VehoGroup is an emergent Pembrokeshire-based technology company that delivers digital solutions to the road transport sector by driving the operational efficiencies of their growing customer-base.
Based in the Pembroke Dock Bridge Innovation Centre, the company has seen exponential growth over the past 24 months as the transport sector continues its migration away from traditional methods of operating and into the digital era.
Lukas Gamble, the CTO of the company, this week took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to Business News Wales about the company and their goals for the future.
Tell us about yourself and your business
Here at VehoGroup we focus on creating technology innovations for the logistics industry. We have developed a product called VehoCheck, a mobile app and accompanying web app designed to record vehicle defects identified in the mandatory walk around vehicle check process that the driver has to conduct if they are driving any kind of HGV; a product that mitigates the time-inefficiencies that can arise from the traditional, and often longwinded, methods of recording findings with a notebook.
Any issues that are recording on the app are instantly sent to the transport manager’s desktop so that they are immediately notified. By streamlining the process of delivering findings to the transport operator, the procedures for correcting these issues can be expedited; enabling them to maintain a compliant fleet.
Our product means that companies can drastically improve the efficiencies of the compliance process, delivering the potential for them to achieve savings in terms of both time and money.
What are your plans for the next five years and where do you see your challenges and opportunities?
We’re quite clear in terms of what we want to do for the next five years in terms of growing the company. Our plan is to taking on another eight employees, including both developers and sales people.
We’re looking further afield to expand our operations to Europe, though the fallout of the Brexit vote could prove a challenge to this ambition and has led to some apprehension with making this move; certainly in the short-term, at any rate.
A big long-term opportunity for us is looking to supply our services to the public sector, including the emergency services and local authority refuse sector.
What do you wish you had known when you had started out in business?
I think I should have better understood my customers, rather than coming to business and thinking ‘this is what this industry needs’, it would have been far more prudent to have done even more research than we did in the first place. We would have gotten to where we needed a lot quicker had we taken advice from the industry at an earlier stage.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of starting a business?
Think very carefully! Be prepared to have some difficult times but hopefully some much better times in return. Starting a business in the climate today can be a serious challenge in all sorts of terms, certainly financially.
There is a lot of help available throughout Wales, whether it be through government sponsored bodies or even businesses in the private sector that can offer business advice and look to source financial investment for a company and we would strongly advise that you investigate all available avenues before starting.
What do you think are the most important qualities for success in business?
Having the ability to listen to and take on advice and not making assumptions about what’s going on in your industry but most importantly, don’t give up.
You’ve got to be able to take the rough with the smooth; there are times where it can be really difficult, but if you believe in the product or service you provide and believe that people will pay for it then stick with it.
With enough hard work and dedication you will get there.
Looking back at your career, are there things that you would have done differently?
I think all the time about things I should have done differently! I think every day about things that I could have done differently and that would have possibly gotten me to where I am sooner but that’s just me talking with hindsight.
It’s easy to say that you should have done things differently but our experiences shape us and without doing the things I’ve done and experienced the things I have, I wouldn’t be who I am today, so there’s no regrets really.
What are the benefits of running a business in Pembrokeshire?
The number one benefit is that you’re able to live in Pembrokeshire, it’s as simple as that!
It’s a beautiful part of the world and whilst it can be a difficult place to run a business at times due to the geographical limitations of being a bit out of the way, the power of the internet and the infrastructure in place mean that it’s certainly an easier place to work from than it might have been before.
I’m sat in a fantastic building, the Bridge Innovation Centre which is part of the local authority, and I can’t speak high enough of the way in which the building has been organised – the way that it’s ran, the people involved here and the businesses that are in this building as well. It’s a really exciting environment to be working in and in those terms the local authority have exceeded themselves.
What would you advice be for people looking to start a business in Pembrokeshire?
Firstly, know that you have got a customer base – whether that be locally or across the rest of the country. We are in quite a remote location really so you have to know that the business is there before you start.
What advice would you give to businesses looking to invest or locate in Pembrokeshire?
My advice to companies looking to locate here would be to fully exhaust the support that is available to you within the county. Everybody wants to see investment within the area, it’s a tightknit community and there are always people, whether it be through the local authority, chambers of commerce or even other businesses that are willing to support fledgling businesses within Pembrokeshire.
What more could be done to boost the profile of Pembrokeshire to wider markets?
There’s a lot of intelligent and hardworking people in this area, for instance University Graduates, who tend to move away in search of employment.
Places like the Bridge Innovation Centre have proven that it is possible to establish businesses, especially technology businesses, in Pembrokeshire which has showcased to graduates in the area that there are opportunities for employment within the region.
Places like this have proven that there is a skilled workforce available if you do choose to locate here.
In terms of your industry, what does Pembrokeshire have to offer that is a particular strength?
In terms of the technology industry, there is business support available and the BIC is a hub for companies looking to develop within the area; without it, it might be difficult to put yourself on the map and there is a lot of kudos that comes with operating out of here.
Prior to re-locating here, we were working in a very small office in the middle of nowhere and it doesn’t help your company profile whilst this place certainly does. It has given us, and many other businesses in the region, the opportunity to grow in a supportive environment.
What can Wales or Pembrokeshire do to attract more inward investment?
A real concern is the level of support that we do get from the EU that does allow opportunities like this building to be built and for this business to get off the ground and there’s uncertainty that we will maintain the level of funding that we do currently get.
That level of investment does attract investment into both Pembrokeshire and Wales and I would implore the government, whether it be at a Welsh Assembly level or from Westminster, to continue to support business opportunities in Wales to help secure further inward investment in the future.