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Home away from Home In launching Love Home Swap, Debbie Wosskow has become one of the UK sharing economy’s brightest success stories, going from winning Young Enterprise at 15 to receiving an OBE from the Queen

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DEVELOP YOUR

sustainable business growth strategy PRESENTING BUSINESS LEADERS & SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEURS, INCLUDING:

LARA MORGAN

MARK FOSTER

OLI BARRETT MBE

Lara Morgan is best known for growing Pacific Direct, from start-up to successful exit, and now invests her time in fast growth companies. Lara is founder of Company Shortcuts and represents UKTI as an Export Ambassador.

Since retiring from swimming, Mark Foster has become a familiar face on television including appearing on Strictly Come Dancing. Inspired by this experience, Foster teamed up with Natalie Lowe and Ian Waite and formed Fitsteps.

Oli Barrett MBE is one of GQ magazine’s 100 most connected men in 2016. Co-founder of Cospa which helps companies and causes to create and grow ventures which make both money and a difference.


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42

THE ELITE INTERVIEW

DEBBIE WOSSKOW Love Home Swap’s founder explains how she became an evangelist for female entrepreneurship and the standard-bearer for the sharing economy

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CONTENTS 07.16

32

Off the leash

Tails.com is transforming pet food, one bite at a time

54

FEATURES

AAnew hope second space race has begun

22

62

the Netherlands’ startup scene doesn’t shrink from a challenge

your job for full-time entrepreneurship

and British startups are already aiming for the stars

issue 39 JULY 16

REGULARS 09 10 15 82

From the editor Upfront The big idea The crunch

columns 17 19 29 31

Jacqueline Gold Ed Relf Mark Pearson Alice Bentinck

Dutch courage Despite its small market size,

Don’ t give up your day job (just yet) Think twice before swapping

36

66

without crumbling the startup cookie

tech-savvy workforce?

49

70

using ad-blockers, publishers are on the hunt for creative solutions

corruption is easier said than done

Slice of the pie Facing the tech talent revolution Figuring out how to divide equity Can startups afford to not have a

Around the block With consumers increasingly

The enemy within Inoculating your startup against JULY 2016 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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FROM THE EDITOR EDITORIAL Josh Russell – Acting Editor josh.russell@cemedia.co.uk Eric Johansson – Feature Writer eric.johansson@cemedia.co.uk Adam Pescod – Contributing Writer adam.pescod@cemedia.co.uk DESIGN/PRODUCTION Leona Connor – Head Designer leona.connor@cemedia.co.uk Jenny Allen – Junior Designer jenny.allen@cemedia.co.uk Dan Lecount – Web Development Manager dan@cemedia.co.uk SALES Gemma Campion – Sales Manager gemma.campion@cemedia.co.uk Jazmin Humphreys – Account Manager jazmin.humphreys@cemedia.co.uk Earl Montgomery – Account Manager earl.montgomery@cemedia.co.uk MARKETING David Thomas – Group Marketing Manager david.thomas@cemedia.co.uk Aimee Graye – Marketing Assistant aimee.graye@cemedia.co.uk CIRCULATION Paul Kirby – Circulation & Data Manager paul.kirby@cemedia.co.uk ACCOUNTS Sally Stoker – Finance Manager sally.stoker@cemedia.co.uk Colin Munday – Management Accountant colin.munday@cemedia.co.uk ADMINISTRATION Emily Fulcher – Administrator emily.fulcher@cemedia.co.uk DIRECTOR Scott English – Managing Director scott.english@cemedia.co.uk Circulation/subscription UK £18, Europe £38, Rest of World £60 Elite Business Magazine is published four times a year by CE Media Solutions Limited, 4th Floor, Victoria House, Victoria Road, Chelmsford, CM1 1JR Copyright 2016. All rights reserved No part of Elite Business may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the editor. Elite Business magazine will make every effort to return picture material, but this is at the owner’s risk. Due to the nature of the printing process, images can be subject to a variation of up to 15%, therefore CE Media Limited cannot be held responsible for such variation. www.cemedia.co.uk

Come together

Shortly after I took the helm here at Elite Business, the UK public voted to leave the EU, throwing the country into political – and economic – turmoil.

