The North West is one of the UK’s richest regions in terms of tech innovation, with latest counts putting the area’s digital tech turnover at more than £3.2bn.
The leading hub in the region is Manchester, which is second only to London and the South East in terms of the new and emerging sectors that are driving the nation’s tech economies.
But who are the people behind this boom? BLM today reveals the innovators, pioneers and visionaries injecting momentum into the North West’s tech scene…
Ade Molajo – Compare Checker
Compare Checker is an innovative insurtech company which focuses on car insurance by bringing transparency and data portability to the mobile consumer. They are not a comparison site or insurer, but they empower people to easily discover value on each of these distribution platforms and provide exposure to the distributors of these services at the time consumers are ready to buy.
Bill Holmes – Radius Payment Solutions
The Radius story began in 1990 when Holmes set up fuel card company, UK Fuels. Over the next 20 years, he merged the business with 25 others, making it a global player. Today, tech and innovation are at the heart of the business, and now more than 150,000 vehicles are on the company’s telematics platforms, which serves fleets for SMEs.
Cheryl Chan – Books About Who
Greater Manchester-based Cheryl Chan is the CEO of retail tech firm Books About Who, an online bookstore with over 5,000 titles that can match a child’s name with books where that name is used as the main character. With the idea that ‘everyone wants to be the hero of their own story’, Chan’s company helps children get into reading from a young age.
Chloe Barrett – Immersify Education
Edtech entrepreneur Chloe Barrett, is the founder of Immersify Education, a visual learning platform that utilises augmented reality, gamification, 3D interactivity and personalised learning to enhance educational curriculums. The content is created in collaboration with experts, developers, learning technologists, and translators, to better engage students, improve information retention and ultimately increase academic grades.
Christina Colmer McHugh – Moodbeam
Built on the unfortunate truth that whilst how we feel is important to our wellbeing, it’s hard to capture, tough to talk about and often invisible. Inspired by a mum’s desire to know how her daughter was feeling when she wasn’t with her, Moodbeam was created with the ambition to transform the way the world sees mood, through a wearable device that logs how we feel.
Christine McHugh – Doris IT
Liverpool-headquartered Doris IT, finds the best next generation of IT and digital talent and places them directly into a business. Through training, mentoring and employment, Doris IT works to create the next generation of IT professionals in a fast-moving industry. IT has never been more vital and talent never more in demand and they supply the brightest and best recruits to revitalise businesses.
Elizabeth Clark – Dream Agility
Dream Agility offers a machine learning on demand optimisation, feed optimisation and bidding platform, for Google Shopping and Search. The Bury-based company analyses how much money a business is wasting on unsuccessful PPC through the power of MLoD (Machine Learning on Demand).
Elizabeth Vega – Informed Solutions
Based in Altrincham, Informed Solutions is a leading independent provider of digital transformation, technology, advanced data analytics, AI and systems integration services. Vega founded the firm in 1992, building a digital transformation and big data solutions giant with offices across the UK and Australia. She is also an advisor to UK government, serving on the Cabinet Office’s SME Panel since 2012.
Francesca Hodson & Andrew O’Brien – GoodBox
GoodBox is a pioneering tech-for-good company, founded on the insight that an increasingly cashless society is having a detrimental effect on the charity sector. Since being founded in 2016, GoodBox has processed millions of pounds of donations for UK-based charities, raising over £5m from more than 700 investors.
Greg Cox – Quint Group
Founder of the Quint Group, Cox is a known entrepreneur within the fintech sector, and the Cheshire-based firm is now operating in America, Asia, Africa and Europe and had a turnover of more than £50m last year. Monevo (a lending marketplace), Money Guru (a credit/loans comparison website), Infinian (an analytical data platform) and CreditAngel (a credit score website) make up the company.
