Salesfire were the big victors in the second Tees Tech Awards – described as a “triumph for the local digital sector”.
The Tees Tech Awards 2021 took place at Hardwick Hall Hotel on Tuesday evening, with 250 sponsors, finalists and guests in attendance and many more watching from home or the office live on YouTube.
Organised by Tees Business, the awards were held in association with DigitalCity and Middlesbrough Digital, while keynote speaker was corporate lawyer and Teesside University alumni Deborah McGargle.
Tees Business director Dave Allan said the event – which followed the inaugural awards, held virtually, last year – had hit the mark as “a deserving celebration of the brilliant, innovative and ambitious people and companies that were driving the region’s thriving tech and digital sector”.
Dave’s business partner Martin Walker said the 11 category winners were “the very best of the very best digital ground-breakers”, who he insisted deserved “all the credit for not only surviving but thriving in hugely challenging times”.
Daniel Watson of Middlesbrough Digital said the awards played a “crucial role” in celebrating the success of the cluster, highlighting the sector’s potential and the impact it can have on the local economy, inspiring future generations and “challenging historical mindsets of what can be achieved in the Tees Valley.”
DigitalCity’s David Dixon added: “I have been lucky enough to be around tech and digital sector for 20 years. I have loved every minute.
“The sector has inspired me, taught me and made me who I am, and I will be eternally grateful. There are so many amazing businesses, people and stories out there as a result of this cluster.”
Salesfire UK were the evening’s big winners, with their two tables of staff and guests celebrating wildly as they pipped Animmersion and Circle Cloud to Company of the Year.
Having also won the gong for the new category of Best Digital Project/Campaign, it was the second successive year Salesfire – specialists in helping online retailers convert more visitors into customers – had done the double, having won the Best Newcomer and Innovation awards in 2020. In fact, it was the double-double, as they also won two awards at the inaugural Tees Tech Awards.
After receiving his second gong, delighted Salesfire CEO Rich Himsworth said: ““It means the world to win this award in such a strong category.
“We’ve built on last year and we are proud but we are quite humble. We just keep our heads down and get on with our jobs. We will enjoy the celebrations tonight but we’ll be back to work tomorrow. In terms of our future goals, we are looking to expand in the US and Australia.”
Meanwhile, Bob Makin, CEO of Middlesbrough games developer SockMonkey Studios, was named Business Leader of the Year – an accolade he took ahead of finalists Tom Howsam of Paid and Richard Bendelow of AeroCommerce.
It was double delight for SockMonkey Studios, as Darren Falcus, their director of business development, was named the first Tees Tech Unsung Hero.
He couldn’t be there to receive his award, but Lee’s Double Eleven colleague Mark South took another big individual accolade, named the Tees Tech Ambassador in succession to Dominic Lusardi. Finalists for the prestigious award were DigitalCity’s David Dixon and Visualsoft’s Dean Benson.
The full list of winners and finalists at the Tees Tech Awards 2021 was:
Company of the Year (sponsored by DigitalCity and Middlesbrough Digital)
Winner: Salesfire UK
Finalists: Animmersion, Circle Cloud
Business Leader of the Year (Punch Robson Solicitors)
Winner: Bob Makin (SockMonkey Studios)
Finalists: Richard Bendelow (AeroCommerce), Tom Howsam (Paid)
Tees Tech Ambassador (Cornerstone Business Solutions)
Winner: Mark South (Double Eleven)
Finalists: Dean Benson (Visualsoft), David Dixon (DigitalCity)
Best Digital Project/Campaign (sponsored by Teesside University)
Winner: Salesfire UK
Finalists: Appamondo, In Studio
Unsung Hero (Tees Valley Business Hub)
Winner: Darren Falcus (SockMonkey Studios)
Finalists: Zulfiqur Ali (Teesside University), Steve Dougan (Teesside University)
Tech for Good (Racz Group)
Winner: In Studio
Finalists: High Tide Foundation, The Hope Foundation
Small Business of the Year (sponsored by Jacksons Law Firm)
Finalists: Circle Cloud, Life Ninja Education
Innovation Award (sponsored by Erimus Insurance Brokers)
Winner: Everflow Tech
Finalists: Animmersion, Salesfire UK
Best Newcomer (sponsored by Python Properties)
Winner: Unforgettable Experiences
Finalists: Evolution XR, Dash Media
Digital Transformation (sponsored by Azets)
Winner: Sapere Software
Finalists: My Marketing Button, Jacksons Law Firm
Rising Star (sponsored by Middlesbrough College)
Winner: Tim Ward (OPPORTUNI)
Finalists: Mia Simpson (OES Oilfield Services), Chris Goodyear (Many Cats Studios)