B

ut while it is tempting to succumb to despair – with all of the wailing and rending of garments that suggests – we should focus on what we have, not what we’re losing. Quite simply, the UK has one of the finest entrepreneurial ecosystems in the world: a fantastic resource not to be underestimated. One need only look at the story of Debbie Wosskow, the founder of Love Home Swap, to realise the power of being surrounded by a community of likeminded individuals. Regularly rubbing shoulders with other digital doyennes – such as Martha Lane Fox, Sarah Wood and Alex Depledge

– provided valuable inspiration for Wosskow when growing her business. And, in turn, she has created communities devoted to helping the next generation of sharing-economy startups find their feet. Following the shining example she has set, I believe we can create a bright future for this country and its entrepreneurs. It is now up to the startup community to pull together and show the world just what a united kingdom can achieve. Josh Russell - Acting Editor josh.russell@cemedia.co.uk

contributors

Edward Relf Natural born innovator Relf is the brains behind on-demand laundry business Laundrapp. This month he discusses how that startup spirit will help British businesses make the most of Brexit

Jacqueline Gold As the CEO of Ann Summers, one of the high-street’s most enduring brands, few are better placed than Gold to explain how female entrepreneurs could benefit from more retail role models

Alice Bentinck Fresh from launching EF’s international base in Singapore, Bentinck dissects the country’s entrepreneurial talent and how it produces some truly groundbreaking tech

Mark Pearson When seeking advice on what VCs look for in a startup, the person to ask is an investor. Luckily, for all the aspiring entrepreneurs out there, Fuel Ventures’ Pearson is just that

JULY 2016 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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The investment rounds that rocked the startup community last quarter

Spotify v Apple

George Dolgikh / Shutterstock.com

DOING THE ROUNDS

Farfetch

$110m Series F The fashion marketplace has closed a $110m Series F round. With that much money burning a hole in its pocket, Farfetch should conquer the world in no time.

Onfido

$25m

Two behemoths of tech have traded blows over an App Store disagreement

Series B Having secured enough money to fund its US expansion, Onfido looks set to complete its ten millionth background check later this year.

Roli

$21M Series B Clearly hitting all the right notes, the music technology startup has finished a $27m funding round led by the Foundry Group.

While Batman v Superman – Dawn of Justice saw titans clashing on the big screens, two real-life tech giants got into a dispute of their own in June. The row began when Apple prevented Spotify from pushing out its latest update through the App Store. This was motivated by the fact that the Swedish app circumvented Apple’s in-app purchasing rules by promoting sales outside of the app, avoiding paying 30% of the proceeds to Apple in the process.

Performance Horizon

$15.4m Series C

After closing a $10m Series B round in 2014, the SaaS solutions provider has now topped up its funding with $15.4m.

Pitch perfect MacRebur has won Virgin Media Business VOOM 2016

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Spotify countered by accusing the tech giant of excluding its app because it competes with Apple Music, the firm’s own music-streaming app. The company added that refusing it access to App Store raised serious competition law concerns. Always eager to have the last word, Apple argued that exempting Spotify from its in-house purchase terms would give the Scandi streaming service an unfair advantage over other music apps like Tidal and Amazon Music, both of which are also using App Store. With the argument still ongoing, it remains to be seen who’ll land the knockout-punch.

Ever had that dream where you pitch your startup idea to Tyra Banks and Sir Richard Branson? For Toby McCartney, co-founder of MacRebur, the environmentally friendly asphalt startup, that dream became reality on June 28. Having powered through a 29-hour pitchathon, McCartney found himself on the stage of the Virgin Media Business VOOM 2016 finale, telling the judges how recycling waste plastic into asphalt not only improves roads but the environment as well. Whether it was the impressive concept or the fact that he was cheeky enough to ask Miss Banks for her phone number, a dazzled judging panel unanimously crowned MacRebur the winner of the competition that had over 20,000 entrants. Who says dreams don’t come true?

ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK JULY 2016

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UPFRONT The risks and rewards of CEO activism Business leaders who fight injustice can benefit their brands

Literary Corner

Portfolio Penguin Out Now £14.99

Protesting injustices from the barricades may sound like corporate suicide but singing the song of angry men can be surprisingly beneficial for CEOs and their companies. According to a new survey from Weber Shandwick, the communications and engagement firm, CEO activism could boost profits significantly, as 31% of the public look more favourably at companies whose business leaders speak out on red hot issues. While 22% said they’d be less sympathetic, 38% believe CEOs actively have a duty to speak out on hotly debated issues. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that Salesforce’s stock climbed to an all-time high in May after its CEO Marc Benioff spoke out against a North Carolina law that denied lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people protection against discrimination. So the next time you believe that mum’s the word, think again. You may not only change the world but raise your profits in the process.

