Member Magazine: Autumn 2018

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CHAIRMAN With my first year as chairman coming to an end, I’ve been reflecting on what the Entrepreneurs’ Forum has achieved over the last 12 months. I have to say that I am immensely proud of the organisation and, in particular, the way it remains true to its original purpose. Whilst much bigger - and hopefully a little wiser - than in 2002, our aim has remained simple and clear: to be a place where entrepreneurs can come together, be inspired and share knowledge to the benefit of everyone. Creating prosperity, jobs and opportunity across the region is of course the outcome of business owners becoming better leaders; and it’s certainly fair to say that we’ve brought together some of the most ambitious and successful entrepreneurs in the North East at more than 40 events during 2018! Like it has been throughout my whole business career, the last year has been a steep learning curve. I’ve lived and worked through

James Robson MBE, Chairman of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum


three recessions and seen countless changes to the landscape of the industry and region I’m so proud to be a part of but, even with all of that experience and the support I have around me, I can honestly say that I can’t think of a time quite like this. That is why mentoring will always be something I’m hugely passionate about and it is critical to the way the Forum helps people to overcome the challenges of running a business. As we move into unprecedented circumstances, where no one can be truly sure of what the future of the UK will hold, one thing I have no doubt about is that if we continue to come together with a positive attitude and a willingness to help one another, this great region will be stronger. It’s times like these when organisations like the Entrepreneurs’ Forum come to the fore; and I’d encourage you to use our vast network and connections to the full in the coming months.


























Entrepreneurial Award Winners



SEE REVERSE FOR DATES FOR YOUR DIARY: Entrepreneurs’ Forum Events Calendar (January to July 2019)

Elaine Warburton, QuantuMDx



The Big Question


EAN PARSONS, PARSONS CONTAINERS “I don’t believe it is possible to attribute success in anything to one factor but the question is about most influential so I would have to say hard work. It’s said that business is 95% perspiration and 5% inspiration and that is certainly true. Don’t let up. However there are many other factors and I’d say ‘focus’ is critical - staying consistently focused on what you’re trying to achieve. Also, sticking to your core business and not being distracted by side opportunities - which can easily happen with entrepreneurs who generally see an opportunity in everything (and financial control)!“

MATT MAVIR, LAST NIGHT OF FREEDOM “The biggest single factor in our success was recruiting and then retaining great staff early. This, combined with early “pruning” of those who weren’t as good meant we were left with excellent, conscientious staff that truly believed in what we were trying to achieve. This proved invaluable when we were going through some early teething stages and even better once we got through those and had to gear up for bigger things.”



The Big Question

MAUREEN WRIGHT, WESTRAY RECRUITMENT CONSULTANTS “In the early days of setting up my business, I would say that my optimism, resilience and my naivety were key factors. Having set up in 1990 at the height of a recession, had I been aware of just how bad that was at the time, I may never have taken the plunge. Therefore my naivety helped. Resilient and optimistic? I have never given up, whatever the situation. I always try and find a way to work round problems, always believing that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and generally, that’s how it’s worked out. Over the years, I have discovered not to be all things to all people. I don’t know it all; therefore it’s been important for me to cultivate a strong core team of people with the right skillset, to help make the business successful.”

BETHANY AINSLEY, NOUVEAU WELLBEING “I believe having a positive mindset is key - it supports overcoming daily challenges and creates an optimism within the team that helps productivity and avoids negative thinking. It is also good for your health and wellbeing.”

STEPHEN IRISH, HYPERDRIVE INNOVATION “It was identifying an unmet need in a market that’s at an immature stage. Utilising the considerable advantage of being a technology-led business coupled with market insight and bringing these two factors together to commercially benefit.”



North East Entrepreneurial Awards



Hosted by world adventurer, Benedict Allen, the 2018 North East Entrepreneurial Awards honoured the many business success stories in the region, recognising those who are driving growth, creating jobs and, ultimately, making the North East a place of prosperity where successful companies are established and scale-up. Raising over £5,000 for local charity North East Mind, around 400 people attended the celebratory dinner at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead and the five categories of the awards, held in partnership with the North East Growth Hub, were supported by Ward Hadaway, The Malhotra Group, NBS, IA Growth and Make It Sunderland. The North East Fund supported the networking and drinks reception.

Jordan McCabe, Aztec Diamond Equestrian

“It was an honour to have even been nominated for the award, never mind to have won it. You get caught up in the day-to-day running of the business and don’t often stand back and look how far you have come. I’m grateful to have had my success recognised and put into perspective!”

SCALE-UP AWARD KEVIN BROWN Kevin Brown won the Scale-up Award for his business, Pacifica Group. The support services firm provides extended warranties and after-sales support for domestic appliance repairs and in-house heating appliances.

Kevin Brown, Pacifica Group


Starting out with just four employees, Pacifica Group has grown to become one of the largest companies of its kind in the country, employing over 470 people and

Jordan McCabe, founder of Aztec Diamond Equestrian, was presented with the Emerging Talent award after turning a childhood passion for horse riding and clothing design into a successful and highly profitable business. Jordan, who was a keen showjumper, launched her own equestrian clothing range in 2014 after realising there was a gap in the market for clothing which was fashionable, technical and affordable. Designed and sold from her County Durham base, Aztec Diamond Equestrian has become so popular in the UK that Jordan is now looking to launch the range in the United States.

posting an increased turnover of £27.2m in 2017. Despite its phenomenal growth, the company is focused on increasing its market share and engaging more closely with manufacturers while offering customers exceptional standards of service.

“It is a huge honour to be recognised in the North East business community by the Entrepreneurs’ Forum. The award is a testament to the hard work of our growing workforce who are committed to the Group and supporting our client base.”


North East Entrepreneurial Awards

ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR LIANNE WALKER MBE Lianne Walker MBE was named Entrepreneur of the Year for her work with Walker Filtration. Lianne took over the Washington-based firm, which designs and manufactures compressed air and filtration equipment, in 2005 and set about guiding it towards a more specialised and lucrative market.

Pamela Petty, Entreprenising

MENTOR OF THE YEAR PAMELA PETTY Pamela Petty was named Mentor of the Year after founding her own entrepreneur mentoring business, Entreprenising, in June 2016. Pamela has a strong track record in North East industry, having previously worked as managing director for Ebac, founded by her father John Elliott. During her tenure the company diversified from traditional dehumidifier business to begin manufacturing freezers and washing machines. She was described by those entrepreneurs who have benefited from her business mentoring as having a “passion for UK manufacturing” while she was further praised for being extremely knowledgeable and trustworthy.

“Being involved with the Forum’s mentoring programme has been an interesting experience, one that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve always thought that as a mentor, I can help to make a difference, by asking the daft questions! To be recognised with an award by my mentees was a wonderful acknowledgement that I must be doing just that, making a difference.”

Lianne Walker MBE, Walker Filtration

“I am delighted to receive the Entrepreneur of the Year award and it is an honour to be recognised - I am passionate about SME growth and look forward to continuing to bring jobs and prosperity to the North East of England.”

Founded eight years earlier by her father Brian in his garage, Walker Filtration most recently recorded an annual turnover of £30m. Its success is based on a company ethos of combining technological knowhow with problem solving and an ability to swiftly respond to ever-changing industry needs. A takeover in March by Swedish firm Atlas Copco is expected to make Walker Filtration one of the world’s largest manufacturers of filtration products – presenting a great opportunity to further strengthen the position of manufacturing in the North East.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT PAUL CALLAGHAN CBE Sunderland entrepreneur Paul Callaghan CBE was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The chairman and co-founder of global software and internet company, The Leighton Group, was lauded for his vision and innovation in this fast-paced sector as well as the huge commitment he has given throughout his career to championing and helping to drive the North East economy forward.

Paul Callaghan CBE, The Leighton Group

“It’s an amazing honour to receive this award from the Entrepreneurs’ Forum. The North East is a great place to do business and we are proud of what we have achieved here. It’s important to find a location, set down roots, stay there and grow there. The support we have received has been astonishing and it has allowed us to succeed in the North East.”



