GROWTH stories: AI + shirts

Published by Directorzone Markets Ltd on August 31, 2018, 5:43 pm in News, Other

LIFT OFF IMAGE: courtesy of Pixabay from Pexels



Stories from the Directorzone GRID about companies that are thriving in the UK and world marketplaces.


[GRID #: companies with strong GRowth, Innovation and Direction. List: GRID companies profiled on Directorzone]



Story: 2 employees with an AI dream become entrepreneurs, build a prototype, jump on the investment escalator, get the endorsement of blue chip partners and create a world-leading, fast-growing business.

DZ profile: Rainbird Technologies Ltd (Rainbird AI)

Business: decision-making Artificial Intelligence platform and consultancy predominantly for enterprise-level organisations in regulated sectors: financial services, banking, insurance, fraud, tax, legal and healthcare. Has an SME tier and also offers discounts to schools, universities and charities.

Basics: Launched - 2013 | Founders - James Duez & Ben Taylor | Location – Norwich, Norfolk | Staff – 30, with 10 consultants

Sector: ICB - 9537 Software | SIC - 62012 - Business and domestic software development


  • Exports: 20% of sales overseas

GRowth: is growing fast and expanding globally


  • “Human down instead of data up”: the ability to provide an audit trail and the evidence behind decision-making is especially important in regulated sectors where trust is vital. This helps greatly with compliance challenges such as the Modern Slavery Act and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
  • The Knowledge Map which displays concepts, relationships, facts and rules when modelling a business environment or marketplace. This is very valuable when dealing with uncertainties, probabilities and nuance.
  • Using a visual structure with open architecture to model company-wide expertise. This can be linked to external data sources, be published, be queried directly via a chat interface or integrated into other software to act as a sub-worker application, capable of making complex nuanced decisions. Nobody else does this.

Direction / key decisions:

  • Joining the Techstars Accelerator programme for 3 months in 2014 where Rainbird met 80 mentors, presented to 100 investors and got funding from Eden Rock, QVentures and Anglia Capital.
  • Linking up with powerful partners such as IBM, Jardine Matheson and Mastercard that are helping Rainbird to grow fast and expand overseas.
  • Forming Heron.AI – a specialist consultancy and integrator - to deliver the Rainbird platform project for clients and stay close to fast-changing market needs.

Key Accelerators:

  • Techstars Accelerator programme 2014
  • Investors: Eden Rock, QVentures and Anglia Capital

Opportunities / Shopping list:

  1. Actively looking for PARTNERS in North America. Software houses: working with large enterprise customers; with AI consultancy or delivery capability; IBM Watson partners.
  2. Recruiting a new marketing team and will recruit some more sales people in the next 12 months.
  3. Will incorporate in HONG KONG soon, possibly with small office of 3-4 people. Rainbird and partner Jardine Matheson have an opportunity to become market leaders in the Asia-Pacific AI marketplace .
  5. Additional SCIENTIFIC ADVISERS, with a background in cognitive sciences or AI, on the Rainbird Advisory board.
  6. PHD RELATIONSHIPS, in the longer term, with Rainbird offering co-sponsorship of Phd research.
  7. is planning a series A institutional FUND RAISING in Q3 2018 with European and/or US VCs. LISTING is certainly an option sometime next year…

Full interview:




Story: grandchildren of founders rebuild the family business as its 70th anniversary approaches, through new procurement practices and IT systems, and by replacing 75% of its retail outlets with a fast-growing online presence.

DZ profile: Harvie And Hudson Limited

Business: Jermyn Street Shirtmakers and English Outfitters

Basics: Launched - 1949 | Founders - Thomas Harvie and George Hudson | Location – Jermyn Street, London| Staff – 20


  • Exports: worldwide
  • Imports: Italy and Portugal

GRowth: despite closing 75% of its retail outlets since 2012 - the company’s annual revenues of £3.5m are greater than 5 years ago.


  • Procurement: started attending more supplier events in Europe, purchasing a wider range of colours and commissioning from suppliers in Italy and Portugal, made in “the English way” with English or Italian cloth.
  • Marketing: despite a customer base in the 40-year old and older age bracket, started targeting more customers in their late twenties and thirties.
  • Operation: invested the largest sum of money in its history in modernising all aspects of its business: electronic point of sale, inventory and retail management and a new ecommerce platform.

Direction / key decisions:

  • Closed 3 stores over a 3-year period
  • Recruited an Ecommerce and Marketing manager from LK Bennett and a Merchandising manager from Duchamp.
  • Rebranded its image and completely refitted the flagship store at 97 Jermyn Street.

Key Accelerators:

  • Ex head of TK Maxx Europe who advised on strategy and became a Non-executive Director
  • Meridian Corporate Finance
  • Paraspar ecommerce team and platform for better back office integration and customer service.
  • Cegid UK cloud services and enterprise software.

Opportunities / Shopping list:

  1. Expand into the wholesale clothing market.
  2. Retail expansion outside of London, i.e. Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham, Cambridge and others.
  3. Concession space in a major retail environment.
  4. Retailing online through portals such as Mr Porter.
  5. PR and marketing push, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of their business in 2019.

Full interview: