Digital agency Tiger Creative has been able to expand around the globe – managing clients in China remotely from its office based in Durham, thanks to superfast broadband.
The business, which helps companies, brands or individuals establish and improve their online presence, is able to run its entire Chinese infrastructure – supporting and developing customers’ websites and digital networks running in China, from the comfort of its Durham-based HQ.
Director Georgina Hindle, who launched Tiger Creative www.tiger-creative.comwith business partner John Abbott in 2015, explained: “At the back-end of last year we officially registered our company in Hong Kong and in mainland China. A growing part of our business is helping Western companies optimise for the Chinese internet, which is very heavily regulated so it’s difficult to do things legitimately out there without being an official entity. We’ve built on that premise and we’re now managing the day-to-day running of our Chinese company from our little office in Durham over 4,700 miles away.
“The Internet and high speed broadband is at the heart of what we do at Tiger Creative and we could only have launched our business with access to superfast broadband. It would have been impossible to expand into China the way we did without it.”
More than half of the company’s revenues came from Asia in 2015 and it has been able to grow internationally from its base in Durham City.
Georgina said: “We make sure we visit China on business two or three times a year to maintain and grow our relationships, but as a small business, it’s important for us to have more regular engagement with the market. We have admin staff based in China, and a small office in Shanghai, but no client-facing team stationed there yet, which is why we established our business infrastructure so that everything can be accessed and run remotely from the cloud. Day-to-day we have a number of client websites and services running and working online in China that we monitor, that we test and that we can fix or change – we do it all from here and it works over there, which is just brilliant really.
“Time zones almost become obsolete when you can schedule notifications and set-up monitoring and testing – you don’t have to be physically awake during the Chinese working day to know what’s going on out there.
“Our clients and customers in China know that it doesn’t make any difference whether we are based in Durham or London because with high speed connectivity, the kind of service we can give is the same.”
Georgina added that high speed broadband is vital for communicating and maintaining relationships with clients – many based thousands of miles away, allowing for services like online video conferencing and internet telephony.
“As a growing business, having that virtual face-to-face connectivity really helps us to establish relationships with our clients. We run our phone system over the internet which cuts out the cost of international calls, but also allows us to be contactable anywhere in the world via our local Durham office number. With high speed broadband these services work seamlessly – which is really important because it gives us credibility.”
Having superfast broadband had also been crucial to the business moving location from London to Durham – in February last year.
Georgina said: “My business partner John is from the North East and went to Durham University and is a big advocate of the area. We decided to locate here because it is a great place to do business. We also fancied a lifestyle change by getting out of the fast-paced city and being able to work to our own agendas and timescales.
“We couldn’t live in Durham and do the business that we do without having it. We can access the kind of speeds that most big cities get so it made it easy to move here from London. We’re able to live in a beautiful, picturesque part of the world with a World Heritage Site on our doorstep and maintain the same kind of business infrastructure, develop the same level of cutting-edge technology products and deliver the same kind of client service for our corporate clients that much larger companies can do in London, Manchester or Birmingham.”
Cllr Jane Brown, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for corporate services, said: “Hundreds of homes and businesses are signing up for fibre broadband every month.
“It is great to hear that this exciting technology is allowing a local business to succeed on the other side of the world.
“What Tiger Creative has achieved with fibre broadband proves that distance is no obstacle to global success and hopefully more local businesses will follow in its footsteps.”
Tiger Creativeis just one of more than 2,514 homes and businesses in Durham centre that now have access to high speed broadband thanks to the Digital Durham project, since fibre was first deployed in December 2013.
In total more than 104,700 homes and businesses are now able to connect to faster, fibre broadband thanks to the programme.
On average, engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network business, are switching on 22 new street cabinets and making the new fibre network available to around 4,700 more premises every month.
Digital Durham is delivered by Durham County Council and BT. In total, £34 million has been invested by BT, Durham County Council, government funding from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and public sector partners in Gateshead, Sunderland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and Tees Valley.
A second phase of fibre deployment is already planned to begin in July. This will see a further £9 million invested in the programme area. It includes £2.82 million from the government’s Superfast Extension Plan and £4 million from BT, with the remaining investment split between the local authority partners. An additional 29,000 homes and businesses will benefit as a result. By the end of the roll-out, 97 per cent of premises within the programme area will have access to fibre broadband.
Thousands of homes and businesses across the Digital Durham area have ordered fibre broadband and are now enjoying faster speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps.
It’s an ‘opt in’ service, but because the Openreach network is ‘open’, residents and businesses wanting to upgrade have a choice of fibre broadband providers, with more than 140 companies now operating across the UK.
For more information about Digital Durham visit www.digitaldurham.org
The Cloud: Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the Internet).
 Tees Valley includes Darlington Borough Council, Hartlepool Borough Council, Middlesbrough Council, Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council and Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council.
These are the top wholesale speeds available from BT’s local network business Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary