FOR many North-East born entrepreneurs, the dream is to expand their business as far and as wide from the region as possible.

But for Dan Kitchen, that particular scenario could not be further from reality.

In fact, the opposite is very much the case.

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Having set up bases for his IT company Razorblue in Catterick, Leeds and London, the Stockton school boy has opened a new office at Wynyard Park, five miles from where he was educated.

Dan was born in Sunderland and grew up in County Durham and North Yorkshire.

The 26-year-old attended Red House School in Stockton, but soon realised the educational pathway was holding him back from greater things.

“I started (my business) before my A Levels. I was going down the school to college to university route and I quickly realised if I was going to make this work, I had to do it full time and I couldn’t do the traditional route.

Razorblue began as a cloud hosting business but has gradually evolved to offer expertise in IT support, cloud, superfast connectivity, telecoms and bespoke business software.

His North-East routes are clear to see. His favourite building is the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Newcastle. He would make you a traditional Teesside “parmo” if you came round for dinner. If he didn’t feel like cooking, he’d order in a takeaway from his favourite curry house in Billingham.

Dan described the new venture as like “coming home.”

“I have a lot of friends in Stockton. It is nice to have a base where I originated from.”

Dan’s story is one of success, and one that could inspire many budding entrepreneurs in the region.

“It was a bit of a leap of faith, but it paid off. I was 100 per cent confident because I had nothing to lose and I knew what I wanted to achieve.”

“I didn’t think the business would get to this size” he added.

But as school leavers are pressured more than ever to take up a place at university and develop their academic skill set, are there enough young people in the region encouraged to take the risk?

“The youngsters we have working here at Razorblue are fantastic, but I still think overall, young people are lacking advice they need to make the best decision for them.

“The government tried to increase apprenticeships by raising tuition fees and give young people a greater incentive to learn more hands on skills, but it doesn’t seem to have had the desired effect.

“The strategy now doesn’t seem to be working. More can definitely be done.”

Any daunting thoughts Dan had about taking that risk himself did not materialise.

“I became accustomed to all the number and figures. When you are in the middle of it all, you soon realise it is not that amazing.”

If Dan could offer one piece of advice for any entrepreneurs, he says to remember that all people are different, and need to be managed in their own special way.

He knows this all too well.

“People are the biggest problem. With IT, it will do exactly what you want. Computers never turn round and say I don’t want to do this anymore.”

Razorblue’s homecoming marks the completion of a full circle for Dan. But he doesn’t intend to stop here.

“We want to keep growing, but we realise it is a difficult industry to grow further in.

“Companies do not like to change IT provider, it is not as easy as simply changing business cards.

“We’ve got to move with the market and keep up with the times – that’s what we’ve done for the past 10 years.

“If new technology comes to the market you’ve got to embrace it.”

Dan has certainly embraced life as an entrepreneur.

“I have always been passionate about IT, and I have always liked complicated things.”

However complicated things get, for Dan and Razorblue, there really is no place like home.

Five minutes with Dan Kitchen

Favourite North-East building and why?

Probably the Baltic, I’m a fan of the mixture of old and new.

What was your first job and how much did you get paid?

I’ve never had another job, in the early days it was much less than minimum wage!

What is the worst job you've had?

I’ve not had another job, and this one’s great!

What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner?

I’m a fan of a good chicken parmo.

What would your superpower be?

A photographic memory would be a huge bonus.

Most expensive thing you've bought - other than car or house - and how much?

My wife’s engagement ring, I’d rather not say how much – but she was worth it.

Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why?

Not a person, but @newsthump do a great job at making light of politics.

Favourite book?

I’m not a big reader, Google is my library.

When did you last cry?

I honestly can’t remember!

What is your greatest achievement?

Either getting the business to where it is today, or meeting my amazing wife Rachel. Probably the latter if we’re playing it safe.

What's the best piece of advice in business you've ever been given?

That all people are different, and need to be managed in their own special way.

Favourite animal and why.

Dogs. They are a man’s best friend after all.

Most famous person on your mobile phone.

Nobody comes to mind … I don’t network with the rich and famous, I’m open to offers though?

What was the last band you saw live?

A local band called Last Anthem, they did our wedding and we’ve followed them around ever since.

Describe your perfect night in.

Probably a curry from Bombay Chilli in Billingham with some good sport on TV.

In another life I would be...

Definitely a lion.

Who would play you in a film of your life

Probably Liam Neeson, before he got old though.

What irritates you?


What's your secret talent?

I’m a pretty good techie, and I can’t help but get my hands dirty at times.