Harrison Woods – YourParkingSpace
Founded in 2013 by Woods, YourParkingSpace’s online platform helps users find and book the perfect parking space for their needs – and now has more than 250,000 available spaces across the UK. The business processes thousands of bookings every day for clients and individuals. In the past 12 months, businesses have generated over £12m from their unused spaces.
John Madejeski & Paul Gibbons – AutoTrader
In 1977, Madejeski and Gibbons formed AutoTrader, and for more than three decades the printed publication shared automotive classified adverts from private sellers and trade dealers. However, in 2013 the company decided to focus on its online business. The tech-driven business now has revenues of more than £281m, and has shifted gears to serve car manufacturers as well as dealers in a manner akin to how Google services advertisers.
Jordan Appleson – Hark
Hark is a tech scale-up with a cloud platform that allows companies to monitor, store and analyse sensor data in real-time. Based at the Manchester Science Park (MSP), Hark is at the forefront of IoT in retail, life sciences, smart buildings, smart cities, manufacturing and more. The company’s software helps improve efficiency, reduce carbon footprint, maximise yield and reduce waste.
Louis James Davis – VST Enterprises
Founded by Louis-James Davis in 2012, VST Enterprises (VSTE) has been widely recognised for its development of VCode® and the VPlatform™ which, among other applications, has the potential to revolutionise offline and online transactions in both the public and private sectors. It is currently being used to protect against fraud in many sectors, from document veriﬁcation, to supply chain management.
Mahmud Kamani & Carol Kane – BooHoo.com
BooHoo is one of the UK’s leading fashion e-commerce firms, targeting the millennial generation with the latest trends within the industry. Set up in 2006 by Kamani and Kane, the pair recently sold 4.3% of the company for £142.5m. The company has become increasingly popular with celebrities and influencers, and was recently valued at more than £2.9bn.
Manoj Ranaweera – Techcelerate
The self-titled ‘man who built Manchester’s tech ecosystem’, Ranaweera is the founder and CEO of Techcelerate – a firm that works with founding and management teams of tech companies until their exits, by finding ways to accelerate growth including raising investment and M&A. He has also founded and run several other tech-focused companies in the city.
Matthew Moulding – The Hut Group
THG (“The Hut Group”), a global digital, consumer brand & proprietary technology group pre-eminent in Beauty and Wellness, was founded by Matt Moulding in 2004 and has grown into a £1.1bn turnover business with over 170 international websites selling FMCG direct to consumers through its proprietary platform, THG Ingenuity. In 2017 the firm was valued at more than £2.5bn, making it one of the most valuable businesses in the region, and one of only 17 unicorns in the country.
Matt Newing – Elite Group
An ambitious tech entrepreneur, Newing has an impressive track record for building national and international businesses. He founded Elute Group in 2000 and has since grown it to become one of the UK’s leading IT and communications providers. The firm also offers business mobile and broadband and recently reported an annual turnover of more than £52m.
Matt Latham & Tom McGillycuddy – tickr
Based in Liverpool, Tickr is an app that makes it easy to invest in global companies working to make a profit as well as solving social and environmental problems. The ex-Barclays Wealth duo launched the app on Apple and Android to help people invest in climate change, equality, disruptive technologies, and many other industries.
Marcus & Sam Naidoo – Shop Local Club Card
Shop Local Club Card enables businesses of all sizes to digitally connect with their customers through a completely customised rewards program, tailored to the personality of each business. Its software allows businesses to drive customers back more often, establish social connections to increase engagement, encourage customer feedback, target new customers in their local area and gain valuable analytics on local trends.
Michelle Hua – Made With Glove
Founded in 2014, Made With Glove Ltd was established after winning a wearable technology hackathon in Manchester. Made With Glove designs fashionable heated gloves for women and for people who suffer from Raynaud’s disease, poor circulation and vascular diseases. In 2016, Hua was the recipient of the UK TechNation Exceptional Talent Visa for her entrepreneurial contributions in the digital technology sector.
