BOURNEMOUTH start-up businesses have access to “phenomenal talent”, with the town set to attract more people looking to leave London for a better lifestyle.

That was the view of one of the leading figures behind an electronic textbook platform that has grown rapidly in the town.

Yaz El Hakim is director of learner experience at Bournemouth-based Kotext, which has become the UK’s leader in delivering e-textbooks for universities.

He told a meeting of the group Startup Grind “There’s some phenomenal talent right here in Bournemouth. I’ve been amazed at the quality of the talent but also the impact they have had on our business.”

He said more talent was set to come to the town from London. “I sense there is a growing frustration from people not wanting to do a 75-minute standing commute on overcrowded trains. That is also being compounded by many more people embracing remote or nomadic working, where Bournemouth can offer many a fantastic lifestyle,” he added.

Kortext was founded in 2013 by James Gray, who had previously established Ringwood-based Coutts Information Services, a leading supplier to university libraries. Mr El Hakim said Kortext now enabled students to access core e-textbooks “anywhere, anytime and often for free, as part of their institutional fees”.

He was hired as employee number 33 in 2016, and there are around 90 staff now.

He advised start-ups: “I think you need to ask, ‘What do you need to invest in to make the user experience the best it can be?’, and then work back from there.”

Startup Grind is a global community for entrepreneurs, powered by Google for Entrepreneurs. It operates in 500 cities and 150 countries.

Marcus Wincott, of online retail specialist Media Lounge, is co-director of its Bournemouth chapter.

He said: “We’ve partnered with some brilliant, like-minded organisations like Silicon South and have a new venue at Media Lounge in the heart of Landsdowne.

“With a full content schedule taking shape, we’re excited about the future of the community and have committed to putting on an event every month to help educate, connect and inspire local start-ups and entrepreneurs.”

On Wednesday, November 14, Startup Grind will host Reem Mobassaleh Wyndham of Accelerated Digital Ventures, who will offer advice on funding start-ups.

Details are at