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Overhear's History

A fully transparent look at the Overhear journey

How it all started


2015 An idea hatches.

After creating several home recorded Albums and becoming frustrated with distributing them online Tom mused over another form of online distribution...

(Tom is still making music here:

September 2016 - first iteration


With help from a friend overhearbrum was knocked together as a website that barely worked but had the gist.

November 2016

I was pointed in the direction of ABG by a mutual friend who had made a mobile app in the past


April 2017

Anna Brophy, one of Tom's student's from Access To Music joins Overhear on Work Experience for about 4 months.

April 2017

Andrew picks up the Overhear coding mantel! Seriously couldn't have done it without this step and Andrews generosity.

First few venues get involved with Digbeth First Friday. Some lovely lino print posters are made by Hollodeck.

Web app prototype walk with Andrew, Anna, and others. Resulting in our first promo video by Paul Stringer

September 2017

Andrew sends first mock up of the iPhone App.

October 2017

Figured Poetry was a better medium to start with than music. From Tom's time at Impact Hub Birmingham poets weren't hard to find!

September 2017

Out testing the iPhone App by the Spotted Dog in Digbeth

First App Release

February 2018 - Overhear is released to the App Store


All down to Andrew taking a punt on an idea I was running with 18 months previously!


July 2018

Connect with Verve Poetry Festival about collaborating on an Arts Council Bid.

Verve 2018 Soft Launch

Chucked about a few flyers during one of Birminghams biggest poetry festivals

March 2018

Set about recording as many poets as possible.

September 2018

First Arts council bid rejected...

Android app delayed

Andrew had become a first time dad just after the iPhone app launched. Juggling the android coding at the same time was proving tricky.

November 2018

Through working with Tiger Bam Comms we were put in touch with Ben Waddington of Still Walking Festival. Ben's walks focused on the often unseen details of areas and places over the history. This was a perfect partnership as the walks were far more poetic in drawing out what could be found in a space outside of Blue Plaques.

First Accepted Arts Council Bid.

December 2018

Tom received £13938 to commission 12 poets for the Overhear app and hold 6 walking tours around the Verve Poetry Festival.

December 2018 - 50 Authenticated App Users

December 2018

Android Mobile App launches...

It works with a few simple tests, but with the organising of the project, and no Android device to test with some issues go unnoticed...

Introducing Hemin

Through a website called Hemin was recruited to code the Android app.

Cost £926.62 inc NDA agreement and transaction fees.

December 2018 - February 2019

Tom recorded and met the amazing poets commissioned for the Verve Overheard project.

January 2019

Made contact with Jonathan Davidson of Writing West Midlands and invited to sit on a panel for the National Writers' Conference in June 2019.

February 2019 Verve Poetry Festival

An amazing festival! Great weather for our walks but some issues around the Android app not functioning correctly. It worked for some people but not others.

January 2019

Kibriya Mehrban writes a guest blog for Overhear - Tom is super impressed with how much she 'gets' the app ethos and bookmarks her name for a later date...

February 2019

Feature in ICHOOSEBIRMINGHAM gains lots of interest.


February 2019  - 155 authenticated app users

February 2019

Begin planning for a larger Arts Council bid with a £49,352 budget in partnership with Writing West Midlands looking at a year long regional project with a European exchange element.

March 2019

Issues persist with the Android App including facebook login code being rejected by facebook.

February 2019

First iteration of the Overhear Admin Panel is developed providing an easier way of entering poem and artist data.

March 2019

Overhear were asked by Writing West Midlands to partner on a project in Riga, Latvia with poet Anna Lawrence to take place in May.

May 2019

Our trip to Riga was successful for iPhone users but still frustratingly temperamental for Android users.

All tests conducted on an Android worked for Tom but not for those on the walking tour.

May 2019

Android Bug Breakthrough: the app was only allowing one user to collect a poem! This was so tricky to work out as creating Test poems to collect would work initially but then would become uncollectible once tested!

Extra edits for the Admin Panel £500

Total Dev costs £3026.62

June 2019

Overhear registers as a limited company in the UK, this will help strengthen future Arts Council Bids. Sets up Tide Business Bank Account for this Company

June 2019

One Year Project Arts Council Bid is unsuccessful. Over £15k projects require a lot more planning...

June 2019 National Writers Conference

Tom joins a panel for NWC19 on Getting Your Work Heard addressing new platforms like Overhear and other ways of harnessing tech for writers.

June 2019

Overhear re-applies for an  Arts Council project with just the Birmingham Literature Festival taking place in October. This time as an Organisation rather than an individual... something that has significant issues later on...

Bid amount £11,517

Second Arts Council Bid Accepted.

August 2019

For this bid Overhear budgeted for Kibriya to join us as our project blogger. Check her out she's great!

September 2019

Poems are recorded for the Birmingham Literature Festival Map.

September 2019

Overhear Press Tour is led by Ben Waddington.

September 2019

Android App redeveloped to fit with the new database and enable the user to switch between festival maps.

Cost £1000

Total Dev Costs £4026.62

October 2019 - 320 authenticated app users

October 2019

Birmingham Literature Festival gets underway. Our Walking Tours are a success with tours led more by poets trained by Ben. Android App functions well!

Enable the app to send a notification when within 50 meters of a poem plus other tweaks.

Cost £210

Total Dev Costs £4236.62

Our Developer Hemin in China goes offline indefinitely and is not heard from again... Unfortunately he has the only up-to date Android source code since last May.

October 2019

Interest from Wolverhampton Literature Festival turns into another partnership applying for Arts Council funding of £13,270

November 2019

Tom starts playing with kinetic text videos to showcase a few poems.

Thrid Arts Council Bid Accepted.

