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What about Leeds/Yorkshire has enabled you to scale your business?
Leeds is becoming more and more recognised for tech excellence. It holds great links to local universities in the city itself, in addition to Sheffield, York and the wider region. There’s a high calibre of staff developing in the North of England, with the startup scene in Leeds continuing to blossom. With the variety of skills required for the technology sector, being a Yorkshire-based business has enabled us to tap into a very diverse talent pool across the region.
How could Yorkshire be better suited to the creation of ‘unicorns’?
I think there’s some work to do in terms of further investment in the region from local government and the LEP. There’s a minimal FinTech presence in Leeds, which is surprising when you consider the vast amount of entrepreneurship and market disruption at the moment via challenger banks, combined with a variety of tech skillsets within the local workforce.
What do you think Yorkshire/Leeds should be known for when it comes to tech businesses?
A good mix of skillsets and a really diverse talent pool for employers to tap into, capable of providing scalable growth. The tech workforce in Leeds is of a relatively young age, on average, which is great because it provides fresh thinking to both new and historic challenges organisations might face.
There’s a strong and growing list of businesses calling Yorkshire home: First Direct, ASDA and Burberry have Leeds offices and there’s WANdisco presence in Sheffield, as well an impressive number of startups and scaleups. They include 3Squared, Hive, Paper and Razor, as well as our own Sheffield office. It’s important to mention that there’s a strong tech agency scene in parts of Yorkshire too, many of which work with global clients. This doesn’t happen by accident, and regions have to facilitate agency growth in order for them to succeed.
How is your company disrupting a part of the economy?
Terms like ‘data democracy’ are banded around in the media, but many decisions made by people in organisations are still based on their experience and expertise with no real foundation of data and insights. Something that we’re really passionate about is putting data into the hands of people who are making decisions on behalf of the company daily and can derive value from it – regardless of their technical capability.
The whole premise of our Data Refinery product is to disrupt a market where licences are ridiculously expensive, allowing people to do a big chunk of the work for a fraction of the cost. This makes organisations better, driving bigger returns and more profit from efficiencies and cost reduction. We are also disruptive in the way that we approach conversations with clients. By solving a business problem, rather than a ‘data’ or ‘tech’ problem, people are starting to sit up and take notice of us.
Why did you feel that the place or region that you are based in was a good place to disrupt your industry?
Yorkshire has a long-standing relationship with the world of data and – in my opinion – there isn’t a better place to set up a data business. Funnily enough, my dad and John Dobson, one of the founding partners of Callcredit (now Leeds ‘unicorn’ TransUnion), had a business called Business Mail Data Services back in the 1980s – so you could say it’s in my blood!
Alongside the Credit Bureaus which of course are giants in the data world, Yorkshire has a huge financial services sector. Legally, businesses in this sector have had to be ahead of the data curve – this means that lots of the tech and data talent in Leeds is used to wrangling data, and that’s a fundamental part to our success.
We empower and educate businesses through smarter legal services. By fusing first-class legal advice and representation with the latest technology, we create a preventative educational strategy that makes the law more accessible and affordable, supporting people to run better businesses.
Rradar launched in Hull in 2012. It has grown from a one-person startup business to a tech-enhanced law firm. It currently has over 130 full-time employees working out of four key strategic office locations – Hull, Leeds, Birmingham and Glasgow. We’ve won a clutch of legal, tech and insurance industry awards and had a turnover of more than £9 million at our last year-end. We continue to expand rapidly with plans for more UK offices, recruitment and our first acquisitions.
Why did you choose to base your company in Yorkshire?
Each of the four cities that we are based in offer a hotbed of potential for tech and law talent, enabling future employee and business scaleup. Our HQ in Hull provides strategic connections to Leeds, Birmingham, London and further afield, which helps us easily transfer resources between each location.
The high-quality office space and affordable rates in Hull enable us to expand and future-proof the business; we anticipate an increase in staff and demands on technology and communication connectivity. Our location offers us the opportunity to design and create a space with the specifications needed to reframe the delivery of legal services.
Vet-AI is an R&D company developing a number of solutions that focus on supporting pets, vets and giving pet parents the tools to access care more affordably and conveniently when their pets need it most. With vet fees rising by 12% year-on-year, pet parents are often reluctant to take their pets to the vets.
Leeds was an obvious choice for the startup business to be located. I knew there was an abundant talent pool on our doorstep, as well as a thriving tech community which sees lots of innovation. Yorkshire is a more cost-effective place to innovate than the capital and it has a great business network with partner agencies from PR, branding, behavioural research and legal support based locally. The university’s local network was also key to the growth of the firm too.
What challenges are you facing in your business?
The regulatory body in its industry, The Royal College of Veterinary Scientists (RCVS), remains strict in its legislation which is imperative to Vet-AI’s ability to prescribe and deliver medication to pets online via its app, Joii. We have gone to great lengths to invest in, and provide credible evidence to show, the results from remote veterinary consultations – but we remain unable to prescribe online currently.
We have also found that early stage (Seed – B2C) investment in Yorkshire is poor. We have recently completed our second round of funding, but the previous rounds were very challenging and resulted in us having to go to London to secure this.
External support for founders
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