Friday, February 23, 2024

A Hiraeth for Home – Why I Wanted to Create World-Class Jobs and Opportunities in Swansea

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Written by:

Matt Warren

Founder & CEO

Veeqo

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In 2021, my company Veeqo was acquired by Amazon. Just over a year later, we teamed up to announce the opening of Amazon’s first global development centre in Wales. This new premise, now home to Veeqo and some of our Amazon colleagues, is based in SA1 Swansea Waterfront. For me, there was never a question we would be based anywhere else.

I love what SA1 has to offer us – we’re seeing the area fast becoming a hub for innovative tech companies, with homes and restaurants nearby, and a fantastic new campus for the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, who we continue to work closely with.

12 years ago, I was living in London and felt the hiraeth for home. Hiraeth does not have a translation into English, but the closest would be a combination of longing, nostalgia and homesickness for home, for Wales.

From a lifestyle perspective, moving my young family back to Wales turned out well. We now take the kids down to the beach after school and escape to the mountains at weekends.

When we first came home to Wales, there wasn’t much of a tech ecosystem or industry here. But I really believed that tech companies could help close that gap with high paying, high quality jobs which would help the country retain its local talent that often flock to London.

Around the same time, I was also selling products online. I found the ecommerce process tricky at times, so I started to think about how I could solve some of those problems for fellow small businesses.

My desire to help other entrepreneurs, combined with the dream to start my own tech company in Wales, led to the birth of Veeqo, software that helps ecommerce companies be successful, by making selling online easier and more automated. Helping small businesses grow was why I wanted to start the business, but my main aim was more personal.

I wanted to build a tech company that would create high quality jobs and play a small part in creating a stronger tech ecosystem in Wales.

In the early days, Veeqo grew fast. We raised over £5 million in funding from investors, and with this major boost we grew our team here in Wales, as well as our client base locally and internationally to more than 1,000 customers.

This success helped lead to Amazon acquiring Veeqo, and it was a very proud moment for the team. It felt incredible that one of the most prominent companies in the world wanted us and the software we had built. And it was the first time one of the global tech companies had acquired a Welsh company.

Since then, and with investment from Amazon, we have hired 50 more people mostly from the local area. Today our team is more than 100 strong. Last September, we re-launched Veeqo at Amazon’s annual seller conference in Seattle in front of 25,000 people. At the event we announced our software would be completely free for small businesses, and we have had thousands of sellers sign up with us since.

While it’s fantastic to grow our customer base globally, it’s so important to me that we also support businesses in our community. Thankfully, we work with some fantastic businesses across Wales, including two South Wales success stories.

Naissance, a skincare retailer based in Neath, specialises in naturally produced oils and natural ingredients, as well as bath bombs, salts and kits. Jem Skelding started the business in 2005, inspired by a combination of years of travelling the world and his childhood in Zambia.

From its base in South Wales, the company now sells to customers all over the world thanks to Veeqo and Amazon. Naissance uses Amazon’s different seller services, including Fulfilment by Amazon – where Amazon stores and ships products directly to customers on behalf of small businesses, alongside our technology, to reach customers globally.

We also work with Walrus Apparel, an online golf apparel retailer based here in Swansea. The brand’s founder, Huw Morgan, was an early adopter of ours in 2014 and is currently using Amazon and Veeqo’s discounted postal service rates to expand its operation in the US and fulfil a growing number of customer orders.

With the opening of Veeqo’s new site as part of Amazon’s fourth UK-based research and development centre in Swansea, we have the capacity to expand the team and to invest further into building the best software for online sellers.

With a new home, growing team and an expanding customer base, the future has never looked brighter for Veeqo.

If you’re reading this and you experience your own hiraeth for home, then pack your bags and come back to Wales. The possibilities here are endless.

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