Think Simple by Ken Segall Try rubbing your chest and patting your head at the same time. For most of us, doing one of those activities in isolation is quite simple whilst the combination of the two proves near impossible. However, while attempts at the rub-and-pat-combo usually ends with a chuckle and a shake of the head, business leaders seem unable to let go of corporate complexity with the same ease. Those tendencies towards intricacy are exactly what Think Simple aims to prevent. The book is a follow-up to Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success. In his new book, Segall draws on his experience of working with Steve

Jobs and the collected wisdom of a number of international business leaders. Think Simple urges entrepreneurs to slash complexity wherever it raises its head – whether that’s in terms of ever-expanding product lines or corporate structures. Packed with solid advice and inspirational examples, Think Simple demonstrates how a culture of simplicity enables companies to boost profits, improve customer relationships and encourage employees to do their very best. Think Simple is a must-read for leaders running businesses of any size. You can stop patting yourself on the head now. EJ

Coming up July 14 Fintech Storm London Summit Guoman Tower Hotel Saint Katharine’s Way, E1W 1LD, London, E1W 1LD September 10-11 Fast forward your business Novotel London West, 1 Shortlands Hammersmith International Centre, London, W6 8DR September 21-22 Elite Business Live 2016 ExCeL London One Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock London, E16 1XL September 28-29 Technology for marketing Olympia, Hammersmith Rd, London, W14 8UX September 28-29 eCommerce Expo Olympia, Hammersmith Rd, London, W14 8UX September 28-29 Customer contact expo Olympia, Hammersmith Rd, London, W14 8UX September 30 Mind the product Barbican Hall, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS

A full event listing is available on our website: elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk/ events

JULY 2016 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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TALKING POINT

I see Brexit as a massive opportunity for business owners in the UK. Once the dust settles and we have a clearer understanding of the divorce proceedings, there will be many opportunities to make money. Times of uncertainty and even recessions create a lot of problems for businesses and individuals. The companies that succeed in these times will be quick to identify those problems and will offer unique and no-brainer solutions to solve them. Jonathan Pfhal, MD, Rockstar Hubs International

What’s next-it?

How will the vote for a Brexit affect UK startups?

The aftermath of the EU referendum is looking increasingly like a bad divorce. After the British public voted for a Brexit on June 23, David Cameron wasted no time in announcing both his resignation and tasking his successor – whoever that might be – to trigger Article 50 and formally kick-off the exit procedure. In principle this means official exit talks won’t even begin until September, much to the chagrin of the EU, which has repeatedly urged the UK to move out quickly to prevent further market uncertainty. With that in mind, we wonder if being a child of divorce will only be negative for British SMEs or if UK startups may actually benefit from the break-up?

In light of the result, the UK will have to work harder to maintain our position as the technology hub of Europe. Many of our most skilled workers in the tech scene come from Europe and – with the removal of free movement making it more difficult to attract this talent – we run the risk of losing our competitive edge as a nation with one of the best startup ecosystems in the world. Equally concerning is the implication for scientific research as the UK was clearly a net beneficiary from EU investment. Tom Marsden, CEO, Saberr

We’re disappointed that the British electorate decided to leave the European Union. Here at Azimo we passionately believe that the world needs fewer borders, not more. This is also a blow to London’s financial services industry. Many companies here depend on both access to the single market and free movement to offer their services to the rest of Europe. I anticipate that we’ll see many finance players moving some – perhaps all – of their operations to locations elsewhere in Europe.

The referendum results mean we need to look at how to adapt our business should the laws concerning work permits and freedom of movement change. European startups such as ours, which have offices in both London and Paris, will need to alter their strategies in terms of sourcing talent. From a recruitment perspective, much of the workforce that fuels flourishing businesses in the UK is made up of non-UK citizens. Now startups may find more restrictions when trying to find the right people.

Michael Kent, CEO and founder, Azimo

Thomas Villeneuve, CEO, Weroom

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UPFRONT Adapt or die

What’s the word?

If they don’t change course, a third of SMEs will fold within five years

Apocryphal though it may be, the idea that sharks must keep swimming to survive has at least a certain metaphorical weight when it comes to new enterprises. According to the annual 2016 SME Barometer Research from Exact, the business software provider, 38% of SMEs believe that if they don’t adapt their business model, they will go out of business with the next five years. However, while one might think this would light a fire under the nation’s

entrepreneurs, just 2% of them have done anything about it. Further compounding this is the fact that, despite 64% of SMEs finding themselves under threat from new digital players entering their domain, only 6% are investing in new tech to help them stay competitive. Evidently it’s time to start swimming.

