Striving for success, at any stage in life, inevitably brings challenges which we must learn to overcome.
But for many of us, the challenges are perhaps less acute than those faced by Josh Hough.
“I found school challenging as I spent a lot of time in a wheelchair due to a muscle weakening disorder,” Hough confides to TechBlast. “I made some supportive friends and my schooling experience taught me that there’s always a way to do something – you just have to find out how.”
The difficulty he faced did not prevent him from starting up his first business, a small publishing company, at the tender age of 15. Despite ambitions to study law and business at university, his decision to run an IT services company while at college would get in the way.
“My studies became secondary,” he admits. “I didn’t get the grades I needed to get into university, so I decided to take a year out, do resits and travel. At the end of that year, I decided against going to university and instead focused on growing the business I had started.”
Hough would add yet another business to his portfolio as his family became frustrated by the lack of updates around his grandfather’s care. “The lightbulb moment was cemented when South Coast Care, a home care agency, had challenges with the inadequacy of its paper-based care management system,” he explains.
“[My IT business] MAS Group had been servicing South Coast Care’s IT requirements. I knew that myself and my friend Dec had the experience to develop home care management software that would improve their working practices, save them money and give their carers more time to care.”
Dec Norton, director of development at MAS Group, also serves as CTO of the most recent venture. A cloud-based home care management software platform, CareLineLive – based in Slinford, West Sussex – digitises workflows and enables home care agencies and their staff to be more efficient.
Until February 2018, CareLineLive was in a pilot phase. It has now grown to more than 275 customers managing more than 8,000 carers in seven countries around the world, with 20 staff. Clients include Home Care Nurses Australia, Clannad Care in Ireland and Coastal Homecare in the UK.
Annualised recurring revenues now top £1 million, according to Hough.
The business was built with a mixture of Innovate UK funding and £3m of equity capital. “Like all startups, early stage financial instability has caused many sleepless nights, whether that’s investment confirmations or paying wages,” Hough reveals. “I take my role very seriously, as I understand it is not just my livelihood at stake.
“However, I have learnt to deal with the stresses that come with being an entrepreneur: believing in yourself and your business is key. There will be people who will doubt you, so if you work hard and put the hours into something you think is worth it, the time and passion will pay off.”
Vicious circle of experience
Hough is now a chartered IT professional, awarded by the British Computer Society (BCS), and has successfully completed the 10,000 Small Businesses Program funded by Goldman Sachs at the Said Business School, Oxford University.
“I have grown resilient to the hurdles that I continually face. When I started my business at 18 there was a trust issue, people asking ‘Why should I trust you?’” he recalls.
“It’s hard to prove yourself and win business: it’s the vicious circle of needing experience but not being able to get experience as you don’t have experience. My challenge has been about gaining and demonstrating confidence to stakeholders in CareLineLive, be that investors, customers, or potential employees.
“My drive has been about being successful, proving people wrong and showing that something is achievable. I have always had an entrepreneurial attitude and an interest in technology, and to have built a business such as CareLineLive is something I’m very proud of.”