Category: Tech Brains Talk Podcast

The power of choosing your dream clients

 

Flavilla is joined by Riaz Kanani in this episode. They discuss the power of choosing your dream clients for your business.

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

When I look back, my journey began thanks to my parents’ interest in business. That along with my perhaps unhealthy love of computing meant I was lucky enough to be online as the Internet launched in the UK!

Without realising it, I cofounded a marketing consulting business. Furthermore, I even dipped my toes into building a radio station before cofounding an audio and video tech startup as broadband Internet was taking off. That was the start of a ride that ended up exiting to Silverpop, which I helped grow to become one of the leading marketing automation companies globally (before it exited to IBM).

I joked after leaving that I would not setup another company and would focus my efforts. Mostly away from marketing tech but I started my next startup just 4 years later (oops!) and setup Radiate B2B 2 years after that.

 

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

To come back to B2B Marketing and create another startup having said I wouldn’t meant it needed to be something that really excited me. I believed the way we do B2B Marketing today will radically change and in turn spur completely new innovation was that big aha moment that drove me to return.

Thankfully 4 years later that is proving to be true with the growth of Account Based Marketing.

This didn’t happen in a silo though. We talked to marketers and buyers about their experiences and some things really stood out:

  • Acquisition costs had risen dramatically
  • The never-ending investment in content was resulting in increasing noise in the market and a flood of low quality and generic me too content.
  • For the buyer, who was increasingly digitally savvy, they were starting to focus their early research on publishers, analysts and other third parties delaying converting on vendor websites. There was also an increasing requirement for brand recognition than previously.

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

It was clear we needed to deliver higher quality messaging and stand out from the crowd. We knew that the amount of data available to marketers was mostly going unused but with it we could deliver a better experience for buyers.

We started with the hard thing first – how to pro-actively reach the right people inside companies before they know about you and do it in a way that you could customise the message right down to each company.

That allowed you to take insight you knew about each company and use it to deliver a better experience but also for the vendor increase both awareness and identify which companies were active in the market today. The weird thing about advertising is that you don’t consciously see it till it is useful to you.  That alone allowed you to get in front of prospects earlier than anyone else and give a strong first impression.

Having done that, it was relatively simple to predict buying behaviour based on companies browsing your website before they convert and across the internet to help sales teams know who to speak to and what they should talk about with that particular prospect.

Altogether this creates an approach that builds awareness and gives sales teams the tools to have better quality conversations with buyers at the right time.

 

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

Always be listening. Always be learning. There is always more to do than the time available. So one of my biggest learning is understanding when to say no. But the world continuously changes, the market changes and the people inside it change. What was a no yesterday might be a yes tomorrow. So you end up always needing to be listening and learning.

 

Tell me about your customer acquisition systems?

Today almost all our customer acquisition is through word of mouth and partnerships. Eventhough perhaps unsurprisingly we also use our own technology to build awareness and work out who we should be speaking to next!

Perhaps surprisingly we don’t just focus on an account based marketing approach. It is obviously a major part of our acquisition approach and certainly frames how we message and communicate. However, we have always been strong believers in broader brand building alongside the operational side of marketing. We therefore create thought leadership content. Such that asks questions and deliver value allowing us to raise the overall performance of our ABM efforts.

 

What do you wish more people knew?

The value of brand. In the past decade, branding in B2B marketing has been sidelined by the ever increasing focus on short term performance and yet brand raises the performance across all channels. As they say.. “A rising tide lifts all boats” – and brand does that to all channels.

 

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

Quite simply.. as someone who helped.

 

 

Liked this article? Why not read “HOW TO DO REMOTE WORK EFFECTIVELY”

How to compete with tech company giants

Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon are company giants. They are so prestigious and have a revenue of many billion dollars. Many startups ask themselves the question of how to compete with tech company giants over and over again.

In this episode, Flavilla is joined by Zandra Moore. Zandra is the co-founder and CEO of Panintelligence. They discuss how to compete with tech company giants.

