Google to open first UK drop in ‘garage’ to fix 200,000 SMEs web problems

Its first “garage” – a drop-in centre that will advise on building a mobile website, developing e-commerce and optimising internet search rankings.

To kick-off the project, Google will open The Leeds Garage, a pop-up space based in Leeds Dock which will open its doors on March 30th as part of a six month pilot initiative.

Businesses are invited to get a digital ‘tune-up’ and participate in masterclasses based on Google’s own expertise. Small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs are also invited to participate in events organised by local partners and take advantage of one-to-one mentoring sessions which can help any business become a digital business.

Eileen Naughton, Google’s managing director of UK and Ireland, said less than 30 percent of small businesses had an effective online presence, and Google wanted to “jump start” the other 70 percent.

“We understand (small businesses) don’t have the benefit of large IT tech infrastructure and development, and they need our assistance in this area disproportionately more than a large business would,” she said in an interview.

“We’ve never set up an outpost in a city – in a garage – as we have here in Leeds, and offered these services openly. For us, it’s an exciting experiment.”

Google has introduced similar projects aimed at British companies in the past though as in 2012 the company partnered with the Welsh government to launch a year-long project designed to lure thousands of firms across Wales online, which was subsequently rolled out in other regions of the U.K. too. It’s also previously launched Google Juice Bars, featuring presentations, consultations, and advice on how to use Google tools.

Speaking about the launch Matthew Hancock MP, Minister of State for Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: “We want to make Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a business. Through our Do More Online campaign we are equipping small businesses with the digital skills they need to thrive. Website sales in the UK are now worth £193 billion and this event is a great opportunity for small businesses to get advice from one of the world’s most successful online organisations.”

Business owners and teachers in the Leeds area can sign up for workshops and events organised by Google and partners on the following website: