Powering UK enterprise: how we worked with a Manchester and Belfast-based corporate gifting company to grow market share

We meet Needi, a corporate gifting company aiming to make rewarding and celebrating clients and staff a more localised and personal experience.

Needing a helping hand

“So to describe what Needi is, I guess you would call us an intelligent, corporate-gifting concierge service that uses psychology, AI and humans to pinpoint the perfect gift from the best local independent businesses,” Lou Doyle, Needi co-founder, said (pictured above).

“My co-founder Steph and I worked together for ten years for a global social enterprise. One thing we tried to do was make our colleagues feel motivated and loved, we’d spend ages on Google trying to find the best possible gifts. We then started doing the same thing for our clients to say thanks for using us. We realised that people want to send gifts of appreciation and that staff want to know you care. Scouring the internet wasn’t a great use of time, so the idea for Needi came to us.

“We use some fantastic psychological principles to find the perfect gift. We work with a host of merchants who provide various types of gifts, from established classics like hampers to really practical gifts, like a cleaner for a few hours or home cooked meals delivered. Of course, we can also do the generic stuff, but we can also dig a little deeper and get something more tailored by using our algorithm and some human influence.”

We've raised at least £250,000 as a result of working with NatWest.

Needing NatWest

Needi encountered NatWest when Lou and Steph came across our Manchester Accelerator. “It’s fair to say that we thought we were going to get free office space and the ability to network but we ended up with so much more,” Lou reflected.

“We now have around 20 businesses we met at the Manchester and Belfast Accelerators as merchants who we use to fulfil orders for our clients, we've raised at least £250,000 as a result of working with NatWest and the advice we’ve had on a range of things, from understanding the business community to how to scale, is priceless. Meeting NatWest is the most pivotal thing that happened to us.”

Needi worked with the team at our Belfast and Manchester accelerators. John Ferris, Regional Ecosystem Manager, worked with both Lou and Steph. “When the team at Needi joined our Accelerator in 2022, their turnover was £100k,” John said.

“They’re now on track to do £1 million turnover this year with a real belief the team can increase that number tenfold in 2024. Lou and Steph really saw the benefit of a UK-wide Accelerator network. Having joined through the Manchester hub, Louise moved to Northern Ireland, while her co-founder stayed in England. Our Acceleration Manager in Manchester, Jessica Grocutt, worked with Steph on the coaching side of things.

“Here in Belfast, I worked with Lou on the investment side, introducing her to venture capital firm Techstart who led on their recent £500k investment round. We’ve also connected them with many product-based alumni companies, one of which is already one the company’s best sellers on the Needi platform.”

Finding corporates in need

Lou and Steph still cater to small businesses and individuals, but they are targeting big corporates in order to continue to grow.

“Our clients range from small law firms and recruitment agencies to the biggest employers around”, Lou said. “It’s crazy, we began with small and middle-medium-sized businesses and then suddenly we did some huge orders for large multinationals.

“We now need to think about expanding and trying to become the number one gifting company in the world really. I think our AI development coupled with our wonderful people who just love people, is giving us the edge.

“It has been an incredible journey so far. For anyone out there with an idea, I’d say just talk to as many people as you can about it and record all of the results. You’ll then have data that says what people actually think about your idea. And make sure that you love constructive criticism, because if you don’t, I’d say probably don't start a business. My other piece of advice is of course to seek out your nearest NatWest Accelerator Hub.”

Accelerator hubs

Through our 13 Accelerator hubs NatWest Group supported over 1,300 entrepreneurs during 2023, offering access to business expertise and a community of like-minded peers.

Supporting UK enterprise in 2023 data taken from our '2023 Environmental, Social and Governance Disclosures Report', available on our Enterprise internet page.

The material published on this page is for information purposes only and should not be regarded as providing any specific advice, or used by consumers to make financial decision. Terms and conditions apply to any products or services mentioned.

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