Andrew Thomson is a deaf entrepreneur in Britain who has done quite well with his business, one that he started to build links between deaf people from around the world. He knew that technology had rewritten the rules where business is concerned, tearing down the barriers to entrepreneurship, and he has taken advantage of it. Andrew started www.Sign-now.com, offering the first dedicated networking website for persons who are deaf; as of April it has already received a million hits.
Based in Grangemouth, Andrew provides services that include interactive video conferencing, translation, interpretation in British Sign Language for both home and business use, as well as filming services. He serves both the public and private sectors. You might think that his company would serve only people who are deaf; you would be mistaken. For example; one of Andrew's clients is a travel company that uses interactive video conferencing for a variety of their clients.
Andrew makes around a quarter of a million pounds a year with his business, and employs six people. He started out in the year 2006. He always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and he had a background in web design and communication. With some assistance from the GO Group he was on his way to becoming a highly successful guy. What drives a person like Andrew though, and what is his background
When he was younger, Andrew found himself with two parents who were both deaf and had poor educations. His parents were determined to make sure that their son received a better education than they did, so they sent him to England to get it. Andrew had a lot of trouble at school in England, including being told to sit on the very hands that he used to communicate with! Apparently his teachers were more bent on instructing him in the, 'proper,' method of speaking than in educating him.
Frustrated with the lack of access for people who are deaf, Andrew realized that he had the ability to solve a number of accessibility issues. After finishing his education he had gone on to work as a team leader at the Royal Bank of Scotland, focusing on peripheral equipment for their Information Technology network. He had gotten married, and now had two boys to support as well. Deciding to pursue his own business was a major decision.
Andrew's creation of both Sign Now and www.sign-tube.com were borne out of sheer frustration and determination. He wanted to be able to deliver high-quality services that filled customer needs without being labeled, but he also wanted to create a worthwhile business that showed the world that people who are deaf can make valuable contributions to society. He has most certainly succeeded.
Andrew raised all of the funding to create his company. He also took out a small business loan in order to accomplish his goals, all while paying the mortgage, and taking care of his family. Andrew says that he definitely had some sleepless nights, and that realizing he had no guaranteed salary with which to pay the daily expenses was scary for a while. I can certainly empathize. It has all been very worthwhile; he now enjoys a company filled with success, prosperity, and overwhelming acceptance.
The things he enjoys the most include the fact that he is making technology available to people so that they can communicate effectively. Andrew says, 'It may sound like a small thing, but when you are deaf access to basic information can be very difficult. Take the swine flu pandemic: right now we have translated information on swine flu for NHS24 into a BSL video so deaf people can understand what they need to do." Andrew's company provides Falkirk Council with a deaf community link on its website, in another example; providing them with information about council news and services.
As for the future, he wants to setup various long-term contracts with the Scottish Government, the National Health System, and additional public services. Andrew points out that there are more people who use sign language as their primary language than there are people who speak Gaelic, and that the government needs to recognize this fact, supporting services for sign language. One of the services that Andrew's company offers called, 'Sign Tube,' has received seven million hits in less than a year and is growing at a rate of twenty-percent a month.
It would appear that the government should pay attention to Andrew and his business. Providing services to persons who are deaf in the United Kingdom as a whole through the various services that Andrew's business offers would promote access to the very health care system the government offers, as well as other government services. I would also suggest that entrepreneurs in other nations examine Andrew's business very, very closely and attempt to emulate it.