Birchfield Interactive

Origins

Birchfield Interactive PLC was established in October 1997 by Chris Griffiths, Jonathan Case, and Richard Coles. Their vision was to enter the growing educational software market with products that could bridge the gap between computer games and educational software. The company has delivered strong and consistent sales growth since it started to trade at the beginning of 1998. In order to retain equity, the founders decided to finance the business mainly from its own cashflows. As a result, marketing activity was constrained, which restricted growth. However, despite this restriction, Birchfield achieved a growth rate of 1114%, ranking it as the 23rd fastest growing technology company in the UK, and 40th in Europe (as assessed by the Deloitte & Touche Technology Fast 50 rankings). The business has been profitable from its second year of operation.

Success Factor

Birchfield both develops and distributes software, which ensures high gross margins and allows the company to talk direct to the end user. Competitors that are only developers often lose the one-to-one feedback that comes from not delaing directly with the customer whilst competitors that only distribute are forced to work on lower gross margins as they have to buy in their products from third parties. The business currently focuses on educational software only, and thus does not compete with developers or distributors of family or games orientated software. Birchfield have developed a proven working model, whereby it creates a core library of re-useable programming code, which then allows developers to create products in much less time than the industry norm. The company expects larger competitors to find this model difficult to duplicate, since often these organisations are made up of many smaller software publishers that have been acquired. It would be with some difficulties that these individual ‘groups’ could work to a similar model, since they will all have their own way of developing product.

The Future

The business will aim towards continued expansion in the UK and overseas markets, and will continue to expand the product range to cover more subject areas and age groups, as well as increasing awareness of the Birchfield brand, both in the UK and overseas.