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Telecoms business dials up impressive growth

Oliver Flanagan of Burnley based Ollycom 2018 web

A Burnley-based telecoms firm is on course to triple its turnover after winning a major contract in the education sector, thanks to Boost’s Growth Support Programme. Ollycom’s £25,000 contract to provide a wireless solution for Sir John Thursby Community College in Burnley represents a major step in the firm’s growth story.

Founder Oliver Flanagan had previously acquired specialist wireless company ObservIT and is now looking ahead to significant expansion. Former soldier Oliver trained in telecoms engineering and worked in the industry after leaving the army seven years ago.

He launched Ollycom in 2016. The business designs, plans, installs and maintains telephone and data networks for businesses of all sizes, local government organisations and education institutions across the North West.

Ollycom’s turnover last year was £50,000 with two staff and the firm is on target to hit £150,000 this financial year. It now employs five team members and plans to double, and possibly triple its headcount in the next few years. Oliver received valuable support through Boost Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub’s Growth Support Programme which helps entrepreneurs develop business plans and grow their enterprises.

Boost Lancashire Business Growth Hub is led by the Lancashire LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) and Lancashire County Council, and supported by funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The fully-funded programme, delivered by Winning Pitch and Enterprise4All, provides help to develop a personal action plan, Lean Launchpad sessions outlining key principles for developing a new business and one-to-one coaching support for business owners. Oliver believes the advice and support from Boost has been instrumental in his business success story.

He said: “My business mentor Nick Roach, at Geminus Training, helps me work on the business, not in it. When things aren’t going according to plan and I’m getting stressed, Nick will play devil’s advocate and ask me what if I did it this way, or that way? He gives me things to think about – a bit like homework. He’s a critical friend, which is just what I need.”

Boost, Enterprise4All and Winning Pitch opened my eyes to things I had never even considered before. I went on a marketing masterclass – I had never done any marketing before, I didn’t know where to start. I learned about LinkedIn and that has become my biggest business tool, but before that I didn’t know how it worked. The growth masterclass helped me focus on where I wanted to be and how to get there – the support has made such a difference.”

Michael Green, Lancashire County Council's Cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning, said: "We're working hard to grow Lancashire's economy, which includes successful programmes such as Boost, which has already helped thousands of businesses like Ollycom to find the right support to develop. "We work in partnership with businesses to help them to find the support they need, and then continue to support their development. So if you're based in Lancashire, get in touch with Boost to start your Growth Conversation."

Rona McFall, head of entrepreneurial solutions at Winning Pitch, said: “Oliver has made a huge impact to the market with his honest and problem-solving attitude towards business and helping his customers – we’re thrilled to see that our support has helped him on his path to grow and we wish him every success.” Oliver added: “I was a sole trader two and a half years ago, but when I took over ObserveIT along with its customers, it made me realise that I was not just a one-man-band. During the takeover process, we installed a wireless system into a school and that made me think, that if we could do it there, we could get into other areas of the education sector.”

Before tendering for the contract at Sir John Thursby Community College, Oliver carried out a thorough wireless survey of the site. Oliver continued: “We got all the floor plans and walked round each room, taking in the structure of the college because if it isn’t planned it won’t work.

Then we put together the hardware, along with the costings and in due course they said they’d selected us to provide their solution. This was a one off, but there is a maintenance fee that we’re negotiating, which could lead to providing solutions for other technology such as their interactive whiteboards and phone systems. If we can show them how good we are, hopefully they’ll become confident enough to consider us for bigger jobs. One of our key selling points is that we are very local, but can deliver effective, tailored solutions.”

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