Founder: Alistair Crane
Year Started: 2010
We know what you’re thinking. How has a mobile business founded by a 24-year-old in January 2010 become the leading mobile and tablet app agency in Europe and North America?
Good question. But then Alistair Crane is no ordinary young entrepreneur and Grapple is no ordinary start-up business. After three years earning his stripes in the technology and advertising industries, Crane spotted a gap in the market for an agency which could help brands boost their mobile presence. He secured the funds to acquire a Canadian technology company and this became Grapple.
Re-branding and positioning the business as the only mobile agency to manage the entire development process – from concept to download – the big brands were instantly entranced. Contracts with BT, X-Box and T-Mobile followed and Grapple’s app for Premier Inn has received over 1m downloads since launching in January 2011. It is now generating the business average additional revenue of £2m a month.
In one of the newest and fastest-growing technology spaces in the world, Grapple’s remarkable progress has seen operations swell rapidly and the business now supports over 75 staff; across three international offices – London, Toronto and New York.
To date, the company has created over 170 bespoke cross-platform applications for more than 70 major brands and, with first year turnover of £4m, the business is growing at a rate of 350% a year.
Furthermore, despite starting-up barely 18 months ago, several enviable purchase offers have already been laid down for the business. In 2011 Crane appeared in The Apprentice and on the front page of The Sunday Times’ business section, as the media sought to get in on the act. They were in agreement – Grapple is one to watch.
Judges' comments: Grapple is seizing the zeitgeist by delivering real bottom-line benefits to an impressive list of blue-chip clients. Its ‘utility apps’ harness mobile in a way very few, if any the world over, have done successfully. A measure of its rapid ascendancy can be seen in its financials, its rise in staff numbers and the global offices it has opened just 18 months after starting. With proprietary technology behind it Grapple has the very serious potential to be a world leader in its field.