North East Entrepreneurial Awards



Fortune Favours the Brave

FORTUNE FAVOURS THE BRAVE MORE THAN 200 MEMBERS OF THE NORTH EAST BUSINESS AND ENTREPRENEURIAL COMMUNITY WERE CHALLENGED TO HELP REVITALISE THE ECONOMY, WHEN WE HOSTED OUR GLOBAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP WEEK CONFERENCE, ‘FORTUNE FAVOURS THE BRAVE’. He added: “No-one wants to sit down with their grandchildren and talk about how much money they’ve made, but what their money helped to achieve.” Bob Keiller CBE, the former chief executive of Wood Group and owner of entrepreneurial consultancy AB15, gave an inspiring presentation on utilising effective storytelling into business practices, such as during pitches and when giving presentations. Bob said: “The heart of leadership is all about communication – it’s taken me a long time to realise that the key to communication is storytelling. If you can harness it, it’s like rocket fuel and can make a huge difference. Presented by BBC Newcastle’s Charlie Charlton, and sponsored by Recognition PR, the conference, the Forum’s final one before the UK officially begins its withdrawal from the European Union, emphasised the important role that business will have in a post-Brexit world. Chris Hulatt, who co-founded investment firm Octopus Group, implored business leaders in the audience to ‘embrace, rather than fight change’ while echoing the importance of maintaining a strong brand in order to grow and ‘change the world’:

“Entrepreneurs will be the ones who are going to be the driving force of revitalising the economy. “Your values need to be memorable as the success of your company is going to be down to your people, who should never be compromised. Trust your instincts and gut feelings; one of the worst things is to be paralysed by decision-making.” Chris has overseen Octopus’ growth from an investment company, which has helped put more than £8.3bn into the UK economy, to a multi-faceted organisation.

“Get your story right, and people will remember it.” The day’s introductory session, chaired by Graham Robb, senior partner of Recognition PR, drew on effective finance strategies that have supported three regional businesses’ potential and growth. Nigel Mills CBE, chairman of The Lakes Distillery, Kevin Brown, group managing director of home services firm Pacifica Group, and Rob Mathieson, who founded technology company ION Industries, all spoke about their own distinct business growth journeys.



Fortune Favours the Brave




Mark Inglis, the first double amputee to have summited Mount Everest, delivered, undoubtedly, the conference’s most inspirational presentation. He recalled spending 13 and a half days at the summit of Mount Cook, due to a blizzard, which resulted in the loss of his legs below the knee. His focus and determination resulted in Mark winning Paralympic Silver - the first New Zealand Olympian to win a medal in cycling. He has since gone on to become a renowned winemaker, motivator and founder of charity, Limb 4 Life. Tamara Roberts, CEO of sparkling wine company Ridgeview and Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen rounded off a successful conference. Tamara talked about how her family-run business has grown to produce nearly 300,000 bottles of sparkling wine wine each year and exports to 12 countries, while Mr Houchen outlined his ongoing work to build a strong local economy across the region, as well as the creation of an Access to Finance Fund to provide capital investment for SMEs. “Since taking the position as Mayor, I’ve seen first-hand the fantastic businesses that are based within the North East. But if our economy is to flourish, we need to talk positively about our businesses and our region. We need to shout about our successes and start talking up Teesside.”




AS IT HAPPENED… People joined the conversation online throughout the day using the hashtag #NEentrepreneurs.

“We loved hearing all about @RidgeviewWineUK and the history and future of English sparkling wine in Tamara’s presentation. #NEentrepreneurs #GEW2018” Geonet Solutions

“Learning, absorbing and networking today #NEentrepreneurs @entforum It’s all about telling stories today with @Bob_Keiller @WynyardHall”

“Absolutely blown away by hearing Mark Inglis speaking at the Entrepreneurs’ Forum conference today – what an unbelievably brave (and hilarious) man! #explorer #inspiration” Ben Johnson Ltd

“It’s been a fantastic day so far at the annual Fortune Favours the Brave Entrepreneurs’ Forum conference.” Just Williams

BeaconHouse Events

“Great start to the day @entforum Autumn Conference hearing from Chris Hulatt @OisforOctopus #NEentrepreneurs”

“Fascinating #stories (and prop usage!) from Bob Keiller at the Entrepreneurs’ Forum #GEW2018 Conference titled ‘Fortune Favours the Brave’” Imvelo


“Taking time out today to attend @entforum Fortune Favours the Brave conference. Always a great day. #NEentrepreneurs” Bryony Gibson Consulting

“I’m at the Entrepreneurs’ Forum event today. Some great speakers. Looking forward to catching up with some of our favourite friends and customers along with meeting plenty of new people too.” Bid and Research Development


Fortune Favours the Brave



Entrepreneur Roya Irving and Interview Rosa Talai


! r e t s i S

“Although we are both qualified solicitors, Rosa and I had always talked about opening our own restaurant.”



Roya Irving and Rosa Talai



Quitting their jobs as qualified solicitors in 2012, the duo set to launch their own restaurant, the aptly named Sorella Sorella, in a delightful pub in Gateshead’s Sunniside. Born out of the sister’s passion for Italian food, the restaurant prides itself on its authentic Italian cuisine, made from the highest quality ingredients, and its fantastic customer service. The sisters acknowledge it’s their close-knit team of 30 which make it all possible – and having won the 2018 English Italian Award for Best Team in England, it’s hard to disagree. Now approaching their seventh year in business, the sisters show no signs of slowing down, with ambitious plans to replicate Sorella Sorella’s charm and success in a second restaurant. Tell us about your backgrounds in business? Roya: We had rather unconventional backgrounds to running a restaurant as we both studied law. I attended Durham

University and went into commercial property law with a big Newcastle firm, while Rosa graduated from Newcastle University and joined a large management consultancy company in London. However, our parents had run a number of food-related businesses and we have always been involved, so it is in the blood! Although we are both qualified solicitors, Rosa and I had always talked about opening our own restaurant – although it took two to three years to pluck up enough courage to quit our jobs to follow our dream by opening Sorella Sorella in 2012. We both worked for reputable companies and had successful careers, but somehow it felt we should be elsewhere. In the end, it was about the passion as our hearts were always in the food and hospitality industry. The advice and support from our parents was invaluable in setting up the restaurant.

We were always involved in the running of their restaurants, but going it alone was completely different, especially as Sorella Sorella is a large establishment and requires a great deal of hard work to run successfully. So, we were fortunate to have the knowhow available within the family. What was the inspiration for your business? Rosa: We both have a passion for food, in particular Italian food and for Italy itself. We love eating out so knew instinctively the essential ingredients required to run a popular restaurant. We wanted to create somewhere that customers could return to time and again and be assured of the same consistently high levels of quality in terms of food and service. Tell us how your business has progressed? Roya: The restaurant used to be a pub called The Rose, Shamrock and Thistle, which dates back to 1880. It is a big building in Sunniside, Gateshead.



Roya Irving and Rosa Talai

We took over the premises in March 2012 and completely renovated it, putting our own ideas into every aspect of the design. The renovation was completed in October 2012 and we opened for business soon after. It sits 115 diners and there is more seating in the lounge. We still have the pub’s original sign on display as a reminder of those early days and its past history. Since we opened six years ago, we have learnt a lot about the business and, more importantly, our customers. Whenever we tweak our menus or any aspect of the business, it is done so with the customer firmly in mind. Sorella Sorella has grown financially year on year and we are forecasting further growth over the coming years. We now employ around 30 members of staff. What is your proudest moment? Rosa: On Sunday, October 7, we won the English Italian Award for Best Team in England for our staff and food at a ceremony in Manchester. It is a national award so we are incredibly proud - as running a restaurant, especially one as large as ours, really does rely on great teamwork. To hear our name called out and to pick up that award was just amazing.


However, we have proud moments all the time, in fact whenever the restaurant is full and has a buzzing atmosphere. It always makes us feel proud because our customers have chosen to dine with us rather than our many competitors. Is there a particular mistake you have made in business and how did you learn from it? Roya: Fortunately we have not made any major mistakes. As and when problems arise, we resolve them and always remember our dad’s original advice to learn from it, move on and try not to let it happen again. What is your unique selling point? Rosa: We are a family-run restaurant and we treat our staff and customers as though they are part of the family. Our USP is excellent quality food and service and one of us is always there to welcome our customers and see to their needs. We have a large, regular customer base and our team ensures that every time they dine with us they receive friendly, personal service. What is the most important part of your business? Roya: The two most important elements are our customers and staff. Rosa and I have both worked for major companies and we know how important it is for people to

be happy at work and to achieve a good work-life balance. We put both our staff and customers at the heart of everything we do. Do you live by a certain motto? Rosa: We don’t have a specific motto, but we always try to remain positive – which means remaining motivated whenever something challenging happens. What are your future plans? Roya: When the time is right we would like to open another restaurant. I feel everything we have learned here can be transferred to another venture. We want to continue to grow Sorella Sorella and aim to make every service as busy and efficient as possible. We both recently joined the Entrepreneurs’ Forum and have attended a number of inspirational events, which is helping us formulate our plans for the future.

