Fast-growing app evaluation firm ORCHA plans to recruit more than 130 staff in the next two years.

The Sci-Tech Daresbury-based business has grown its workforce from 21 to 52 in the last 12 months but founder Liz Ashall-Payne said that was only the beginning.

Speaking at BusinessCloud’s latest roundtable – entitled ‘How will tech companies recruit in 2021?’ – she said ORCHA was focussed on global growth.

Ashall-Payne said: “We’re behind on recruitment. Our plan is to grow to 188 over the next 24 months. Recruitment is huge for us and it’s mainly because of the global expansion.

“Since Covid we’re now working in six other countries and have plans to double next year and double again the following year.

“We’re growing revenues at about 120 per cent year-on-year. We’re really investing in growth. From a profit perspective we invest in growth.”

ORCHA won BusinessCloud’s ‘Meet the game-changing pioneers of tech’ event in 2017 and Ashall-Payne said culture was crucial.

“The thing that we realised about 18 months to two years ago was that cultural fit was absolutely critical to us,” she said.

“We defined what our values were. The first one is fun. Everyone at ORCHA has fun. The second is curious. Be curious. The third is collaboration. The fourth is trust.”

Ashall-Payne said the company had decided to close two of its smaller offices and focus on a large open plan office. “The reason we’re doing that is because we don’t see going back to ‘normal’ with rows of desks but we see people coming together  to do the white board activity once or twice a week and doing their ‘work’ from home. The key for next year will be flexibility.”

Relative Insight

Ben Hookway is the CEO of Lancaster-based advanced language analytics platform Relative Insight, that helps companies analyse language used in consumer insight, customer experience and employee engagement. The company has offices in the UK and USA and counts Sky, John Lewis, Formula1 and HSBC as customers.

Hookway said: “We’ve increased our headcount from 33 to 55 in the last 12 months. We made a decision prior to Covid to have an inhouse recruiter. We have someone who acquires talent for us.

“We have a very rigorous hiring process. We tend to hire quite young people and train them with a very clear career path. We have very low (staff) turnover. We’ve not had a problem hiring.”

Hookway said Relative Insight’s location in Lancaster helped attract staff and insisted there was still a role for offices. “We’re moving office,” he said. “We’re going into an open plan office in Lancaster because when we come out of this (Covid) we think Lancaster is going to be a great location for tech talent.”

Workforce People Solutions

Simon Mark Hayton is the CEO of Bolton-based Workforce People Solutions, which has a reputation for recruiting, relocating and retaining talent for sectors struggling with skill shortages in the UK.

“We work across manufacturing, automotive, engineering, healthcare and digital,” he said. “Our model is to recruit, relocate and retain talent.

“One size doesn’t fit all. We recently placed a Spanish guy living in London into a Wirral business.”

He predicted Brexit, Covid-19 and new IR35 legislation would shrink the tech talent pool in 2021.

Everything Tech

Lee Wrall is the founder and one of the owners of Manchester-based Everything Tech, which is a Microsoft Gold Partner. Everything Tech was founded in 2010 and employs 35 people.

Wrall said: “Working from home has become enormous. I think people will want to get back to ‘normal’ and go back to the office and have a beer after work.

“We’ve recruited about eight people recently and most of the time we tend to recruit in advance.”


Polly Taylor-Pullen is in charge of business development at Manchester-based instant messaging platform Nivo, which is transforming the way customers engage with the financial services sector.

Nivo has grown its team from 12 to 16 in 2020 and quadrupled its turnover over the same period. “We’ve hired some really interesting talent this year and that’s what really stands out for me.

“We’ve hired someone from Accenture in Canada, who is moving over. We’ve also hired someone from Paris. We’ve gone quite international.

“Even during lockdown our marketing lead, who is Canadian, went back to Canada to be with her parents. We also had someone who is from the Philippines originally, who went back to the Philippines.

“We’ve found when we’re hiring for sales staff it’s fairly easy (to find the right people) in Manchester with the right skillset,” she said. “But for other roles we’ve found it a lot easier to find people in London who were open to working remotely and potentially moving up to Manchester next year when things settle down.”


Gary Gallen is the CEO of Hull-based rradar, which is one of the North’s fast-growing tech companies and has used technology to transform the legal industry.

Rradar is now an eight figure turnover business, with a seven figure profit and a 140-strong workforce.

Gallen said: “My problem with recruitment at the moment is having gone slow for a couple of quarters it’s come back with a vengeance.”

One iota

One iota provide a range of sales focused apps and AI services from their cloud- based platform to a number of leading global retail brands including JD Sports, Hugo Boss and Superdry. CEO Chris Brooks undertook an MBO for the business from the US parent in June 2020.

Brooks said: “Previously we’ve had individuals working for us based in Barcelona and South Wales. I was approached yesterday by a guy from Serbia who is looking for a full time role working remotely.”

Solutionize Global

Rachel McElroy is the chief marketing officer of Wakefield-based cloud and technology services firm Solutionize Global. Last year the company hit £42m turnover.

In the last year the company’s workforce has increased from 12 to 45 and because of Covid-19 a lot of the onboarding has been done virtually.

“Quite a few people have never been in the office,” she said. “We’re looking at hopefully doubling our turnover and we need the people.

“I think 2021 represents a real opportunity to look at how we’ve done things and do them a little bit differently. The resounding thing for me this year has been the power of the people in organisations.”

McElroy said because of remote working they’ve been able to recruit people from Surrey and London and predicted a hybrid way of working going forward.


Stephen Johnson is the CEO of Chorley-based software testing solutions provider ROQ. The company employs 65 people and works closely with local universities on a graduate programme.

Johnson said: “There are loads of people out there but it’s just about getting the right calibre.”

Elizabeth Clark is the co-founder and CEO of award-winning Dream Agility and works with clients around the world. She predicted the impact of Brexit would be felt harder by the London tech sector than in the North. “People like working with us because the work is interesting,” she said.