Toni Chalk Wins ‘Business Person of the Year’ at the Gatwick Diamond Business Awards

She only went and did it! Toni Chalk, Managing Director at Strive AV, was announced ‘Business Person of the Year’ on Thursday 23 March at a glittering ceremony at The Grand Hotel, Brighton.

The evening started with a Pre-Dinner Reception, followed by a sumptuous three-course meal before the winners were announced. Several members of the Strive AV team were there to celebrate with Toni, providing a rapturous cheer as her name was announced to a packed audience.

Toni said: “This award really means a lot to me. Since rebranding in 2021, we’ve had to work extra hard to get the Strive AV name out there and continue to meet our business goals. The last few years have been an incredible, yet challenging, journey for me, so getting recognition at a local level for all the hard work feels amazing!”

Now in its 15th year, the Gatwick Diamond Business Awards is a well-established highlight of the business calendar in Sussex and Surrey, strongly supported by the Gatwick Diamond business community with Headline Sponsors Elekta Ltd and Gatwick Airport Ltd.

This year’s ceremony was hosted by comedian and actress Kerry Godliman, who presented Toni with her award alongside Matthew Tyson, Managing Director of Richard Place Dobson, the award sponsor.

Of course, the Strive AV celebrated in style at the After-Show Party, dancing well into the early hours. Congratulations Toni!


Here at Strive AV, our education team is preparing for the world’s leading EdTech show, Bett UK, at ExCeL London from the 29th to 31st of March. With 20 years of experience and deep roots within the education sector, we can’t wait to meet up with the EdTech community and discover new solutions to support the future of education.

Along with some of our key partners, we will be joining the EdTech community to explore how AV technology can enhance collaboration and create memorable learning experiences. But it isn’t all work and no fun, we will also be hosting an exclusive drinks reception with our customers, celebrating our collaborative relationships and the future opportunities we can explore together as well as a little thank you to them before heading back from the show.

Integrated AV plays a key role in providing the ability to connect teams and present engaging educational content. At Strive AV, we have a proven track record of integrating solutions into schools, higher education and universities. Only recently we delivered a full AV upgrade for educators at Bexhill College and broke through the barriers of hybrid learning with the Royal College of Art.

Our team has the expertise to tackle the technical challenges facing the education sector. If you would like to meet Strive AV team at Bett to discuss how we can support your AV upgrade, contact us today: [email protected]

Meeting room BYOD vs Native which is better?
Bring your own Device (BYOD) Approach:

The BYOD approach involves allowing employees to bring their own laptops, smartphones, or tablets to the meeting room and connect to the room’s display and audio system. This approach has become increasingly popular due to its flexibility and convenience, as it allows employees to use the devices they are already familiar with.


  1. Flexibility: One of the main benefits of the BYOD approach is its flexibility. Employees can use the devices they are already familiar with, which can increase productivity and reduce the need for additional training.
  2. Cost Savings: With the BYOD approach, businesses can save money on meeting room hardware, as employees are using their own devices.
  3. Reduced Maintenance: With fewer devices to manage, IT staff can focus on other areas of the business, reducing the time and resources required for maintenance.


  1. Security: One of the main concerns with the BYOD approach is security. When employees connect their personal devices to the meeting room system, it can increase the risk of data breaches and other security issues.
  2. Compatibility Issues: Not all devices are compatible with all meeting room hardware, which can create issues when multiple devices are used in the same meeting.
Native Meeting Room Hardware Approach:

The native meeting room hardware approach involves using purpose-built meeting room hardware, such as dedicated video conferencing systems, wireless presentation devices, and speakerphones. This approach is designed to deliver a seamless and reliable meeting experience, with features such as high-quality audio and video, wireless connectivity, and advanced security.


  1. Reliability: Native meeting room hardware is purpose-built for the meeting room environment, which can improve reliability and reduce the risk of technical issues.
  2. Advanced Features: Meeting room hardware often includes advanced features such as noise cancellation, touch screens, and wireless connectivity, which can improve the overall meeting experience.
  3. Security: Native meeting room hardware often includes advanced security features, such as encryption and secure authentication, which can help protect sensitive data and prevent unauthorised access.


  1. Cost: Meeting room hardware can be expensive, which can be a significant barrier for businesses that are operating on a tight budget.
  2. Compatibility Issues: Native meeting room hardware is designed for specific devices and platforms, which can create issues when multiple devices and platforms are used in the same meeting.

