What better way to start a career than playing fruit machines and video games to make sure that they work? This is how Neil Everatt, 49, found his passion for technology. As CEO of Lincoln-based Software Europe he now uses all forms of technology to help make business life simpler. He has an ambitious goal to reach a £10 million turnover by 2019 whilst providing a fun office environment with space hoppers and arcade machines for his staff.
When Neil left North Kesteven School at the age of 16, he was unsure what he wanted to do with his life. “Fortunately the government had a scheme called the Youth Trade Scheme (YTS),” he said. “The idea was that they would catch the people leaving school that had no idea what they wanted to do and I fell in that category very easily.”
This feature interview was first published in issue 46 of the Lincolnshire Business weekly magazine, now available to read at www.lincsbusiness.co. Subscribe to the email newsletter to receive the latest edition in your inbox this Friday.
He went to Lincoln Technical College to learn electronics and got a part time job. “My first ever job was playing video games and fruit machines to make sure that they worked.
“That was my first experience of technology and I just got a buzz out of it. I learned really quickly that actually if you worked really hard you could move up through the ranks quite quickly.”
After having worked for Software Europe on and off since 1992, Neil received an email from one of the founders in 2008 asking if he would like to run the company. He jumped at the chance to return to the company for the third time and take control.
“It took me all of 0.2 seconds to make that decision (but you never tell your wife you have made your decision that quickly),” Neil laughed. “So I came back in 2008 as the Managing Director.”
Taking on the digital age
Since the 1990s, technology has evolved at a speed that has never been seen before. For many companies it’s hard to stay up to date, but for a business which prides itself on keeping ahead of technology to provide the best service to its clients, it is a real challenge.
“In 2000, the company decided to have a play with this internet technology and at the time, if you think about the internet back then, you were probably still dialling up to get your connection.
“We decided to put all of our eggs in that basket of the internet. 15 years later we have got this huge amount of knowledge on how to deliver services over the internet, all business to business type services.”
Neil keeps a mini museum of mobile tech in his office. It has everything from the first mobile phones, where you needed to be a professional weight lifter to carry them, to the now redundant Google Glass. He gets all of the latest technology so that he can stay ahead of the market. “I think you have to be passionate about it, you have to keep your eye on things.
“We are doing a presentation about where the world will be in 2022 and, it’s thinking about robotics and using drones. Amazon are trialling delivery by drones so we bought one and we are going to get to use that in the presentation to show how, in the future, these things are going to work.”
The full cover interview with Neil Everatt is available to read in full here. For the latest dispatch of business news from across Lincolnshire delivered in your inbox every Friday, subscribe to the Lincolnshire Business magazine.