Teesside University graduate secures £2.2m investment for tech start-up

A Tees tech firm founded by a Teesside University graduate is helping to revolutionise the business procurement process thanks to a £2.2m investment.

Darlington-based Paid recently secured the seed funding from investors led by tech-focussed venture capital firm, Crane Venture Partners with active participation from Seedcamp, Techstars and other notable angel investors.

The funding will help the digital procurement start-up improve its enterprise software and achieve its mission to create equal opportunities for businesses of all sizes, all over the world.

Its software helps large companies improve their agility and innovation capability while smaller companies gain economic strength and access to wider business opportunities.

Paid owner Tom Howsam first took the entrepreneurial plunge after graduating with an IT degree from Teesside University in 2004.

He said “My journey into start-ups was triggered after doing a placement year as part of my degree.

“Experience of working in an IT department at the age of 20 inspired me to set up the software development company, Thap with an old school friend, Adam Paxton.

“As we grew we also wanted to offer placements, giving more students the chance to figure out what they really loved doing. We expanded this and employed many graduates over the years, with support from DigitalCity and Teesside University.”

The university has continued to support Tom with several projects throughout his entrepreneurial journey.

He said: “Having this resource to call on has given me the confidence to go for more complex and valuable contracts.”

Thap was later developed into a technology partnership agency and acquired by Dubai-based performance marketing company, Clicksco.

In his role of CTO, Tom continued to support local graduates and went on to grow a team of over 45 employees in Middlesbrough.

Tom’s experience of the challenging procurement process that enterprises face led him to find ways create a solution to the problem. As a result, he left Clicksco to set up Paid in 2018.

The company’s mission has been to bring value to companies both large and small and since its launch, it has taken part in the Barclays-powered Techstars Accelerator Programme and recruited over half a dozen new employees in the middle of the pandemic to help perfect its platform.

David Dixon, investment programme manager at DigitalCity, said: “What Tom has achieved over the last 15 years is incredible.

“He was one of the first people that DigitalCity supported and to witness his personal growth is immense, but in truth his biggest achievement will be securing a significant number of high quality sustainable employment opportunities right here on Teesside.”