A smart tech specialist which has grown tenfold in just three years is working with one of the UK’s leading home heating providers to revolutionise its business.
Sauce has become the outstanding success story of Hull’s Centre for Digital Innovation (C4DI) tech hub, growing from a loose collection of three friends to a rapidly-expanding team of 30.
The Sauce team are experts in deploying Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and developing serverless infrastructure to capture data to power Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other advanced applications. Sauce specialises in working with large, traditional businesses as their in-house digital disrupters, enabling corporates to keep ahead of the technology curve.
A prime example is Sauce’s work with Ideal Boilers to create and continually develop a smart heating system using IoT technologies that enable devices and everyday objects to communicate and interact, and to be remotely monitored and controlled, over the Internet.
Sauce has delivered a major project to establish Ideal Boilers in the smart heating space with a product called Ideal Touch Connect. As well as enabling customers to control their heating systems remotely, from anywhere in the world, the system also provides real-time performance information, opening up the potential for product maintenance and development through access to huge amounts of actionable data.
Subsequently, Sauce has developed the system further with new features, including integration with Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant, so householders can operate their heating systems through voice commands. Other features include geolocation, so heating automatically turns off when the home is empty and switches back on when the first person starts to return.
The work with Ideal Boilers showcases how Sauce collaborates with major companies to enable them to seize the opportunities offered by rapidly-advancing digital technology.
Sauce’s expertise in deploying smart technologies is driving exponential growth, with more staff joining every month and turnover in the year to March 2019 coming close to £1m, with at least a further 40 per cent revenue growth forecast for the current year.
Sauce has increased its office space at C4DI five times and is now set to be an anchor tenant within a new block that is to be developed at the thriving @TheDock tech campus in Hull’s regenerated Fruit Market urban village.
Sauce was founded by friends Matt Gibson, John Polling and Jim Wardlaw in 2016 when they were among tech specialists using the co-working space at C4DI. Sauce was born, with the name a play on the development term source code, and Matt Weldon joining as a fourth joint owner shortly afterwards to become Chief Executive.
The business has worked with major players in industries as diverse as fintech, energy, retail, logistics and healthcare. Clients include global wind power leader Siemens Gamesa; the world’s leading consumer health and hygiene company, RB; and technology innovator Giacom.
Sauce created an award-winning digital system for Siemens Gamesa enabling human resources personnel and shift leaders to update instantly information on workers at the company’s Hull wind turbine blade factory and a mobile app which employees access to see their working hours, overtime and remaining annual leave allowance.
Matt Weldon said: “Our business is all about helping clients to do business smarter and better, through technology.
“We see ourselves as a fast-tech business. Unlike traditional software companies, we’re able to be much more agile in how we approach developing solutions for clients because we recognise the world of software changes daily.
“There are always new things coming out and we consider whether we can apply them to an existing or future project.
“We’ve gone from three people to 30 in three years and we’re not stopping there. There are so many opportunities for us because the work that we do is difficult, as it is so specialist, but also so important to the industries we work in. It’s hard to hire the people to do this in a large, traditional company and that’s where we come in.”
Owned by Groupe Atlantic, a major European player in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning sectors, Ideal Boilers is the second largest player in the UK market for domestic wall-mounted boilers.
Based in Hull, Ideal has been manufacturing and supplying boilers for more than 100 years and is now working with Sauce to ensure its products meet the requirements of today’s customers for energy efficient, intelligent and convenient heating systems.
Ideal Touch Connect is a programmable room thermostat linked to a mobile app or desktop online platform. The system has many exciting capabilities, including advanced scheduling, fault reporting, internal and external temperature monitoring and customer service support. The intelligent technology also collects vast amounts of useful and valuable data in real time.
John Polling, Sauce’s Chief Technology Officer, said: “Ideal Boilers is a brilliant example of a traditional business that has really bought into digital. They now have their own in-house IoT team, who are all really switched on and who we work really closely with.
“We create the software, because that’s not their speciality, while they implement the work that we do and link with the builders of the hardware. They are the in-house innovators. They act as a bridge between the worlds of manufacturing and smart software.”
Jonathan Wilkinson, head of IoT at Groupe Atlantic UK, said: “Touch Connect has been a big step for Ideal Boilers as we move into the area of smart, connected technology. We’re looking forward to working with Sauce on further enhancing our connected controls offering as well as developing remote monitoring solutions.”
John Connolly, managing director of C4DI, said: “Sauce is a standout example of the amazing tech talent in Hull and shows the power of bringing together agile digital specialists and traditionally non-tech companies who can benefit hugely from their expertise. It illustrates exactly why C4DI exists.”