“We are a family-run restaurant and we treat our staff and customers as though they are part of the family.”



Andrew Tomlinson


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Tell your entrepreneurial friends why you’re a member of the Forum

You or your friend give us a call 0191 500 7780

Your friend becomes a member and, as a thank you, we give you both a place at our next conference, saving you £99 (+VAT) each


Terms & Conditions: To join, your friend must run a North East based business which turns over at least £250,000 annually. Your free conference places are offered once your friend has joined the Forum.



Scale-up: The Story So Far

SCALE-UP: THE STORY SO FAR UNLOCKING THE NORTH EAST’S SCALE-UP POTENTIAL Scale-up businesses (those that have grown in staff numbers and turnover by more than 20% during each of the last three years) contribute £1trillion to the economy and employ over 3.6m people. Currently there are 35,210 of these high-growth businesses in the UK which, in the North East equates to 1,010 companies. Combined, these generate revenue in excess of £12.8bn and have created jobs for over 86,000 people. It’s clear that we all need to support these businesses and their leaders, as they aim to overcome the challenges of high-growth, but at the recent 2018 Annual Scaleup Review the question was asked about exactly how we go about helping the UK’s most ambitious entrepreneurs?

THE 2018 SCALE-UP REVIEW Hosted by the ScaleUp Institute and created in collaboration with the Office of National Statistics, the 2018 Annual Scaleup Review provides a comprehensive analysis of the UK scale-up scene, using detailed research undertaken across all UK regions. After speaking to more than 2,000 scale-ups and analysing the landscape of each LEP region, the review found that the North East saw a 7% rise in the number of high-growth businesses in comparison to last year. Positive figures - which are more than comparable with the rest of the UK - but the focus of the review was undeniably on the barriers faced by entrepreneurs and how we can help them to overcome issues around access to markets, talent, leadership, finance and infrastructure. Collaborating with our region’s two LEPs, the ScaleUp Institute identified a number of key barriers for North East entrepreneurs, including access to talent, access to UK markets and leadership development. In its findings it also placed a particular emphasis on the importance of peer-to-peer networks, citing them as the most significant local support scheme for scale-ups.


It’s clear that the national focus the Scaleup Institute has brought to both the national and local policy agendas is significant, but it would be remiss to say the scale-up race has been won. As of 2018, there are over 220 dedicated ‘scale-up support programmes’ in the UK, with only 37 endorsed by the ScaleUp Institute. This makes it hard for business owners to know where to turn for help, but we’re proud to say that the Entrepreneurs’ Forum Scale-up Leader’s Academy is one of the 37, and even featured in the annual review as ‘One to Watch’ and an example of best practice.

“It’s clear what scaleups want. It’s ever clearer what we must do. Together we can scale through continuing to be a combined and concerted community - collaborating, coordinating, and connecting.” Irene Graham, CEO ScaleUp Institute


Scale-up: The Story So Far

SCALE-UP LEADER’S ACADEMY Since launching in 2017, the Scale-up Leader’s Academy has supported 20 ambitious North East business owners to focus on their growth journey and to build a blueprint for future business success. The first cohort of entrepreneurs, which have been the subject of independent impact research conducted by Newcastle University, have reported a 66.37% increase in their business revenue since completing the Academy - equivalent to an added average value of £668,413 per business. Combined with a positive uplift in growth mind-set across the board, the numbers speak for themselves, but it’s the feedback from our learners that truly demonstrate the value of the Academy. Joanna Feeley, managing director of Trend Bible, reported a 36% increase in her turnover since completing the Academy. On reflection, it was the peer-to-peer learning that was beneficial to her and her team: “The most impactful part for me has been being able to access oneto-one time with a dedicated mentor and crucially, getting to openly discuss growth issues with other business leaders.

“The Academy was well worthwhile in my opinion; we grew 36% in turnover, and maintained our double figure profit margin the year after the programme. It certainly worked for us.”

“We think we’ve identified a cost-effective framework that will hopefully allow us to triple turnover in the next five years, without having to re-evaluate plans at every stage.” Dominic Lusardi, Animmersion

“Taking ideas from the programme and other business leaders, and applying them to Animmersion, has definitely influenced our growth. Joanna and Dominic’s testimonials highlight the importance of a collaborative and supportive environment for ambitious entrepreneurs offered by the Academy. Ultimately, it is through such an environment where experiences and knowledge can be shared. New for 2019, our Scale-up Leader’s Academy includes six extra sessions designed specifically for collaborative working between business owners and their senior leadership team. The ambition of these sessions is to enable senior managers to support entrepreneurs in realising their vision and implementing a blueprint for business growth. In January, we welcomed a new group of entrepreneurs to the Academy and we’d be delighted to hear from those North East business owners who have ambitious plans to grow and succeed.

Joanna Feeley, Trend Bible

Joanna’s comments are echoed by Dominic Lusardi, co-founder of digital media consultancy Animmersion. His business recently celebrated the successful launch of the world’s largest mixed-reality display - the launch forms part of the company’s ambitious growth strategy to double turnover in the next two years and enter new markets. Of the Academy, Dominic said:

For more information on the Scale-up Leader’s Academy, please visit scaleup or contact the Entrepreneurs’ Forum team on 0191 500 7780.



Together We’re Stronger


Operating one of the most modern factories in Europe, The Encore Group is a leading one-stop-shop supplier of print and packaging solutions. They offer a complete solution for any brand, with printed packaging, envelopes and all commercial print, including leaflets, catalogues and marketing materials. Nestled between the Tyne and Swing Bridges on Gateshead’s quayside, the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead takes in stunning views of the River Tyne and city and with quality accommodation, complimented by inspirational event spaces for corporate events, meetings and conferences of up to 500 people, the hotel is set up perfectly to support North East business. Narrative Integrated Communications believe in effective marketing made simple, measurable, valuable and above all, aligned with business objectives. Bringing together multiple marketing services and disciplines under one roof, they provide solutions to their clients’ challenges and aspirations in a flexible, collaborative and easy way. By becoming the Entrepreneurs’ Forum’s exclusive Corporate Partner for their business sector, these experts in their field are demonstrating their commitment to support


the North East’s business community. They join existing Corporate Partners Brewin Dolphin, Deloitte, Diamond Group, Barclays Eagle Labs, Gateshead College, Newcastle United, Sage, TOC Property Backed Lending Trust and Ward Hadaway. EXCLUSIVE ENTREPRENEURS’ FORUM MEMBER OFFER: Using your name and the Entrepreneurs’ Forum as your booking reference, members can receive: •

25% discount off food and beverage at the Windows on The Tyne Restaurant (to book, call 0191 4909727 or contact: 15% discount off the standard, deluxe, executive and suite room rate at The Hilton Newcastle Gateshead (to book, call 0191 4909707 or contact 20% off meet and event room hire at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead (to book, call 0191 490 9727 or contact

We are proud to help North East entrepreneurs grow successful businesses and our Business Support Partners are no different. Whether it’s simplifying routes to finance, offering advice about new and international markets or supporting with infrastructure and connectivity, our support partners all offer specific areas of expertise that can help a business owner. LNER has recently joined the Department for International Trade, North East LEP, Tees Valley Combined Authority and Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside Universities as our newest Business Support Partner. Taking the reins of the iconic east coast mainline last summer, LNER play a pivotal role in the upkeep and management of the North East’s rail links to London, South East England, East Anglia, Yorkshire and Scotland; and they want to make travelling for work, work for you. EXCLUSIVE ENTREPRENEURS’ FORUM MEMBER OFFER: When signing up for an account on LNER4Business (LNER’s hassle free online booking tool - 4business), Entrepreneurs’ Forum members can apply the following discounts: •

25% discount off LNER First Anytime Single & Return tickets, valid on LNER services to/from London King’s Cross before 31st October 2019 (use promotional code NEEF1819F).

Access to CORP 50 level Standard Corporate Single (25% below the Standard Anytime Single fare), valid on LNER services travelling before 31st October from the following stations to/ from London King’s Cross: Edinburgh Waverley, Dunbar, Newcastle Central, Durham, and York. (use promotional code NEEF1819S).


