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Pink Umbrella Studios

James Gourlay, about 5 years ago

Michael Vreugdenhil, founder of Pink Umbrella Studios, developed the idea for his business while in a place where it is very difficult to find inspiration.

With 7 months left to serve on his sentence Michael was at HMP Humber. He had worked most jobs offered to prisoners, and wanted to find something that might propel him forward upon release. By chance he came across Code 4000, and from this came Pink Umbrella Studios. We talked to Michael to discuss his journey to setting up the organisation and what they are doing now.

For Michael Code 4000 offered something entirely different to all the other experiences he had in prison, it was like “a breath of fresh air, like walking out of prison". The course is designed to train serving prison to code to a commercial standard so that they can develop websites and applications upon release.

Michael said that before prison he was interested in coding “but hadn't had any to chance to do it. Unbelievably this was my chance to do it while in prison". Over his remaining months Michael learnt how to code, and had the light bulb moment that was the business idea for Pink Umbrella Studios.

The key to the power of Code4000, according to Michael, is the fact that while in custody trainees can build up a portfolio that showcases their work. When applying for jobs “it is paramount that you have a decent portfolio", and by providing the trainees with work it means that they can apply for jobs immediately upon release. This became the central ethos behind Pink Umbrella Studios.

The other side of the motivation behind founding Pink Umbrella Studios was the desire to use the skills Michael and the Code 4000 trainees acquired to help charities and social enterprises to get “commercial grade websites at bottom prices". With websites and applications being one key way that people now interact with organisations, Michael is keen to ensure that social enterprises and charities aren't hindered from providing their services by having platforms that aren't at the highest level they could be. Michael says “we want to give everyone the opportunity to have a great website, and to also make sure the guys (Code4000 trainees) have every opportunity to build their work and portfolio". Thus having the chance to quickly rebuild their lives after custody in a way that can be of great benefit to our society and economy.

Pink Umbrella Studios is already working with a number of organisations in the 3rd sector, and recently developed the website for ProjectREMAKE. They are also having an impact with the Code4000 trainees and are looking to hire two members of the course when they are released in the next couple of months.

Pink Umbrella Studios is very keen to link up with any 3rd sector organisations looking to have a website developed, and with any businesses that may be looking to employ people with coding skills, as Pink Umbrella Studios have a great pool of talent they can open up to organisations.