Setting up a business in lockdown: James Willcocks – software engineer

Images above: James Willcocks; James’ dog Harry

Software engineer

James Willcocks, 24, lives on Dartmoor. Coming from a farming family, he wasn’t convinced that he wanted to work in London, but thought he should at least give it a try. He moved to Chiswick in September 2019 but during the following year, as central London offices emptied and he improved his network of contacts, he realised that actually he could live in Devon and work perfectly well as a software engineer and web developer from home.

“The experience of this past year has shown me that you no longer have to go to London to be working at the top in the tech industry” he says.

Graduating in 2018 with degree in Computer Science from Hull University, (a First), he took a year off to expand his skillset, following his own interests.

“I got to the point where I decided I really should think about getting a job. A couple of friends asked me to put together websites for them – one a car leasing firm and the other an online farming supplies shop – so I taught myself how to put together a website. I didn’t think I would like London. I’m not big on events and that’s the main reason that London appeals to people. But working on The Chiswick Calendar was the perfect opportunity to find out”.

Images above: James and Harry taking a screen break

As it turned out 2020 was not the best year to try exploring London. We watched as the government statistics rose. Each of the six areas which together made up Chiswick on the National Office of Statistics’ Covid map had more cases of Covid than the entire 368 square mile area of Dartmoor.

In August 2020 James went back to Devon, with nearly a year’s experience of working on a big website, initially transferring it from one host site to another, and problem solving, with The Chiswick Calendar’s web developer Dawn Wilson, the surprising number of issues which arise daily.

Now he has a portfolio of clients, all introduced by word of mouth, which include an online shop for high end fashion, a fashion news site for trendy millennials and a website for someone else who has started making and selling clothes during lockdown. He still works for The Chiswick Calendar.

Image above: The farm house James shares with his brother

“Are you seeing squiggles on the screen when you talk?”

He’s also does audio editing for podcasts. Quite a lot of his time is now taken up with editing podcasts, again self-taught. Journalists Peter Oborne and Richard Heller (Oborne & Heller on Cricket) and Mihir Bose, David Smith and Nigel Dudley (Three Old Hacks), are fulsome in their praise of his ediitng skills, and the manner in which he helps them and their guests negotiate the baffling world of recording over ther internet. (“Are you seeing squiggles on the screen when you talk?”)

James now considers he has the best of both worlds.

“I’m a country boy. I like greenery and there’s more freedom”.

When you see the stunning countryside surrounding the house where he lives, you can appreciate his point of view. He shares an old farmhouse with his brother which had been their  grandmother’s and has been in the family for centuries. They’ve spent several years doing it up, initially with holiday lets in mind, but in the absence of tourists it seemed a shame to leave it standing empty.

“London used to be the major place for tech companies. You came to London to experience working with the best, but since Covid and the shift to working from home, I don’t thing that’s true any longer”.

The home office is nearing completion and the client list is growing. If you are interested in tech help with a website, contact him at:

Image above: The view from the office window

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Setting up a business in lockdown: Jake Stewart – Cello

See also: Setting up a business in lockdown: Francesca & Olivia Johns – Boeboes soft furnishings

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.