Together We’re Stronger

INTRODUCING BARCLAYS EAGLE LABS BARCLAYS’ GROWING NETWORK OF EAGLE LABS ARE DESIGNED TO DRIVE INNOVATION, ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND THE DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION OF THE UK BY PROVIDING STARTUPS AND SCALE-UPS WITH THE SKILLS AND TOOLS TO CREATE, INNOVATE AND GROW. Barclays is committed to supporting businesses to advance their skills and digital confidence, and offer co-working and office space, structured mentoring, events designed to help businesses grow, industry and corporate transformation and access to new and emerging technologies through their Eagle Lab network. Having grown to 19 Eagle Labs across the UK in locations such as Newcastle, Cambridge, Brighton, Liverpool and Birmingham - and with more Labs in the pipeline - they have opened their doors to more than 150,000 visitors and hosted over 2,000 community and business events since launching the first Lab in late 2015. Barclays facilitate and deliver learning and activities such as coding, digital fabrication and rapid product prototyping, as well as offer business incubation, mentoring and coworking and office space for ambitious highgrowth businesses. Their aim is to become an integral part of the business and local community and complement the ecosystem wherever they operate.

As well as supporting businesses, they are driving innovation and digital transformation across multiple industries by bringing together corporates and leading universities with ambitious start-ups so they can work together to transform the industry. The original concept for Eagle Labs was to take over under-used branch and office space and turn them into thriving business and community hubs to drive digital skills that help develop the UK economy. They have since broadened the model to work with partners who share their vision to create a prosperous and progressive community and have extended their reach beyond Barclays’ spaces by partnering with organisations such as L&G in Cardiff, Avenue HQ in Liverpool, CodeBase in Edinburgh and Ormeau Baths in Belfast, to name a few.

The new Lab will also include a ‘Maker Space’ that will be equipped with digital fabrication equipment and include a dedicated engineer to help businesses and entrepreneurs gain a foothold into the world of Industry 4.0 - which includes internet of things, user experience, sensor technology, advanced manufacturing and augmented reality - as they believe that embracing new technologies and techniques are critical for the success of businesses.

Barclays are looking forward to getting to know and being part of the thriving Newcastle ecosystem. Find out how they can support you and your business at and @Eagle_Labs.

Barclays are excited to have launched the next Eagle Lab in Newcastle, in partnership with TusPark and aim to open up an international gateway for UK and Chinese businesses that will help to drive UK local economic growth in the North East.

Barclays Bank UK PLC. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (Financial Services Register No. 759676). Registered in England. Registered No. 9740322. Registered Office: 1 Churchill Place, London E14 5HP.



Together We’re Stronger

SAGE ADVICE GROWING YOUR BUSINESS CAN BE CHALLENGING. AKIN TO SPINNING PLATES, THERE’S THE TASK OF FINDING NEW CUSTOMERS, RETAINING YOUR CURRENT ONES, PROVIDING YOUR SERVICE TO A HIGH STANDARD OR SELLING YOUR GOODS. AND THEN COMES THE BUSINESS ADMIN… Research recently undertook by Sage revealed that UK businesses spend 120 working days a year on admin tasks - and from the start of 2018 until October, unnecessary admin has cost small and medium-sized enterprises £30.8bn. So trying to be productive while growing is tricky. But it doesn’t have to be this way. To help your business achieve its ambitions of growth, here are some steps worth taking that can assist you in your bid to keep building your company: Identify growth opportunities If you’re setting your sights on growing your business, it pays to sit down and put a growth strategy in place. One option may be to consider offering new products and services. If you own a coffee shop, for example, you might turn to offering a new range of sandwiches to encourage the lunchtime trade to spend money with you. Running a health and fitness venue? Perhaps you could partner with a physio or nutritionist and offer new services that could benefit your customers. Grow your customer base It takes time and dedication to grow your customer base. But by doing this, you’ll be creating an increased pipeline of revenue that will help your business to expand. It can be a balancing act - finding new customers while


keeping your current crop happy - but hitting the sweet spot will help in the long run. How best can you do this? Dedicate the time to seek new customers, perhaps via word of mouth by offering great value and excellent customer experiences to your existing base, at events, using PR tactics, and so on. And ask for feedback, both from your existing and new customers - by doing so, you can keep improving and offering your goods and services in a way that keeps everyone happy. Digitise your business As your business grows, technology will be your friend. Rather than sticking with your trusty pen and pad of paper or even relying on spreadsheets to stay on top of your business admin, turning to digital accounting will save you time and money. According to research by Sage, businesses that adopt digital processes are twice as likely to report higher than 10% growth. Meanwhile, making the move to digital accounting can lead to businesses saving £17,000 per year due to less time spent on admin. With the opportunity to automate manual processes, reduce errors, have real-time insights on cash flow, boost productivity and be sure your business is compliant when it comes to legislation such as Making Tax Digital, it’s worth considering a cloud accounting software solution.

And as your business grows, payment and payroll software will help your business to stay on top of making and receiving payments and making sure your staff are paid on time respectively. Digitising your business is a great way to tackle that admin and give you the time to keep growing. Find funding If you want to grow your business, you need to have the funds in place to make it happen. It’s true to say that the bigger your business grows the more capital you’ll need to cover salaries, inventory, equipment and much more. If going to your bank manager doesn’t leave you with the desired results, don’t despair. From government grants to crowdfunding, angel investors, peer-to-peer lending and venture capitalists, there are numerous paths your business can take to get the funding you require to grow. Final thoughts Growing your business is an exciting time - moving from a small company into something larger might have its challenges but it’s worth remembering why you got into business in the first place. Stay ambitious, keep moving, get the right advice and support and work hard (and smart), and you’ll find your company goes in the right direction.


Together We’re Stronger

CASH IS NOT KING by Gary Fawcett, Brewin Dolphin There’s something reassuring about money in the bank. It’s easily accessible; stowed away in a trusted institution; and, when you make a withdrawal, it’s tangible. No wonder then that in times of uncertainty people tend to favour cash, believing it will protect their savings. By contrast, investors often only feel comfortable investing in stocks, shares, and funds when the outlook feels relatively certain. As we enter 2019 the world looks very different from where it was 12 months ago. Back then, developed and emerging markets were enjoying an economic upturn: growing together for the first time since the financial crisis. Now the global economy is undergoing a synchronised downturn. Even the US, which last year stood out as a beacon of economic strength, is expected to slow in 2019 (although for now it is still defying the sceptics), and all this could be tempting people to stockpile cash in the bank. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as risk-free investing - even if you do place your money in a bank account - and the simple reason for that is inflation. Inflation quantifies the increase or decrease in the cost of living, measured by movements in the consumer price index. Generally speaking, it’s given comparatively little attention, despite its clear impact on your shopping basket.

You won’t see the effects of inflation published on your bank statement, for instance. All you see is your cash and the interest gained, which doesn’t make any adjustment for what the balance is worth in real terms. Yet, the effects of inflation can be damaging, gradually eroding the value of your money. A more accurate bank statement would illustrate how much you have ‘lost’ through the decline in your savings’ purchasing power. To take an example, let’s say you had £10,000 in cash 10 years ago. According to our research, the actual return on that figure, taking inflation into account, has averaged negative 1.80% per year over the past decade. Even removing the effects of tax, that’s the equivalent of losing £180 annually at the outset. And, after 10 years, the total losses in terms of spending power would have totalled £1,663. You’re then left with a cash sum with a real value of just £8,337 - a 17% decline. This is because inflation has pushed up the cost of goods and services in the real world while the interest paid on your cash has failed to keep up. And, of course, any tax you need to pay on your interest would reduce the returns still further. The Office for National Statistics announced in the summer that inflation had risen for the first time since November 2017, to 2.5% in July. If it stays at that level for a decade, it

would turn £10,000 today to the equivalent of just £7,763.30, reducing the value of your money by almost a quarter. With inflation far outpacing the Bank of England’s base interest rate of 0.75%, savers are losing money every day. There are numerous ways of protecting against the erosive effects of inflation, but none have been as consistent as investing in stocks and shares. Naturally, even in the most cautious portfolio there is a risk to capital and, if stock markets fall, you could end up with less than you put in. But, investing in equities should be viewed as a five-year commitment at the very least, which increases the likelihood of a positive return after inflation. Broadly speaking, the opposite is true with cash: the longer it is in the bank, the more likely you are to have a negative real return because of inflation. In fact, over the past 10 years after-inflation returns on shares have outperformed the equivalent on cash by 74%. Money in the bank may feel safe in times of uncertainty - more than £200 billion languishing in cash ISAs suggests a lot of people follow that mantra. But it’s merely eroding savings and people’s purchasing power. Brewin Dolphin are a corporate partner of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum and one of the UK’s leading providers of personalised investment management and financial planning.

