Author: 3ColoursRule

Effective technology operations that increase the margin

The world is becoming more tech-driven. Technology operations can affect your margin.

Flavilla is joined by the awesome Paul Tynan, Co-Founder of E2Tech. They are discussing effective technology operations that improve the margin for your tech business.

Briefly, tell us how your journey took where you are right now

With a career working in global financial services for over 25 years, I wanted to take that knowledge and expertise and help other organisations to improve how they run and manage their technology environment. I had worked with Keith before and as he had a similar background and shared my passion to liberate IT teams from the production nightmares, they face day in day out (we have both been in that boat!). We decided to form E2Tech and set out on a mission to help IT-teams.

 

What was your aha moment which led you to create your business?

Many organizations, particularly larger ones, are operating with a blend of modern digital technologies running alongside a patchwork of archaic systems developed over many years/decades.

The poorly-integrated systems which hold valuable data make it challenging for organisations to make informed decisions and in addition to leverage that data to make improvements. Working within a complex environment like this makes it very challenging to run your IT operations in a stable, low-cost and transparent way.

For us, it was clear there was no real commitment or focus on addressing the operational elements of technology. Understandably there was lots of focus on the promise of the shiny new digital and mobile technology, but from our perspective, you cannot have one without the other. A stable foundation is critical to continuously innovate. Many IT teams spend most of their days firefighting old issues instead of focusing on creating new value. We want to change this, that’s why we created E2Tech.

 

Why is your business relevant to the issues you have identified?

Our solutions and services focus on addressing three core challenge most IT organisations are currently facing: complexity, stability and cost. We have made it our mission to help IT organisations control and navigate an increasingly complex landscape. Also, we wanted to help them to put the right frameworks in place to minimise downtime (so their business stakeholders can build confidence in their ability to deliver reliable solutions) and finally open the door to new cost efficiencies through automation and the integration of modern cloud-native solutions.

 

What has been your biggest lesson learnt in growing E2Tech?

You have to be prepared to step outside your comfort zone and back yourself with what you know.

It is necessary to stick to your values and to be prepared to walk away.

You can’t do everything. Build up strong partnerships with other companies who share the same values and passions as you do. Through this, you can offer customers a richer experience.

Tell us about your customer acquisition systems

So far, we have focused on helping organisations we already have a strong relationship with. The reason to do this is to build credibility and momentum and to mature and improve our offering. We have recently relaunched our website with a fresh new look and feel that better reflects the value we can bring customers. Going forward we hope to ramp up our marketing efforts to reach new customers who could benefit from our help/expertise. We have focused to date on the financial services sector. However, our offering is designed to be industry agnostic as most IT organisations regardless of the sector are grappling with the same issues.

 

What do you wish more people knew?

That it’s worth spending the time putting strong foundations in place for innovation to thrive. Cutting corners or overlooking the operational elements of IT will bring you a lot of unnecessary headaches in the future and will hinder you from doing what you want to do. It’s critical to get the right frameworks and approaches in place before focusing time and money on innovation. Large organisations are still spending a significant % of their budgets safeguarding spaghetti-like legacy systems making it impossible to deliver the right business outcomes.

How should people remember you?

We want to combine our technology and operational experience to bring about some really important changes in how organizations view and manage their IT operations. Our desire is, to turn it from being an afterthought to a central part of an organizations transformation strategy. For us, this is not for short term return. Enduring quality and value is something we want to deliver to teams to work in new and better ways. We want to liberate them from the daily drudgery that is holding back progress and innovation.

 

 

About the speaker

Paul is a Senior technologist with over 30 years of experience in both operational and strategic positions in multinational organisations. Moreover, he has significant experience in Technology Operations, strategy formulation and implementation as well as the management of large operational teams.

He is adept at reviewing and defining operating models to optimise efficiency and effectiveness. Paul makes sure to use technology to meet the required business outcomes and has extensive experience in outsourcing and offshoring.

He is a true specialist when it comes to effective technology operations to increase the margin of businesses.

 

About E2Tech

E2Tech helps companies to take control of IT Operations. They help them focus on delivering stable, scalable and robust solutions.

They use deep experience and expertise to help businesses transform how they approach and manage IT Operations. Achieving greater stability at a significantly lower price.

From Strategic Crisis Management to Operating Models, E2Tech works in partnership with you to assess and improve the current IT landscape. They help you by putting your business on the right track to achieve the best outcomes.

 

Liked this article about effective technology operations that increase the margin for your tech business? Then why not read “HOW TO INCREASE CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT FOR MY TECH BUSINESS”

The Key Elements For Developing Strong Financial Models


If you have a vision for where you want your tech business to be in 10 years, you need to plan how much money is needed to get there. This requires strong financial models.

Flavilla is joined by the lovely Sara Green, CEO of Canaree, to discuss the key elements for developing strong financial models for your tech business.

 

Briefly, tell us how your journey took you to where you are right now.

I founded my first company at age 16 which opened my eyes to entrepreneurship. Working in several early stage companies across the UK and US furthered that innovative bug. 

 

What was your ‘aha’ moment which lead you to create Canaree?

In 2019 I met my now Co-founders. Coming out of the financial services industry they wanted to disrupt it, knowing first hand the issues entrepreneurs face. With my own experiences founding and being part of early stage companies I was excited to join the mission.

