A web design agency run by a Plymouth couple has won a raft of international clients as the Covid pandemic removes traditional borders.
Made with Maturity, set up in 2015 by husband and wife Ben and Clare Stirling, only had one non-UK client before the coronavirus crisis hit in early 2020.
But with the the signing of a deal with a software development firm operating in the USA and Russia, in May 2021, it brings the number of international clients to eight.
Made with Maturity is now also working with businesses in Germany, Spain, Thailand, Portugal, Finland, and Poland. The clients are in a variety of sectors including TV and media, healthcare and medical and manufacturing.
Mr Stirling puts the success down to several factors, but chiefly that the pandemic has meant firms are looking further afield for services, if they can be provided remotely. It means quality and price trump locality for companies searching for web designers and similar tech businesses.
The low value of sterling may also be a factor, Mr Stirling said, with the exchange rate of the pound against other leading currencies having fallen significantly since the 2016 Brexit vote.
However, Mr Stirling stressed that price is not everything, and quality of service is also key to prospective clients, with nearly all the new wins coming after strong referrals and recommendations from satisfied Made with Maturity clients.
“Before Covid we had a good national/local customer base with only one international client, in France,” he said. “Since lockdown we have seen a massive growth in our international clients. We won our most recent one from Russia and we have now worked with eight international nations since lockdown began.
“Because we are a digital based business international barriers have not been a problem, and with the globe working from home its been easier to work with good people wherever they live. So it’s interesting to see how a global lockdown has seen an increase in global sales for us.”
He said that pre-pandemic clients wanted face-to-face contact, so Made with Maturity mostly worked with clients in the South West and London.
But the Covid situation appears to have removed that and of the international wins only one came from the business having to make a pitch.
“The firm provides web design and digital marketing and is focused on UX (user experience) design, which means it stays onboard to continually improve the websites it creates, and increase their efficiency, what it calls “creating an environment”.
Mr Stirling said: “We design and build it (the website) but once it goes live we do user testing to see that the end users and customers are using it the way it was intended. It’s pre- and post-, we create environments where we can test, alter and tweak it.”
During lockdown the company took on two permanent staff, to double its full-time total, but it also works with about 20 partner companies and freelancers.
A lot are coming through referrals, relationships, and recommendations,” Mr Stirling said. “Our recent win in Russia and the USA was from us being a recommendation. We were up against 10 agencies, five from the US and five from Europe.”
Made with Maturity operates from offices at Plymouth Science Park, returning from home-working at Easter 2021 when restrictions were eased.