First published

Mar 01, 2017

Time to read

4

The move north — the irresistible draw of the North East

“The opportunities in the Tees Valley and the North East far outweighed anywhere else. Before going ahead, we carried out comprehensive due diligence to look at everything from the region’s business support structures to potential customers and skills talent pool to fuel our future growth. There were no barriers and the move proved a no brainer.”

Kevin Lawless

The sheer beauty of the Tees Valley landscape, people’s attitude to business and the support available proved an irresistible draw for Kevin Lawless so he relocated his company Wireless Economics (WE) from Oxford to Stokesley in 2016.

Kevin, from South London, set up ‘we’ in 2002 in London after a 13- year career in Motorola to help companies take advantage of increasing mobile internet access to licence and distribute content. After a successful seven years, the company was put on the back- burner while Kevin worked on a company London Stock Exchange flotation project between 2009 and 2014.

When resurrected, Kevin moved ‘WE’ to Oxford as it was becoming prohibitively expensive to stay in the capital. The company’s offer still includes specialist services but also evolved into a sophisticated marketing product: weMAP. weMAP is a powerful, affordable software for everyone which helps businesses automate and analyse marketing activity. From importing customer contact details directly into a company database to sending automated marketing content, emails, posting on social media and tracking website activity, the weMAP system automates many of the routine jobs associated with sales and marketing and then analyses customer behaviour to help companies decide which activity is working best.

It was when travelling to a business meeting in the North East one beautiful, bright winter morning in 2015 that Kevin fell in love with Tees Valley and made a spur-of-the- moment, life-changing decision to move to the area.

He said: “I was driving to see a long-standing client in Guisborough with my business partner Vicki Robson when we started talking about how wonderful it would be to live here. It was the most amazing winter’s day with bright blue sky and snowy covered moors. It just felt right. “The business climate in the south was becoming increasingly moderate whilst remaining extremely busy and it couldn’t have been a greater contrast. Initially I think it was a pipedream but we very quickly realised relocation was a real possibility. “More than half of our clients are outside the UK so our head office location was about finding the right people to join us. The opportunities in the Tees Valley and the North East far outweighed anywhere else. Before going ahead, we carried out comprehensive due diligence to look at everything from the region’s business support structures to potential customers and skills talent pool to fuel our future growth. There were no barriers and the move proved a no brainer. “Tees Valley has great transport links – London is only two hours twenty minutes away by train – the business rates are low and there’s exceptional quality of life. “Once the decision was made it was very easy to find the right office space in Stokesley and we’ve settled in very quickly to the diverse Terry Dicken Business Park. “Now we’re here we are blown away by the benefits and opportunities.

One of the most stark differences is people’s attitudes. There’s a really strong collaborative business culture here. People aren’t scared to help you or work together and networking opportunities are embraced. For example when meeting my new business neighbour, we spent half an hour in the car park of the Business Park chatting and getting to know each other. There’s a chance we’ll do business together. In the South you’d be lucky to get a ‘Hello’.” “Currently ‘we’ comprises of myself and Vicki and we work with a number of trusted independent specialists to develop our products and services. But we’ve got big growth plans and this year alone we’re looking to create new jobs. “We’re very excited about our future here. Friends and family thought we were crazy to move but that idea quickly goes out the window once they visit. You simply can’t beat the beautiful scenery, great people and business opportunities the Tees Valley offers. We’re proud to call it our home.”

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