Facing the make or break challenge of rapid growth

How do you meet ever-increasing demand for your services?  While organisations across the country grapple with problems of diminishing revenues, there are critical challenges on the up-slope too.  It’s the situation that SYTECH, the business founded by Edgar Blazier 20 years ago, now faces. 

The company forensically examines digital devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops for evidence of involvement in serious crime.  This evidence is important in the investigation and prosecution of serious crime.  “Our main customers are the 44 police forces across the UK,” Edgar explains, “Increasingly they need to outsource digital forensics to experts like us to provide the evidence in the devices to take forward an investigation to prosecution."

With a headcount of just eight in 2013, SYTECH now employs 75 people.  But changing a business’s scale isn’t just about hiring more staff.  A mid-sized business needs to think differently, and be structured differently, to a small business in which everyone is at the centre of activity.  At SYTECH, business quality and security can never be compromised, yet inevitably the hands-on scrutiny of the business leader diminishes as the business is scaled up.  This transition can cripple fast-growing enterprises, but Edgar fully recognises the challenge and knows he needs a little help.

Having taken on placement students from Keele, Edgar was attracted to Keele’s Mercia Centre for Innovation Leadership (MCIL)*.  He readily secured a place on the prestigious programme and has found the experience rewarding and of direct benefit to his business.  Highlighting a module on sales, he says “it was inspirational, and was delivered in a way you can really apply.”  

Carolyn Roberts, one of Keele University’s Entrepreneurs in Residence, is Edgar’s coach throughout the programme, visiting him in his business on a regular basis.  “She challenges me in a way my team cannot, and it’s the probing that drives the benefits.  I’m restructuring the company for its next phase of growth, which needs clear thinking, and Carolyn has had a decisive input,” comments Edgar.

Carolyn says: “Each MCIL cohort contains a mix of personalities, sectors and business life stages, and the business leaders fire ideas off each other, as well as through their coach and the formal sessions.  It’s the unique set up of the programme and energy of all participants that makes it so effective.”

The University is seeking participants for MCIL cohorts scheduled to start in November 2017 and March 2018.  Competition for places among Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent business leaders is fierce and participants are selected against strict criteria.

ERDF logo Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent businesses can benefit from a range of specialist support and funding.  Interested companies should contact Keele University’s Business Gateway on 01782 733001 or email business.gateway@keele.ac.uk.

*The Mercia Centre for Innovation Leadership programme (ref: 32R15P00229) is part-funded from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds England Growth Programme 2014-2020.