It’s hell out there – Orka founder on devastating decision to close the business

ABC Buildings

One of the North’s most ambitious tech start-up businesses has called in the administrators.

Orka Technology, based in the ABC building on Manchester’s Quay Street, was backed by the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, and supported by further investment rounds led by Praetura Ventures. It formally filed for administration on 15 March 2024, with Lisa Marie Moxon and Christopher Benjamin Barrett of Dow Schofield Watts Business Recovery managing the administration of the business.

Tom Pickersgill

Founder Tom Pickersgill told yesterday that the decision to bring in DSW was “the right thing to do” and his main priority is to find new jobs for the 24 people employed in the business.

“It’s been a tough 12 months. Orka was a fantastic business with plenty of potential. But it’s hell out there at the moment trying to raise money for a tech business.

“We did everything we possibly could, we made some really tough calls, we made some redundancies last year, which was just devastating to do to a team that had built up and put so much effort into the business. 

“We tried to cut costs and do everything we could. Maven and Praetura and all the angels tried to find solutions. Cortus came in to help, but that didn’t play out.”

He added: “Everyone’s really disappointed. I apologise to all the stakeholders that came on board and tried to believe in us. It’s not what we all hoped for.” 

In November 2022 Orka took 4,200 sq ft of space at the ABC Building on Quay Street in Manchester city centre.

In March 2022 a £3m investment from venture capital investor Praetura Ventures followed on from a £29m mixture of debt financing from Sonovate and equity funding involving the British Business Bank Future Fund and existing investors, including former UK CEO of Adecco Peter Searle.

Orka was a software as a service business that provided tech-based solutions for shift workers and their employers, helping workers find temporary employment with large organisations, and a flexible payment product that allowed workers to access 50% of their wages as soon as they’ve earned them.

Its customers included the UK’s top 30 security companies, including the likes of G4S, ISS and Wilson James.