Both BYOD and native meeting room hardware approaches have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. When choosing between the two, it is important to consider your business’s specific needs and priorities. If flexibility and cost savings are a top priority, then the BYOD approach may be the better choice. However, if reliability, advanced features, and security are critical, then native meeting room hardware may be the better choice. Ultimately, the best approach is the one that meets your business’s unique needs and requirements, and provides the best overall meeting experience for your team.

Difference between Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Teams Room

Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Teams Room are two of the most popular collaboration tools that have taken the business world by storm. While they share some similarities, there are some significant differences between the two platforms that are worth exploring.

Microsoft Teams is a chat-based collaboration platform that allows users to share files, conduct video meetings, and collaborate on projects. It is designed for desktop and mobile devices and is available as a standalone application or as part of the Microsoft Office 365 suite. Microsoft Teams is a popular choice for businesses of all sizes because it allows users to work together in real-time, no matter where they are.

Microsoft Teams Room, on the other hand, is a meeting room solution that is designed to work with Microsoft Teams. It is essentially a hardware device that can be used to transform any meeting space into a Teams-enabled video conferencing room. Microsoft Teams Room is ideal for businesses that need to host large-scale video meetings and presentations, and it comes equipped with a range of features to help users get the most out of their meetings.

One of the most significant differences between Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Teams Room is the way they are used. Microsoft Teams is primarily used for collaboration, while Microsoft Teams Room is designed for video conferencing. Microsoft Teams can be used by individuals and teams to share files, collaborate on documents, and communicate with one another in real-time. On the other hand, Microsoft Teams Room is designed for use in a meeting room setting, where it can be used to conduct video meetings, share presentations, and collaborate with remote team members.

Another significant difference between Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Teams Room is the way they are priced. Microsoft Teams is available as part of the Microsoft Office 365 suite, which is priced on a per-user basis. This means that businesses can purchase licenses for each user and pay a set fee for each license. Microsoft Teams Room, on the other hand, is priced on a per-room basis. This means that businesses can purchase a license for each meeting room and pay a set fee for each room.

Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Teams Room also differ in terms of the features they offer. Microsoft Teams offers a range of collaboration tools, including real-time messaging, video conferencing, screen sharing, and file sharing. Microsoft Teams Room, on the other hand, is designed specifically for use in a meeting room setting, and it comes equipped with features like high-quality video and audio, multiple camera support, and screen sharing.

Another difference between Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Teams Room is the hardware that is required to use them. Microsoft Teams can be used on any desktop or mobile device, and it can be accessed via the web or through a standalone application. Microsoft Teams Room, on the other hand, requires specialised hardware, including a computer, camera, microphone, and speakers, in order to function properly. This means that businesses that want to use Microsoft Teams Room will need to invest in additional hardware, which can add to the overall cost of the solution.

Strive work with a number of Teams Room hardware providers including Crestron, Yealink, Logitech, Poly and Neat. Get in touch today for a demo.

GDBA 2023 ‘Business Person of the Year’ finalist… Toni Chalk

The year’s celebrations continue as Strive AV Managing Director, Toni Chalk has been announced as a finalist in the Gatwick Diamond Business Awards for ‘Business Person of the Year’.

Toni’s enthusiastic leadership skills and expertise impressed the judges, as well as her sales focussed approach, great work and creativity which are reflected throughout the company.

The timely news was also announced at the same time as International Day of Women and Girls in Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)

The GDBA 2023 winners will be announced at a spectacular ceremony on the 23rd March 2023 – wish Toni luck!

Award-winning aspirations for 2023

We’re starting the New Year off on a high with Strive AV being shortlisted in the Gatwick Diamond Business Awards in not one, but two categories – ‘Business of the Year over £1m’ and ‘Business Person of the Year’ for Managing Director, Toni Chalk.

To be shortlisted for ‘Business of the Year over £1m’, Strive AV has demonstrated an exceptional track-record of achievement, a high level of performance and dedicated customer service, as well as our work within the Gatwick Diamond Community.

To be shortlisted for ‘Business Person of the Year’ Toni’s passion and clear vision for the company shone through, as well as her commitment to growing Strive AV as a Gatwick Diamond based business.

