Inovation

Growth Hub Advisers

Gareth O’Rourke

What was your background?

At the age of 21 I started out my career, I set up 3 retail stores in the fashion sector with an ecommerce presence. I ran that business for 13 years and then wound it down after that point. After that stage, I went into various roles heading up sales and marketing departments within the tourism industry, then working for some well-known names like Pure Leisure Group, South Lakeland Park and Lake Lovers.

From there I spent five years in Carlisle as the Director of International Ecommerce and buying for CHO Fashion and Lifestyle where during that business I took the online presence and grew it by 600%.

I left that last year and I set up a digital consultancy in a digital marketing agency which offers a full suite of marketing services from SEO, paid media, email marketing, affiliate marketing – anything to do with digital we cover!

Areas of specialism/interest

It really lies with ecommerce and digital marketing. My background is extensively in that, but I can also give advice on product, buying and merchandising and to be honest – just general business elements across the board.

Why did you become a business adviser? How long have you been an adviser/self employed?

Part of the reason why I became a business adviser is because I’m quite passionate about Cumbria. I want to pass on some expertise and knowledge that I have to various businesses across region.

I’m one of the newer advisers and started the role back in October 2020.

What do you most enjoy about the role?

One of the things I really enjoy is the variety of businesses in Cumbria and the different sectors that there are. Also trying to help some clients and watching them progress through once you’ve advised them, particularly in the digital marketing sector.

Your biggest success to date as an adviser?

One of the biggest successes I’ve had with one client in particular that I was working with wanted more of a national presence. It was a B2B/B2C business who crossed over both elements. He wanted to improve his digital footprint across the UK. A direct result of advice that’s been given is that he’s seen his turnover increase significantly as a result of that, even during a period where the B2B sector has been struggling.

An area I helped with is his SEO focus on his website, and how to improve that to capture and target a national audience.

What have you learned being an adviser?

The depth and range of businesses there are within the region. But for me and my passion, an area that stood out for me is just how far behind Cumbria actually is in terms of their digital footprint.

One thing I encourage all businesses to do is to access any help they can get, start taking some market share from other regions that doing a much better job of that at the moment.

What type of businesses have been able to support and what support did you offer?

There’s been such a range from B2B businesses, B2C businesses, from start-ups to established companies. There’s always knowledge gaps and sometimes it’s cheaper to access this support through the Chamber and Growth Hub than employing consultants for example.

It’s not just helping with digital and ecommerce, it’s been helping start-up businesses with business planning, financial forecasting, cashflow forecasting, working a balance sheet, right through to helping people put together a digital marketing plan that spans a 3-month period.

3 interesting facts about you

  • I was nominated as a finalist at the Digital Entrepreneur Awards back in 2018 as the best digital entrepreneur across the UK.
  • I’ve been lucky enough to travel to over 40 countries across the world – so this last year has been difficult from that perspective!
  • I like to give back, I’m in talks with a local school to become a governor.