Tim Williams

CEO/Co-Founder YR Live

Tim Williams Headshot little

Published on 01/06/2017

How did YR come about?

YR came about as we had a huge response to our world first, YR Wall, the digital graffiti wall. My business partner, Tom, invented that during 2008 and we then set up a business to market the YR Wall to events in 2009. This went really well and we grew from nothing to working with some of the biggest brands in the world. In 2013 we hit upon an idea to offer the digital graffiti wall as a tool to make super on-trend all-over print t-shirts. YR Store was born and we opened a pop-up shop just off Carnaby Street, as well as the YR Wall guests could use touchscreens to make patterns and designs. Fast forward to 2017 and we are world leaders in live customisation in the UK and US – working in events but increasingly helping brands and retailers  develop their customisation strategy.

What makes your job exciting?

It really is exciting. We are growing rapidly and established our US office last year so I spend half my time in New York working on building a team, and a client base! The main excitement for me is seeing the response to what we do and how we do it. Customers love what we do. I relish a challenge and as a small but growing business, every day has a new hurdle to try and jump over. I guess that keeps it exciting but the most exciting thing is innovating and pushing the boundaries of customisation – we will launch live embroidery design and stitch with an incredible client.

What work do you do within the brand experience industry?

Most of our work is brand experience based from in-store activations to helping exhibitors get more guests to their stand at a show. We are a complete end to end service for marketing, experience and advertising agencies as well as working directly for many brands and clients. At an activation guests use our large touch screens to create designs and then see these printed live onto a range of items mostly t-shirts, tote bags, phone cases and water bottles. We supply all the equipment, tech and staffing as well as right back at planning stages help with the creative concept and of course we develop all our own software in-house. We work all over the world and often work at short notice. Our range of experiences cover roadshows, retail activations, product launches, employee engagement events and conferences but everything in between.

What has been the highlight over the last 12 months?

Without a doubt two of our large scale activations stand out. First the incredible ASOS global tour with agency Seed Marketing. We have delivered our live design and print software and services in the UK, USA and all over Europe in a custom made truck. This meant students could swap simple data such as name and email address for a custom made and printed tote bag – a super-high-quality tote bag printed in a couple of minutes was a huge draw! The second event that stands out was the Footlocker flagship store launch in New York’s Times Square. It was a huge week long event in the middle of multiple severe snow storms earlier this year and tested everyone to the limit. But it looked spectacular and the customers turned out in their 1000’s.

What can we expect to see from YR over the next 12 months?

The move from live design and print to live design and stitch is huge for us – embroidery and patching is a trend we are seeing gaining massive traction. We will expand on our ability to offer live patching and continue to develop our offer so we are relevant to customers looking for a low-cost giveaway in the same way we are relevant to high-fashion clients offering highly bespoke and unique products to their customer base. Also – we will be growing our US presence and if all goes well open a Tokyo and Hong Kong outpost this year.

Are there any brands/agencies you would love to work with?

We are lucky enough to work with some incredible brands – Coca-Cola, Tommy Hilfiger, Coach and Google to name a tiny selection. We want to continue to grow this and of course there are still plenty of agencies we have yet to work with – often many people have not heard of us so we still have a lot of work to do!

What do you love most about working in this industry?

The brand experience industry is at the cutting edge of innovation and consumer trends. Its a super-exciting place to be not just because its fuelled by a constant need for new and innovative products and services but also because it attracts the very highest calibre talent. Working with a great team here at YR and within this industry just makes it a great place to be.

Who do you see has being inspiration to you and why?

Elon Musk – he had a dream to disrupt an entire ecosystem, not just an industry and he is doing it.


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