and equipment at Teesside University.

Dr Michael Ryding, director of DigitalCity, said: “SockMonkey is a fantastic success story and the team are creating some interesting and innovative apps.

“I am delighted that DigitalCity has been able to provide Bob and Darren with the support they needed to get the business off the ground.”

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