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Success calls for tech firm

Tuesday 18 December 2012 6:00

Customer services technology firm SocialRel8 is targeting new markets after receiving a six-figure cash boost from North East investment group Teesside Patriots.

The company, based in Teesside University’s Victoria Building in Middlesbrough, was launched six months ago and already lists a number of large call centre operators on its books.

It offers customer service consultancy services and software solutions to major call centre operators and was set up with an initial cash injection North East entrepreneurs Alastair Waite and Andy Preston who are part of Teesside Patriots.

Its latest investment from the investment group will enable the firm to market its products to a wider market, it said.

It will allow the business to market EvaluAgent, the company’s new system that houses key management information, allowing call centres to track and evaluate the performance of their staff and carry out customer surveys.

Users of EvaluAgent already include a UK retail bank, a leading utilities provider, an international IT business and a range of central government departments.

SocialRel8 managing director Jaime Scott has lived in the north-east for nearly 25 years since studying at Newcastle University and later working as head of customer experience for Barclays and Orange.

He set up SocialRel8 in May this year with fellow directors, Alex Richards and Michelle Dinsmore, former colleagues at global call centre outsourcer Vertex.

He said: “I can’t stress enough how important the support of Teesside Patriots has been. Without their initial investment, we wouldn’t have been able to make our first big steps, as it was clear the money wasn’t available from traditional lenders.

“Now this latest cash boost will act as a springboard for us, as we are investing it in product development and sales.

“We believe SocialRel8 offers a unique proposition in the market, but we needed the help of Teesside Patriots to help us sell into the wider market, recruit more staff and accelerate our product development programme.

“But it’s not just about the money – it’s about the experience and knowledge of running a business that Alastair, Andy and their fellow investor Neil Stephenson bring.”

SocialRel8 recently recruited software engineer Will Bennison, a graduate of Teesside University, whose cutting edge technology base they say will be a big part of the company’s growth strategy.

Alastair, a driver of the north-east technology scene for many years,  said: “Teesside Patriots is all about investing in smart people and businesses – and SocialRel8 are definitely in that category.

“Putting money in is the easy bit. For a start-up company like this to grow and develop, you also need to provide value and mentoring, which is critically important.

“Thanks to their past experience, the SocialRel8 directors know what their customers want and have developed products to meet their requirements. I see great things for the business, not only in the UK but globally.

“If we get it right, we’ll create jobs and retain skills in the region, creating a business of real value here on Teesside.”

Teesside Patriots is a group of experienced dealmakers determined to make a difference by investing in local enterprise, giving businesses the capital and advice they need to grow and prosper. The group’s members have made up to £3       m available for investment in local businesses over the next three years.

Headed by leading local entrepreneurs Andy Preston and Alastair Waite, the group is now seeking to expand its investment activities and is actively looking to back more Teesside businesses that display talent and potential.