LDC Top 50 2021
Neil Tolley started his voice and data provider company on the 14th April 2011: the date was the inspiration for the name, Fourteen IP. The Wigan-headquartered company helps hotel chains all around the world to give their customers exceptional service through artificial intelligence.
The pandemic accelerated take-up of Fourteen’s technology. Instead of battening down the hatches, he expanded into Mexico, the Middle East and Canada. Neil says: “we now have 250,000 hotel rooms on our platform. Growth gets a little easier with experience but when you’re constantly innovating, you’re always breaking new ground.”
Growth gets a little easier with experience but when you’re constantly innovating, you’re always breaking new ground.”
Where does your entrepreneurial flair come from?
I didn’t have a proper job until I turned 28. Before that, I worked for my father. After some challenges, I joined Ashland, a telecoms firm in Wigan. It was there that I learned from the Managing Director Anthony Vose about how to really grow a business.
How did you grow internationally?
The first job we won after starting Fourteen IP was in Azerbaijan. We had to ship several hundred thousand pounds worth of kit over there and hope it arrived –luckily, it got there safely and we did a great job. Then we started winning hotel chains in the UK and word spread to the US and we followed them there. We have two resellers out in the US and Canada, we’re an official telecoms carrier in Mexico – and I’ve still never been there! We have offices in Wigan, Orlando, Mexico, Ireland and Dubai.
How do you innovate to stay ahead?
We started with a dial tone. We had to start somewhere. Then we added on additional services specifically for hospitality. Now you can use our artificial intelligence to get towels, order room service and find out when busy parks open. We have built the software that allows the old phone systems in hotels to speak to the new phone systems. We created and deployed that during the pandemic.