 

Why is Canaree relevant to the issues you have identified?

It’s easier than ever to start a business. But now, they also need more help than ever to get through unprecedented times. Canaree delivers the quickest, most accurate (no code) financial modelling and forecasting tool to assist founders, project managers and financial managers keep businesses on track.

 

What has been your biggest lesson learnt from growing Canaree?

Building resilience is the most important skill to learn as an entrepreneur. Every day can be a roller coaster ride. You’ll often have more to do than hours in the day. It’s important to be able to navigate those challenges and thrive in the chaos. 

 

Tell us about your customer acquisition systems.

We use a mix of acquisition strategies ranging from content and PR to search and social media. The most powerful is word of mouth and network referrals which we’re seeing increase every month.

 

What do you wish more people knew?

That starting a business isn’t rocket science. I hear too many people dreaming of starting something. But they never do it  because they’re afraid of the risk or that they don’t have the skills. In my opinion, we should do more of what scares us to really grow out of our comfort zone. 

 

Thinking about your legacy, how do you want be be remembered?

When I’m eighty looking back at my life I’d like to think I have made a difference and had some impact as CEO and entrepreneur. However, being a good friend, daughter, partner, mother and colleague is more important than anything else. I don’t want to think back of opportunities I didn’t pursue! 

 

About the speaker

Sara Green is a serial entrepreneur, having launched her first company when she was just 16. Since then she started a number of companies as well as community organisations focused on entrepreneurship and innovation.

Danish of origin, she earned her M.Sc. from IT University of Copenhagen and has since worked in both San Francisco and London firstly as a management consultant and later as an innovative entrepreneur.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, her latest venture is as CEO for Canaree, which aims to simplify the world of finance by creating financial models, forecasts and much more for pre CFO startups.

 

About Canaree

Canaree replaces complex spreadsheets with a smarter way to calculate and manage startup finance, so founders can focus on growing their business.

Founders from early-stage to pre-IPO rely on Canaree to help them build the companies of tomorrow. Canaree’s always free version allows pre-revenue startups to plan for growth.

With a premium subscription, founders can easily create, update, collaborate and share their financial plans, accessing automated and on-demand financial advice along the way. 

When companies grow, so does the complexities of finances, Canaree grows along with them.

 

Liked this article? Then why not read ” HOW TO DEVELOP MULTIPLE STREAMS OF INCOME

How to increase customer engagement for my tech business

If a tech company wants to increase their customer engagement, they must understand its customers, anticipate their needs and expectations. They need to have the ability to deliver the quality services that customers require. The tech industry is constantly evolving and progressing. New technology is being created all the time, and with this comes new opportunities. Your tech company needs to be up to date with these trends and changes in order to understand your customer drivers. Here are 3 examples of customer drivers that can influence your tech company:

 

Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business. This results in fundamental changes in how a business operates and the value they deliver to their customers. 

Technology has transformed consumer habits. Mobile devices, apps, machine learning, automation and much more allow customers to get what they want almost exactly at the moment they need it. What’s more, these new digital technologies have caused a shift in customer expectations, resulting in a new kind of modern buyer. They are constantly connected, app-native, and aware of what they can do with technology. Because of the opportunities that rise from using modern technology, customers often rate organizations on their digital customer experience first. This can lead to an increase in customer engagement.

The tech companies that do transform digitally are creating highly engaged customers.
And these customers are:

  • 6 times more likely to try a new product or service from their preferred tech brand
  • 4 times more likely to have referred your tech brand to their friends, family and connections
  • 2 times more likely to make a purchase with their preferred tech brand. Even when a competitor has a better product or price
  • Highly engaged customers buy 90% more frequently, spend 60% more per purchase, and have 3x the annual value (compared to the average customer).

 

Customer Perspective

The management team must articulate the strategic importance of customer service. Having good customer service can:

  • Increase customer responsiveness and satisfaction
  • Create customer loyalty and increase retention
  • Lower marketing and account acquisition costs
  • Enhance corporate image and competitive advantage 

Ways in which companies can go about achieving this are as such:

 

  • Speed of Service: ensuring that when a customer contacts the organization, the inquiry or problem is handled timely, efficient and during the first contact.
  • Quality & Accuracy of Service: personalized service based on the customer profile and customer segmentation rules. Additionally providing a good quality product or service that will leave them happy.
  • Ease of Service: when dealing with a customer you ensure all of their needs are met hassle-free and try to reduce (preferably none) the amount of issues you may face.
  • Range of Service: flexible business processes that respond to customer demands and the range of requests. 

 

Emotions

The emotional connection between a customer and a brand drives most of the interactions that occur. This includes sharing content, clicking through, and making purchases from the brand. Emotion also drives customer loyalty and the quality of the customer journey through all channels. By understanding how emotional activators trigger certain emotions, brands can craft experiences that are tailored to the brand’s goals, values and ROI, while improving the overall customer experience.

Tech brands using emotions to connect with customers

The values, mission and vision, corporate social responsibility statement and customer perception of a tech brand all factor into whether or not a customer believes their own values align with those of a brand. Tech companies will align these to target a certain demographic.

Different emotions can be used to create different emotional responses, depending on what the goals of the brand are. Psychologists have determined that when it comes to online emotional experiences, those that make a person happy tend to drive more shares, retweets and social mentions (we like to share what makes us happy), while those that make a person sad tend to drive higher click through rates (sadness makes us empathize with others).

