Sound Training, a Middlesbrough-based company that produces educational programmes, is now working with schools and prisons across the globe, thanks to the help of the Department for International Trade (DIT).
Founded in 2011, the business aims to boost literacy levels and raise attainment in children and adults from the age of nine years and upwards.
Its intensive education programmes consist of one-hour weekly sessions which are delivered by Sound Training staff or representatives that have completed training by the company. The aim is to improve literacy levels over a six-week period.
Four years ago, the business approached its local DIT International Trade Adviser (ITA) to explore the idea of selling its products overseas. Working together, the company and their ITA identified the US market as an initial focus, due to similarities between the US and UK education systems.
DIT supported the business to embark on its first trade mission to Denver, arranging meetings with staff in the UK embassy in Boston, and funding pilots of the Sound Training programme to stimulate market demand. DIT also put the company’s Managing Director in touch with – as they would turn out to be – their first US customers.
Following this success in the US, in 2017, DIT supported the business to attend an education conference in Dubai. Sound Training now has contracts with three schools in Dubai, Qatar and Oman.
Sound Training’s team has grown from two people to 70 since 2011. It now plans to add another five employees over the next 12 months to support the business’ ongoing export growth strategy.
Claire Preston, CEO at Sound Training, said: “We’re passionate about helping people reach their full learning potential and believed our programmes could work as well overseas as they do in the UK.
“Our local DIT adviser helped us with market research, giving us the confidence to approach overseas audiences knowing our programmes met their needs.
“Over the next five years, we are planning to focus equally on UK and overseas growth. We will continue to work closely with DIT as the networks they’ve helped us to build have been invaluable. You can’t underestimate the power of meeting people face-to-face and without DIT, we wouldn’t have been able to access many of the people and businesses we now call customers.
“We are passionate about helping close the education attainment gap, whether it’s in a school in Leeds or a prison in Texas. If a business from Middlesbrough can take its services across the world, anyone can.”
David Coppock, Head of Regions, North East at Department for International Trade, said: “Exporting isn’t always about goods, as Sound Training as shown. This is a great example of a service business that has exported successfully and will now help educate people across the world.
“Whether it’s a unique new service, an innovative new piece of technology, or something completely different, DIT has a team on the ground across the North East ready to support businesses on their exporting journey.
“If you think you could benefit from speaking to an International Trade Adviser to explore exporting opportunities, please get in touch with our team today.”