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

My journey began because of my mother. She found a tech career late in her life and has always been my role model. We were always the people that had new computers in our home before anybody had computers, and the internet before anyone had the internet. So, I was surrounded by tech! I went to business school, completed my degree in 1999, and have spent my whole career working in predominantly software technology sales.

I rose to be a Sales Director, and then found myself with two young children and not wanting to do the same amount of travel. So that I could do the nursery drop off and pickups and take my fair share of childcare responsibility, I decided to set up a Sales Consultancy business helping other smaller software businesses get their sales operations and sales processes off the ground, which I did for five years. Panintelligence became a client. It was a product inside a company called Pancredit – it wasn’t its own business at the time. It was Ken Miller, my co-founder, that was building that product in that company! We had the opportunity, having consulted with the business for several years to buy the IP and spin it out as a separate company. So I went from advising consulting this product inside another business to becoming a shareholder and owner of the business in 2014.

 

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

It wasn’t my aha moment at all. Ken Miller our CTO; it’s his baby! He’s the guy that saw an opportunity to build something that wasn’t available to him in the market. So out of frustration really, he decided to start building a different product, which meant that he could solve some of the problems for himself that he was dealing with at the time. Ken has built an intelligence out of a need for there to be a different tool to serve some of the challenges he was facing inside Pancredit. So not mine!

 

Tell me about your customer acquisition systems

We have inbound and outreach, and it’s mainly account-based marketing and outreach using a Sales Development Relationship (SDR) team. We make sure that our target audiences are very specific to our customer profiles and tailor our messaging, and follow up accordingly. The way we give our  SDR team some engagement to follow up on is that we have a number of different channels that we surface a variety of content; based on our use of compelling reasons to buy our “crown jewels” – our value proposition. Segmented by sector, by pain points, or by problem, we use activities such as email marketing, paid social and PR with content featuring in podcasts, or presenting pieces of PR in specific media. So, I would say it’s quite a standard approach, but I  very targeted.

 

What has been your biggest learnings in business?

I think I learn every single day. I think lifelong learning is critical to being effective. Technology moves so fast. If you’re not trying to keep pace with the change in that market you’ll soon fall behind. You have got to be really curious, inquisitive, interested. You’ve got to want to constantly challenge your own ideas, thinking and approaches.

At the end of the day,t’s all about people. People build a product, people sell a product, people support the product and people ensure that customers are happy. By making sure that your people are playing to their strengths and working in roles that really bring them joy, as well as delivering for the business, is the way to get the best out of people.

 

What do you wish more people knew?

Something I wish people knew is that it’s okay to fail! We fail to innovate in companies and cultures, and we fail to get the best of ourselves and the best of others without celebrating the effort of trying, as opposed to people feeling like a failure is a risk. I believe that repeatedly failing is better than repeatedly not trying.

 

How do you want people to remember you?

I would like to be remembered for raising the bar on diversity in tech and enabling a pipeline of female leaders and women into technology roles in the tech industry. If I can influence that, as my mum did for me, in any way, shape, or form, I’d be really proud of that.

 

Liked this article? Why not read “HOW TO DO REMOTE WORK EFFECTIVELY”

How to do remote work effectively

Remote work has gained an increasing amount of attention during the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot of businesses were forced to allow employees to work remotely. The question is how can remote work be done without losing company culture.

In this episode, Flavilla is joined by Ozzi Jarvinen. Ozzi is the founder and CEO of Iglu. They discuss how to do remote work effectively and grow without losing company culture.

 

How did Ozzi end up in Thailand?

He came to Thailand to study at Bangkok University. At that time he was studying International Business and realised that South East Asia was where he wanted to live. He was going back and forth between Thailand and Finland for a couple of years and in 2006 he flipped a coin to decide whether he should go to Thailand or go to Abu Dhabi and it was a coin that decided to stay in Bangkok.

 

How did Ozzi manage to grow a big company with remote work?

Iglu has been working remotely from day one, so working remotely is nothing new to Iglu. They also have physical offices in several places. These offices work as community centres for them. These centers or offices are utilised to organise offline events and build personal relationships. The company also organises online events as not everyone can make it to the office. Then, at least once a year the company does a company escape where they book a resort, get together and see what everyone has been up to in an informal way rather than being in a room and using PowerPoint slides.

For example, Recently the company did something called “Thought Exchange” where they gather all the comments from all employees, and they can see what they like and what can be improved. It’s quite surprising that even though all employees work remotely, the ideas of most employees are similar.

 

Does hiring remotely affect the company’s culture?

A company shouldn’t focus solely on the technical part when you are interviewing someone, rather a company should also take into consideration the culture. It will take some time, but if the company’s culture is strong, then people will adopt it quickly.

 

What was the gap in the market that Ozzi saw when he started?

He was working as a freelancer in Thailand and it was very complicated. So, he started to think that there should be a way to combine the good things about being employed in a company and having the freedom of freelancing. He didn’t want to be in charge of invoicing, payment collections, payroll, etc. So, he thought of making a group of freelancers and another group that does all the bureaucratic work so that the freelancers can concentrate on the actual work. Ozzi also thinks that he was at the right time at the right place as there were not many companies doing that at that time.

 

When companies reach Iglu for their services?

Companies usually come with the problem that they are not able to recruit the talent they need, disregarding their geographical location. Then, they come to Iglu and due to our geographical location, we get the type of talent that is not around those companies. That’s Iglu’s secret sauce and the way they operate.

 

What is Ozzi’s opinion on working remotely?

I think that people work efficiently at different times of the day as well as in different locations. I’m not a huge fan of working from home, rather I’m more into work anywhere where you feel that you can get the work done. You cannot force someone to be in an office from 9 to 5, otherwise, you might be missing out on the talent that the employee is not giving because of being in one location.

 

What were Ozzi’s journey milestones?

He started Iglu 2 months after his wife passed away in 2010. It was a hard situation, but it was diverting his mind and concentration into something else to escape from the situation.

In the first 2 years, it was a lot of trial and error, trying to find the right model. In 2012 they had around 5-6 people. His girlfriend played a big role since she helped me get all the licenses that he needed, paperwork, etc. They started growing in 2013 and every year used to be 100% to 200% on ROI. There was a coincidence that helped them grow, one journalist from a financial newspaper published an article about the company and what we do, that article gave us exposure and gave a boost to the company.

 

How does Iglu acquire customers?

Most of Iglu’s clients come from word of mouth based on previous clients. The big part also comes from new employees that move in, because a lot of them might have been working as Freelancers and they have their own contact network. But the company is now in a position where we need to start using a systematic approach to acquire a client. We recently found a software called “sinode” which is a resource management software that allows Iglu to monitor everyone’s tasks and give them projects based on their skills and interests. Currently, the enterprise has a big talent pool that is enabling a way to share knowledge among the employees.

This software is almost becoming an ERP for them.

 

How has Ozzi implemented automation to grow Iglu?

The first thing he automated was a payroll tool. Since the taxes change quite often with very short notice in Thailand, he didn’t want employees to think a lot about how much they were going to get paid, rather this automation does it for them straight away.

 

How has Ozzi’s journey evolved from delivering the work to become the CEO?

It has changed, from 2010 to 2012 they had an external accountant who used to do all the paperwork. From 2012 onwards his girlfriend took care of that so he didn’t have to worry about it, and he could focus more on marketing. But, the most important thing for him and Iglu is trying to keep employees happy.

 

What’s the future for Ozzi and Iglu?

They finished a thought exchange program where the employees suggested the following:

  1. International expansion: more locations to work which gives them more flexibility.
  2. Knowledge sharing: Iglu started Iglu Academy to train developers and get new members into the company. We have people with more than 20 years’ experience that want to share their knowledge.

 

Liked this article about remote work? Why not read “HOW CAN TECHNOLOGY SAVE THE EVENT INDUSTRY”

How can technology save the event industry

The event industry is changing. The global pandemic is one of the transformers. How can technology save the event industry?

Flavilla is joined by Jodok Betschart, CEO & Co-Founder of Evenito.

 

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

Events always excited me. The possibility to meet new people who can inspire you, that bring you on new ideas and that you can create synergies with, is one of the most valuable forms of interaction.