For more information or to find out more, contact Gary Fawcett on 0191 2797300 or at



Together WelcomeWe’re Stronger


Ken Arnold

Karl McCracken

Delivered by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), it’s a crucial part of the North East’s regional growth strategy, offering expert advice and guidance on how to find the right help for a growing business. To make sure more businesses can access support through the North East Growth Hub, the LEP recently launched ‘Growth Hub Connect’, and appointed two Growth Hub Connectors - Ken Arnold and Karl McCracken - to provide impartial one-to-one support for those who prefer a more human touch. Working with businesses of any size and stage to identify the best and most relevant help available, the Connectors introduce people and organisations that match businesses’ ambitions to help them realise their growth potential.

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Prior to joining the North East LEP, Ken worked at the Business and Enterprise Group supporting the work of the Business Support Helpline and Growth Hubs across the North of England. He has also provided freelance management and business support advice to organisations including the North East Business and Innovation Centre and Raytec. Karl has run a number of businesses including a manufacturing consultancy and copywriting business. An experienced business coach, Karl worked for Enterprise Agency, Go Wansbeck, before joining the third sector where he worked for sustainable transport charity Sustrans and North East charity, Recyke y’bike. It is Ken and Karl’s job to identify the help firms really need, and connect them to the business support providers, initiatives and resources that can help them on their journey. What form that help takes will be unique for each business; from access to finance and funding, to developing operations, markets, products and people. By understanding the business needs, they will match companies with providers or recommend programmes that can help them grow.

“There’s so much support available to businesses in the region but that can make it hard for business owners to find the support that’s right for them. The Growth Hub Connectors will help to bridge that gap, with impartial and transparent advice to bring businesses and providers together.” Karl McCracken, Growth Hub Connector.

By adding experienced, hands on support, the North East LEP hopes to help thousands of businesses access the growth hub portal and the associated helpline, web chat and e-mail facilities.

To speak to the Connectors, call 0191 338 7468 or visit


Together We’re Stronger

EXPORTING MADE EASY The Department for International Trade (DIT) is looking to encourage more small and medium-sized businesses to export goods and services as the UK’s impending exit from the EU raises potential new opportunities.

“If a company like ours from Gateshead can do it, others can too. Exporting can be challenging at times, but there’s help out there for businesses interested in getting their products abroad.

Working with the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) to try to address some of the challenges, DIT’s plan is to use campaigns such as ‘Great’ and ‘Exporting is Great’ to show more businesses the merits of exporting and shift perceptions around the complexity of this.

“One of the ways in which we’ve found support is through DIT’s International Trade Adviser network. Our trade adviser has been an exporting mentor to me, and we meet regularly to work out how we can refine the business’ exporting strategy.”

Working with DIT’s North East team, Blue Kangaroo is an outstanding example of a regional business that has capitalised on their international opportunities. In 2018 they won a contract with the National Geographic Society, the most recent in a series of export wins for the company. The business currently generates around 80% of its turnover through exporting, with clients across Australasia, Asia, Europe and North America, and has seen its turnover increase by 30% over the last three years as a result of exporting. In March 2018, the agency was one of four UK companies to be recognised at the Department for International Trade’s (DIT) inaugural Board of Trade Awards for its outstanding contribution to international trade. Managing director, Jason Knights, currently serves as a Northern Powerhouse Export Champion, encouraging other businesses across the North East to explore overseas opportunities.

From speaking to David Coppock, head of regions at the North East DIT, it’s clear that there is currently a huge demand for British products abroad, and the demand is growing. Last year alone, North East exports totalled £12.9 billion, an increase of 8% on 2016. If you’re not currently exporting, DIT recommends that it takes preparation to be successful and you must make sure you have the right resources and skills in place before you start. From market research through to operational logistics, they can help you to define the process and find the information you need on legislation and to understand your customers, so you can be successful at selling overseas. There are currently fourteen International Trade Advisers (ITA) who operate across the North East, working with first time exporters. They can help anyone wishing to enter new markets or increase overseas sales in existing markets.

The ITAs cover all sectors and can assist those both selling goods and those delivering services overseas. Additionally, DIT also has a dedicated E-commerce Adviser who specialises in assisting businesses using their own websites and e-commerce platforms for international sales. In both the North East LEP and Tees Valley Combined Authority areas, DIT administers an ERDF project to increase the North East presence in overseas markets. These two projects can provide bespoke support to assist businesses to develop an Export Growth Action Plan and, subject to eligibility, may be able to provide grant funding to support internationalisation plans. The flexible grant fund could contribute to the costs of international marketing, overseas travel or legal advice tailored to the individual need of the business. Within the ERDF programme there is also a Virtual Export Manager project which enables businesses that need to engage a specialist to solve a specific export problem to access funds to support that cost. If your business is looking for export support call 0345 136 0169, email or visit




ENTREPRENEWS THE LATEST NEWS FROM THE NORTH EAST ENTREPRENEURIAL COMMUNITY. IAN BAGGETT, ADDERSTONE GROUP ADDERSTONE GROUP OPEN LONDON OFFICE Newcastle-based property business, Adderstone Group, has opened a London office in a move which sees the Group focusing on residential and commercial opportunities in the capital. Adderstone Group, which is currently progressing a £100m pipeline of developments in the North East, has opened the office in Marylebone. Adderstone London is being headed up by Philippa Gray, director, making the move from Adderstone Group’s HQ in Newcastle.

Having spent three years within the development team in Newcastle, Philippa will initially be project managing the delivery of Sultan House, a luxury residential scheme in Bermondsey, South East London and also working with key contacts in the capital to establish residential and commercial development and investment opportunities.

Adderstone Group has a long track record in the delivery of successful residential and commercial schemes, predominantly in the North East. An economic footprint prepared by Planning Consultants Lichfield Planning and Development Consultancy has confirmed that the Group has provided homes for over 2,000 people and has delivered projects with a combined construction value of over £400m in the North East region.



North East-based engineering and design consultancy, Ardmore Craig, is thrilled to have teamed up with British number one bobsleigh driver, Mica McNeill.

As well as providing funding towards Mica’s training and travel costs, Ardmore Craig are involved with component design for the bobsleigh.

The firm teamed up with Mica following a talk at the 2018 Entrepreneurs’ Forum spring conference, where she discussed her career so far and the challenge she faced when her funding was withdrawn by British bobsleigh’s governing body, inspiring her to set up a crowdfunding campaign to get her to the Winter Olympics.

Using existing runners as a reference point and with a pair of officially certified blanks, the team has developed the first set of runner profiles in its 3D CAD package, with prototypes having been manufactured using a 3D printer to verify the geometry. The 3D model will be used to machine the blanks in the North East of England prior to being tested on the ice later this year.



SARA DAVIES, CRAFTER’S COMPANION CRAFT BUSINESS EXPANDS US PRESENCE Global craft retailer, Crafter’s Companion, has announced plans to move its US headquarters to a larger space in Corona, California following a huge growth in sales from $12m to an estimated $22m over the past two years. The new office and warehouse, which will be 31,000 sq. ft, has been primarily driven by increased demand from key accounts including the Home Shopping Network (HSN), Notions Marketing, and fellow retailers such as Tuesday Morning and Hobby Lobby.

The company is currently recruiting for several new positions across customer service, compliance and design to join the current team of 30. Among Crafter’s Companion’s new appointments are two senior recruits that will both be based in the company’s new US headquarters.

Lister Hargreaves joins the team as CFO, bringing over 17 years’ experience of the global finance industry. Kelli Snowgold has been promoted to the newly created role of VP of Commercial Strategy to develop and drive the business growth strategy, sales and marketing.

STEPHEN IRISH, HYPERDRIVE INNOVATION SUNDERLAND-BASED HYPERDRIVE SECURES £6.7 MILLION EQUITY FUNDING BOOST FROM SHAREHOLDERS Hyperdrive Innovation has announced an additional £6.7m of equity funding from its existing shareholder base to support the company’s ambitious growth plans in the UK and internationally, as well as ensure it is debt free. The new investment means that since it was founded in 2012, Hyperdrive has raised a total of £9.6m in investment and grants from Santon Capital plc and other shareholders, including Hamilton Capital Partners and Newcastle based Rivers Capital Partners. Based at the Future Technology Centre in Sunderland, Hyperdrive designs and

manufactures innovative Li-ion battery packs, incorporating Nissan LEAF cell technology and Hyperdrive’s own battery management system. Hyperdrive’s technology is developed exclusively in-house by a world-class engineering team. The company has a strong focus on growing its intellectual property portfolio. Hyperdrive is a commercialisation partner to global OEMs developing new electric vehicles and machines, and providers of battery energy storage systems to power homes and businesses. The deal was reached with the legal support of Ward Hadaway, based in Newcastle.




