North East business stars on national stage

North East entrepreneurs Zoe Farrington and David Carr go head-to-head at a national event

Stephen Slater of RMT, Natalia Blagburn of Rivers, who have supported REALsafe, and Andrew Richardson and Zoe Farrington of REALsafe technologies
Stephen Slater of RMT, Natalia Blagburn of Rivers, who have supported REALsafe, and Andrew Richardson and Zoe Farrington of REALsafe technologies

Two promising entrepreneurial businesses are to go under the national spotlight after being chosen as North East leaders.

Zoe Farrington of REALsafe Technologies and David Carr of Frank & Bird have been chosen as the region’s Emerging Entrepreneurs to go forward to compete for the crown of national Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year.

They will vie for the title at one of the UK’s biggest business events, the MADE 2014 Festival Gala Dinner on September 25 in Sheffield – part of a week-long festival inspiring entrepreneurship which is expected to attract 3,000 delegates from all over the UK.

The North East pair were chosen to attend the event – which is sponsored by Newcastle-headquartered Sage – by a distinguished panel of judges from a shortlist of 22 of the region’s up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

The pair will go head-to-head with nominees from Scotland, Yorkshire and the West Midlands for the award, which is also sponsored by Sage.

Zoe Farrington is co-founder of REALsafe Technologies, developer of the smartphone app REALsafe, being piloted by the North East Ambulance Service, which detects if a motorbike rider has been involved in an accident and sends an alert.

It is the only app on the market to connect a rider directly to the NHS.

The Durham-based business, which was founded in 2012, employs four people and has raised £610,000 through venture capitalists, business angel and private investment and has teamed up with a major insurance quote comparison website.

US electric bike manufacturer Brammo has announced that REALsafe will be provided with every new bike sold in the UK this year. BMW is set to follow suit.

The business has also been approached by Network Rail to look at developing the REALsafe technology to aid lone workers.

Mrs Farrington said: “It’s hugely exciting to have been nominated. As a company we are flattered to have been recognised for what we are doing. What makes it more meaningful is the word ‘emerging’ which makes it sound more genuine.

“The business benefits of being nominated are enormous. We have had a lot of regional media coverage and it’s always good to get exposure and we have had the phone ringing a bit more.

“It’s a further validation and a very attractive thing when you are looking for further investment.”

Dave Carr runs the Frank and Bird pub company, which owns The Tannery in Hexham and Brandling Villa in Gosforth. The company employs 27 people and has an annual turnover of £1.35m.

The Brandling Villa was opened in 2009 under a Punch Taverns leasehold.

Initially the business made gross sales of less than £1,500 a week but through imaginative sales initiatives, including a sausage festival, this has been built up to £24,000 a week.

Other initiatives included a menu for dogs and imported “dog beers”, which have attracted international media attention.

Mr Carr said: “We’re all very much looking forward to our trip to Sheffield for MADE. It still seems surreal for us to be here, and the guys at Frank & Bird are still on a high from the last award. It was a first for me, and I was amazed at some of the things that the other guys were doing.

“I think it’s one of the biggest things to happen to us in terms of recognition, and it’s given us the confidence to realise the level we’re really at, and where we can go from there. We’re proud to be representing the pub trade at events like this.”

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