I started organizing events during my studies and even thought about starting my own event agency at one point. Nevertheless, my partner Nico and I always continued looking for a more scalable solution within the event industry. And this is when we founded evenito, a scalable all-in-one event management software for virtual and hybrid corporate events.

Now 4 years later we have more than 200 corporate clients all over Europe which have organized thousands of events around the globe. We count clients from all different industries and support companies such as Disney, Oracle, Breitling, Swiss Life, DZ Bank, WWF and more.

In our evenito family, we currently have 35 people mainly based in London, Hamburg and Zürich.

We are raising our series A round to double our team this year. In addition to that, we continue to strengthen our position in Europe.

 

What was your “aha” moment which led you to create Evenito?

After creating a basic process to automate guest management for some specific events, we started to realize that many corporates from completely different industries have the exact same challenges and requirements. Our clients range from industries such as automotive, insurance, finance, luxury brands and others. However, their main challenges in guest management are mostly the same. This is when we started to understand and further explore the scalability of our solution and fully focused on creating an all-in-one tool that can be used by the client independently.

 

Why is your business relevant to the issues you have identified? How can technology save the event industry?

Hybrid event formats are the future. This is the feedback from thousands of users who are organizing events with our tool. The corporate clients we support, organize an average of between 50-300 events per year each, while these events have a wide range of different formats, event process complexity and requirements in design. Nevertheless, the event organizer wants one tool that covers it all. Therefore we built a scalable standard software that covers most of their requirements before, during and after the event for virtual, hybrid and physical event formats. While players such as hopin or zoom are covering the long tail market very well with their one template approach, we fully focus on the corporate clients with higher demands in flexibility and customization.

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

Starting as a two-man show, bootstrapping the business and growing organically means you need to find people around you, who you trust, like and that you can convince of your vision. Your team should become your family, as you spend most of your time together. Building a team with people who share the same values, are keen to become the best in what they do and believe in the same vision, is in my opinion the most important task of an entrepreneur.

Believing together in something bigger is key to a sustainable high-performance culture. And a high-performance culture is key to become the best in what you do. In order to reach that, it is essential to have a clear vision and mission and most importantly communicate it very well and often with the whole team. Communication of your vision is essential to give purpose to everyone’s hard work and feeling of accomplishment.

So our biggest lessons learnt are to invest in the right people, communicate your vision as much as you can and build a performance culture to become the best together.

 

Tell me about your customer acquisition systems?

We have a good balance of inbound and outbound driven sales. Around 50% of the leads come through outbound channels and 50% via inbound marketing.

In outbound we focus on B2B sales, picking up the phone and speaking to all the potentials out there which can benefit from our solution. Especially now post COVID with hybrid event formats, many potential customers need support and consulting in how they can cover their new event formats in an optimal way. Therefore a conversation with these high potential customers, which organized more than 50 Events per year is crucial. We further do LinkedIn and Email campaigns and experience very good conversion rates.

On the other hand, inbound marketing focuses on google ads and relevant website content. We try to automate most of the process and focus a lot on lead qualification. Spending your time on clients with high potential and automating the smaller ones is crucial.

For us, it is key to have a good balance of both, inbound and outbound as each channel helps you reach different types of customers.

 

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

Business is all about human connections. Our vision is to bring people together who create great things together. From a user/guest but also a team perspective. Connecting people who have similar interests, complementary skill sets and network, and on top of that even like each other. We enjoy what we do with people we like, working hard to become the best together and are open to connecting more human beings who create even great things, this is what we want to be remembered for.

 

Liked this article? Then why not read “BUILDING AN EXPONENTIAL ORGANISATION”

How to sell tech products to the education sector

Selling tech products to the education sector can be difficult. That sector is a traditional one, which can be a disadvantage. Find out how to sell tech products to the education sector from an expert.

Flavilla is joined by Kimeshan Naidoo, CTO and Co-Founder of Unibuddy.

 

 

Tell us about yourself?

I grew up in a small town in South Africa. My journey starts when I started to teach myself how to code at quite a young age. It was around the age of 12 or 13 years old. I read a Python book and started to try writing programmes. I felt really absorbed by it. Ever since, I’ve always loved building stuff through coding, and through software. So, I went on to study computer science. I moved to London to study for a master’s in computer science at UCL. While I was at UCL, I met my co-founder, Diego, who was at Imperial at the time. And that’s where he had this idea to develop a system. It should allow prospective students who were looking to start university to have an online chat with current students at universities. Alongside, my master’s dissertation I developed the first version of Unibuddy. It was a platform that allowed high school students to have an online chat directly with university students. And that was about four years ago and since then, we’ve pivoted a couple of times. Ultimately with the goal to find a product that universities really need.

 

Have you faced a lot of barriers?

Yes. So, initially, universities are going to be against change, and most organisations and people may be against changes. However, you have to show that you can produce the results that align with their own targets and what they’re looking to do.

Initially, we proved that our product could generate leads. In addition to that, better than other traditional mediums. E.g. advertising online, brochures or email marketing.

 

Did you have to re-evaluate your business model and your product offering? And if so, how did you do that?

Yes, so we initially developed a product that didn’t work with universities and colleges. We launched our website that allowed a high school student to chat with any other university student in any other country. But we found that in order to find a business model, high school students weren’t going to pay for the service. So, we needed to capture that value somewhere else, and that’s where we perverted and develop a product that we could actually have embedded and inserted into a University’s website with just one line of code. Universities really loved that because it wasn’t taking people away from their websites, but rather allowing them to engage their prospective students on their website using a very modern peer to peer platform.

We offered the initial product as a free trial for three months as a pilot to five universities. And it was really a no brainer because they could use it for free for three months. And if they didn’t like it, or they didn’t see any value in it, they could basically stop, and they wouldn’t have to pay for an annual subscription. we had to make sure that we prove value in those months. That’s what we did and all five of them signed up for an annual subscription. That’s where we knew we had a really good product.

 

How was the rest of your customer acquisition like?

Yeah, so the first few customers are always, are the most difficult, luckily, in an industry like higher education when you’re starting with one country, like the UK It’s actually quite a close-knit community, all higher education, sort of employees or staff in recruitment. In these universities, they attend the same conferences, they often go to the same events, and they talk to each other a lot. Word of mouth is the best form of marketing. And once you create a product that gets people talking, and is impressive, that spreads, and it’s much easier when people have already heard about you. We have to acknowledge that a key for us, in the beginning, was having that inside knowledge. This is where we had one of our early employees who’s now a CEO, and he was in the university and working in the higher education sector for over 25 years.

 

Did you find cultural differences from one country to another?

We found that our product works for any type of institution. The only difference is internationalisation from a language perspective. the higher education sector in different countries have different terminologies or languages that they use for certain things.

 

 

How do you believe that your product is changing the university system and how do you think is going to change according to the current situation?

What we look for in our product in terms of engagement, is helping students make better decisions, right now those decisions are about what to study and where to study. And it’s the first big decision you make in your life. So, the numbers that we look at is how many students are signing up on our platform because they have questions that they want to ask. Then after that is how many questions are being asked and how many are being answered? So, since we started, we’ve helped around 300,000 prospective students from over 100 different countries, and they’ve sent over 5 million messages on our platform. So that is that is really rewarding for us because we see that every single day. We’re helping students get answers to questions that they would otherwise have struggled to get answers for.

Going back to the present time, and how the current pandemic situation has affected students, it’s definitely created a greater need for peer to peer technology and for being able to communicate with universities, and current students. So, we’ve seen some of our products, over 1,200% increase in usage, for example, we’ve seen a massive increase in live events or webinar style events being created on our live event product because universities don’t really have any other ways to communicate with their prospective Students.

 

How did you start your team?

We made a lot of mistakes and you will make mistakes. The key is not to try to avoid them but to correct them really quickly. Experimentation means that making a mistake isn’t really a mistake, because no experiment is a mistake, because you learn something from it. So, the key is really to treat every decision as an experiment and learn really quickly from it.