BRETT JACOBSON, MEDIAWORKS MEDIAWORKS IS ON THE MOVE One of the largest digital marketing agencies in the North East has moved offices to accommodate its ongoing headcount growth. Mediaworks, which has operated in Team Valley since it was founded in 2007, has relocated its team of over 100 colleagues to the Honeycomb at The Watermark in Gateshead as it continues to expand. The move offers Mediaworks the capacity to occupy office space of up to 20,000 sq ft, while the agency has signed a 10-year lease as it continues to go from strength to strength.

In 2018, Mediaworks has welcomed over 30 new faces to its ranks as it continues to grow, supporting an ever-increasing number of clients to enhance their digital visibility via channels including Paid Search (PPC), Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Online Reputation Management (ORM), Web Development and Content Marketing.

Exclusive additions to the new Mediaworks HQ include a brand-spanking new social space that will let the whole team take a break from their digital platforms to unwind. Meanwhile, the new Town Hall - an 80+ seater auditorium - will allow teams to deliver expert industry and marketing advice, including the monthly Mediaworks Masterclasses.

KARI OWERS, O PR O IS NAMED IN BEST PR AGENCIES OUTSIDE LONDON Newcastle-based O Communications has been shortlisted for the prestigious 2018 PR Week Awards in the Best Agency Outside London category, for the second year running. After scooping the Best Places to Work Award (Small Business Category) earlier in the year and ranking ninth overall in the region’s Top 50 businesses to work for, the creative communications agency has its eyes firmly on this national prize which recognises client growth, strategy, people development and company culture. O client list includes Flymo, Goldsmiths, Parkdean Resorts and British Masters and has been revealed by PR Week as one of the top six agencies headquartered outside London. The news comes following O’s recent £650,000 investment into new office space and hires to gear towards further growth in creative and digital services. Each shortlisted agency at the PR Week Awards faced a panel interview and presentation with a judging panel of top industry leaders.




EAN PARSONS, PARSONS CONTAINERS MAVEN LEADS £825,000 INVESTMENT IN PARSONS CONTAINERS Maven Capital Partners, one of the UK’s most active private equity houses, through its management of the Finance Durham and North East Development Capital Funds has provided £825,000 of funding to independent shipping container supplier, Parsons Containers. The funds have invested £500,000 and £325,000 respectively, which will support the company’s growth plans, enhancing its digital presence online and help the business to open four new sites for its self-storage brand, ‘U Hold the Key’, in the next 12 months.

A long-established supplier of shipping containers for all applications by sale and hire throughout the UK, Parsons has a growing reputation in industry. The company is one of the UK’s largest multi-discipline shipping container businesses, operating on multiple sites, including a strong presence in the North East.

Under the “Parsons Containers” and “ContainerContainer” brands, the company supplies shipping containers to industries for shipping and freight and for applications including accommodation and storage. These include the self-storage industry, construction, off-shore, local government, schools and catering.

STEVE PEARSON & ALEX HAYWARD, PHUSION PHUSION GEARS UP FOR EXPANSION WITH NPIF - FW CAPITAL INVESTMENT Teesside-based engineering information management firm Phusion has secured a significant six figure investment from NPIF - FW Capital Debt Finance, part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) and managed by FW Capital. Phusion, which serves a global client list from its offices in the UK and internationally, was founded in 1992 to provide information management to asset intensive industries. The Billingham-based company that employs a team of 20 has managed information for some of the largest engineering projects in

the world and has won multiple accolades, including a Queen’s Award for Enterprise. Phusion will invest the funding into product and business development, as well as using it to gear up for delivering bigger projects. The expansion and new product launches are expected to grow team numbers by 25% over the next 12 months. Operating from the British Business Bank’s Sheffield head office, the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund provides a mix of debt and equity funding (£25,000 to £2m) to support Northern-based SMEs at all stages of their development.




GRAHAM ROBB, RECOGNITION PR US LINK-UP FOR RECOGNITION PR Recognition PR, the North East England-based PR business has announced a collaborative agreement with the US-based practice Devine + Partners, a respected PR firm based in Philadelphia PA. The agreement will enable clients of each firm to access services in either the US or UK markets, strengthening their ability to promote products and services at a time when the UK’s global trade policy is to actively expand beyond the EU. Recognition PR is a long-standing firm of 30 years with in excess of 80 clients based around the UK. Its clients are in multiple

NEIL ADDYMAN, RESTAURANT DESIGN ASSOCIATES (RDA) RDA OPENS LONDON OFFICE DUE TO CLIENT DEMAND Due to client demand, RDA, one of the UK’s leading design and installation companies has recently opened an office in central London. As a result of increased business in the capital, the company wanted to be ideally located to respond to London’s thriving hospitality scene and fast paced opportunities. The new office, which is based on Argyle Walk near Kings Cross, will also generate an increase in RDA’s workforce as its currently recruiting for an account manager and senior designer ready to quickly respond to opportunities and service RDA’s current and prospective London based clients.


As well as the new London based roles, the company has made three additions to its sales and marketing team in the past 12 months due to increased business across a range of sectors which include sports and leisure, garden centres, business and industry, education, healthcare and the high street.

sectors and have a combined turnover in excess of £4bn and employ in excess of 30,000 people. Devine + Partners, is a respected firm of communications and content experts who specialize in public relations, issues management and digital communications. It has become a go-to business in Philadelphia during a period of substantial economic growth for the city. It counts leading healthcare businesses, financial organisations, universities and visitor destinations among its impressive cohort of clients.



STEVEN RAWLINGSON, SAMUEL KNIGHT INTERNATIONAL SAMUEL KNIGHT TAKES HOME TEAM OF THE YEAR AT THE GREAT BRITISH ENTREPRENEUR AWARDS Global recruitment and project manpower provider - specialising in the energy and rail sectors - Samuel Knight International, has been awarded Team of the Year in the Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

stories of entrepreneurs who have later gone on to become household names. The awards acknowledge the hard work and truly inspiring stories of businesses in Great Britain who are the agents of positive change.

The awards were held in five cities: Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London, with winners for the Great British Entrepreneur awards announced in Manchester at Old Trafford.

Judges for the inaugural Entrepreneurs’ Team of the Year award recognised Samuel Knight for its tremendous team performance within the last four years. Transforming into a £16m turnover company, they have increased headcount from four to fifty employees and expanded from one to three offices with bases in Newcastle, London and Bristol.

Now in their 6th year, the awards have a long-standing history of celebrating the best of British business and championing the

JOHN CAVE, SHOPTIMISED NORTH EAST TECH FIRM BOLSTERS BUSINESS WITH 300% GROWTH AND INTERNATIONAL AWARD WIN A North East technology company has announced expansion plans as it secures significant retail client wins and picked up an International Performance Marketing award this month. Shoptimised are the creators of an innovative platform designed by PPC professionals, specifically for PPC professionals, both within agencies and retailer businesses. The platform was recently awarded the ‘Best SaaS (software as a service) Platform’ award at the recent International Performance Marketing awards, beating off stiff competition after just over a year in business.

The company’s co-founder and managing director, John Cave, announced this week that the business plans to double in size over the next six months, after welcoming new business from luxury menswear retailer, End Clothing, and from partnering with a number of successful digital agencies, including Croud and North-east based Silverbean.

Judges at the awards described Shoptimised as “a genius idea”, acknowledging the platform’s ability to reduce Shopping campaign budget wastage and “increase impressions by up to 300% for retailers, brands and agencies”.



Selling at a Higher Level

SELLING AT A HIGHER LEVEL By Richard Lane & Lee Durham, durhamlane


This is especially true of ‘scale-ups’ or companies looking to grow rapidly. Yes, funding is important, but the way to grow your business both rapidly and sustainably is through (increased) sales. So how can SMEs increase their sales in 2019? In modern, consultative selling, there are no secrets or hidden knowledge. Increased sales performance is derived from three distinct, yet interlinked key areas: 1) People Do you have the right calibre of people (and enough of them) to hit your sales goals? Attracting and developing sales talent is absolutely crucial. This includes people who are not afraid to pick up the phone. People who can understand prospects’ challenges and who can earn the right to ask ‘high impact’ questions in order to effectively diagnose prospects’ real pain points.


Only then can they accurately determine whether the products and/or services you sell can help or not (Business Fit, Business Value is our first Sales Mantra). But more importantly people who can close deals. The problem is that good sales people rarely look for other roles. Usually, they must be enticed away; headhunted. 2) Process It’s crucial to have a consistent sales process and ensure everyone understands and adheres to it. You must have clear qualification criteria and a system to effectively score leads and opportunities who does what? And by when? Why has the prospect got in touch or responded to your activity? What are their real challenges? What and how much information do you need before you will consider drafting and sending a proposal or recommendation paper? What would happen if they did nothing?