 

Personalisation

Personalisation is another way to increase customer engagement. Customers want to feel special. This is why personalised content or products/services have higher success rates for tech companies. For example, if you are a company that specialises in start-ups, no two clients are going to have exactly the same journey. This is why you need to ensure you have the personalised touch for each client down to a T. 

Many companies, especially tech companies, collect customer data but then don’t use it to enhance the customer experience and drive loyalty. A rookie mistake really, when the technology is out there to do it for you. Segmentation is key to this. All good CRM systems have the ability to assign characteristics to customers, which allows you to develop deep customer insights and create highly personalised content.

For example:
  • MailChimp:  Allows you to send highly personalised emails to customer segments, increasing the click through rate and conversion rate of emails. Personalised emails deliver six times higher transaction rates than generic ones.
  • Visual Web Optimiser: This is a website optimisation platform which allows you to target different customer segments with different versions of the website, as well as testing different versions of web pages, to optimise sales or lead generation.
  • Triggered emails:  E-mails sent to customers following a specific action are incredibly effective with a 152% higher click through rate than traditional campaigns. Triggers can include abandoned carts, a price drop for a saved item or, cross selling after a purchase.

The use of AI, AR and 3D in your tech company also allows for a more personalised experience for the customer. Particularly through the pandemic, we are not really able to explore a store and see if a sofa matches our space, or if clothes match our body type, for example. Everyone is restricted to only making a purchasing decision online. That’s where visual support from brands comes in. Brands should help customers feel more confident to press the buy button without actually seeing products physically. 3D and AR can give us an almost 100% like to like representation of the product.

Chat bots integrate into your existing systems, including CRM and web support apps and learn from agents in order to provide a highly personalised service. Consumers having access to assistance when they want it will dramatically increase their experience, driving loyalty and increasing sales. Live chat is shown to have the highest satisfaction levels for any of the usual customer service channels, beating both email and phone. 

 

Conclusion

In an industry that is so dynamic, it is vital that tech companies stay ahead of the game. Consequently, they can then increase customer engagement. We are living in an age where technology is becoming an important part of our everyday working and personal lives. The industry is constantly making developments. So your tech company needs to ensure they are utilising this in order to be a market leader. 

Digital transformation offers organizations an opportunity to engage modern buyers. As well as this, they can deliver on their expectations of a seamless customer experience regardless of channel or place. It takes into consideration the other important customer drivers that are personalisation and having a customer perspective. Taking these customer drivers into consideration, along with the developments within the industry (such as AI), will bring success to your tech company!

 

3 Colours Rule has been listed among the top 30 branding agencies, click here to find out more!
Like this article? Why not try “How to position your brand effectively in the tech market”

How can R&D make your tech business more resilient

It is easy to accept that you are doing well and so you cease spending on R&D and striving for innovation. In the short term, this could make you more profitable because you aren’t investing so much in R&D, but in the long term this will hinder your success and progress.

Flavilla was joined by Matthew Duhig, Co-Founder of FX Digital, to talk about how R&D can make your tech business more resilient.

 

Briefly, tell us how your journey took where you are right now

FX Digital began as a shared passion between my business partner Tom and I. We designed and developed relatively simple “brochure” websites, while also trying to make ends meet at University. After graduating, we both found ourselves looking for work during a global recession. We took relatively low paid jobs to kickstart our careers in development and visual FX. Not long after taking these jobs, we realised that we would be able to sustain a better living for ourselves if we just pursued our work with FX Digital a little more. It took some time, but eventually we were able to go full time with the business. Moving into an office on Brick Lane, and hiring our first employee, a designer, in 2015.

The second hire we made came shortly after, and this time it was an investment in an R&D specialist. Fast forward to 2020 and that investment in R&D has helped us to expand our offering into emerging technologies, in particular Voice and Connected TV, with a team of nearly 40 incredible people generating annual revenues of over £2.5m.

My journey along the way has very much been in harmony with FX Digital. I have grown with the company, learning along the way and I am now a BIMA 100 member. I am also a Managing Director of a company that I’m immensely proud to be a part of.

 

What was your aha moment which led you to create FX Digital?

I don’t think we ever had one particular ‘aha’ moment, because the company has evolved organically over time. However, there are some distinct memories that stick with me from the earlier days. The first being the commitment from both me and Tom to starting the business. This was after a few beers at the local pub. The next major milestone was our decision to begin working from the Cafe at Google Campus in Moorgate. Then, about a month later committing to our first office space, which at the time we really could not afford!

 

What has been your biggest lesson learnt from growing FX Digital?

Growing a business comes almost entirely down to people and relationships. Most of our work did, and still does, come from the network that we have managed to continuously grow. We’ve gone from building websites for friends and families, to building digital products for global businesses. But in both instances, the size of the project is a reflection of the size of our network at that point in time. Perhaps more importantly, the amazing people that work with us at FX are so effective because of the environment we’ve created as a team and the relationships we all have with one another. Whether it’s clients or team members, it all comes down to people and relationships.

 

What do you wish more people knew when it comes to R&D?

