Stellar Omada is a name fans of Heart of Midlothian will be familiar with. It is one that has adorned two of the most popular away kits in recent seasons and the company has enjoyed a commercial partnership with the club since 2021.

But, fans may well still be wondering, who is Steller Omada, the new principal shirt sponsor from next season? What is it?

"We deliver technology services, manage services, we do loads of stuff. To the normal human being - I call it the Granny test - my gran asked me what I did, I actually couldn't ever articulate it until one day we were designing and delivering a new credit card, 'Right, see that credit card that's what we built, we built it right from the start'."

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Stellar Omada's founder and managing director Colin Frame answered those questions in an interview with Hearts Standard. He discussed why the company has partnered with the Tynecastle Park club moments after spending time getting the photographer treatment with the club's CEO Andrew McKinlay and Cammy Devlin on the indoor pitch at the Oriam to promote the next stage of that partnership.

It was announced on Friday that the Edinburgh-based IT company will become the front-of-shirt sponsor for the men's and women's teams, starting from the 2024/25 season. The three-year agreement is a record-breaking one, the biggest commercial kit deal in the club's history worth in excess of seven figures.

"It’s absolutely mega," Frame, now a converted Jambo, said. "We were just getting reminded of the Covid year – it was the end of 2020 when we started to have those discussions. To have come through the journey that we have over the last three years, to then end up getting on the front shirt – it’s just mega.

"It was one of the key criteria that we set last year. We sponsored the away kit but we wanted something on the home kit too. Obviously, it comes around fast, you have got to have the kits done by Christmas time, so you don’t get the full year to think about it, but to get the opportunity is massive."

Stellar Omada first got involved with the innovation centre which is in the bowels of the Tynecastle Park Main Stand in 2021, only three years after the business started. It is a partnership that has grown ever since.

"At that point, we were going through an element of growth as a company and we were always looking at opportunities to broadcast ourselves to the wider world," Frame said. "We spent the first three years of the company ghosting under the radar and trying to establish a really good foundation.

"With Ann Budge’s background, a lot of guys at Hearts have an IT background as well, so there was a huge amount of synergy. Most importantly, the values that Hearts portray and drive every day, and the values that we drive as a company, are pretty much identical. That’s become part of the engagement and what I call the collective family. We have got the Stellar family and the Big Hearts family, and having the ability to build on that year on year has been a big push.

"We went from the innovation centre to sponsoring the [women's] Capital Cup games in the early days. Then we got involved with helping Big Hearts. The community work we do is a huge part of the same type of charity and investment that we put back into the youth and the community. And then you build out from there."

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There is the assumption that when it comes to sponsorship deals and football clubs it is a case of the company handing over money to the club in return for its branding on shirts or advertising around the stadium. But there is more to it than that. 

Frame described it as a partnership. Stellar Omada wants to be connected to the club on different levels and have a presence at the club rather than simply being a cold corporate company. They are keen to be hands-on and provide space for the business community and an opportunity for young kids, while the hotel and conference space at Tynecastle Park is an attractive element.

"It’s probably not the finished article yet – there’s the question of how we can go even further after the front of the shirt," he said. "But we can enjoy the investment that we make in Hearts and that Hearts make in us.

Hearts Standard:

"We can use the stadium now for a lot of the conferences and we can start to use the hotel as it starts to become used for some of our travelling staff. We have got the innovation centre which continues to grow week on week now. We launched our official Elevate programme, which is using the skills and experience we have at Stellar in the tech community to reinvest in the Scottish landscape, and using Hearts as the leverage to promote and market it. But also using the stadium to manage the courses. The first six-week cohort just finished last week and again, we will continue to build on those Elevate candidates and graduates."

He added: "Our partnership is more locked in – from the top to the bottom of the club, we are investing in every part that’s available, and vice-versa. The Hearts support we get from fans, from staff, from the senior board – everybody is invested in helping Stellar as well. So it really is a joint partnership in that sense."

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A key aspect of the deal was the incorporation of the women's team.

Investment in the women's game may be a frustration for some who want full focus on the men's first team but it is understood that women's football perhaps brings in sponsors that normally wouldn't get involved and it's viewed as a large growth area.

"It's big for us," Frame said. "The women's game product is probably underrated and undervalued. Every year you see it getting bigger in the wider world. I think Hearts have done a tremendous job at trying to keep up to speed with what's happening in the UK. England is leading the way in the women's game.

"Having the ability to showcase across the women's product is a big win for us as well. I do think they are different types of football, there is no debating that. it is a family-orientated product, it's an engaging sport. Seeing the fans you can get in for the Capital Cup at both Easter Road and Tynecastle is massive."

Hearts have entered a three-year agreement with one of the fastest-growing businesses in the IT sector. Frame noted Stellar Omada had been an "embryo for a long time". Through a lot of "hard work" with next to no days off or holidays, revenue grew to £10million in the space of three years. This year it is on course to double that - and the desire is to continue to grow, expand and build with a recent investment of £4.5million from the British Growth Fund.

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"We are officially called an IT company but we do so much more than just IT," he said. "We're predominantly born out the back of a number of financial services companies, Royal Bank, HSBC, Barclays. It's corporate technology which we specialise in, designing, delivering, testing, managing. We've created a real niche for ourselves of being high-quality staff at a lowish cost and efficient cost in comparison to some of the bigger players in the technology space.

"We ultimately do tech stuff for clients. We also design and develop our own products in-house within Stellar and we have all the different cohorts in investment in youth and the elevate programme.

"We've always set ourselves out to be the best, wanting to be high quality, deliver really good services for our customers and most importantly have fun on the way. You work for a lot of your life and having fun is a key part of it. Building the football part into it, the match on the pitch last year, all of those things add a bit of value to our colleagues, we're at the 200 mark that work in Stellar, most of them will be Scotland-based.

"It's also quite cool for them to be talking to their mates about working in Stellar and everybody recognises it for the fact it is on the Hearts shirts."

Now the dream for Frame, through the partnership with Hearts, is to see Stellar Omada join the ranks of sponsors that become part of the iconography of the club when trophies are won having already tasted silverware success with Capital Cup victory for the women's team.

"You watch all the footage back, you always see the Strongbow strip, that's the one people remember," he said. "There are so many things you remember and it is usually the strip that was worn.

"Being able to get something tangible, we'll take a league, we'll take a [Scottish] Cup, we'll take a League Cup, we'll take anything that gives you that broadcast because it is hugely powerful."