MD Mark Needham founded the original company Widget Software in the front room of his London flat in 1987 with the help of Enterprise Allowance, a government scheme that supplied him with £20 a month for two years. Throughout the nineties, the company grew on the back of Psion’s handheld computer technology. By the year 2000, Widget Software had grown to a European group.
“Then I got made redundant,” quips Needham. “Psion withdrew from the consumer market and I joined forces with David Elder, a former director and president of Psion, to set up Widget UK.” The company distributes a range of PDA/Smartphone accessories, satellite navigation and mobile scanning products to the likes of Dixons, Amazon.co.uk and Carphone Warehouse.
“We became the first distributor to specialise in GPS, and the first importer of TomToms in the UK,” says Needham. The company’s strength has been its ability to seize entrepreneurial opportunities by reacting to emerging technology trends – with 20,000 GPS systems sold in the UK in 2001, this figure rocketed to two million last year. “I knew GPS was going to be big – it answers the basic human need of ‘how can I get from A to B in the shortest possible time’.” As the 40th fastest-growing private company in the UK, Needham is confident that they can grow their sales from its current £27m to £36m in 2008.