Clickety Books. A case study
A groundbreaking series of colourful, fun books designed to help children develop speech and language skills has won another clutch of top national awards.
Clickety Books is a Cornish company producing bright, engaging books packed with enticing illustrations that embed educational benefits beneath the cartoons and fun characters. The books, produced by a team of writers, illustrators and speech and language therapists and accompanied by an audio version narrated by famous TV stars, have proved such a hit they are already beloved by children and teachers alike, and have just won more awards to add to their growing haul.
The company’s ‘S’ series of books, narrated by Ronni Ancona, won the Primary Teacher Update Gold Award in September, whilst the ‘T’ series, narrated by Catherine Tate, scooped the Practical Pre-School Silver Award. The books also won gold and silver awards in the same events in 2012.
The light-hearted books are themed around specific letter sounds, and each feature fun characters like Corky the Squawky Hawk, Jake the Achy Snake, and Hoot the Tooting Newt. There is also a range of supporting materials available to help pre-school and primary school teachers use the books in the classroom.
Clickety Books has been supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funded Oxford Innovation Coaching for High Growth programme, which managers say has proved “invaluable” in helping them to move the young business forward.
Richard Ayre, joint managing director of Clickety Books and also Chairman of the Institute of Directors South West, said: “Business has taken off, and we have been very grateful for the coaching support from Oxford Innovation over the last 12 months which has helped us enormously to move the company on.
“For Anne and I to be working and living together, you often don’t have the opportunity to step back and get a reflection on what you are doing. It can be really good to have your ideas challenged, and Oxford Innovation are great at that.
“They were particularly helpful when we were trying to raise investment, and provided practical support and advice as well as acting as a critical friend.”
Oxford Innovation coach Mujeeb Rahman said: “When I started working with Clickety Books a year ago they were just getting started so we focused on helping them to put together a credible business plan and revenue model along with exploring the outside routes to market. We also worked with them on raising investment, match funding a Grant for Business Investment (GBI) from the ERDF, with investment from a number of Business Angels. It is a fascinating company and the Oxford Innovation team is enjoying working with them.”
Richard Ayre continued: “Raising finance in the current climate is a challenge, and selecting the right partners is vital. We are fortunate to have investors who are supportive and each able to add value in their own way.”
Clickety Books began when Falmouth-based author Craig Green became frustrated at the lack of resources available to help his son succeed at school and overcome speech difficulties. After he came up with the initial concept for the books, the business was bought by Richard and Anne Ayre. Richard, who has a background in corporate business, and Anne – a specialist speech and language therapist – are joint managing directors.
The books have proved hugely successful, not only winning industry awards but garnering positive feedback from teachers, educators, therapists and parents alike.
Jenny Thomas, head teacher at Bishop CornishChurch of England Primary School, said: “This is truly inspirational work which will change the lives of many children - vibrant, engaging, funny books that are a real hit with children of all ages.”
The books work by using a combination of adventurous vocabulary and fun stories that encourage sound awareness by tempting children to join in with repeating the sounds. The books can be used to support listening, attention and vocabulary development as well as awareness of the sounds themselves.
Richard and Anne are the majority shareholders in the company with Craig Green remaining as a shareholder and consultant. Other members of the Clickety team are also shareholders, including writer and poet Dominic Vince and Camborne-based graphic designer and artist Sarah-Leigh Willis, who creates the illustrations.
Since taking over in 2011, Richard and Anne have sought outside investment to develop the company, now based at Tremough Innovation Centre in Penryn, and seen Clickety Books go from strength to strength.
Richard Ayre added: “We are delighted that all of our books have now won awards, and are proving to be so successful.
“We have developed guides and resources for teachers to help them use the books in the classroom, and the feedback we are getting is incredibly positive. Our narrators like Rik Mayall and Catherine Tate also seem to be hitting the right note and adding an extra dimension, which helps make it fun for parents to use the books too.”
For more information about Oxford Innovation and the Coaching for High Growth programme, which can deliver up to 30 days of fully funded business coaching, visit www.growcornwall.co.uk.
For more information about Clickety Books visit www.clicketybooks.co.uk
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About Coaching For High Growth
Oxford Innovation supports and develops high growth businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The team, based at offices in Greenbottom, Truro, is focused on delivering the Coaching for High Growth programme. This is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Convergence Programme which aims to build a stronger economy in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
Coaching for High Growthoffers intensive coaching and assistance for up to 30 days to high growth potential SMEs and individuals looking to start a business. The team of experienced coaches has a range of board level business and sector experience gained from facing similar challenges to those now faced by participants on the coaching programme. The team brings a new perspective to a business and helps with specific issues such as growing businesses through a step change, refining business models, identifying new markets, sourcing new technologies, extending geographical reach and building teams. The coaching team can also support a range of issues from developing a business plan and securing funding to identifying new markets, building a team and developing new products and services. For more information: www.growcornwall.co.uk
About Oxford Innovation
Oxford Innovation provides services to growing companies, and to government bodies that promote enterprise. It has over 15 years’ experience of delivering business support and mentoring to thousands of companies of all sizes from start-ups and spin-outs to SMEs and large corporations.
Oxford Innovation also manages three highly successful Angel Investment Networks that link investors with entrepreneurs seeking funding from £20,000 to £2 million. During the last five years, the investment networks have helped over 90 companies raise £19.5m. For more information: www.oxin.co.uk
Oxford Innovation is part of SQW Group. Other divisions include SQW, which provides research and advisory services in sustainable economic development and energy management to the public and private sectors. For more information: www.sqwgroup.com
About ERDF Convergence
The Coaching for High Growth programme is financed by the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Convergence European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs.
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Thursday 5 December 2013