It’s incredibly difficult to sustain a commitment to R&D. Whenever you pitch innovation to clients they ask for the ROI or example successes. The reality is that when working with emerging technology there’s not much evidence of success knocking about. As a result of this, almost all companies are scared of investing in innovation. Buyers of your service or technology need A LOT of convincing to put their neck on the line to back whatever R&D innovation you’re pitching into them. A lot of the time it comes down to your relationship with that buyer, and whether they share your beliefs for the innovation you’re pitching. For this reason it’s tempting to reduce R&D activities in a business, replacing them instead with fee earning activities (project work, sales, etc.).

Really the only way of creating a sustained R&D effort, is to breed a culture for R&D. Allow your team to do that hackathon. Invest some of your profits into cool things that your team are passionate about. Give your team the slack and freedom to explore innovation on their own terms. But don’t have a paddy when something they investigate blows up!

 

Thinking about your legacy, how do you want to be remembered?

I’d like to be remembered as someone that helped others to be happy. I’m happy when others are happy, and I understand how much of an impact an individual’s career can have on their happiness. I’m obsessed with finding out why people are unhappy, and often make it my mission to work out what makes them happy! I want FX to be a place of education, growth, and passion, but most importantly, happiness.

 

About the speaker

Matt started FX Digital as a website development company from his home in 2011, with his business partner Tom. 

As the business steadily grew, the easy option would have been to stick with what they knew – web design and build. 

However, this would not have been true to Matt’s personal philosophy, which was – and continues to be – a steadfast belief that investment in new technology is crucial; not only for his own business but for society as a whole.

Matt has pioneered voice technology and innovative OTT TV solutions in the UK digital scene. His achievements with FX Digital demonstrate both entrepreneurial spirit and drive for change and advancement in the emerging tech space.

 

Liked this article? Why not read our latest magazine issue?

How to build an economy of opportunities


Economy of opportunities is all about how can you bring your insights, talents and experience together in order to solve an issue. Whether that be a industry issue, client issue or internal issue.

Flavilla was joined by James Herbert, Founding Partner of The Panoply, to discuss “How to build an economy of opportunities and create your tech ecosystem”.

Briefly, tell us how your journey took where you are right now

My journey started in the same way that many older entrepreneurs start. I’m not even sure that I am that entrepreneurial. I certainly wasn’t selling food in the playground from age 8 like so many entrepreneurs say they did. Working in an industry – Government – whose use of technology, data and suppliers frustrated and saddened me so much, I wanted to do something about it. I believed that I could bring about more change from the outside than as an employee. It was this need to try and fix an important thing rather than some burning desire to create a business or some fancy exit plan that first pushed me into it.

 

What has been your biggest lesson learnt from working at The Panoply?

Having sold the business to a listed PLC, I have been on a huge learning curve about listing and what being a public company really means. It does have some challenges but on balance I think I have learnt about the wisdom of the markets. Often, in the short term, the pressure of the markets can feel a bit short term or too intense. But actually, on reflection it leads to you growing up quickly as a business. It forces you to focus and really think about your decisions and investments. I don’t regret doing it and I suspect I will always be a much stronger business person for the experience. economy of opportunities

 

Tell me about Panoply’s customer acquisition systems? And at which stage of a company’s lifecycle should they approach you?

We support clients in their digital transformation efforts, primarily through building products and services on the cloud and through automation. As a company, we are building up our marketing and content presence. But at this stage, most of our work comes via words of mouth, relationships and government frameworks. Panoply is very good at making sure certain types of organisations always need the thing that we are expert in. Our clients are generally medium to large institutions such as public, private and non profit. They tend to need our help with their digital, technology and data goals.

 

What do you wish more people knew when it comes to creating a tech ecosystem?

I wish people knew more about the detail of creating double sided platforms rather than just the headlines. What it takes to build such platforms. How do you get supply and demand to interact over the platform? Are you capable of owning such a platform? Do you have the right conditions in place to be successful? What talent do you need to maintain the platform and the business model etc. In terms of our business model, in a way, we are an eco system of experts in some aspect of modern technology rather than the tech ecosystem. I’ll let you know more about that in a few years when I know more myself. 🙂

 

Thinking about your legacy, how do you want to be remembered?

As someone who was generous in spirit to the people in my life and who was authentic about what I believe to be important in (business) life. As I mentioned in the interview with Flavilla, I would love to bring my knowledge of Government, tech and data to help in the fight against the hideous problem of Lyme Disease, particularly in children. But that might have to be my longer term project. economy of opportunities

 

About the speaker

Prior to his entrepreneurial career James Herbert was a Civil Servant and Local Government Officer. During that time he co-designed, delivered and led some of the most significant technology and data led transformation programs of the last two decades. 

At the Cabinet Office he worked on the original Government Cloud team as co-author of the G-Cloud Framework and Cloud First Strategy. This work has become the default standard for digital government across the world. In Local Government, as a CIO, he pioneered the adoption of cloud technology, agile methods and open data standards. He was also a member of the team that designed and delivered the world’s first Low Code Council.

Since 2015 James has founded 4 successful technology businesses delivering services across Cloud, software engineering and latterly automation. His current businesses, Not binary and Human+ were acquired by The Panoply Group in 2018 and listed on the London Stock Exchange.

James has personally advised and mentored a variety of organisations on their technology and data strategies including Haymarket Media, Salesforce, CP Plus, Cancer Research UK and Ofcom.

