A Newton Aycliffe-based business which reunites people with valuable and sentimental lost items is being helped to grow thanks to DigitalCity.
Lostbox has made national headlines thanks to its innovative use of social media to provide a lost and found service which returns items to their original owners.
The business, based at the HUB Workspace on Aycliffe Business Park, was founded by Clare Owen in 2012 after she discovered an engraved wedding ring at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light and decided to track down the ring’s owner.
The huge online search across 115 countries inspired Clare to leave her job as a recruitment consultant and set up Lostbox to help more people track down their treasured possessions.
Since that time, her efforts in reuniting people with items ranging from pets to war medals to teddy bears have attracted headlines from around the world.
Many of the appeals have attracted hundreds of thousands of likes and shares on social media.
The business has also received plaudits from high profile entrepreneurs including Theo Paphitis of Dragons’ Den, who made Lostbox one of the winners of his Small Business Saturday competition, and Ann Summers founder Jacqueline Gold, who has provided Clare with mentoring.
Lostbox also secured £100,000 worth of business support after winning the HUB Workspace’s Achieve Your Dream competition
In addition, earlier this year, Clare was able to track down the French owner of the original wedding ring and return it to him.
As her business expanded, Clare turned to DigitalCity, based at Teesside University, for help on how to maximise the company’s web presence.
The DigitalCity team were able to furnish Clare with advice and support and put her in contact with Aycliffe firm Thrive Marketing.
Thrive has worked with Clare to produce a marketing plan and redesign her website and improve Lostbox’s Google rankings.
Clare said: “It’s been an amazingly busy few years.
“It’s our aim to be a one-stop-shop for all lost and found and we’re well on our way to achieving that.
“DigitalCity has been able to help us look at the best way in taking the business forward in the long-term and helped secure funding for marketing support.”
Lostbox is now working on a mobile app and exploring extra ways to make the business profitable.
These include targeted advertising, a premium service for users and also working with police forces to provide their lost and found services.
Michael Ryding, the Director of DigitalCity, said: “Clare has hit upon a truly innovative idea for a business which has really captured the public consciousness.
“We were delighted to give her support in order to grow her business and help more people regain their treasured items.”