The Times Copyright 1995 Times Newspapers Limited May 30, 1995, Tuesday SECTION: Features LENGTH: 407 words
HEADLINE: Data growth in the heart of Ribble country
BYLINE: Alan Jabez
ANTHONY and Katie Capstick left secure jobs in London four years ago to establish a business information retrieval service, using modern telecommunications. As more business information was fed to on-line databases, Mr Capstick, afinancial journalist, had the idea of using his computing skills to access andsell it packaged to a range of professional clients.
He found that while many business and company reports were available to all,business and professional people often lacked the IT skills to retrieve specific information themselves. With a PC, telephone line and fax machine, he figured he could work in theheart of the country as effectively as any major business centre and so theCapsticks moved to the peace and quiet of the Ribble Valley in Lancashire.
Their company, Instant Search, began with one computer in the family bedroom. It now has an array of IT equipment in a converted house at Whalley,between Burnley and Blackburn.
The company serves accountancy and law firms requiring company reports and profiles, small businesses checking up on rivals and journalists needing background information on companies or their directors.
Charges start at Pounds 14 for a basic Companies House report. For complicated research, Mr Capstick has an arrangement to use the extensive research facilities at Manchester Business School.
He has access to the Internet and can download any information to acustomer's personal computer. Payment is in advance by credit card most professional firms now have their own company card and it is easier to do business with overseas customers without incurring bank charges.
The credit card companies were suspicious initially andturned up on the doorstep unannounced.
The rapid growth in the business means Instant Search is now getting morethan 1,000 inquiries a month, including a surprisingly large number from Russia.
Mr Capstick estimates the company is growing by nearly 50 per cent a year andexpects this year's turnover to pass the Pounds 160,000 mark.
He has already taken on two additional full-time staff, but fears a shortageof suitably qualified IT people in the area could hinder future expansion plans.''If we continue to grow at the same rate, we may have to relocate the office toa larger town where people already have IT skills,'' he says.
The next stage in his business plan is to expand further into theinternational sector.