In his spare time, James is responsible for business development and fundraising for Lyme Disease UK.

 

Like this article? Why not read more in our latest magazine issue?

 

How to grow your tech company from zero to 100,000


Are you looking to grow your tech company from zero to 100,000? Well our podcast guest, Ivan Izikowitz, can tell you how to achieve this in just 12 months! 

Listen to his podcast to find out how, and read this article to learn more about his journey.

 

Briefly, tell us how your journey took where you are right now

As a technologist I have always been obsessed by the potential of technology to enhance our lives. Another obsession of mine is the constant drive to create solutions, teams and products. All of which have common attributes in that they require a vision and the ability to solve problems. Building a high-functioning team, for example, is like a dynamic puzzle. The profile of the next person you recruit is refined (and sometimes redefined) by the previous one. It’s a similar situation with solutions. Everything we learn during the creation of a component has the potential to inform what happens next. In summary, my career can probably be categorised as a creative engineer.

 

What was your aha moment which led you to create Double Eye?

I wish I could say that Double Eye was the result of a grand vision but, as with a number of my startups, it was more opportunistic and circumstantial. I had just come to the end of a 6 year stint of creating two start-ups (Virgin Net and Citria). Invigorated and tired and with two young children, I was at a point of re-evaluating my priorities in life. I decided to take some time out and spend time with my children. However, I was receiving calls from VCs to do some venture consulting and due diligence. The genesis of Double Eye was merely my vehicle with which to do consulting.

By the way, the name Double Eye came from Cat, my assistant at Citria, who used to call me that. Before too long I was getting calls to do digital transformation projects. The first being the London Tourist Board re-inventing itself as Visit London. It was then I started to build a team and a real business. Fast forward 15 years and Double Eye has delivered projects for some amazing clients including The O2, RSC and New York City and has a development team in Cape Town. 

 

What has been your biggest lesson learnt from growing Double Eye?

A lesson from earlier in my career than Double Eye – people! Find and work with the best, brightest and people who fit into the team. When you have the level of mutual trust in the team, capable people and everyone pulling together the same direction, you have the constant feeling that anything is possible. 

 

Tell me about your customer acquisition systems?

Not really applicable because Double Eye is B2B. Most of our customer acquisition is word of mouth or referrals. However, in Cape Town we have recently brought in a local media personality who has an amazing local network and will expand our reach. 

 

What do you wish more people knew about growing their tech company?

If you want to grow your tech company from zero to 100,000, you should always focus on the value proposition. If you are delivering genuine value and/or utility to your customers you are already halfway there. Technology is just the tool. Resist the urge to over-engineer, it just has to be good enough!

 

Thinking about your legacy, how do you want to be remembered?

A resilient problem solver who loves working with people more than technology 😉

 

About the speaker

Ivan Izikowitz is the founder of Double Eye. They are a company that develops strategic technology plans to address business challenges and then implements them.

With a degree in Electrical Engineering and a Masters in Distributed Computer Control systems, Ivan has had a varied career spanning hardware and software development, telecoms, and has spent the last 25 years working on Internet-based businesses and solutions. 

Ivan’s entrepreneurial adventures started in 1995 with the founding of Virgin Net, the first consumer ISP in the UK and now part of Virgin Media. Since then, as well as creating a number of other companies, he has worked as Business & Technical Leader and Advisor across a range of sectors – from early stage to established businesses

Ivan has also developed a reputation as a “technology firefighter” and is often called upon when technology projects and/or organisations go wrong.

In the last couple of years he has started to focus on investing his energy in the green economy and activities which help tackle the climate crisis.

 

Like this article? Why not read more in our December magazine issue

New Thinker VS Risk Adverse

In our episode with Dr. Robert M. Learneywe discussed New thinker vs risk adverse – How can they work together to develop great technology”. In this article you will find out a little more about Robert and his journey. He will also tell us his biggest lessons learnt and what he wishes more people knew. 

Briefly, tell us how your journey took where you are right now

I began my career in 2003 as a medical doctor working in the NHS. I really enjoyed learning everything at University and thoroughly committed to my first few years. But I soon realised that it wasn’t for me. However, it took me many years to make the decision to leave and forge my own path. I always wanted to ‘invent things’ and make a difference on a larger scale. So in late 2009 I returned to university to study a MSc in Biomedical Engineering. This was followed by some time trying to start my own business, and learning a lot along the way. I was fortunate enough to then win funding from the Dyson Foundation to undertake a PhD. It was during this time that Bitcoin was first emerging onto the world stage.

I started reading about this invention and everything I could learn about it, and the whole field just made complete sense to me. But here I felt I could actually try to make a difference. As a result, I co-founded a research centre at Imperial College with a Professor in Computing and a colleague from the Business school. After a couple of years of monitoring emerging projects in this space, I made the move to Digital Catapult where I could try to have a more widespread impact on the adoption of these technologies in the UK.

Why is your business relevant to the issues within the technologies sector?

Digital Catapult is a truly great place to be working on these types of cutting edge digital technologies. We have the opportunity to neutrally observe and try to gently guide where industry should be heading through deep exploration and experimentation. We currently have a broad range of projects underway in DLT. This ranges from exploring the circular economy, nuclear waste management, airspace routing, to improving the trust in your sandwich. All of these are consortium efforts. They are fundamental for anything involving distributed systems or DLT.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from working at Digital Catapult?

The world needs bridge builders. These are people who can understand the gaps between different specialisms. As well as this, they can bring parties together to build a better shared future. Working at Digital Catapult allows us to connect with academia, traditional industry, exciting and risky start-ups, government and investors. All of these contribute to the success or failure of advanced digital technologies and innovations. Our neutral position allows us to help them discover and work side-by-side.

What do you wish more people knew?

In general, I wish more people knew how money works, and how the economy works. Furthermore, I wish people know how it’s mostly all stuff that humans invented rather than deep unchanging universal truths. We made the rules and we can change them.

Thinking about your legacy, how do you want to be remembered?

As someone who helped out.

About the speaker

Dr. Robert M. Learney is a technology enthusiast and qualified doctor who studied medicine at Oxford University and Imperial College. He later left the NHS to return to research and completed a PhD in Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College, funded by the James Dyson Fellowship.

In 2014, Robert co-founded the Imperial College Centre for Cryptocurrency Research and Engineering, to create a cross-disciplinary academic focal point for blockchain research in London. He has worked in this sector ever since.

As the Lead Technologist in Blockchain & DLT at Digital Catapult, he manages a team engaged in multiple collaborative projects aiming to improve the UK’s economic position through the appropriate use of this technology. These span aerospace, FMCG, food & drink, oil & gas, the nuclear industry, and construction.

 He is also a recognised international speaker on the transformative potential and uptake of blockchain technology.

 

 

Liked this article “New thinker vs Risk Adverse“? Why not read “The scaling power of a Tech Collective”?

The scaling power of entering a Tech Collective


Flavilla spoke to Kate Patton, Entrepreneurial Engagement Manager position at Tech Nation, about the scaling power of entering a Tech Collective. Here is a little bit more about Kate.

 

Briefly, tell us how your journey took where you are right now

My journey to where I am now is not a linear one. I have lived on 3 continents and held a variety of positions. These include marketing, key account management, International Business Development, and Sole trader. However, the one consistency is that all of these interactions included technology. The sectors varied, but what has held the same is the ability to be creative, resilient, and to hold onto the belief that disruptive tech is the way forward for all of us. For us to build a better future.

 

What was your aha moment which led you to create your business?

When I was a business owner, it was because I had the desire to push myself out into unknown territory. I had to learn the hard lessons in success but also in failure. Being an entrepreneur is the quickest way to know your own strength. It also lets you know how to survive despite the lack of a guarantee.

 

What has been your biggest lesson learnt from growing your business?

I always knew that customer service was at the heart of my businesses. But it taught me more than ever before that one of my greatest skills is brokering lasting relationships, listening and not just doing what I thought was best, but more what is best for my customer and myself. Finding that balance was essential.

 

What do you wish more people knew? 

I wish people knew how to say no more in their businesses as part of that listening skill. Because you need to know what isn’t best for yourself, your capacity to deliver. Additionally, that money is not the only end goal.

 

Thinking about your legacy, how do you want to be remembered? 

That I lived a life filled with passion, purpose, and never lost the ability to be kind.

 

About the speaker

Kate is a native Texan who has made the UK her home. She has over a decade of experience in the dynamic Scottish tech scene. Now, she utilises her varied and substantial 20-year experience in her Entrepreneurial Engagement Manager position at Tech Nation. Kate strives to identify tech business founders in Northeast England and to support their ambitious growth plans to rapidly scale their businesses.

 

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Like this article? Why not read “How to develop multiple streams of income”

How to develop multiple streams of income


Andy Ayim is the creator of The Angel Investing School, which trains professionals from all backgrounds on how to get started with investing in startups.  In this article, you will find out How to develop multiple streams of income as well as how to build your investment portfolio.

The first cohort was in April 2020 in London, with at least 70% of the cohort from diverse backgrounds. This community serves as part of the first money to support founders when raising their first round of funding.

What decision would have changed his life?

In 2015, Andy was working in San Francisco. He was connecting the VC stock portfolio to clients in Africa and in the UK. Andy had the opportunity to build his life out in San Francisco. However, he decided to sacrifice that opportunity to come back to London and start a family. Safe to say his life would have looked very different if he had stayed!

 

Why did Andy start the angel investing school?

Andy was always fascinated by technology when he was growing up. He grew up in an environment which made him appreciate culture, and think about the intersection of technology and culture. Over the years, he developed great interest in investing across asset classes as well. Andy was always thinking about how he can operate at this intersection between investing in business and our culture.

 

Tell us more about The Angel Investing School.

It was originally designed to democratize access to education so that people can learn how to invest disregarding their background.

There were two big problems.

  1. People didn’t know what angel investing was or how to get started
  2. People are not making educated investment decisions, and therefore they are  taking risks that they don’t understand. So this is why he wanted to create a way to teach people on how to make better investment decisions.

 

What opportunities people are missing out on?

People are confusing the term being rich with the term being wealthy. Being rich is when you earn a good amount of money through a job or something that requires your time. Whereas being wealthy means that you use wealth to create wealth.

For example, imagine you were to create an eBook and sell it for £11.99 online. It may take time to create that eBook originally, but now free promotion and word of mouth is selling itself. You no longer need to exchange time for that value. 