Naomi Mwasambili & Megan Charles – Chanua Health
This enterprise-driven healthcare, wellness and fitness innovation agency Chanua Health is based in Liverpool and use technology to teach young people about the inner workings on the brain. The pair have a history within the therapy sector, and were frustrated at the sub-standard services available to younger people. Using AR, the firm shows how different areas of a person’s brain operates.
Neil McMurdo – Godel Technologies
Godel are a nearshore software development company, that has recently reported another record financial year. Turnover has increased to £35.6m for the year to December 2019. Revenue is up 64% on FY2018 when revenues reached over £21.7m. This is the fifth year in a row where growth has exceeded 50%. In CEO Neil McMurdo’s first full year at the helm, the company continued its ambitious growth plans which included opening two new additional software development centres in Belarus – in the cities of Mogilev and Minsk (the third Godel office in Minsk), investing in its Manchester-based customer-facing sales and service delivery teams and now employing around 1,200 employees across Manchester and Belarus.
Phil Foster – Love Energy Savings
Energy tariff comparison website Love Energy Savings hit the market in 2007 with the mission to help businesses save money on their gas and electricity bills. Founder Phil Foster has a strong desire to support UK SMEs not only improve their profits through savings but also save valuable time in the process of comparing and switching suppliers. More than 206,000 have been helped, saving over £80m.
Reg & Louis Rix – CarFinance 247
Brothers Reg and Louis set up vehicle finance firm 16 years ago to plug a gap in the market where customers were stuck in drawn out processes and form-filling when getting car finance. The company now employs more than 200 people in Manchester and three offices across the city. Last year, the firm was named the leading business in the industry in the UK.
Sean Brown – Mercato
Mercarto is a Manchester-based marketplace ecommerce platform that provides the tools for any entrepreneur to build a fully functional ecommerce store with the ability to pull in various branded products from the centralised marketplace. Mercarto has been built to reduce the barriers to entry in the world of retail. The serial entrepreneur has built and run tech start-ups for the last 10 years.
Simon Nixon – MoneySuperMarket.com
Billionaire Simon Nixon founded the financial services price-comparison firm in the late 1980s, however, in the early 2000s the site expanded online and achieved exponential growth. MoneySuperMarket has since grown into a £356m company – the largest of any comparison site in the UK. Nixon now owns Simon Escapes, a luxury home rental website.
Simon Cooper – OnTheBeach
The LSE-listed Manchester-based travel retailer specialises in short and medium haul flights and package holidays to Europe, North Africa and the Caribbean. Cooper founded the firm in 2004, and a mixture of acquisitions has enabled rapid growth; the company recently reported revenues of more than £80m. At the end of 2018, the firm opened a new digital HQ in the city.
Dr Somayeh Taheri – UrbanChain
Based at MSP, UrbanChain is a group of experts in designing, developing and disseminating blockchain technology for utility services including energy, transportation and health. The firm’s aim is to redesign the markets with blockchain-based solutions, and to optimise market performance, democratise the market structures and minimise the cost of services for end users.
Steven, Paul & Tony Walsh – LateRooms.com
Founded in 1999 by the three brothers in Salford, LateRooms.com was originally set up as a website for booking unsold hotel rooms on the day of reservation. The company has evolved into a comprehensive, user-friendly hotel booking service. After 20 years, the firm was purchased by Booking.com and services a range of getaway websites.
Steve Oliver & Walter Gleeson – Music Magpie
In 2007, these two friends from Stockport set up a business in a garage and turned it into one of Europe’s most popular recommerce websites, providing consumers with cash for their unwanted CDs, DVDs, video games and electrics. The business now employs over 1,000 people, exports to 140 countries, and has an annual turnover of over £100m.
Richard Lang – SPOK’D
SPOK’D was founded by former Australian international cyclist Lang, and is a cycling app that creates a truly personalised training plan to help improve a user’s health. Every week a user’s plan adapts to them, based on diary commitments and training progress. The program is updated weekly based on each session. It is like having a personal coach at a fraction of the price.