Building My StartupAcceleratorsManufacturingStartups 2.0

Our series profiling companies from our Startups 2.0 lists continues with Stephen Mitchell, founder of, which featured on North East & Tees Valley Startups 2.0 and won our Pitching Night competition – sponsored by Ignite is an app and software platform that allows manufacturers to remove problem paperwork from their factory areas. An alternative to hardware-derived, expensive smart factory solutions, it connects teams rather than machines.

The startup has validated its MVP with four customer trials and already onboarded manufacturers to pay for the product. Its biggest win is a major automotive manufacturer which has agreed to pay for its annual license in advance to help with cashflow.

‘Mitch’ explains how he transitioned from placing buckets out in a factory to catch rain leaking through the roof to business entrepreneur in a week; needed help from family to get through the first six months, alongside a crucial grant from Ignite; and says the business will always have a base in the North East.

Describe your personal background prior to starting the business.

I was working at a defence company as maintenance manager when I recognised the need for a tech solution to factory paperwork. I’d trialled the software with the teams and this demonstrated the benefits across all of the stakeholders; however the business couldn’t implement it fully. I took a new role for a company that made industrial hoses and within a week or so identified the same problem in their Cramlington factory. It was only then that I realised that not only could there be a product in the SQCDP app, there was a potential business. I went from literally placing buckets out in a factory to catch rain leaking through the roof to business entrepreneur in a week…

North East hailed as ‘perfect location’ for tech startups

What is the biggest challenge you have faced to date? How did you overcome this, or plan to overcome this?

The greatest challenge has been in managing personal finances just to enable me to start things off. I’ve had to manage day-to-day spending, utilise savings and take some help from family to get through the first six months of starting up. Key to my decision was that I had been successful at getting onto the Ignite pre-accelerator in Newcastle Upon Tyne. This included £10k in grant funding that made all the difference to being able to get started.

If you were making a birthday wish for your business, what would you ask for and why?

I’ve struggled here to know what to ask for… summing up my thoughts, it would be greater customer awareness so that manufacturers and their teams can see how we are offering a different type of solution with our application. We believe that there are many managers, engineers, supervisors and operators that have a real problem with paperwork in their factories and we are an easy-to-implement answer for them. We want to have as great an impact for as many people as possible and support better work with shop floor data.

What benefits does being based in the North East have for your company? How would you describe the tech scene there? What could it do better?

We have a great community that is active in tech in the North East. I’ve only realised this as much when getting things going. The opportunities have been presented to network with other founders, take part in seminars and gain support from the organisations that are around. Ignite, the Royal Academy of Engineering, Innovation Supernetwork, TechBlast, Sunderland Software City and Silicon Mingle are all having an impact and driving the scene around us – it feels like we’ve entered the ecosystem here at the right time where there’s a resurgence following COVID and a real ambition in the area. It’s great to be part of that and we’re keen to be a great story for others to follow.

Why brave tech startup founders need honest feedback

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Since January 2023 we’ve had a full year of learning through accelerator programmes to ensure we’re solving a real problem that customers will pay for. This has been key to us making progress and, as part of our journey, we’ve spoken to people all through the tech industry including business leaders, financiers, VCs and founders. The access to these resources has been invaluable and the fact that they are available here in the NE is what new businesses and startups need. We need to shout about our ecosystem so that other people who have great ideas that can get going and have their own impact on things. It is great to see success around us and we’ll always look to be a voice in support of the great things happening in Newcastle. Regardless of how big our ambitions are, we’ll always be here in the North East.

North East & Tees Valley Startups 2.0