People are missing out on this opportunity. They can invest in education on how to make smart decisions, rather than taking unnecessary risks.

 

Where can someone start?

The first place to start is always around self-awareness, being introspective and learning. A great way to do that is to ask questions to your friends, family, colleagues, and other people you know. This is because once you have that self-awareness, then that gives you an indication of what you should do. Step one is really about self-awareness. Step two is about thinking about long term goals.

 

What British people can learn from American mindsets?

Americans have a philosophy that has been designed around the American dream. The American Dream says that anyone, regardless of their circumstance, can become something. A lot of people genuinely believe that over there. 

For example, Donald Trump has been bankrupt a number of times. However, he was then an entertainer, he had his TV shows, and he became the president of the United States.

When you set a vision down, it’s important for you to:

  1. Firmly believe that you can undoubtedly do it.
  2. Surround yourself that will support you throughout your journey.

 

What are Andy’s different streams of income?

Andy has published eBooks that are free online, but he has also published eBooks that are paid. Another stream of income that he has is that he gets paid to speak at events. Previously, Andy has been paid to blog. He has published over 200 blogs over the last five years. 

Moreover, he has been getting paid ad revenue on YouTube based on subscriber and view count based on the content that he is putting out to the world.

Three days a week, Andy runs his productized consulting service. This is where he goes into large corporations in highly regulated industries, such as FinTech or Life Sciences and healthcare. He then creates manuals on how to do Product Management at work. 

Additionally, he runs The Angel Investing School that charges £495, plus taxes, for up to 30 people. He does a six week pop-up school, which is live online training by experienced angel investors, operators and founders. Currently, he is considering doing in-house training for corporates, as well around angel investing. Moreover, Andy has started getting small payments to collaborate with brands on Instagram.

He has long term value investments such as a few one or two stocks and shares. However he is not a big believer in investing in stocks and shares because of the concentrated risk. But despite this, he also has investments in index trackers, and some investments in mutual funds. 

Finally, actually, Andy has earned equity from working for companies.

 

How has the Angel investing academy impacted it’s students?

The students were asked for the most beneficial thing they got from the course. Their answer was that the academy gave them a window to be part of the financial systems that’s previously been dark for them. The knowledge, as well as the network, is what enables them to have the confidence and the knowledge. This then allows them to know the practical steps to take when getting started with investing. There was one person that actually said that this is “definitely not another online course for investing”. In fact, they weren’t aware they could get this kind of good quality knowledge in such a short timeframe.

 

How to find the right balance between investing in the community and making the right investment.

  1. The first value that Andy shares is that Angel investments should not be the first investment you make. The first investment you make should be in yourself, learning and education
  2. The second value is playing the long game and embracing the downside. You need to set up your mindset for that discipline to play the long game.
  3.  The third is really to take your time, be patient and do your due diligence.
  4. The fourth value is about getting all the information regarding taxes and tax relief. In the UK, you can get something called SDI. These are tax reliefs that give you up to 50%, with 30% back on the investments that you’re making into start-ups.
  5. The fifth thing is that when you invest in a business and are founding a team, you become an extension of their team. So you should nurture a long term relationship.
  6. The last one is really investing in things that you understand. If you don’t understand it, either you learn it or you stay away from it. 

 

Thinking about legacy, how does Andy want to be remembered?

Andy has democratized access to opportunities, networks and capital that exist in this world of tech and tech enabled companies. He wants to be remembered as someone who is passionate about helping people. Especially those who grew up working class like himself, and are really interested in investing in themselves and going on this journey to create prosperity and create wealth. There are a lot of people that can relate to that. So he wants to be a relative motor that people can look up to.

 

About the speaker

Andy Ayim is the creator of The Angel Investing School. They train professionals from all backgrounds on how to get started with investing in startups. He also runs a Productized Consultancy that creates Product Playbooks for large corporations in highly regulated industries.  He enables them to set up new product teams to work with agility, and create products that customers love. 

 

 

Like this article, why not read “How to become a lucky tech millionaire”?

How to not fail your digital product launch

Knowing how to make your app stand out from others, and how to get users addicted to it can be difficult. When launching your digital product, this is what needs to be taken into consideration in order for it to be successful. Flavilla spoke to Kyle Whittington, founder of the design and development agency, Bad Dinosaur. They discussed the points to consider in order to not fail your digital product launch. 

 

Kyle’s Journey

Kyle is a software developer by trade, and it is also what he studied at university. In his younger years, he was always selling something related to tech.  At school he sold CD’s to his classmates because he was one of the only ones who had a CD burner. From here he started to make custom built PC’s, which went on to be his first company.

After he had finished his degree, Kyle was able to get involved with some of the animation studios in South Africa where they were using a technology called ‘render farms’  to do all the 3D animations. He was involved in the set up and maintenance work for these render farm’s, in a handful of studios. This was the basis for his second company called ‘HOWTOfarm’. From here, he went on and got a development job. At this stage he was keen on starting his own company again. 

When visiting Edinburgh on a work Visa, he fell in love with the city. He was only supposed to stay in Edinburgh for a year, however, he is still there today. Whilst located here, he tried to build a company called ‘Tutlings’. This was a product aimed to help students at school find a private tutor. This platform gained good growth and Kyle wanted to work full time on this company. However, there was not enough money coming from it so he decided to start contracting his services, and thus came about Bad Dinosaur.