Elon Musk is no stranger to thinking outside the box. The founder and CEO of Tesla and Space X recently took this talent to a whole new level, suggesting

Sir Richard Branson predicts a gloomy post-Brexit future in an interview with Good Morning Britain

“We will build better products if our team is as diverse as the community we serve” Mike Curtis, Airbnb’s vice president of engineering, announces a new programme to boost diversity at the accommodation-letting startup

Entering the matrix

The Tesla founder believes human beings could just be video game avatars

“We are heading towards a disaster”

that we may all just be characters in a video game. Speaking at Recode’s annual Code Conference, Musk said that the leaps in forward in graphics mean games will soon become indistinguishable from reality. And given the number of computers and consoles in such an advanced civilisation would likely number in the billions, he posited that the chances of us existing in reality rather than a simulated universe on an alien Xbox is one in billions. We don’t know about you but we’ve looked up Keanu Reeves’ phone number.

“We are doing our kids a disservice if we are not introducing them to coding” Apple’s CEO Tim Cook argues that all children should learn coding as a second language at Startup Fest Europe in Amsterdam

Find us on Twitter @elitebizmag

WORKING THE CROWD

Successful crowdfunding campaigns that have closed in the last quarter

goHenry

Zing Zing

Infinity Health

Classlist

£3.99m

£1.56m

£991k

£841k

16% equity

29.8% equity

20% equity

28.6% equity

Helping it nearly double its target of £2m, the public is clearly banking big on the pre-paid card and online bank account for kids. In fact, GoHenry only pulled the plug as the campaign was fast approaching the EU legal limit

With two locations already open in London, the Chinese takeaway brand is now using this massive crowdfunding raise to bring its fresh and high-quality culinary offerings to homes across the British islands.

Receiving backing from more than 300 investors, the startup simplifying paper processes in the healthcare sector now has a cool million in its pocket to help finalise its product and to boost patient safety.

Enabling parents to communicate and share details securely, the ‘virtual school gate’ has drawn down a hearty round to drive its international expansion and support the development of mobile services. JULY 2016 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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THE NEW VOLVO V40

Make a statement Through its luxurious touches and cutting-edge innovations, the new Volvo V40 will drive a clear statement about your business. Its iconic T-shaped LED lights, for example, provide drivers with a striking, unique presence on the road. But as they emit twice as much light as their halogen equivalents, they can illuminate your fleet’s safety credentials, too.

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06/07/2016 27/06/2016 15:39 09:10


THE BIG IDEA

Nomad

Nomad soul Helping entrepreneurs to easily locate and book flexible working space, new booking platform Nomad is making hotdesking in London a breeze BY JOSH RUSSELL

A

gility is the watchword of any modern startup, which is why demand for flexible workspaces has never been higher. But, despite this, tracking down a decent place to whack out your Macbook Pro and get coding can prove something of a chore. Having met this same challenge, serial entrepreneur Ansel Liu created Nomad, a platform that allows founders and firms to easily book flexible working spaces. Whilst Nomad isn’t the only platform catering to this market, it’s certainly the most elegant. Providing the option to pay for meeting rooms by the hour, hotdesking by the day or private offices by the month, Nomad will grow with startups as they scale. In presentation, it feels a lot like Airbnb for entrepreneurs – not only does it offer the chance to browse by price, date and location but it also offers a deep level of granularity. Want to find a dog-friendly space in Shoreditch with showers and 24-hour access? Need an

e-commerce space in Camden with lockers and bike storage? A few clicks and you’re there. And this isn’t the only innovation at the platform’s core. Not only has Liu done away with the hassle of having to negotiate or commit to onerous contracts – something that makes it far easier for real estate owners to unlock the value of their unused office space – but there are no traces of the subscription model that has become ubiquitous with many larger providers of flexible working spaces. Instead Nomad is free to use, being monetised through the commission it charges the workspaces, something that is a definite plus for cash-strapped entrepreneurs. Having only launched in June, Nomad may be the new kid on the block but it already has 100 workspaces on board, including Hackney’s The Oval Office, The Pavilion in Kensington and The Hampstead Design Studio. And over the next year Liu is looking to take Nomad into several different countries around Europe and Asia, meaning that soon entrepreneurs will have easy access to flexible working space wherever they may wander.

