teamFreq trol Control Freq, an on-demand mobile technology company, were one of Plus X Innovation Brighton's founding members - there before the very first brick had been laid at the Preston Barracks development.
U+I, the regeneration developer, run an inspiring initiative called Worthwhile. From day one of securing a site, U+I offer risk-free opportunities for independent businesses to grow and develop, Worthwhile means developers can create real purpose from unused buildings on sites before development begins. At the Preston Barracks, the Worthwhile project presented itself in the form of an old military facility that had been derelict for 20 years. It became home to young creative businesses and innovative startups - Control Freq being one of them. We spoke to Noel Sesto to learn more.
C: So, what is Control Freq?
Noel: We solve technical problems using mobile technology, in a nutshell. Predominantly in fire, security, access control, parking and remote alarm monitoring.
When Control Freq joined Field, they were an e-commerce shop importing goods from a manufacturer in Slovenia and selling them online. However, founder, Noel Sesto, had a bigger vision. In the background, he was working on his own hardware products “ next generation door entry systems.
Joined at Field by Dave Lock, founder of Cast Iron CAD, the pair collaborated to form an instrumental partnership and friendship that would see Control Freq evolve and grow beyond Noel's visions.
"Dave is priceless. You give a design problem to Dave, and he solves it, which is perfect for me because I have loads of ideas and Dave's great at putting them in perspective and finding the best way, or not, to make them work. Everything he produces is bang on the first time. We have an excellent working relationship now. So we were neighbours at Field, and now at Plus X Innovation, we're independent businesses working on a number of projects together."
The occupation at Field and subsequent connection with Cast Iron CAD allowed Control Freq to begin prototyping and developing. Then, when they moved into Plus X Innovation, they swiftly got the keys to a three-person studio and launched a number of new products. They have grown their team by creating two in-house roles and working with specialist contractors to support them. Dave from Cast Iron CAD's membership at Plus X Innovation Brighton allows him to use the specialist workshop and prototyping facilities on the ground floor to design and prototype Control Freq's products.
The BRITE programme has been ground-breaking for Control Freq, helping them unlock the potential in moving towards a recurrent revenue-generating service-based model alongside their products.
N: When I joined BRITE, I was under the impression that innovation = product; that's the way I've always thought of innovation. The INSPIRE programme helped me to realise that innovation can also be a business model or a service. I knew I wanted my business to head towards the solution and service side and that I needed to change how my business worked. My time on the BRITE programme has been instrumental in supporting me to do this, and we're currently rolling out a new service-based solution for a major high street retailer.
As well as launching their service-based model and readying their service-based pilot, Control Freq are about to launch a new website and has signed a lease on new commercial premises in Worthing. They are keeping their membership at Plus X Innovation Brighton to continue accessing the prototyping workshop, the BRITE programme and the network of businesses within the Plus X eco-system.
"We have gone from using a free little workshop at Field, where I had this vision, to now, where we have an operational service and a solution-based business with major growth plans."
C: So, Noel, what's your favourite thing about being a member of Plus X Innovation?
N: The space is filled with ambitious people also growing their businesses, so we're all in the same boat. There are so many experts here who can help each other. Dave, who I met at Field, is a member here, and we still collaborate. I've just had a call with an accountancy firm based in the building called Ledgrr, who have just become our new financial partners and accountants. Being able to collaborate with people based in the same building as you - it's priceless.
Looking to embark on your own journey of growth? Bring your team back together this Spring with our resident desk and business support offer at Plus X Innovation Brighton.