Stellar Omada: New sponsors enthuse over Hearts values, reason for club's success and 'unique' atmosphere
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Though MND Scotland remains emblazoned on home jerseys for the 2022-23 campaign, continuing the tradition of Hearts having a philanthropic cause advertised on the iconic maroon top, the white-with-black-polka-dots change shirt will feature the name of Edinburgh-based IT company Stellar Omada.
The 2018 start-up has been one of the major successes on the Capital business scene over the last couple of years. They specialise in programme delivery, project delivery and are responsible for a huge part of the payments structure within the UK banking sector. They also build their own technology products and work with most of the mainstream banks. They pushed past £10 million in revenue within two years, making headlines in Scotland’s business sector as a result, and expect to exceed £100 million by 2025.
But Wonga or Ukio Bankas this isn’t. After the strip, and thereby their relationship with Stellar, was accidentally leaked on Friday morning by kit manufacturs Umbro a couple of weeks early, the Tynecastle club were forced into quickly amending plans and announced both the new kit and the partnership later in the day. Hearts were just as enthused about the reaction to the strip, which has been largely positive, as they are about growing their relationship with Stellar. The two have already been working together at the innovation centre in Gorgie, where Stellar look to help children between the ages of 14 and 17 learn the necessary technological skills to go confidently into the work place or higher learning.
This wasn’t a case of Hearts plumping for the first company or corporation who came along and dumped a gym bag full of money on the table. It was about working with people who share the same ethos.
"I talked to Ann Budge, Anne Park, Gary Locke, Andrew McKinlay and a few others quite a lot about shared values. What Hearts and Stellar have in common the most is that we share a lot of the same values,” managing director and founder Colin Frame told the Evening News. “It's mostly about giving back, whether that's investing back in the future of technology skills, or the work they do in all different communities, working with the charities, it's all around giving back and sharing those same values. It's about having the ability to then drive out the same outcome that we all want, which is success, whether that's success on the football field, success with the charities, or success with the kids coming through the innovation centre.
"Gary Locke called me. It all started at the Hearts v Dundee game in February earlier this year. We sat down, had an honest conversation about how this would work for both companies, because if it benefits both then it's a no-brainer. We've agreed a structure that works for all of us.
“This isn't the type of big sponsorship thing isn't the sort that we do usually. I sponsor a lot of grassroots and local level stuff. But getting involved with Hearts was a massive opportunity for us to engage with people who were outside of technology side of things.”
Frame didn’t grow up a Hearts supporter, but his affinity for the club is already evident. In his conversation with this writer, the word “we” was used a good few times as he joked about wanting some of the more attractive European destinations next season and using his wealth to tempt Mark Noble out of retirement.
He certainly has a high amount of respect for the people who work at the highest level of the club. It’s been eight years that Ann Budge has been chairwoman of Hearts, going from savior to owner and finally board member after the Foundation of Hearts took over. Though there have been some undoubted missteps along the way, Frame believes she’s helped put a structure into place which is going to help the team excel on the field and keep supporters smiling beyond the success of the last year.
“I've spent a lot of time with different people around the club. What they're doing at Hearts and the structure around their foundations, I think, is the reason for their success,” he said. “I know in football you're only really judged on one thing and that's success on the pitch, but Hearts put all the required effort into the foundations to make success on the pitch easier.
"That's also down to some of the work they do at community level, some of the work they do at the Oriam, the work they do around data, which is my most exciting subject. Speaking to Joe Savage and the recruitment team, it's not just a coincidence they've been able to sign some of the players they have.
“You don't see the inside of a football club until you get inside. You just see the product on the pitch, hear about the news stories and read about it some times. When you get inside the club you really understand what's going on, like the real changes that Ann's made during her time at the club. The fan ownership is hugely powerful. I went to both the semi-final and final with the directors. Speaking to some of the guys, it's like a big family they've created and I'm not sure you see that elsewhere. You don't see that in football anyway. Not much in Scotland and certainly not much in England. It's a different set-up. I would say it's truly unique.
"You struggle to find clubs you fall in love with if you don't naturally support them, but I think I have actually fallen in love with Hearts.”