Ajay Sood in work uniform

In 1994, Ajay Sood was in a bit of a fix: between jobs, and with mounting debts, it seemed impossible that his dream of starting a computer software business could ever become a reality.

He didn’t know where to turn for help to get up and running – until he heard about The Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme and applied for a loan and a business mentor.

Ajay told us:

The eight months when I was unemployed were really tough: it’s not fun when you haven’t got a job and you have bills to pay.

He continues:

You start wondering if you’ll ever be employed again and you lose your confidence and motivation when you’re not getting anywhere. However, I was absolutely determined to see it through.

The Prince’s Trust gave Ajay a business mentor, who helped him put a business plan together and gave him a £3,500 loan to buy the right equipment.

Orchid Software, the business he built with the loan and support, launched in 1994. Since then it has become the UK’s number one provider of intranet and extranet products, with a client list that includes some of the world’s most well-known organisations such as Virgin Money, Pizza Express and Comic Relief.

Today, Orchid Software employs 42 people in the North East and has embraced the latest cloud-based technology with the launch of Oak, a revolutionary new intranet solution. Oak has quadrupled the company’s customer acquisition rate in its first year of sales.

The market potential for Oak is enormous, not just in the UK but across the globe and Ajay says that the foundation supporting this next growth phase was the advice and funds he got from The Trust over 20 years ago.

Ajay said:

It just goes to show you that you don’t need loads of money to start a business: if you have the right support, you can achieve anything. It doesn’t matter what you want to do, The Prince’s Trust really does make a difference.

He continues:

I am eternally grateful to them and I can say with confidence that there’s no way I’d be running this business today if it wasn’t for them.

If you would like to find out more about Oak, visit their website.