Robot AI Image by Tumisu from PixabayI had the opportunity to talk with Richard Godfrey, Co-Founder and CEO of Rocketmakers. Founded in Bath in 2007, the company is still based there, recruiting most of its staff from the surrounding area, including four local universities.

I began by asking Godfrey who Rocketmakers are.

He responded, “We’re fundamentally a software company working with funded startups, scale-up businesses, and corporate innovation businesses. We are coming up to 17 years old and B Corp certified. This year, we became the global dev agency of the year. We’re also a Queen’s Award-winning company. We particularly enjoy working on projects that combine innovation, quality and purpose.”

Rocketmakers is not just a development team. Godfrey believes that a strong design team and a dual-track approach is what makes the company stronger. Its first hire was a designer and the design team is involved at the outset of every project. They help define and refine the user experience. Godfrey believes that a project often succeeds or fails based on the UX.

What differentiates Rocketmakers?

Richard Godfrey, Co-Founder and CEO of Rocketmakers (image credit - LinkedIn/Richard Godfrey)
Richard Godfrey, Co-Founder and CEO of Rocketmakers

Godfrey says that Rocketmakers differentiates itself by its focus on quality. He sees many other firms offshoring development for cost reasons. Explaining his view of quality, he said, “For me, that quality is around building the right product and then building the product right.”

Building the right product means understanding architecture, UX, design, and then building quality software.

Rocketmakers also differentiates itself through a localised partnership model. Godfrey explained that it has built several modus operandi over the years. Importantly, it never offshores work and has a full-time development and design team. It makes the engagement more flexible.

Godfrey also explained, “We have some win-win elements to our engagement with people. Over the years, we’ve invested sweat equity into at least 60 different organisations, helping them raise £60 million, and we win or lose as they do. We have the flexibility to do that and recognise the value we bring from an innovation perspective. How quickly we can move, all those things, we can be slightly different in our approach.”

On Vision

What’s your vision for Rocketmakers?

Godfrey replied, “Our 10-year goal is to have the technology that we work on positively influencing the lives of at least 50 million people. Our goal is not a financially driven model. It is around the impact that we can have as a company in the way that we do things.”

Godfrey acknowledges that measuring progress against this target is difficult. He cited the project for the Sports Institute. Rocketmakers created a digital fitness and health tracking solution for UK Olympic athletes. It was used in both Rio and Tokyo and will be used in Paris. He argues that this technology will indirectly touch more people than just athletes.

This year, the firm also completed a pro bono project with Wildscreen. Rocketmakers built the technology behind Wildscreen Ark that takes a taxonomy of UK animals and brings them to life with video footage.

I asked Godfrey what else the firm has achieved this year. He replied, “We’ve invested a lot in our internal, enabling technologies. We built a couple of things: Portrait and YourRoom. These are enabling technologies that could be used in various products going forward.”

Built using AI, these are fundamental technologies that Godfrey believes will apply across different verticals.

AI Fundamental Technologies

YoorRoom and Portrait are just the latest technologies that Rocketmakers has built. It has invested a lot of time into these technologies over the last 4-5 years but accelerated and brought them out in the last year.

While Rocketmakers uses these tools as part of larger delivery projects, they will also license them to other agencies or development shops. Customers have a perpetual right to use them, but more on that later.


Beam is a content management system for 3D. Godfrey explains that the inspiration for the tool came from looking back through history. Web and mobile organisations needed to build or buy technology to manage the content. Over time vendors built CMS platforms with templates enabling firms to rapidly build websites or mobile apps.

There are four layers to Beam, as Godfrey described it:

  • A content management system that allows the creation of 3D environments quickly
  • A personalisation engine that allows users to have a personalised experience within the environment
  • An analytics layer for 3D that Godfrey explained, saying, ”We can see when you’re in that environment. What you’re looking at. How long do you look at it for? Do you pick objects up?”
  • The machine learning layer can then look at those behaviours in real time and change the environment dynamically based on what the person has been doing inside it

The possibilities for this technology are almost unlimited, with Godfrey seeing some interesting use cases in architecture and retail with dynamic spaces for people to use and interact with.


The second technology Rocketmakers has built is Portrait. Godfrey describes this as dynamic people. He added, “We’ve created AI agents and bots who are fully 3D. You can talk to them in real-time, and they’ll talk back to you. You can have a genuine, real-time conversation with them during the process.”

Rocketmakers has built several avatars of real people, including Barack Obama, Steve Jobs and Richard Godfrey himself.


The third creation is YourRoom. It takes the dynamic people concept and extends it to dynamic teams. Godfrey explained that one could set up a board room meeting with different avatars, each offering different specialisations. One might consider a legal expert or an HR expert avatar. Each avatar can talk and advise independently of the others to provide a balanced viewpoint, where a well-informed human makes the ultimate decision.

Godfrey expanded on this, adding, While some people are doing agent characters you can talk to, I think we’ve done that very differently, and it’s very impressive. YourRoom is agentic AI, it takes multiple agents and puts them together in conversation with humans is something that only the big multinationals are driving forward at the moment.”

Where the Rocketmakers product stands out from others, like BitHuman, is that a room can consist of multiple bots, each using different engines. Additionally, each agent can have a different personality within those engines. Godfrey argues that this will help to remove bias, something that aligns with Rocketmakers BCorp status.

The potential of what Rocketmakers has created is huge, both for businesses and individuals. For businesses, they can create advisory boards to help with decision-making. For consumers, Godfrey used the example of a homeowner looking for advice from a group of avatars, including an estate agent, a mortgage advisor and others. Importantly, Godfrey strongly believes AI can only deliver 80% of the decision-making process; the remainder is with human input.

The Trinity Creates a Greater Whole

Individually, these are impressive pieces of technology, but like many other things, it is when they are combined that they start to make a difference. Godfrey concluded, “Those three things, dynamic space, dynamic people, dynamic teams, are all built in a set of technologies that can come together to create an incredible learning and training experience for people.”

Opportunities and Risks of AI

Godfrey has been around AI and working in this space for a long time. I asked him about the benefits that AI offers. He explained how AI has developed and the benefits that are seen today.

“Everybody’s slightly different in their implementations, awareness and risk modelling around it. The big change that nobody saw coming, and I include us in that, is the impact of ChatGPT and large language models. Although we’ve all been working in machine learning, vision and algorithms over the last 20-odd years, I don’t think anybody saw that leap in language-based processing that came out.

“The danger is that everybody who hasn’t been doing this for 20-odd years thinks AI is that language-based model rather than all of the other elements of it.

“I’m seeing benefits in certain roles, such as speed, cost, and quality, in certain circumstances. Where language is the predominant part of that role, we’re seeing all three benefits hitting at once, certainly, in terms of content generation.”

Godfrey sees marketing departments, with their need for content, as a big beneficiary. I also asked him about the risks that are surfaced when dealing with AI. He picked four that Rocketmakers are concerned about now:

  • Privacy: sending and capturing data. When data is sent to various providers in the Cloud, are organisations aware of exactly what is happening to their data? Is that data being used for training sets for LLMs?
  • Hallucinations: Godfrey points out that when one talks to an AI bot, it can easily make things up if there are no significant guardrails in place
  • Misuse: While Rockermakers is not creating a deep fake with its Portrait capability, there is a fine ethical line that is easy to cross
  • The fourth was around IP

The IP Challenge

With Rocketmakers creating software that it reuses for customers, I asked Godfrey how the company addresses the IP challenge. He replied, Great question, and one that we tackled even before we started doing this. We have a very clear model, which is around essentially set segmenting IP up into different constituent parts. We have background IP, project IP, and protected IP.”

He then explained these three categories in turn.

Background IP

Rocketmakers found that it created components that it often needed for each engagement. Examples include administration features around iOS, Android and web applications such as file uploading, authentication, authorization and auditing. Rebuilding a new iteration for each client added no value for either Rocketmakers or the client.

It created the concept of ejecting, analogous to stages of rockets. Godfrey explained, “From the start we design in the idea that people should be able to eject from us and be able to run their own services, without any constraints or restrictions around that.”

Project IP

Project IP refers to components that are not commercially sensitive for clients. Rocketmakers shares the IP with clients for these components. The client owns the component but licenses it to Rocketmakers for use in future projects.

Godfrey gave an example of a calendar component that does not give the client a competitive edge but could be reused elsewhere. This approach saves developers from having to rebuild such common components again.

Protected IP

Godfrey explained that Protected IP is something that they have to own. “We have no ability to reuse, and that’s that.”

The three-tiered approach makes sense. The client will own everything they need and maintain their competitive advantage from the work. There is another benefit, as Godfrey pointed out. “By sharing our background IP in that way it instils confidence, accelerates the projects really quickly and seems to make a lot of sense for everybody.”

The Book Question

What was the latest book you read?

“The latest book I read was the AI guidebook (registration required) that we produced internally. I gave a presentation on it the other day, and I thought I’d better read it to ensure I got it right.

“There’s a book that Nigel Toon, CEO of Graphcore, wrote, How AI Thinks: How we built it, how it can help us, and how we can control it (Amazon, Aus, UK, US). It’s about understanding AI and looking back historically around AI. How a lot of the current things that are going on are not the fundamentals of AI as they’ve grown. It starts to put it into a really interesting light of history in where we are today.

“The main takeaway for me was that he tries to look at the big worries that people see about losing jobs and the big impact areas around things that AI will bring. He concludes that, probably like most other revolutions, jobs will change. As a result, people will migrate to more jobs in different ways.

“My observation as an optimist at heart is I certainly see that same thing happening. But I’m definitely concerned that a lot of the AI stuff we’re seeing now will significantly impact many people’s jobs in the short term. How will we manage that risk of a big impact in the jobs in the short term before we scale out of that into the jobs that actually come through.”


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