In this latest regional business series, Erin Thomas of Ambition North Wales shines the spotlight on InnDex a North Wales enterprise helping to transform the construction sector.
George Smithes and Aaron Vousden founded InnDex, a digital product that improves productivity in the construction industry, in 2019. The pair, civil engineers who met at Cardiff University, did so “off the back our own frustrations to solve a problem that we, at the time, just thought was a bit of fun to try to solve – to build a more connected industry,’ explains George.
Armed with a good understanding of how the structure of the construction sector and supply chain from their years in the trade, George and Aaron realised that the induction procedures for health and safety on sites was time consuming, and “a very manual process, very paperwork driven, lots of scanning and printing,” says George.
“We decided that we could do what every other industry has done – create a profile of the individual that they build, and which is verified and then that's your passport.” It allows construction worker to show up on site ready to start work, saving man hours.
“It quite quickly grew legs, and we were quitting our jobs.”
Inndex, based in Beaumaris, brought its commercial product to market in April 2019 and started working with Crossrail projects in London. Since then, it has worked with about 50 or 60 different companies across the UK.
Today the business employs 23 people, with around 60% of the workforce working in software development. “We're growing very organically, not taken on funding,” says George. “The construction industry is quite slow in the way that the sales cycle happens. The traditional tech businesses model of throwing loads of money at marketing and sales, it's not going to help the conversation in our industry. Having [clients] early enough, and then maintaining and building a relationship, showing that you can deliver on what you're promising – that's the way we've grown the business.”
Winning Wales Startup Awards has also provided the business with a boost. Inndex claimed the construction startup crown in 2020 and the north Wales category in 2021, which was sponsored by Ambition North Wales. “The recognition has been great. People have reached out. We now work with a few Welsh companies. After the construction award, we started working with Alan Griffiths who is the biggest Welsh contractor.”
Alwen Williams, Portfolio Director for Ambition North Wales, called Inndex an “inspiring business” at the time of its North Wales Start-Up Award win, adding that it is a “true inspiration and advocate for innovation in Wales. Their success shows a need for entrepreneurialism in North Wales and something as simple as identifying the opportunity and plugging a knowledge gap can be the foundation of great success in business.”
Index is growing times three revenue year-on-year and is aiming to continue that growth for the next four to five years. There a large UK market still to be tapped, George explains. “The UK market is a huge market. And it's growing like hell, as it really has been disrupted by Covid.”
But there are plans to expand into other countries. “We are starting to do some work over in Ireland, and we are looking at UAE and the US, as well, hopefully over the next 12 to 18 months,” add George. “We’ve got big ideas, big aspirations to really grow into quite a big business.”
Being based in north Wales made sense to business from the beginning. “I'm from Pembrokeshire and Aaron is from Anglesey, so that's why we set the business up there.
The people we employ in north Wales have a really great quality of life and we're able to pay them above the odds for that area. The quality of life is being able to go to the beach at five o'clock after day’s work.”
George says Inndex is proud to be based in north Wales. “It resonates with people,” he says. We work with a lot of startups that are based in London, and I couldn't tell you where any of those people are from. But know that we are a north Wales-based business. And there's always a bit of chatter around that.”
InnDex is showing that technology firms can thrive in north Wales as it helps drive change in one of the UK’s most important business sectors.