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Dean Ward

Dean Ward
Course studied:
Product Design
Year of graduation:

Evoke Creative

McDonald’s, JD Sports, Tesco, Google and Vue Cinemas are just some of those that Evoke Creative has created cutting-edge digital technology for. As co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Dean Ward has grown Evoke from just a handful of staff to over 100, designing, developing and manufacturing self-service kiosks, video walls, digital signage and payment terminals.

Evoke now has over 50,000sqft of office and factory space in Wirral to produce their award-winning digital solutions, transforming the buying experience for millions of consumers in thousands of retail stores throughout the world.

Dean said: “We first developed a self-service counter in 2007. This was before smartphones were widespread, and supermarket self-checkouts didn’t exist. But we could see there was an opportunity so myself and my business partner Neil Clark [CEO of Evoke] set up a small manufacturing site and Bibliotheca became our first customer.”

Bibliotheca to McDonald’s

Bibliotheca is a self-service solutions provider for libraries around the world and Evoke has been their supplier of choice for almost 15 years. Their partnership began with a bespoke self-service library kiosk and led to book checkouts, RIFD self-service points, smartlockers, security gates and more.

Three years after launching, Evoke landed its next big client in Debenhams and then, in 2014, they won the contract for JD Sports. The success required the company to move to a factory space four times the size of their first unit. Evoke became JD Sports’ key digital technology supplier, designing and manufacturing everything from touchscreen kiosks to video walls and interactive mirrors for over 800 stores worldwide.

A year later, McDonald’s started investing in technology for their new self-service ordering system. Since 2015, Evoke has rolled out hundreds of touch screen ordering kiosks to McDonald’s sites across the UK, Ireland and worldwide as part of the brand’s digital transformation strategy.

Dean said: “The McDonald’s contract put Evoke in the public eye. When they implemented these kiosks, every other company wanted to do the same. Tesco and other big companies started coming to us. Self-service kiosks were done before we started but they tended to be produced by metal manufacturers and were very utilitarian. We were disruptive and now we’re supplying some of the biggest retailers in the world.”

The company has since won and been shortlisted for numerous accolades, including Insider’s North West Most Exciting Companies and Made in the UK, the Wirral Business Awards, Northern Tech Awards, The North’s Fastest Growing Tech Companies, Drapers Digital Festival and Digital Entrepreneur Awards.

Studying at Staffordshire University

Dean’s career in product design started at Staffordshire University in 1999. After enrolling on a four-year Graphic Design course, which included a foundation degree, he switched part-way through to Product Design.

He said: “The Graphic Design course was quite broad at the time and I took more of an interest in the product side. One of the lecturers came up to me and said there is a course in Product Design. I found my path. I really enjoyed the creative side and the way the course was run. We had great lecturers.

“In my third year, I won the Live Project with Pulse Fitness and got a two-month placement with them after graduating, where I was designing fitness equipment for gyms.”

Evoke Creative now works with Staffordshire University to provide students with its own Live Project, as well as placement opportunities and paid internships. Dean has also delivered several guest lectures over the years. He added: “When I started my company, I wanted to provide students with similar opportunities to what I had – so we could help ensure we have a great talent pool in the UK.”