February 24, 2023

First Innovation Central start-up launches hospitality solution

Josh Verdon, Director of Fyre

One of the first tenants to move into Darlington’s Innovation Central is already proving his inventiveness with a new solution to ease a headache of the hospitality sector.

Josh Verdon’s fintech start-up Fyre was among the first to take an office in the new £8million business centre, designed to accelerate the growth of innovative local companies.

And now he’s preparing to launch his first innovation – a new till and card payment system to simplify online ordering for restaurants and takeaway businesses.

Josh, from Barnard Castle, came up with the idea after working for local Indian restaurant chain Babul’s and seeing first-hand the challenges and expenses small hospitality businesses face.

He said: “Most restaurants and takeaways now need to take orders through all kinds of different platforms such as JustEat and UberEats, as well as from customers on the telephone, on their website and in-person. This can cause havoc in the kitchen because orders all come in differently and can be really costly because of large commission rates.

“There are solutions out there but they are years behind new technology, they’re hideously difficult to use and are too expensive for small businesses. I want to change this by empowering hospitality owners with efficient and affordable commerce tools.”


For the past 18 months, Josh has worked alongside Babul’s to develop and test Fyre’s online ordering software and the platform has already been adopted by six restaurants across County Durham.

The entrepreneur took an office on Central Park at Innovation Central in December to focus on the business and now the software has been integrated into Point of Sale equipment – providing online ordering, table side ordering and card terminals in one simple and affordable solution.

Josh said: “We’re starting small, testing it out locally, but there is a global opportunity for this product and it’s really exciting. I’ll get my bearings first and then I’d like to roll it out much further to help independent businesses to compete with the big players.

“My move to Innovation Central means I’m surrounded by likeminded people who I can learn from and be inspired by and I know I’m in the best possible place to take my business forward.”


Vanessa Wood, Manager at Innovation Central, added: “Josh’s business is a brilliant example of the area’s thriving entrepreneurial spirit that we’re here to nurture. He’s joined a supportive community here at Central Park and we’ll make sure he has every opportunity to fulfil his ambitions and his potential. We can’t wait to see what he does next.”

Innovation Central and neighbouring sister site Business Central provide a connected business community at the heart of the town’s Central Park development. Both are owned by Darlington Borough Council and are managed by the North East BIC. 

Innovation Central features 45 Grade A offices and five labs, all designed as flexible spaces where businesses can grow. The project is jointly funded by Darlington Borough Council, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), £3.55million from the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority, and the Government’s Getting Building Fund.

Councillor Jonathan Dulston, leader of Darlington Borough Council, said: “A warm welcome to Josh. Innovation Central is the ideal home for a business like this, with potential to grow and the right support on hand to make it a success. I look forward to hearing more about Fyre and the other entrepreneurs who go on to make Innovation Central their base.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “I’m thrilled Innovation Central is now up and running and doing exactly what it set out to do.

“Entrepreneurs like Josh are the lifeblood of our economy, and I’m delighted he’s getting the support and facilities he needs to help take his start-up to the next level.

“Be it the Darlington Economic Campus, Innovation Central or Darlington Station, we’re investing in game-changing projects in the town which will ensure a brighter future for our young people, and that well-paid long-lasting careers can be pursued closer to home.”

For information about workspace and events at Innovation Central click here