Creative Networks is a managed IT and telecoms company that is following in the footsteps of one of Rochdale’s most celebrated technology businesses.
Creative Networks began life in 2005 as the back bedroom business of managing director Shakeel Ahmed. Two years later, after leaving university, Azeem Javed – now commercial director – joined as the first full time member of staff.
If that sounds a little familiar, it’s because it mirrors the early days of Rochdale-based Zen Internet, now one of the UK’s largest independent internet service providers.
“Richard Tang (Zen founder) is Rochdale born and bred and started a business in his own home,” says Azeem. “That’s pretty much exactly the way we started too. We’ve met Richard and he’s been really helpful and supportive. Zen is also a great example of what you can do in Rochdale. This is a really good place to start a technology business.”
A turnkey solution
Creative Networks has also expanded from its humble roots, and in 2020 moved into Moss Bridge House, also known as the Zen Internet Building. It was home to Zen up until the company’s move to Sandbrook Park.
The company now employs 20 staff and boasts a turnover in the region of £1.2 million. Of its 200 plus customers, around 90% are located within an hour’s drive of Rochdale town centre.
Those customers include businesses large and small, and public sector organisations like Rochdale Sixth Form college. Creative Networks serves a wide range of sectors including manufacturing and automotive, and many of its clients are professional services businesses like solicitors and accountants.
“We offer a turnkey solution for businesses that either can’t or don’t want to pay for internal IT staff,” says Azeem. “That means we can cover everything, from connectivity and telecoms, to security, data backup and IT support. We can monitor all systems, even entry systems and CCTV. Essentially, businesses can take any of those services from us individually, or we can simply take over their IT management and they can get on with what they do best.”
The perfect location
Azeem believes Rochdale is the perfect location for a growing IT business. “We’re born and bred in Rochdale so of course we’re biassed, but the location is ideal for us. Our new building is just off Junction 21 of the M62, so that makes it easy for field engineers to get out to our clients. When people rely on their IT networks, that speed of service is very important.”
Rochdale Council has always supported the growing business, from mentorship and guidance in the early days, to networking and the RDA’s regular Business Matters newsletter more recently. In return, Creative Networks is keen to play its part in the vibrant economic life of the Borough.
“We’ve always been keen to offer work experience opportunities to local students,” says Azeem. “Sometimes they will get in touch individually and sometimes through schools, but we regularly offer placements. We aim to give the students who take up work experience a real view into the life of an IT company, and show how we help to drive other businesses forward. It’s very rewarding and we’re keen to do more.”
Creative Networks is a key player in Rochdale’s burgeoning high tech sector, and further proof that the well connected Borough – just 15 minutes from Manchester City Centre, and with 3.5 times greater availability of superfast broadband than the national average – is an excellent location for IT start-ups.
Creative Networks & Rochdale Development Agency
Original Article by Rochdale Development Agency