JULY 2016 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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Jacqueline gold ceo, ann summers

female Entrepreneurs need more role models Moving past token NEDs, making role models more visible and calling on men to champion the cause will help open retail up to a new generation of entrepreneurial women

T

here is a huge amount of female talent out there that we are just not embracing. We’re seeing hugely competent women leaving large corporations because they hit the glass ceiling and are not able to fulfil their potential. That’s tragic, both for companies and the economy. The business case for better female representation on boards makes it a no-brainer: if you look at the figures, businesses that have more gender-diverse boards vastly outperform those that don’t. In my 35-year-career, I’ve contributed £1.5bn to the UK economy and I am certain that there are many other women out there that would have a similar impact. Retail can be better at embracing female talent than many industries. For example, Ronan Dunne, the CEO of Telefonica UK, is very supportive of women in business and smaller retailers like Jigsaw, the fashion retailer, do it very well. Small to mid-sized businesses that are very consumer-focused also tend to excel at this because they recognise that 70% of those we employ in retail and 70% of those making purchasing decisions are women. But, despite this,

It’s imperative that we have female representation up on stages, in the media, in all of these important arenas

there are still many larger businesses in the retail space that are struggling with board equality and failing to recognise the amazing female talent they have in front of them. So what can we do to change this? Often many businesses’ strategy is to put a token female NED on a company’s board but every woman I know wants to achieve her place on the board for her achievements and ability, not because of tokenism. Additionally, going down that road results in us ending up with these NED superwomen who hop from one board to another. Instead, businesses should be focusing on organically growing talent and helping women ascend the ranks. If they really want to give women confidence, they need to create a culture that demonstrates they genuinely care about and recognise female talent. But it’s not only within the businesses themselves that progress can be made. Tackling social conditioning also plays a big part here. When my daughter was five, I took her to one of my speeches: I wanted her to see that this is normal and not just something that men do. It’s imperative we have female representation up on stages, in politics, in the media and in all other important arenas. Because that’s what makes up-and-coming women feel that there is an opportunity for their talent to be celebrated. Lastly, we need men to be agents of change and to champion this. It isn’t just a women’s issue: it’s an everyone issue. Fathers, more than anybody, need to be championing this change if they want their daughters to have the best start in life that they possibly can. I urge men to talk about the business case for embracing female talent and inspiring change with their own actions. That will go a long way to help change perceptions and start to address gender inequality. JULY 2016 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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Come and find us for your free goody bag Elite Business Live 21-22 Sept, Excel London.

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ed relf co-founder and CEO, Laundrapp

Brexit: what’s next for startup Britain?

As a nation we’ve jumped off a cliff – now it’s time to build a parachute

S

hocked? Me too. As a pro-European and Remain voter, I was glued to my TV until the gut-punch moment it was finally confirmed the UK had voted to leave the EU. However, in the hours and days since, I’ve found myself pondering: is it really all that bad? Let me be clear: if I was asked again I would still vote to remain within the EU. However, as an entrepreneur, I’m no stranger to facing risk and finding ways to capitalise on it, so I’m optimistic about the future even now. Leaping into the unknown always has unforeseen consequences – but I know it can also create fantastic opportunities. Part of the reason I remain positive is that the UK has always been a magnet for highly talented entrepreneurs. My business thrives by hiring talent from across the world, not just the EU, so Brexit won’t change anything for us. This world-class talent, along with access to capital and government support, has always made the UK a homeland for startups. We may have voted to leave the EU but I believe the UK will remain a nation of smallbusiness owners and entrepreneurs. What does this mean? In short that we’re well adapted for change. Even though the financial reaction to Brexit is fuelled mainly by a fear of change, UK entrepreneurs thrive in disruptive environments and know that

achievement is always on the other side of fear. We may have jumped off a cliff but, in true startup spirit, we can build our parachute on the way down. I still struggle personally to accept the decision to leave the EU but I also know it’s our democratic duty to follow the majority decision. I can accept this because I believe in the UK. I believe in the ability of our entrepreneurs, small business owners and business leaders to pioneer and adapt. I also believe that if we embrace this change then there are some huge opportunities within our grasp. Post-Brexit UK is a startup nation and, much like launching any new business, it’s scary at first to consider the challenges lying ahead. However, as Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz once said: “Dream more than others think practical. Expect more than others think possible.” Do I agree with the decision? No. Do I accept the decision? Yes. Now let’s dare to dream and work together for a brighter, independent United Kingdom.

