A cutting-edge mobile technology firm is planning significant growth after winning a prestigious £25,000 contract at Yorkshire’s annual showcase for entrepreneurs.
Leeds-based AppWare clinched a lucrative deal with the City of York Council after a hard-fought Dragons’ Den-style competitive pitch at the Venturefest exhibition at York Racecourse.
Firms were challenged to bid for the business as part of the event’s first APPtitute contest – as well as for a smaller £5,000 contract with Visit York.
AppWare’s MD, Richard Eaton, admitted winning the biggest prize challenged his ability to think up an acceptance speech on the hoof – but the contact will underpin the firm’s plans for expansion.
“We’d been shortlisted to pitch from around 40 entries and took the decision not to put together snazzy slides for our pitch.
“We were hoping our passion, and knowledge and understanding of both the product and the market would be convincing in themselves.
“I have to admit I was buzzing as we were up first and I felt we really nailed it – but I got less confident as others came and went and, by the time we got to the evening awards, I’d almost written us off.
“When they announced we’d won I just wasn’t ready.
“It was a shock but, obviously, great news for us as a company, both in terms of reputation and as a financial boost at exactly the right time.”
AppWare moves to bigger premises this month.
Although the company will remain at ThorpePark, relocation provides space for an additional three staff, which would take the workforce based at Appware HQ to six.
Although the City of York Council contract is a significant win, the company’s expansion has also been driven by other recent contracts and its drive to develop “off-the-shelf” apps, which can still be tailored to meet a client’s requirements but, as much of the groundwork has already been done, costs and timescales are reduced dramatically.
“We recognise a lot of companies who consider an app of their own can be discouraged almost as soon as they get a quote.
“By developing our own in-house software – which is still adaptable enough to take a client’s preferences into account – we can offer apps which are not strictly bespoke but which can be as much as 75 per cent cheaper.
“The response so far has been really encouraging.
“In fact, early indications are that we’re going to need a dedicated team to run that side of the business on everything from sales to design and development.”
AppWare launched as a business in 2009, celebrating five years in business last month, turning over £140,000 in 2013.
Today – as well as new client the City of York Council – companies on the AppWare books include national business networking organisation 4Networking, Premier Farnell, Suma Wholefoods, and BrushdDJ, with management now forecasting a 2014 turnover of £250,000.