How free advice from Google trainers 'makes people's eyes light up' at Digital Garage in Sheffield

Misha Cunningham takes a selfie with people at a seminar at Google's Digital Garage in Sheffield.
Misha Cunningham takes a selfie with people at a seminar at Google's Digital Garage in Sheffield.

The free tech advice on offer at Sheffield's Digital Garage is inspiring people every day, according to one of Google's expert trainers.

Misha Cunningham is part of the young and enthusiastic team at the Barker's Pool venue. He and his colleagues have been offering tips and education on everything online, from basic e-mail use to business growth seminars.

Misha, who admits he was searching for direction before he got the job, said his days are usually spent 'imparting knowledge'.

"On a day-to-day basis it’s education," he added.

"For a lot of it is people initially wandering in, not really having an idea of what we do. It’s very quickly bringing them up to speed and empowering people.

"Almost everyone that we meet has an idea, something they want to do. Or a project that has stalled.

A light-hearted session at the garage.

A light-hearted session at the garage.

"On hearing that we are giving away free advice, you can see their eyes light up."

The garage is open seven days a week, and there is always an expert available to chat to anyone who walks in off the street.

But the training also goes much deeper. Courses and seminars focus on how to set up a business and grow it online, with Google acting as an incubator.

Misha 'lives and breathes' the business and tries to pass on his enthusiasm to anyone he speaks to.

Misha Cunningham.

Misha Cunningham.

"A lot of it is changing people’s preconceptions about how digital works," he said.

"They have got a great product, the idea is fantastic. But how do we get it in front of people?

"And it’s just being useful to people."

The first step for entrepreneurs is often instilling self-belief. Then follows a concept simplification process, in an attempt to focus people's minds.

One of the sessions at the Digital Garage.

One of the sessions at the Digital Garage.

"We get people who know they want to do something, and upskill themselves digitally," said Misha.

"People they know what they want to do but with a wide scope of everything they could do.

"People just need a starting point and the inertia happens and they move forward.

"We have got the capacity for more, so as for as we are concerned the people of Sheffield just need to come throw everything they have got at us."

And on a personal level, working at the garage has helped Misha focus his own ideas.

"I knew I was searching for something but I couldn’t have described this, really," he said.

The garage trainers on tour around Sheffield.

The garage trainers on tour around Sheffield.

"Upon finding it, it fits. It doesn’t feel like work. And it feels nice.

"You get people who won’t let go of your hand because they are shaking it so much, and you know the effect that has on your spirit."

The garage gives advice to all ages.

The garage gives advice to all ages.