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From Start Up to Scale Up

20 November 2018

Gradvert has grown organically by helping organisations to improve business performance by improving people. Here is the article with Northern Insights magazine and Michaela Reaney, Managing Director and Founder of Gradvert, talking about her own personal experience of scaling a business.

Gradvert has gone through a period of significant growth over the last year. What key lessons have you learnt?

As most founders know there is a pivotal point when scaling a business and the most important thing is not to do so chaotically. Being an entrepreneur, I am comfortable with a certain amount of ups and downs while we grow organically but it is vital that we learn from our experiences and focus on providing the best customer journey possible. At Gradvert we have developed an agile and flexible business model which allows us to forecast and respond to client needs. This has been important to us, as it is much easier to win repeat business from existing clients than it is to gain new ones. We’ve also been lucky enough to attract some great new talent, strengthening our learning solutions offering and working on our key point of differentiation, our approach. We now have over 10 core employees at our HQ in Newcastle, an extensive network of coaches and key strategic partners. 

What regional scale up support did you receive and how did this help you?

We were officially invited to be a part of the RTC North Scale Up programme which gave us access to the skills of a business support adviser. This has led to an incredibly useful journey for Gradvert, addressing key infrastructure, technology and back office areas of the business to bring operational efficiencies to help cater for growth.

What has been your key focus over the last year?

We acquired registered apprenticeship training provider status and have developed our offer with our strategic partner Kate Temple-Brown. Our latest product, Optima, allows us to work with organisations to maximise their Apprenticeship Levy spend so they can focus on talent, not tax. Through this we have seen organic growth within our existing client base, helping companies like British Athletics to leverage their levy spend. It has also helped us access new global clients such as Diageo, Multiplex and Net-a-Porter. Another addition to our learning and development services is our strategic alliance with destination management company Madventure, through which we offer tailored CSR leadership, training and development programmes overseas. These experiences offer an amazing opportunity for companies to show how they can build wealth while benefiting society at the same time.

What technological innovations are you involved with?

We have been working on a number of exciting technology solutions for our clients and are about to launch our own blended learning system, which is a Smart Lab platform to help clients on their learning journeys. We’re also exploring the use of virtual and augmented reality in our programmes. Advances in areas such as AI will mean that humans will work alongside advanced robotics, and this will happen sooner than you think.

What is your top tip to business owners during scale up?

Allow yourself time and space to think about the bigger picture. It is important to have regular strategy sessions to work ‘on the business’ not ‘in the business’. Having these processes and systems in place ensures that when you do start scaling, it’s not disorganised and it makes the change manageable. Like many businesses we support flexible working and have a number of partners and employees who work remotely; to do this we need the right technology to support our team. I naturally want to collaborate with people, however you have to be very mindful about who you want to join your team and who the right partners are. I’ve learnt to be very clear about the values and behaviours that underpin the business. In many regards the journey has been tough, but I have never regretted it for one minute.

If you'd like to know more about Gradvert and the great work that we do visit: http://gradvert.com/insights/case-studies/

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