 

Biggest mistake people make when creating a digital product.

The first thing that everyone seems to do is get ahead of themselves. They are always thinking about what they will do when it reaches a million users, and so on. But at the start of a product’s lifecycle, these are not the questions you should be asking. It is not worth getting caught up in this as it can put a huge strain on the development process. You need to have the basics and foundations first, and then build upon this.

Over complicating the initial version of a product is also a common issue. At Bad Dinosaur, they are all about Minimum viable products. This is the idea of distilling the product down to the core problem that is trying to be solved. When people start adding all the bells and whistles on top of their core product, they spend a lot more. However, they don’t know if these extra bits are needed until they put it into the hands of the users. “What is the problem you are trying to solve?” is the question Bad Dinosaur asks at the start of client meetings. This immediately enables them to lay out the options available in order to solve their problem. This saves them adding lots of unnecessary features and wasting money.

 

What makes a digital product  really addictive?

If you are offering an app that is solving a problem that users really find value in, then those users are more likely to put up with any initial problems within the app. If users really want that app to do something for them, they will put up with it. These users can also give the early feedback in order to find out what changes need to be made.

Brands are always finding ways to make the user open the application after the first use. Whether it is push notifications to communicate with the user, or an assistant at the initial use of the app. But again, it is important not to focus on this at the early stages. Remember, if you are solving a problem, users will come back to it.

 

What else do we need to know in order to not fail a digital product launch?

One big piece of advice to remember is not to feel embarrassed if it does not look perfect. Do not try and follow in the footsteps of the companies that seem to have had the perfect journey. Yes, they have been lucky in terms of achieving this. But companies such as Apple have had plenty of perfectionist leaders in order to do so. However, there have been many thousands of companies that have tried to replicate this and have failed.

Bad Dinosaur really try to get founders to be ok with having something that isn’t perfect in the initial launch. It is a journey. If you try to achieve that perfect app right off the bat, a lot of money will be lost. Many struggle with this idea and worry about users dismissing their product and them losing months worth of work. However, they need to remember that if this app is targeting a problem. It will be used regardless of the minor issues which can be fixed later on. Don’t compare yourself to the big ‘unicorns’.

Some people also get caught up in tech details such as the platform you are building on etc. Again, in the early stage of building your product you do not really have to worry about that. Once you get traction and there is an appetite for what you are creating, you will most likely  have to build several versions anyway.

 

Don’t forget about the importance of marketing

Marketing is also important in terms of not failing a launch. Many people just assume that once it has been released onto the app store then that’s it, it sells itself. But when was the last time you sat and scrolled through your app store looking for something to download? That rarely happens, and so advertising your app within the market is so important in order to gain traction. On the initial version you release, start immediately promoting it.

This leads on to another important point. There isn’t really such a thing as a ‘launch’ date for an app. On day one it is usually quite slow. You may only get a few users that have come through adverts from other apps, or your marketing campaign. Launches realistically happen over a few months or years because of the new versions you are constantly releasing.

 

Some successful businesses built by Kyle and his team

Some of the more recent businesses they have been working with are small-medium enterprises. There have been big changes during the pandemic in terms of purchasing patterns and in the demand from the market.

One of the more recent digital product’s they have been working on launching is around enabling distance purchasing of drinks and food inside bars and restaurants. This has now become a lot more of a requirement due to Covid, rather than just a luxury. This app should get a lot of traction due to this recent need. 

A few years ago, some applications Bad Dinosaur had launched for small businesses completely changed the way those businesses worked. They did so by turning manual processes into fully automated ones. 

 

At which point of your journey should you reach out to Bad Dinosaur?

Even if you already have your digital product, it is not too late to reach out. Kyle and his team help people at all parts of a product’s journey. For entrepreneurs who have just thought of an idea in the shower, as it were, Bad Dinosaur have a link on their website in which you can look for types of funding avenues you can go down. Alternatively, you can call or message them to start a conversation. 

They also have clients who have had an idea formed for around 6 months and have already looked into funding. Some even have an investor who is willing to go in on it with them. The other client they get is founders who have fallen out with developers, or there is something that has not been done right. Kyle and his team look at the existing software and see if there is anything they can build on.

 

What should people know when reaching out to Bad Dinosaur? 

One of the biggest assumptions clients make is that it costs a lot to build initial versions of their products. Maybe around 15 years ago when coding needed to be created from scratch it might have cost more. But nowadays, a lot of existing frameworks are readily available to us. Therefore, many first prototypes can be within the range of a few thousand pounds rather than a few hundred-thousand pounds. 

Some founders will approach Bad Dinosaur asking for development in a certain framework. However, it only really matters what software will get your product out the fastest. Whatever makes it cheaper in terms of skills and releasing onto the market, that is what you should use. This is because you can then change this once it has an audience. 

 

About the speaker

Kyle Whittington is the founder and Managing Director of Bad Dinosaur. Kyle is an expert at understanding how to deliver lean products that can be tested in the market. He has over a decade of experience in starting businesses and building tech products. Kyle has gained knowledge and expertise from over 50 early stage product journeys since he started Bad Dinosaur in 2013.

 

Get in touch via their website or email at hello@baddinosaur.co.uk

 

 

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