January 2020

Recording starts for the Wolverhampton Literature Festival Commissions after funding approved.

January 2020

Another excellent set of walking tours led by Steve Pottinger and Jeff Phelps under the guidance on Ben Waddington.

March 2020

The UK goes into lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

All project bids are on pause and one with Festival of Audacity is dropped. The beginning chats with English Heritage also dry up.

January 2020

NHS Midland MET Hospital Creative Practitioner puts a call out for Artists and Arts Organisations to get in touch.

An initial meeting discusses how Overhear can incentivise patients to be more mobile before and after hospital treatment.

January 2020

An excellent Wolverhampton Literature Festival, with great uptake on the Overhear app from festival goers

February 2020

For this project we brought in Nerea Perez to create our text animation videos all of which were excellent. you can find them here

April 2020

Arts Council Emergency Funding is applied for but not accepted.


March 2020

We open up the Admin end of the Overhear website to enable users to upload their own poems to a Public Map of places they'd like to visit after lockdown.
Its a bit of a hack and not that elegant but we get some uploads.

April 2020

Tom & Kibriya take a punt on Podcasting starting with an Episode on Overhear so far... Click here to listen

May 2020

Using Freelancer to find another developer we recruit Himanshu ( for a series of updates and simplifications to the Admin Panel to allow anyone to upload to the Public Map without a login, a redesign of the login process for both apps so users don't have to register an account immediately but only after collecting their first poem, a welcome audio message that auto populates users libraries and a list of festivals the user choses from when the app starts up.

It's at this point we realise we don't have the most recent Android source code and so this has to be redeveloped with the updates from May 2019 onwards.

Cost £1953.41

Total Dev costs £6190.03

May 2020

Ideas around Holacracy are explored as a way to channel the energy and potential of Overhear through a governance group rather than just Tom as CEO

550 Authenticated App Users

May 2020

Tom picks up an interest in Integral Theory through the book Reinventing Organisations by Frederic Laloux

May 2020

Kibriya Mehrban and Adrian B Earle are invited to explore a self management Holacratic work structure and share the potential of Overhear as Co-Directors.

June 2020

June becomes a month for reflection on so much that has gone before, internally, globally & historically and what the future will look like post pandemic. Black Lives Matter.

August 2020

Kibriya and Adrian channel their workshop facilitating skills into creating the Pin-Your-Poem Zoom workshop.

July 2020

Tutorial screen update.

August 2020

We partner with The Barber Institute in commissioning Jaque Rowe to write poems based on the Galleries art work and pin it around Selly Oak, Birmingham

September 2020

For Birmingham Heritage week we team up with Flatpack film festival to scour through some archive audio and make an audio Oral Histories bike trail.

October 2020

The team start to tackle some big questions around what Overhear needs to be in a pandemic and starts to put together an over £15K Arts Council bid that develops the app and our workshop offering.

November 2020

See's our 3rd Podcast with Gregory Leadbetter, Episode 2 featured Shaun Hill. Find them here

December 2020

After feeling quite confident with the Arts Council Bid submitted we were set back by having the bid declined. This release of tension however gives way to some new ideas and a fresh approach on a few different fronts leading to some clarity and a refocusing on research and development


January 2021

January starts wit a flurry of meetings, reaching out to testers, development companies and previous partners. The year is off to an encouraging start with new projects in the pipeline that we can reveal in due course.

1000 twitter followers!

April 2021

We start developing the all pins map with Studio14. This meets significant delays lasting 6 months... But we have launched the new update available now.

Screenshot 2022-01-19 at 09.09.56.png

Cost £3909.50

Total Dev Costs £8146.12

August 2021

August 2021

Sherbourne Pin .png

ReVersing the Sherbourne

This was our first project that we didn't write the bid for ourselves but were invited to partner with. A project with Nine Arches Press at Writing West Midlands for Coventry City of Culture. We were also able to provide a live streaming service for the festival as a sideline.

November 2021

SHOUT Festival

We worked with Shaun Hill to record a selection of poems to be pinned to Birmingham's Gay Quarter for the 2021 SHOUT Festival. Working with SHOUT joins us up with Sound Artist Radhika Aggarwal who we will work with later...

SHOUT21 Pin.png

Recording gets underway for Offsite 9 a fringe project of the British Arts Show 9 launching in Jan 22


Dec 2021

Begin development of a filtering system for listeners to search for pin by tag

January 2022

Chalk boards go up around empty spaces in Wolverhampton with the words "If we had this space we would..." on them. Each location has a recording assigned by a local artist.




March 2022 SOHO SETTLERS Project

Our biggest project to date with China Plate Theatre as part of Birminghams Common Wealth Games Festival.


May 2022

Workshops get underway for the Soho Settlers Project in Handsworth with local residents. We capture stories of migration and settling from various communities and invite 5 poets to distill these into works for the app.

April 2022 

We move back to outsourcing our development with iCreatewebtech based in Ahmedabad, India to add a QR collection system to supplement geolocation for smaller areas.

Screenshot 2023-02-23 at 10.09.29.png

July 2022

Soho Settlers project launches at Soho House Handsworth and we get to have a few snaps thanks to Paul Stringer.


The Soho Settlers Project pins a total of 26 Poems and oral Histories reflecting the diversity of the Soho Road

October 2022 Wormingham Project

Partnering with Civic Square in Ladywood we host the stories of Superworm on a trail to find out about the Black Gold found in the earth where the worms live.

Co-Owner Call Out

We put out the feelers to bring on more like-minded folks that want to see Overhear thrive. Including Tech, Community and Business Leads.


We begin to consider a pivot in code away from native to either Unity or React Native. We find various figma plugins that can convert wireframe in to basic react and react native code that can run on Expo...

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