As someone who runs a start-up in The North, I know that there’s a lot of BS out there. Every firm with a bright website is disrupting some multibillion pound industry, or about to become the next Uber. The truth is that building a real business is hard work and many shiny start-ups barely last a year. Fewer still manage to build a successful commercial operation.

But look beyond the hype, and what you’ll find are some exciting northern start-ups ready to go big and take on the might of their southern rivals. Here are five of the best from across the North.

Dizinga, Leeds Dizinga, Leeds

Think Not On The High Street, just a lot cooler. Dizinga is a Leeds-based marketplace for independent artists who design a range of products including artwork and apparel. They’ve gone a step further by handling the printing and distribution of the products bought through the site. Simply put, the artist does the creative part, and they do the rest. This allows the business much more quality control and should encourage customers to come back for more. Offering artists insight on customer search trends and keywords to help them design more commercial products is also very smart.

Big Bite Creative, Middlesbrough

Quiet and unassuming is a good way of describing Big Bite Creative. They prefer to let the quality of their work speak for itself. And with clients ranging from Blue Chips, Fortune 500 companies and start-ups, they’re clearly doing something right. This group of Teesside University graduates joined forces in 2011 to build what is now one of only ten VIP partners worldwide. Based in Middlesbrough’s Boho Creative Zone, the team also know how to give back, and are among the most active in growing Middlesbrough’s reputation as a creative hub.

bigbiteIgnite, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Many accelerators have come and gone. This one’s a bit like a tree powered by the world’s strongest fertiliser. Ignite plants itself in a city (starting with Newcastle) and grows, fast. The truth is that accelerators have a mixed-reputation, some being no more than corporate vanity projects, but Ignite is the real deal. The team behind Ignite are also known to be the nicest in the industry, and it’s fair to say that many businesses wouldn’t have flourished in the North without their help.

Ruler Analytics, Liverpool

Despite not being the sexiest of start-ups, this Liverpool-based firm is smart, solid and selling. Ruler Analytics measures what matters to help sales and marketing professionals better understand who is visiting their websites and which marketing channels are delivering the greatest ROI, a simple, but highly effective premise. Like a number of northern start-ups, Ruler Analytics spun out of a successful online marketing agency, Epic News Media.

Chromition-Logo-New2Chromition, Manchester

There’s some smart stuff happening in Manchester, and Chromition is one of the most intriguing businesses out there. This chemistry-focused start-up is developing next-generation optoelectronic materials…luminsheres, elecspheres and dielecspheres to be specific. The team is focused on turning their proprietary materials into commercial applications for next-generation technology. Chromition is one to watch.

By Michael Fotis