A frog in a data lake

Hollie Whittles founded Purple Frog Systems with her husband Alex in 2006 having worked in the corporate world and discovering that there was a gap in the data analytics space. Purple Frog Systems now employs more than 20 people and boasts clients from banks and High Street retailers.

“Every organisation has data but it’s surprising how many companies just don’t know the value in the data they have,” Hollie said. “Some clients say to us that their data is amazing but often it needs to be cleaned – to remove human errors – so that it doesn’t generate bloated reports that are of no use either to informing strategy or telling the company about their business.

“What we find is that many systems within a company don’t talk to each other; an accounting spreadsheet over here does not integrate with an HR database. We put all that data into a warehouse, a data lake and we put reporting over the top of it create visual dashboards which are easily used and understood by leaders. We then apply things like machine learning to predict patterns and help our clients to make better data-driven decisions.”

Some Purple Frog clients enlist Hollie and Alex to manage a service for them, others bring them in to set up the infrastructure so they can run it themselves.


Married to each other (and the business)

“I guess you could say we’ve got data on the brain,” Hollie said. “I’m always thinking about it, but my role is more about the people. Alex is more tech and architecture, but we bring the right mix to the table, just not the dinner table as it’s important to separate our personal lives and the office. And managing people in an office was never really part of the plan, it just kind of evolved and we really love it. I’ve gone full circle, from a corporate role to just me, the cat and Alex to now employing 22 people at Purple Frog. Seeing them develop and grow along with the business is really special. As we started to grow and recruit more people, we knew we needed some additional help.”

“I am excited about the future potential of the data analytics industry,” Alex added. “There will be a further upswing in the use of machine learning systems across various industry sectors, it’s therefore imperative that we can scale our business as effectively as possible to cope with growing demand. We were grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the Natwest Business Accelerator.”

If I hadn’t been on the Accelerator I think I’d still be thinking about my next business meeting rather than the strategic planning piece

Meeting NatWest

Hollie and Alex’s NatWest Business Manager introduced them to the Accelerator programme.

“We’ve been personal customers with the bank for as long as I can remember and business customers for all our business accounts,” Hollie reflects. “Now we’re what you call alumni having been through two cohorts.

“What we took away was invaluable to us and the business. From the online sessions led by experts which really made us take stock and understand that we needed to focus on marketing and finance to the tailored knowledge of the mentors who showed us how to apply it all to our business.

“If I hadn’t been on the Accelerator I think I’d still be thinking about my next business meeting rather than the strategic planning piece. It was also really good to be held accountable and called out when, at the next meeting, we hadn’t done what we said we would. We had in many ways a business coach. When you’re the directors of the business having someone to bounce those strategic ideas etc off is just incredible.”

Julia Adams, Acceleration Manager, worked with Hollie and Alex as their coach.

“Hollie and Alex joined the virtual accelerator as they could not easily get to any of our physical hubs. They were running a very successful, profitable business working with blue chip clients worldwide. During our coaching sessions Hollie and I focused on her leadership skills, acquiring the right talent to support business growth, employee review/management processes and delegation to improve her workload and work-life balance.”

The future

“What’s really special is that we don’t really do sales or marketing, the majority of our business is repeat and most new business is referrals from existing clients which is wonderful as I guess there’s no higher praise really than be referred to another company.

“But seriously, starting this business is the best thing we ever did. We both take real joy in what we’ve created and in bringing our colleagues with us on the journey. If anyone out there has an idea for their own business, I’d say go for it, you won’t look back.”

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.

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

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