When it came to growing our team, we’ve tried to model our team growth around the more typical sauce company type of structure. So, we knew we needed things like customer success, and sales and product and engineering, and partnerships and marketing. So, there is some kind of formula you can follow in general. But at the end of the day, you need to figure out what is best for your industry, for your product and for your company.

 

How do you manage when you look at company culture and make sure people are performing very well?

I think when it comes to productivity, communication, and all of these things can be solved remotely but culture is definitely more difficult to build when you’re all sitting in different places.

So, I think if companies go purely remote, now that they found that it works, they will need to be balanced with some Sort of physical meeting at some point. It is important to have some kind of face to face interaction, even if you are remote 90% of the time because those face to face interactions is where you really build that trust and have that relationship.

 

What kind of person are you as a CTO and what would you share?

I’m a very strong systems person, what I mean is that I believe that when you’re building a team or a company, you want to build a system that works and doesn’t rely on one person or doesn’t need you or you don’t become the bottleneck in it. So, what I’ve always tried to do is build a system that, if you’re on holiday, and then everything crumbles. I would say you’ve done a bad job. You want to be able to build a system that gives your team the confidence to know what’s going on. You want to have transparency and documentation and everything in place so that things work. The empowerment of people to achieve something whether you’re there or not is great.

As a co-founder, you must set up an environment. So, people can be autonomous, and they can achieve mastery and they can take that ownership because the worst thing to do is that you hire people, and they wait for you to tell them what to do.

So, the way you should think of your role as a founder is really about creating that environment for your team, and that’s how you can build a great company.

 

How do you keep yourself healthy mentally and physically?

What I found really useful is to block out time in the calendar. It’s very easy for you to keep working. Especially when you’re working from home. You don’t have that division. Okay, I leave the office I commute home and my workday is done, which is something you can’t say. You can keep working until 10 pm or checking your phone. Have dinner. So, I think blocking out time in your calendar is really important, too to do other things. And staying offline for a bit.

 

Tell us about your personal achievements?

I’m really proud that I managed to be part of the technology industry and the start-up world, also being able to build something and grow it. I would go back to the impact that it’s had on people being able to take something that started off as a Master’s dissertation and grow it to a product that’s helped, you know, nearly half a million students where 5 million messages have been sent on the platform. And it’s made an impact on their lives.

 

What’s the future for Unibuddy?

we want to help students everywhere. So we currently have over 300 universities using our products, but there are over 10,000 universities across the world and our first goal is to reach 1000 in the next 12 to 18 months.

Secondly, is not just having our platform embedded on university websites, but putting this all together on unibuddy.com, allowing a high school student to speak to or interact with students at any university in the world, without having to go individually to each University website.

 

How should people remember you?

In my opinion, you do not need to make an impact for people to remember you. So, I think I would like to know personally that I’ve made an impact on a lot of people. And whether that’s behind the scenes or whether people know about it is not something that makes a difference to me.

 

What’s the best way to reach you?

You can tweet to me or send me a message on LinkedIn and I’m happy to respond.

 

About the speaker

Kimeshan Naidoo is a South African computer scientist and technology entrepreneur. He is the CTO & Co-Founder of Unibuddy, a London-based EdTech Company. Naidoo graduated from the University of Cape town with a BSc in Electrical Engineering. He moved to the United Kingdom in 2015 and graduated from University College London with an MSc in Computer Science. He was recently listed on the 2020 Forbes 30 under 30 list.

 

About Unibuddy

Unibuddy has become one of the fastest-growing education technology startups in the world, to date helping over 250,000 students to decide where and what to study across 300 universities in over 30 countries. Unibuddy has raised $12 million to date and has offices in London, New York and Bangalore.

 

Liked this article? Why not read “HOW TO POSITION YOUR TECH BRAND AS AN INDUSTRY INFLUENCER”

Building an exponential organisation

To succeed you need to know the ingredients needed to create an exponential organisation, as well as understanding exponential thinking. Dive in to learn about building an exponential organisation!

 

Flavilla is joined by the outstanding Chandresh Pala, Founder of Cohezia.

