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NBSL funding helps 4thAspect to grow; ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE.

FUNDING and support has helped an e-business attract investment and create eight jobs with a new software product due for release next month.

4thAspect is based at the e.volve business centre in Rainton Bridge and is run by husband and wife Dave and Claire Glynn.

The business was set up in March 2010 in order to develop a unique Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and web marketing toolkit.

4thAspect is designed to assist online marketing agencies in the management and reporting of their clients' SEO and web marketing campaigns.

The software is web based and will be offered to agencies on a monthly subscription basis.

The company has attracted a significant amount of investment and the software is due for release in November this year.

The funding obtained included support from North Star Ventures, who had initially invested in the business through its Finance for Business North East Proof of Concept Fund.

This is managed by Northstar Ventures and backed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), European Investment Bank and One North East.

A further investment has recently been received by 4thAspect.

Claire explained how she had a 'light bulb' moment which led to the creation of their product: "I realised that if we could develop and produce a tool that would streamline web agencies systems and processes, we would be saving them a huge amount of time and effort.

"They would be able to use this tool to more efficiently manage their client's web marketing campaigns and therefore sell their services better." Dave attributes 4thAspects' success to a number of factors: "Our product is web based and this is quite unique. Most of our competitors'' products are PC based and don't offer the full range of tools that 4thAspect can."

However, this growth in the business will present significant challenges in terms of change within the business, managing and delivering new contracts.

This involves a step change in how 4thAspect operates in terms of its current leadership and management capability. Dave felt he needed to develop his management abilities to meet the demands of a business that was about to grow significantly.

Dave explained: "I'd spent a lot of time researching and building the software, but I hadn't considered how I would need to raise my game in terms of leadership and management."

Dave discussed the options and funding available to 4thAspect with Deborah Lowden, a leadership and management specialist advisor, from Northumberland Business Service Ltd (NBSL).

NBSL is D-BIS (Department of Business, Innovation and Skills) approved and regulated Local Enterprise Agency.

Over the last eight years, NBSL has delivered the North East's Leadership and Management Advisory Service, funded by D-BIS's Skills Funding Agency. Under NBSL, this programme has gone from strength-to-strength, engaging directly with 1,000+ SMEs each year.

This programme has evolved, responding to Government policy and local SME need, into focussing on assisting SMEs with growth potential.

Deborah commented: "Dave and Claire had a great product, with fantastic potential but it was imperative that the growth of the company was managed effectively.

"Dave was keen to develop himself to take on the challenge that lay ahead."

With a Leadership and Management grant, Dave began a programme of change management development in July 2011 with Phil Murray of Harlands Associates, a Consett based accountancy firm that also delivers coaching and mentoring to SMEs in how to prepare and implement growth plans.

Phil was selected by Dave as a business coach over the summer of 2011 to help define a tailored strategy to take the business to the next level and secure the much needed financial investment.

Support was given to Dave so that he could not only develop and implement the strategy, but also develop his skills to recruit the right people.

Eight full-time employees will be recruited in sales, account management and software engineering and Dave viewed it as crucial to have the right people in place.

Dave explained: "I have no doubt that the mentoring delivered by Phil and part-funded by NBSL was key in preparing me for the new challenges that lay ahead.

"I was able to develop my business case, which resulted in a further successful investment from Northstar Ventures. I feel much more prepared to take 4thAspect to the next level."

NBSL has secured ERDF investment of pounds 2.38m to deliver this type of support to the North East's private sector businesses employing between 2-249 employees.

The ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-2013, managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government, is bringing over pounds 300m into the North East to support innovation, enterprise and business support across the region.

The Leadership and Management Advisory Service will make a major contribution to the ambition of the ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-13 by increasing the numbers and survival of business start-ups in the region and increasing business productivity. ? For further information on how to access Leadership and Management funding for your business, please contact NSBL on 01670 813 322, or apply direct via our website www.nbsl.org.uk/what-we-do/help-businesses-to-grow

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TEAMWORK 4thAspect''s Dave and Claire Glynn
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 12, 2011
Words:846
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