Having a streamlined process and rigorous qualification criteria means you can be confident that you are spending time where you can be most effective (Quality x Quantity x Consistency = High Performance is our fifth Sales Mantra). 3) Pipeline Perhaps most important of all, and where everything feeds into. Having an accurate, healthy sales pipeline is imperative for forecasting, growth ambitions … and cash flow. How many leads have been generated this week? Month? Quarter? How many leads do you need to generate to hit your sales target (based on empirical conversion/close rates)? Which stage of the sales process are your current leads at? Which ones need to be nurtured and how? Which are due to close and when?


Selling at a Higher Level

“Good sales people rarely look for other roles. Usually they must be enticed away, headhunted.” Keeping your pipeline full should be a top priority. This requires continuous, systematic prospecting and lead nurture activity. Research states that 80% of deals require five follow up attempts after initial contact, yet 44% of sales reps give up after just one follow-up attempt. The challenge is that most people hate prospecting! You don’t have to enjoy doing it. You don’t even have to do it in-house. It just has to be done consistently and effectively. Most of these factors are under your control. If you can master and integrate your people, processes and pipeline, then your sales performance will improve. Here are some additional questions to ask yourself to understand if you need help across these areas: •

Can I achieve my sales targets with current resource levels?

Do I have enough opportunities in my pipeline (mindful of close ratios)?

Where is my sales teams’ time best spent - prospecting, nurturing and/or closing? Is my sales process as effective as it could be?


Richard Lane and Lee Durham are sales thought leaders and entrepreneurs, who are passionate about ‘raising the bar of the sales profession’ and love helping people and organisations achieve high growth by developing skills and mind-sets and by improving sales processes. Having created durhamlane’s proven methodology ‘Selling at a Higher Level’, Richard enjoys nurturing and developing talented sales professionals to reach their potential, whilst also helping businesses accelerate their growth. Throughout his career, Richard has led both UK and global sales organisations and telemarketing teams to consistently out-perform expectations by selling, and helping others to sell, complex solutions. Lee is a passionate and performance driven entrepreneur who enjoys nothing more than spotting, exploring and brokering the next big opportunities. Having co-founded durhamlane, with over 20 years commercial sales and marketing experience, Lee is an expert in delivering solutions to ambitious organisations and their investors throughout the UK and worldwide.



Kevin Brown, Pacifica Group

“We have come a long way in a relatively short period to the position where the company is now, and I am incredibly proud of the entire journey.”



Kevin Brown, Pacifica Group



Leaving school with mediocre grades at 16, Kevin secured his dream job, working as an apprentice electrical engineer at the North East Electricity Board. Whilst at the North East Electricity Board, Kevin progressed steadily throughout the company, and was promoted to operations director in 2000. But it was in 2003 when Kevin’s career really started, albeit by chance. “I remember my father telling me when I got my first job at the North East Electricity Board that it was a job for life so when I was made redundant in 2003 it was quite a shock. I was one of the last people to be told I was out of a job and, of course, with a family, a mortgage and a cat, I didn’t know what I was going to do.” Wasting no time, Kevin, along with Scott Pallister (Pacifica Group’s Finance Director), founded Pacifica, using their redundancy money to get the business off the ground.

“As Scott and I both knew the aftersales sector well, we decided to form a company to service the needs of customers who are primarily in the brown and white goods sector.” “Scott and I had experience in aftersales, but we had no experience in running a business. Launching Pacifica proved to a very challenging – though extremely rewarding experience for both of us.” Formally established in 2006 as Pacifica Group, the company is primarily an aftersales support business, which provides three main services: the repair and maintenance of domestic appliances; in-home heating, insulation and renewable energy installations and maintenance; and extended warranty solutions. Starting with only four members of staff, Pacifica Group has flourished from a startup established by two colleagues with no business experience, to becoming one of the leading home services firms in the UK. 33


Kevin Brown, Pacifica Group

“Our team work with a range of clients that includes leading manufacturers, energy providers, insurance companies and social housing providers, and securing three highprofile contract wins has helped support our organic growth.” The company’s current run rate is in excess of £40m per year, with more than 470 members of staff operating nationally from the headquarters in Houghton-le-Spring. Demonstrating the Group’s continued strong period of growth, the Pacifica Group team complete in excess of 230,000 service calls each year. “We have come a long way in a relatively short period to the position where the company is now, and I am incredibly proud of the entire journey.” But it was Kevin’s first work experiences that have helped him shape Pacifica Group into the servicing empire that it is today. Working with his father, a bricklayer, Kevin learned how to provide great customer service, work hard and treat people with respect – values Kevin acknowledges have been fundamental to the Group’s continued growth. “In business, I always like to view a problem from the customer’s point of view. If we can design a solution that meets their needs, then it usually results in a good outcome for all parties.” “There are other companies like us around, but it is our emphasis on customer service and our core values that helps to secure new work and deliver more services to existing clients.” Born and raised in County Durham, the North East holds a special place in Kevin’s heart. In fact, developing a North East based business that has created employment for over 450 people is Kevin’s proudest business achievement.


“I’ve grown up in the region and am very passionate about it so I am proud to have overseen the growth of Pacifica Group to become a major employer in the North East. That is definitely my proudest business moment to date.” And, the recognition from the North East business community hasn’t gone unnoticed. Kevin is appreciative of all the support the Group has received since its launch. “The company has collected a number of awards along the way which is humbling as it is always nice to be recognised among your peers in the North East business community as well as throughout the industry.” In addition to winning the 2017 Durham and Wearside Business Executive of the Year Award, Kevin took home the Scale-up Award at the 2018 North East Entrepreneurial Awards.

“I was honoured to have won the Entrepreneurs’ Forum’s Scale-up Award this year! The Award is a testament to the hard work of our growing workforce, who are committed to the Group and to supporting our growing client base”. Determined to keep Pacifica Group at the top, Kevin’s focus is now solely on developing and growing the company, securing its title as one of the UK’s leading providers of fast-response, high fix-rate customer service. “We are looking to develop each of our subsidiaries over the next four years, which will include creating new skilled jobs, expanding further and entering even more markets. I expect the Group to exceed its planned turnover of £100m during this period.”


My Favourite Books




This was the first leadership book I bought over 20 years ago (with “Who Moved my Cheese”, which is another great book). Today, I still love Ken Blanchard’s teaching around servant leadership (very humble), as well as his situational leadership model with Hersey, which was pivotal to my own leadership and the development of others. I still feel most of his books are timeless, and I am gradually working my way through the works from Ken Blanchard and Dr. John Maxwell on leadership.

A global leader for over 20 years, Graham Sleep has led turnarounds in the USA and UK, took part in sizeable acquisitions, developed a number of joint ventures and strategic alliances across Asia and South America, and managed global NPD projects. Now a highly sought-after executive coach as part of the team at IA Growth, with a focus on integrity, impact, individuality and innovation, he uses his vast breadth of skills and experience to deliver unbelievable strategic value to entrepreneurs and business owners. Not only does IA Growth provide a new approach to strategic director support, they also help to develop business confidence, build and deploy business growth plans, plan for exit and succession strategies, support organisational development, as well as offer accredited executive coaching and mentoring.


THE GOAL by Eliyahu M. Goldratt

I bought this book in Heathrow airport on my way to Chicago in 1998 to take on my first large general management role. It turned into my story there. He then wrote “It’s Not Luck” which became my life as I progressed to lead seven different plants in a very visible group role. Lean, theory of constraints, culture development etc. - this is a must read for any operations, engineering or manufacturing manager or director.



You go through various crucibles in life as I call them (times when life is really difficult). When I lost both my mother and father suddenly inside three months, I initially threw myself into work but really struggled to clear my head. This book helped me work through these issues and gain some clarity and direction in life again. It also led to me building a structure around this for others and I developed my own little mastermind group based on Authentic Leadership and Emotional Intelligence.


TRIGGERS by Dr. Marshall Goldsmith

I love a number of books by Dr. Marshall Goldsmith who I was introduced to in 2013. This book uncovers the importance of the triggers within western culture that lie behind some of our (and my own) key behavioural traits. It’s about changing the triggers to gain transformative behavioural change. Personally, since reading this and studying with Marshall, I have been able to “guarantee behavioural change” in individuals but, more importantly, it has again helped me to revisit my own EI with a different focus.