 

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

After graduating I joined a large IT Consultancy working on a wide range of client projects and applications such as Oil Refinery Management Systems, MIS and AI-based Pricing. After that, I became an independent consultant and worked with a variety of sectors including Energy Trading, Marketing, Mobile applications, with clients including British Gas, Centrica, BP, Tesco, Richer Sounds, United Distillers.

I started Cohezia Digital because I saw a need in the market for a single company to combine the strategic strengths of a consultancy, technical skills of a software house and the creative skills of a design agency to provide a new ‘cohesive’ service. Over a number of years, we have helped organisations to redesign their businesses to take advantage of technology and achieve digital transformations. In many cases helping them to scale their business and then leading them to achieve successful exits.

As a design junkie, I also wanted to be involved in design-led ventures. It resulted in setting up a design gallery, co-founding a digital artist community and a hybrid creative consultancy.

In my current role as founder of Cohezia Venture Studio, we empower people to create profitable, purpose-driven global businesses.

 

 

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

Like many entrepreneurs, I have (too) many ideas and interests but realised that I needed to focus on ONE thing. When I thought deeply about it, my solution was to set up a business that created and supported new businesses!

As a social entrepreneur I also wanted to create a positive impact but do it in a highly scalable and sustainable way. I’m incredibly excited by the potential of harnessing Exponential Technology and scalable social entrepreneurship to create a world of abundance for all.

 

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

Now more than ever, it is important for us to consider what impact our businesses, products and lifestyles are having on other people and the planet.  In the future, the businesses that succeed will be the ones that incorporate Profit, People, Planet and Purpose.

I truly believe that entrepreneurs will be the drivers of global change. By combining highly scalable ventures utilising exponential technologies with support eco-systems that provide inspiration, mentoring and funding, we will be able to create impact at scale – what I call ‘Transformational Entrepreneurship’.

 

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

The timing makes a difference. For example, the best products can still fail if they are too early or too late in the market cycle.

Speed and execution will beat strategy – however, strategy and speed of execution, is even better.

Be agile and always keep adjusting. Change is always happening and getting faster. That’s why businesses need to be nimble and highly adaptable.

 

Tell me about your customer acquisition systems?

Each of our ventures has different types of clients and therefore systems that are appropriate to their target client avatars.

 

What do you wish more people knew?

It is possible to be both profitable and positive purpose-driven.

To change our mindset to abundant thinking. We already have all the resources that the world needs. There is so much potential talent in the world, but we need to provide ‘equality of opportunity’ to them – then we will truly achieve great things.

That there isn’t a single path for becoming a successful entrepreneur. Choose the path which aligns really well with your purpose, passion, profile and natural expertise.

 

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

As someone that made the world a better place by helping entrepreneurs to sustainably scale social impact on a global level, doing it with integrity and compassion.

 

About the speaker

Chandresh is an Entrepreneur, Mentor and Digital Transformation Strategist. He passionately believes in empowering people to create profitably, purpose-driven, global businesses. He is the founder of Cohezia.

As The Fusion Entrepreneur, he brings together a very diverse and unusual range of methodologies, disciplines and innovative strategies (science and spirituality, purpose and profit, creativity and structure).

Chandresh has over 20 years of experience that has included working with leading consultancies and corporate clients including UBM, British Gas, Reed, BP, Tesco, National Power; through to launching multiple businesses in the Technology and Creative sectors, as well as helping founders of existing companies to grow and achieve successful exits.

He is an advisor, speaker, and mentor for various entrepreneurial organisations and an advisory board member and Non-Exec Director for a number of businesses in the media, financial services, health/wellness, and events sectors.

Chandresh lives in London, UK. He is interested in design, psychology and Kung Fu (in which he holds a black belt).

 

About Cohezia

Cohezia is a UK-based Venture Studio. They work with entrepreneurs and clients around the world in both established and emerging markets. They specialised in creating innovative, scalable ventures based on exponential digital technologies.

The goal is to create a significant positive impact and abundance through Transformational Entrepreneurship.

 

 

 

Liked this article? Then why not read “EFFECTIVE TECHNOLOGY OPERATIONS THAT INCREASE THE MARGIN”

How to position your tech brand as an industry influencer

Attracting customers is the main goal of every business. In order to do so, you need to position your brand correctly. Learn how to position your tech brand as an industry influencer.

