'Serious about tech? You need to get to Manchester'
Apprentice winner and head of the BBC show’s most successful-ever company Mark Wright has heaped praise on Manchester’s tech scene.
The winner of the 2014 series now heads up Climb Online, a fast-growing digital agency which will be opening its ‘digital hub’ in the city before the end of 2017.
The Australian says that he is passionate about the region, and any tech business worth its salt needs to set up camp there if it is serious about success.
“When you ask anyone where the capital of England would be – not counting London – they’d say Manchester,” he said.
“If you’re an ambitious business with an office in London, you have to have one in Manchester.
“We have noticed that customers and leads that were cold before are looking good now we’ve announced we will be moving north.
“We are the first Apprentice business to move to the city, and Manchester already has a load of tech businesses with a good reputation there.
“We’ll be bringing the best value marketing solutions available and I’d love to get the chance to boost the profile and presence of some of those businesses.
"The city has a great reputation in our industry and there is a lot of tech talent there. Most digital companies are coming out of Manchester.”
Although there is no set location yet, a spot in Salford’s MediaCityUK has been earmarked and Climb Online currently has three people working from home in the area.
Wright expects to recruit 25 more employees in the city by this time next year, adding to the 42 currently working for him.
Manchester’s strong skills base, he said, was one of the main reasons he chose the city for his firm’s expansion.
He added: “We put out a tech job advert in London recently and got no responses. We put the same ad for talent out in Manchester and got 60 responses – and the quality of these candidates was so high.
“Climb Online will call Manchester the tech hub of the business.
“There’s so much SEO, pay-per-click and technology talent up there and you’ve got to follow the numbers.”
The firm turned over £5.2m in 2016 and plans to turn over £7.5m by the end of 2017. It already has offices in London and Bristol.
This move has been described as a ‘natural progression’ by the company.
Climb Online is the most successful company to have gained investment from Lord Alan Sugar through the BBC programme.
The company works with businesses of all sizes to increase their online presence.
And Wright added there was a personal reason behind the move north: “My nan was born in Manchester, so when I was young growing up, I kept hearing all about Manchester.
“That’s why I’m a Manchester United supporter. I think it’s always been a city close to my heart.
“My first time in England, I lived in Manchester. But that was only for two months. I’d met a lady in Europe who let me stay with her, like an early Airbnb kind of scenario.
“I tried for a job in the city but got nowhere, so I did the thing a lot of people do, I got on a train to London. Now I’m coming back.”