Louella Morton: ‘I couldn’t not do it!’

Spotting a gap in the market propelled Going for Growth alumni Louella Morton to grow TestReach into a 120-strong business.

Going for Growth, a programme jointly run by Enterprise Ireland and KPMG, assists ambitious women entrepreneurs to achieve their growth ambitions.

So far more than 850 Irish women entrepreneurs have participated in the award-winning programme, including Áine Kerr of Kinzen. The 14th cycle of Going for Growth reported significant results for its 57 participants. Combined turnover increased from €35m at the start of the cycle to €43m by the end, a 23% increase in just six months.

“I have benefited greatly from Going for Growth … It gave me a great opportunity to network and establish solid business relationships that I know will support me as we continue to grow the business”

Going for Growth is now inviting ambitious women entrepreneurs to take part in its 15th cycle with the deadline for applications set for Friday 18 November.

The gap in the market

Louella Morton’s background is in the education technology sector, where she has deep knowledge and experience, allowing her to observe trends in the sector, particularly the growing need for education assessment tools and simple, easy-to-use online tests for certification.

She saw the gap in the market to provide a full end-to-end online exam management system and knew she had enough experience to set up a business to meet this need.

As she said herself: “I couldn’t not do it!” And so TestReach was born in 2014 by Louella and co-founder Sheena Bailey. The background context was the ever-growing demand worldwide for education and professional qualifications, which was increasingly being met by new technologies to deliver courses online.

However, there was an acute gap in developing corresponding technologies to assess these courses, without recourse to traditional test centres, exam papers, face-to-face interviews, etc.

These traditional assessment methods were not feasible on the level required to meet the significant increase in demand worldwide. TestReach bridges this gap, providing a complete online assessment solution incorporating test authoring, test assembly, test delivery, marking, moderation, results issuing and business analytics.

A unique feature of TestReach is that you can easily use remote invigilation for any test. With this option TestReach-trained supervisors monitor exams in real-time online, via video, audio and remote screen share.

The exam hall environment is effectively re-created online, so candidates can take assessments at any time and at any location, while examiners can be assured of the validity, authenticity and security of the test delivery mechanism. The company’s main markets are professional bodies, educational/training organisations and corporations, particularly those in highly regulated sectors like financial services, pharma and aviation.

TestReach is recognised for its commitment to meeting individual customer needs, and its innovation in developing business-specific solutions.

According to Louella, the priority is on “writing software and delivering systems for our customers that are fit for purpose, easy to use, and which make a positive difference”. It’s an approach that clearly resonates with their customers and resulted in business growing year on year.

Today, they employ 120+ people directly with over 200 exam invigilators on their books. Louella is clear that taking part in Going for Growth played a very big role in getting the business to where it is today. “

“Getting different perspectives on issues and effectively using the group as an informal advisory board was critical in helping us develop strategically and steer a clear path for growth at TestReach”, she says.

And the impact was also personal – “I have benefited greatly from Going for Growth and from continuing as part of the Going for Growth community. It gave me a great opportunity to network and establish solid business relationships that I know will support me as we continue to grow the business.”

Continued growth is very much the strategy for TestReach. More than 80% of their business is currently from export markets, mainly the UK. Future priorities will be to expand further in the corporate sector and also into the US, where the company has already established a presence.

The call is open for applications from female entrepreneurs who would welcome peer support to take their businesses to the next level by taking part in the Going for Growth programme. This is the 15th year of Going for Growth and more than 850 female entrepreneurs have so far taken part in the programme. Sixty places will be available for the 15th cycle of Going for Growth, which will run from January to June 2021 and the deadline for applications is Friday 18 November 2022. There is no charge for those selected.

Anyone interested is encouraged to register on the website goingforgrowth.com

ThinkBusiness.ie, powered by Bank of Ireland, has been created for Irish business owners and managers who are seeking information, resources and help on a range of business topics. It provides practical, actionable information and guidance on starting, growing and running a business.