This last book was a hard one… and it could have easily been Jim Collins with “Good to Great” , or Branson or many others… however I am basing this selection on what I gained in terms of a “call to action”. Five years ago, I was fortunate to attend the course for Business Model Generation from the person who cowrote the book, Alex Osterwelder. It was another lightbulb day for me and pushed me to develop one-page plans and canvasses to facilitate groups of strategic leaders. It has also allowed me to share in creating some really innovative business models over the last five years, whether it be telephone charging in Africa, or book publishing in London.

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Elaine Warburton, QuantuMDx


THERE IS NO MORE AMBITIOUS A GOAL THAN EMPOWERING PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD TO HELP CONTROL AND ERADICATE DISEASE AND REDUCE SUFFERING, BUT THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT ELAINE WARBURTON AND HER CO-FOUNDERS AT QUANTUMDX HAVE SET OUT TO DO FROM THEIR BASE ON NEWCASTLE’S QUAYSIDE. On reflection, it may seem that Elaine Warburton was destined to go into healthcare. Her great-uncle was Lord William Beveridge, the architect of the NHS and her mother Penny was a budding biologist who obtained her degree in biology, whilst working in the City, when Elaine was a teenager. From her mother, Elaine developed a love for science from a young age. Rather than succumb to the more ‘traditional’ role of cooking, knitting and sewing, Elaine remembers fondly the experiments she and her mother carried out in the kitchen, and the joys of opening large cardboard boxes brimming with tutorials, laboratory equipment and a plethora of chemicals and reagents. It’s clear from listening to Elaine’s early memories of homelife, that her mother was a source of inspiration and admiration and that, unfortunately, it was her mother’s long battle with breast cancer which ignited Elaine’s passion for personalised, rapid healthcare.


“There was always a burning passion within me that I had to do something to stop other people going through what I did. If we can catch cancer early, we can absolutely do something about it.” Inspired by British veterinarian James Herriot, Elaine’s childhood dream was to become a vet, but when she didn’t get the A-level grades she needed, Elaine looked to her mother for advice. On her mother’s suggestion, Elaine headed to Liverpool University to study for a degree which combined her passion for genetics while simultaneously preparing her for a career in nursing. Admittedly, the excitement of studying towards her genetics and nursing degree was fuelled by the rise of the HIV virus which had just been identified in the 1980s. “The outbreak of AIDS was scary but if we could find the genetics of how it worked then we could do something about it. It was an exciting time, and I feel most privileged to have been there at the advent of genetics.” The period also marked a significant change in the public healthcare sector where

increasing financial constraints started to shackle the NHS. Deciding to “innovate within”, Elaine joined KPMG and trained as a chartered accountant later moving to their healthcare consultancy practice where she was tasked with reconfiguring hospitals into Trusts. Elaine’s entrepreneurial spirit was ignited in 1995 when she met Victor Last, ex RAF, and they launched her first start-up business, Spring Medical. They took the successful military model for musculo-skeletal and spinal rehabilitation where injured servicemen were rehabilitated back to the front line, under an exercise based regime, and adapted it for civilians. The model has now been absorbed into the NHS. However, Elaine learnt the first two of many start-up lessons – be prepared for the unknown and you can never have enough cash. The hospital Spring Medical was working from went under overnight and a fire-sale of the business took place. Elaine went back to consultancy and commissioned the first PFI to come in on time and in budget. She was then


Elaine Warburton, QuantuMDx

headhunted to join The London Clinic in Harley Street, one of Europe’s most prestigious and largest private hospitals and a specialist hospital for complex surgery and cancer-care. While working there, Elaine was tasked with researching the future of healthcare to prepare the hospital for twenty-first century medical advances. “We focused on what the delivery of healthcare within a hospital environment would look like in 2030 and beyond. I quickly realised that diagnostics, particularly DNA-based diagnostics, was going to be the future. With the rise of mobile technology in medicine, my research showed a likely decline in the use of hospitals and an increase in home treatments.” Not long after, and perhaps by a stroke of luck, Elaine met Jonathan “Jono” O’Halloran, a former Harvard student, whose vision for molecular diagnostics inspired the duo to launch Opaldia in 2005, a start-up which combined new genetic testing with cancer screening programmes, and the aim of diagnosing and treating cancer in its earliest stages, or preventing it with prophylactic surgery for carriers of cancer mutations such as BRCA (breast/ovarian cancer). “The screening was exclusive; each test cost approximately £3,000-£5,000. It wasn’t available on the NHS, so only those with private health insurance or the means to self-pay could afford to be tested. This went against our principles of healthcare for all.” The cost, combined with the frustrating six-month wait for screening results, led Elaine and Jono to consider a new route. She recounts the conversation that led to the development of QuantuMDx firmly: “I jokingly said to Jono one day ‘invent me something that could read a test in 10-15 minutes and that I could put in the palm of a health professional’s hand’”. Jono had already been thinking along the same lines

“There was always a burning passion within me that I had to do something to stop other people going through what I did. If we can catch cancer early, we can absolutely do something about it.”



Elaine Warburton, QuantuMDx

Just as she was about to go into hospital, Elaine got a call from Bill Gates and his team saying that he’d like to see the technology the following week. “So, high as a kite whilst dosed up with morphine, I joined Jono and Julian and we pitched QuantuMDx to Bill and his medical team. He seemed to like it because he started investing in us through both his Global Good Fund and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

and so together with her husband Julian, Elaine’s third start-up was launched. QuantuMDx was incorporated in March 2008, with Jono setting up a biotech lab in his Sussex based garage, using equipment bought on eBay. With no money to further develop the heart of the company – the QuantuMDx Point of Care device (known as Q-POC™) – Elaine sought investment, eventually securing £3 million worth of funding from South Africa’s Science and Technology Agency. Jono built his second lab, appointed a crack R&D team and they moved the business to South Africa until issues connected with the country’s politics forced them to leave. On a recommendation from Professor Sir John Burn, now Chair of the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation, Elaine moved QuantuMDx’s operations to Newcastle’s International Centre for Life in 2011 and raised further capital supplemented by UK and EU grants. Now headquartered on Melbourne Street overlooking Newcastle’s Quayside - and with subsidiary operations in the United States and Singapore - the company boasts a diverse team of approximately ninety staff including sixty researchers and engineers. QuantuMDx has won over 10 awards since its inception including the Medilink UK Award for Excellence in Innovation. Elaine also received an OBE for services to


innovation in healthcare in 2013. Through Elaine’s efforts, the company has secured over £50 million worth of funding for Q-POC™ development. Only slightly bigger than an iPad, the highly innovative Q-POC™ can diagnose disease within minutes at the patient’s side. Its simplicity of use and low cost means that anyone, anywhere in the world can be accurately diagnosed with ‘Gold Standard’ laboratory accuracy. With the admirable mission to “make the world a better place”, it wasn’t long until QuantuMDx and the Q-POC™ caught the attention of Microsoft mogul Bill Gates, albeit in a somewhat challenging personal time for Elaine. In 2015, Elaine was diagnosed with breast cancer, and had to undergo a double mastectomy. Knowing she was a BRCA carrier she followed Opaldia’s mission and had prophylactic surgery for removal of her ovaries and fallopian tubes. Elaine recounts “Instant menopause condensed into a year whilst running a company, endless fund raising and getting over the trauma of three lots of major surgery and treatment, with barely a day off, was exhausting. My husband Julian was simultaneously diagnosed with prostate cancer which, for me, was more traumatic than anything I was physically going through. However, both my family and extended Quantumite family were hugely supportive, which helped enormously.”

However, he gave us one proviso that we get our cassette cost of goods to below $5 to enable his vision for mass global uptake of diagnostics – a huge challenge as our cassette costs were then running at nearer $30. So we went back to the design drawing board and I went cap in hand to my seventy odd shareholders and proposed going back into research mode for another 2-3 years to achieve this challenging goal.” After several rounds of prototyping and end user engagement, the Q-POC™ is now undergoing its first field studies in South America, South Africa and the UK, with India as a potential fourth field study. Elaine hopes the Q-POC™ will become a staple to the NHS, but is realistic about its timeline, expecting it to reach the UK public no sooner than 2023. With 2019 shaping up to be a watershed year for QuantuMDx, Elaine has ambitious plans for the company which was recently chosen by the Wall Street Journal to feature at the 2018 World Economic Forum. Although QuantuMDx is on the road map for an IPO and she envisages it may well be sold through a trade sale in the next five years, Elaine wants to firmly cement QuantuMDx and R&D in the North East. “I want Newcastle and the North East to benefit from all that we’ve done. They’ve supported us, so if we did go down the trade sale route, we’d like to find someone who can keep the footprint of QuantuMDx in the region. We want to put Newcastle well and truly on the biotech map.”


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