The Gatwick Diamond Business Awards recognise businesses, organisations or people who have shown innovation and inspiration in their work, with dedication to the fast-developing region of the Gatwick Diamond.

Now in its fourteenth year, the awards celebrate innovation, outstanding customer service and business success. The ceremony which will take place on Thursday 23rd March 2023 are an opportunity for local business in the south-east to come together and celebrate the very best of the business community.

The shortlisted finalists for GDBA 2023 will be announced on Friday 10th February 2023 – wish us luck!

Strive AV celebrates first year of success following rebrand

We’re celebrating one year since changing our name from CDEC in 2021. The monumental change signalled a new ethos and era for the company.

The Strive AV name is becoming recognised as an established and trusted go-to AV partner. In the last 12 months, we have opened our new HQ and warehouse located in Felbridge, on the Surrey-Sussex border and made the transition to a profit-focused business. Strive AV has also recently been approved under the government’s first ever AV apprenticeship scheme and has already taken on one apprentice, marking another successful milestone.

But we’re not a new company – in fact, Strive AV has a 20-year heritage under its former name of CDEC. Toni Chalk, Managing Director of Strive AV, took over running the business following the sudden passing of her business partner. Since then, Toni has worked hard to steer the business through challenging times. Six years on, and the positive transformation sparked Toni to rename the company Strive AV.

Toni’s vision for the business continuously evolves, striving to deliver excellence and succeed, on time and on budget for each and every client. Toni also drives the team to continue working hard in helping to support our customer continuity.

“We strive to be a leader in customer experience. Our heritage and proven track record speaks for itself; each member of the Strive AV team is empowered to make our customer service provision the very best it can be, and we are proud to continue working with customers who have been with us from the very beginning.” says Toni.

AV Solution Providers

With firm roots within the education sector, Strive AV aims to deliver excellence in education, but also corporate, health and retail environments. Our primary aim is to provide AV solutions which transform communication and enhance the end user’s experiences.

Strive AV has the knowledge and the expertise to provide strategic and comprehensive end-to-end audio and visual solutions for a range of environments, including board and meeting rooms, control rooms, digital media scheduling, broadcast solutions and much more.

We work closely with leading supplier brands such as SMART, Promethean, Clevertouch, BenQ and Extron to provide the highest quality display and presentation technology.

With a new HQ and warehouse facility, impressive projects and a government funded AV apprenticeship scheme, Strive AV is going from strength to strength.

Strive AV Launches New Buy Back Scheme For School AV Equipment

AV Specialist, Strive AV has launched a new Buy Back Scheme for schools, colleges and universities, offering cashback for old classroom display equipment when upgrading facilities.

Technology in education is incredibly important and one aspect that seems to be relied upon more than most is display and presentation technology. The ability to display and present in an engaging manner in a learning environment is essential. From interactive whiteboards and high-definition displays to make lessons more engaging, to ceiling arrays that ensure everyone can hear the teacher no matter where they are in the room, and control systems that make it easy to set up lessons, an integrated AV solution can enhance communication, encourage collaboration and create memorable learning experiences.

A key element of the solution is the display chosen. For all participants in the class to get the most out of what is being shown or taught, there must be suitable visibility, brightness and ease of use for effective learning in a classroom.

To help education establishments with upgrading facilities, Strive AV is running a special promotion offering cashback on their existing screens. Orders for interactive screens placed for delivery and installation before 31st December 2022 will have old equipment collected within a maximum of 20 days. The new Buy Back Scheme from education AV specialists, Strive AV benefits from the more screens purchased, the more cashback is received, with no maximum limit.

“Our new Buy Back Scheme is a great way for schools to recycle old equipment, whilst also upgrading to the latest AV technology available.” comments Strive AV Managing Director, Toni Chalk. “As education and the world around us evolves, it is important to stay up to date with the latest technology to ensure students and teachers are equipped with the best resources available, whilst maximising the elements of teaching and learning through the use of AV technology.”

Award-winning Strive AV is one of Europe’s most dedicated and passionate AV Equipment and AV system integrators. From initial design consultation to deployment and managed services, Strive AV is a trusted technology partner. With decades of specialist expertise in the education sector, providing AV solutions for a wide variety of teaching spaces, Strive AV are well placed to advise on the latest and most effective tools, that will significantly impact learning outcomes.

