A South Shields-born businessman – who started work at the Gazette aged just 14 – has seen the software business he founded sold for £140million.
Former Harton School pupil Glenn Elliott had a 25% stake in Reward Gateway, which has been snapped up by Boston-based technology investor Great Hill Partners.
“I used to work for the Gazette – my first job when I was 14, I was Saturday boy in the sub editors’ office,” said Glenn, whose mum Maureen still lives in the town.
“I used to work from 9am to 12.30pm. The sub editors would draw up the pages and I would send them off up the compressed air tube. I’d get £4.50 for the whole day.
“I used to have to go and get the subs their cigarettes and sandwiches too,” he said. “In those days, everyone smoked in the office.”
Now based in London, Glenn, 42, credits one man, in particular, for giving him a passion for being his own boss – his former teacher Ken Scaife.
I used to work for the Gazette – my first job when I was 14, I was Saturday boy in the sub-editors’ office.Glenn Elliott
“I started up my very first business at Harton School,” he said.
“Between the ages of 14 and 16, they ran a business enterprise scheme, which was overseen by a teacher called Ken Scaife. He was an amazing guy.
“You wrote a business plan, he took you down to the NatWest bank and they would give you an overdraft of £50, which you used to set up a business in the school.
“You ran it and you paid the school 20% tax.”
Glenn’s tentative steps into the world of business weren’t without problems: “The first business we set up was making soft toys, then I ran the school magazine but that got shut down after a couple of issues,” he recalls.
“We used to just copy bits out of The Sun, which didn’t go down too well, to be honest.
And then I ran the school tuck shop for a couple of years, so the entrepreneurial bug definitely started at Harton School.
“I don’t know if they do anything like that any more, but I hope so, they gave you so much freedom.”
Glenn went to South Tyneside Technical College to do A-levels and then to South Bank University to complete a degree in Computer Science.
“I worked for BT in London for nine years then I ran my own marketing agency for a bit,” he said. “I have been running Reward Gateway for about ten years now.”
Glenn still enjoys coming home to catch up with his mother,family and friends.
“Everyone is always so warm and welcoming, that’s what you always remember about the North East,” he said. “It feels like home.”