Flavilla is joined by James Robinson, co-founder and currently VP for Research & Innovation at Opensignal.

 

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

I met Sam, Sina and Brendan — the founding team of Opensignal — long before forming the company. We met at the university where we were all taking Physics courses. Not only did we become friends, but we would sometimes collaborate on solving the problems we had been set for classes. Any business needs to be able to weather storms. Our friendship and the health of our working relationship has been crucial in that respect.
It took us over a decade to build Opensignal to where it is now. When we first became interested in apps we had little programming experience between us. I didn’t even own a smartphone when I began learning how to code. I started out with the iOS simulator and Android emulator. The awe of unboxing the Nexus One is still on my mind.
Looking back, it amazes me to see how Opensignal has grown to become a global company of highly talented people. It plays a key role within the telecommunications industry. The journey so far is one of the thousands of steps, most small, some sideways, and a fair few backwards. The conviction that we were working on something worthwhile kept pushing us.

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

Over the first few months of 2010, we toyed with perhaps a hundred business ideas and even built a dozen or so apps. One evening we decided to read through the Android SDK APIs. This might seem a pretty dry form of literature, but it proved a great source of inspiration in our case. What became clear to us then was that Android provided a powerful set of methods for understanding the network connection — not just the network name and generation (back then just 2G and 3G, LTE was only available in Sweden), but detailed information on the different cells the device can see.

This set us thinking about how we could use crowdsourcing to understand the experience on mobile networks. Connectivity is what makes smartphones smart, and we saw that crowdsourcing could provide the best window on this.

 

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

Prior to Opensignal there was scant information for consumers on the quality of mobile experience. The information that was reported was generally provided by the mobile network operators themselves and came in the form of coverage maps. Each network operator would have their own methodology for calculating coverage, their own website, their own graphics. This was not ideal for consumers.It was this set of consumer problems we focussed on initially, but we came to see clearly that an information gap problem also existed for the mobile operators themselves. Many competing sources of truth exist within network operators — there are mathematical models based on cellular deployments, there are field tests and drive tests. Crowdsourcing offered something different, a picture of what was in fact experienced by the people who really matter, the users of the networks.

Understanding user experience — be it of speed, mobile gaming, video — has become the core of what we do and it’s been great to see how the mobile network industry has bought into this perspective.

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

Building a company from start-up through to scale-up is actually like working at several different businesses. You need to be constantly learning both technical and soft skills.
One thing I would highlight to any founder or early-stage employee is the following: when your business is young it thrives with you constantly getting into the nitty-gritty, as it grows you need to consider how it is that your role should evolve. Often founders won’t be the best coders, salespeople or even the best strategists so think carefully about how you can best provide value.
Tell me about your customer acquisition systems?
We publicly report mobile network experience directly to consumers through our apps and, with deeper insights, in reports created by our fantastic analyst team, these have become a trusted source for the press — mainstream, telecoms-focussed and financial. This is a huge driver for our business.

What do you wish more people knew?

I think the diversity of ways of thinking and the different knowledge each person carries is one of humanity’s strengths. So instead of praising a particular book or fact, I’d like to celebrate all things I will never know — the unknown knowns.

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

I’d like Opensignal to be remembered as a great place to work and a source of truth.

 

 

About the speaker

James is a co-founder and currently VP for Research & Innovation at Opensignal.
Previously, he led the team responsible for the development and adoption of Opensignal’s mobile apps. 32 million consumers worldwide (and counting) downloaded those apps.

 

 

About Opensignal

Opensignal measures the user experience of mobile networks, developing ways of determining the quality of experience for specific services – like gaming, video or voice calling in apps. Opensignal analytics and insights power the evolution of mobile networks to improve mobile connectivity for all.

 

 

Liked this article? Read “NEW THINKER VS RISK ADVERSE”

 

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 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?

    Newsletter sign up:

    Download our Brand Success Guide for Tech Startups today!

    Discover the steps to tech startup branding success in 3 Colours Rule's Brand Success Guide.