“Interactive displays add a whole new element to teaching and learning, supporting active learning by encouraging students to engage with content rather than just passively reading it.” continues Toni Chalk. “They encourage students to collaborate, share ideas and solve problems together, especially if displays are multitouch, all key skills that need to be developed alongside academic learning.”

To find out more or to register your interest in the Strive AV Buy Back Scheme, visit

Top 31 AV Installation Tools for System Integrators in 2022

Audiovisual equipment has become an inseparable part of the corporate culture. Businesses are using these tools to solve a number of their purposes including meetings, presentations, videoconferences, and much more! An AV installation adds a lot of value to a company by facilitating and improving communication, increasing productivity, and maximizing the use of existing technology.
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COVID-19 update: Business as usual

With the second coronavirus lockdown due to come into force across England on Thursday, we’d like to take this opportunity to reassure customers that StriveAV will continue to operate as normal, utilising all our COVID-safe working practices. All planned jobs will be continuing as scheduled and we are still open and taking orders.

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Growth in virtual events leads to launch of StriveAV Live

Just 12 months ago, a virtual event wasn’t something many event organisers and marketers would have considered an essential part of their offering. While webinars were becoming ever more popular, these would be smaller in scale, shorter in time and narrower in scope than the ever-popular in-person conferences, awards and tradeshows that littered many industries’ calendars.

Fast forward to mid-2020, however, and virtual events have taken on a whole new level of importance, offering a way to futureproof a business and maintain contact with stakeholders despite the changeable times.

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How to utilise digital signage in a COVID-secure space

Demand for digital signage has grown massively in recent years with videowalls, kiosks, menu boards and billboards all becoming near-ubiquitous sights in spaces such as shopping malls, offices, public spaces, hotels, hospitals and even outdoors. Few sectors failed to see the benefits of being able to guide, advise and inform visitors quickly, easily and professionally. Read more

How to choose the best AV over IP solution for your needs

Making the move to AV over IP can be daunting especially as, despite advances in technology, there’s no one size fits all solution. Often the requirement will be for a scalable, secure, manageable solution that is capable of handling a large number of endpoints, but with so many options out there it can be difficult to know which one will be most appropriate.

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Control System installation
StriveAV awarded ISE 27001 accreditation for third consecutive year

StriveAV is pleased to announce that it has been awarded ISO 27001 accreditation for the third year in a row, having held the accolade since 2018. The award comes at a time when the information security standard is more important than ever, particularly when it comes to enterprise AV which is dealing with rapid changes to working practices due to the coronavirus pandemic. Read more

AV over IP explained

AVoIP – or Audio Visual over Internet Protocol – has been in the AV lexicon for a few years now as the industry has continued its convergence with IT. Although it can be a complex area to fully understand its advantages are clear, offering cost-effective, flexible, and scalable solutions, so it’s worth investigating if this could be the right approach for your needs.

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COVID-19 Business as usual

The past few weeks have been truly unprecedented for so many people around the globe. With the situation around Covid-19 continuing to develop at pace, the priority for StriveAV is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff, suppliers and customers, and we continue to be on hand to respond to any queries you may have regarding current or future projects.

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The five biggest meeting room AV integration mistakes and how to avoid them

With such rapid technological change taking place in the corporate world, and a quantum shift in the way we work (Blog: Five key changes to the way we work and what this means for your workplace) , it can be difficult to ensure your workplace continues to meet the needs of your workforce, particularly when it comes to meeting spaces. Read more

Five key changes to the way we work and what this means for your workplace

The huge acceleration in workplace technology in recent years has made it difficult to know which kit genuinely has a positive impact on both employees and the bottom line, and which is less effective.

Changes to the idea of the workplace, the rise of flexible and remote working, and the need to communicate with people across the globe on a regular basis has hugely affected the kind of technology needed in the average office or meeting room.

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video conferencing
The top 5 benefits of a huddle room

Five key benefits of a huddle space:

  1. User Friendly– Huddle rooms are designed to be simple to use.
  2. Flexible – This simplicity also makes huddle rooms flexible.
  3. Cost Effective – Requires a lot less investment than boardrooms.
  4. Increases Productivity – Huddle rooms should be used when needed to solve specific problems or achieve specific goals.
  5. Use your real estate more effectively – uddle rooms are small spaces, making them a great way to optimise under-utilised areas

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How to create the perfect huddle space environment
How to create the perfect huddle space environment

The most accepted definition of a huddle space is a small, private and comfortable meeting area designed to accommodate 2-6 people and equipped with teleconferencing and collaborative tools. Their size and the technologies typically housed within them makes huddle rooms ideal for both scheduled and impromptu meetings, offering a quieter space for people to work without having to reserve time in a large meeting space or boardroom.

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The benefits of managed services in an education environment

When you think of the convergence of AV and IT, the first sector that springs to mind is probably corporate. There’s no denying that this market has been impacted heavily by the IT-ification of AV and the move towards software over hardware, but it’s certainly not the only area in which the benefits of convergence can be reaped.

Take education, for example. Higher education in particular has undergone major changes in recent years, especially when it comes to how estates are managed and by whom. In many institutions, IT is the driving force behind the AV teams, even in those where AV comes under the Facilities Management or Estates sections. This isn’t without its challenges, however, and while some institutions have managed to merge their teams and make a success of this, others are ‘de-merging’ again.

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How AV managed services can add value to your business

Managed services have grown in popularity across the AV sector as users want to ensure their systems operate as they should for the longest time possible with the minimum downtime.

However, there has been some confusion about what is covered by managed services and what users should expect from any agreement. In short, AV managed services devolves the management and maintenance of AV to the service provider. This can include everything from lifecycle design/build, to onsite support and analytics.

As this is quite a wide-ranging definition, to get the most out of any managed services agreement, it’s important to understand the scope of the deal and how it will benefit your AV inventory. Read more

8 questions to ask yourself when you buy a projector

Are you looking to buy a projector? Finding a solution can be a difficult task. Should you opt for DLP, LCD, LED or laser? Short throw or long throw? What projection surface should you opt for or should you maybe consider LED tiles or video walls instead of a projector? The answer to all of these questions of course depends on the environment in which the projector will be used and the purpose it will be used for. However, there are also a number of other factors that need to be considered in every scenario. Read more

The future of EdTech

A recent report from Metaari, entitled ‘The 2018 Global Learning Technology Investment Patterns: The Rise of the Edtech Unicorns’, revealed that the global edtech investments reached $16.3bn in 2018. Game-based learning and AI tools were particularly well funded, with China very much leading the way.

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StriveAV - AV Systems Integrator
What is good audio?

Audio is an often-overlooked element of audio-visual system design; displays, screens, videowalls and the many ‘visual’ elements of AV are often front of mind when people consider the kind of system they want. However, without good audio, many of these solutions will not be fit for purpose.

Take conferencing for example. While, the screen will most likely take centre stage in the room, without high-quality audio any meeting is likely to be ineffective at best and abandoned at worst. Read more

AV Digital Media
StriveAV accepted onto UK Digital Outcomes framework

StriveAV is pleased to announce that it has been successful in its application to join the Digital Outcomes framework.

Part of the UK government’s Digital Marketplace initiative which aims to transform the way the public sector commissions digital and cloud services, by making it simpler, clearer and faster for them to buy what they need, Digital Outcomes is a modern framework for non-technical businesses that want to engage with the market to help them realise a strategic aim. Rather than buy an off-the-shelf service or specify a set of products, Digital Outcomes allows buyers to describe the end result they want to achieve, and it is up to the marketplace to design a solution, present it in a meaningful way to the customer and win the business. Read more

StriveAV - AV Systems Integrator
StriveAV wins place on G-Cloud 10

StriveAV is delighted to be a confirmed supplier on G-Cloud 10, the latest iteration of the Government’s Digital Marketplace, which went live on 2nd July 2018.

G-Cloud is a Government framework set up to enable the public sector to procure cloud-based services easily. G-Cloud 10 is fully EU compliant, saving customers the time and money associated with conducting their own procurement exercise. Through the competitive tender process and regular benchmarking, the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) ensures customers have access to the most competitive deals.

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StriveAV - AV Systems Integrator
StriveAV supporting Wave mentoring

Blog post from Toni Barnett – Oringally posted on linkedin

As someone who’s long been passionate about encouraging and developing the next generation of AV professionals, I was thrilled to learn about the Women in AV (WAVE) Mentoring Programme that was launched in July and even more thrilled to be able to share my knowledge and experience as a mentor on the programme.

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