UK entrepreneurs thrive in disruptive environments and know that achievement is always on the other side of fear

JULY 2016 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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With an international focus and a refusal to shrink from a challenge, the Netherlands is producing some truly world-class startups

BY JOSH RUSSELL

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ntrepreneurialism is a high-stakes game, with the vast majority of startups ending in failure. Because of this, versatility and perseverance are vital qualities for the denizens of any startup hub to possess. Fortunately, the citizens of the Netherlands have both in spades. Cliche though it may be, the Dutch reputation for pragmatism and self-reliance holds particularly true in the startup space, with its business community long being used to overcoming challenges. “The Netherlands is famous for its tulips but it has some of the worst circumstances in the world for growing them,” says Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, co-founder and CEO of The Next Web, the international tech publication and organiser of TNW Europe, the Amsterdam-based tech conference. “The soil’s too sandy; there’s too much rain, wind and not enough sun.” But, precisely because of these conditions, the Dutch had to become innovators and find ways to overcome them. In much the same way, working in a smaller market has imbued Dutch startups with a great deal of versatility and resilience, helping them to flourish. “The entrepreneurs that come from the Netherlands are very tough,” he says. “They build great companies that reach the whole world.”

Adaptability is certainly the byword of the Dutch entrepreneurial community. Whilst many startup hubs tend to fall either on the side of being a specialist or a generalist, the Netherlands isn’t so easily pigeon-holed. “Each city has its own ecosystem,” says Patrick de Zeeuw, co-founder of Startupbootcamp, the international accelerator. Whilst Rotterdam is considered synonymous with hightech startups and Utrecht’s forte is cleantech, Eindhoven’s home in the Netherlands’ agricultural heartland has seen it become the centre for agritech and foodtech innovation. Lastly, Amsterdam is not only home to a whole host of e-commerce and fintech startups but it is rapidly making a name for itself in the smart cities space. “Amsterdam is quite small so it’s easy to experiment with new smart city initiatives,” he says. With so many strings to its bow, it’s hardly surprising that the Netherlands is proving such a popular destination to build a business. “It’s now on the map of many institutions and startups as one of the top regions to launch in,” says de Zeeuw. Not only are accelerators such as Startupbootcamp and Rockstart giving startups a leg up but plenty of co-working spaces are emerging that are bringing Dutch startups shoulder to shoulder with their corporate brethren. One example de Zeeuw points to is B. Amsterdam, which is not only home to a multitude of Dutch startups but now also houses the innovation centres of international blue chips such as IBM and Heineken. “We’re seeing a lot of empty offices spaces that are now being filled up by startups in co-working spaces,” de Zeeuw says. “That’s great for the ecosystem.” However, despite these strengths, the Dutch startup scene is certainly JULY 2

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Th e Ne t h er l a n d s

Dutch investment landscape becomes decidedly rockier. “There are very few VCs focusing on the gap that falls between the seed round and the series A,” he says. “That’s where a lot of teams get stuck.” Inevitably this means that Dutch startups have to nail their monetisation strategy much earlier than those in hubs that have an abundance of later-stage funding. “Because there is not a lot of investment available, you have to work on making money very fast,” says van Zanten. Whilst Silicon Valley startups often have the resources available to spend years building their product and reach before worrying about how they will monetise, the investment landscape in the Netherlands produces much leaner, more revenuefocused companies. “It’s not a luxury Dutch companies are able to afford,” he says. “You have to be profitable.” Coupled with a comparatively small domestic market, this selective pressure means that startups in the Netherlands are genetically programmed to look outwards rather than inwards. “Because our country’s so small, the Dutch have always been internationally orientated,” says Pepijn Rijvers, chief marketing officer of Booking.com, the online accommodation booking platform. The country became one of the world’s first truly international capitalist nations in the 17th century thanks to its relentlessly global focus. And this is a characteristic that has persisted to this day. “Building a startup in the Netherlands forces you to think about your model and how you design your tools, database and infrastructure for international scale from the get-go,” he says.

The netherlands is incredibly tech-savvy; its consumers are both very receptive yet critically minded Patrick de Zeeuw, Startupbootcamp

not without its challenges, with the difficulty of accessing technical talent topping the list. “It’s really difficult to find software developers,” says René Schoenmakers, founder and CEO of Catawiki, the online auction house for special items and collectibles. “There aren’t that many people with technical skills coming out of the universities in the Netherlands.” Because of this, the startup community is engaged in an arms race with rival startup hubs in London and Berlin for the technical talent coming out of places such as Ukraine and the Baltics. Fortunately the Netherlands has a secret weapon up its sleeve: Amsterdam. With a comparatively low cost of living and a high quality of life, the Dutch capital has considerable pull in the war for talent. “A lot of people want to live in Amsterdam so it’s quite easy to attract people from other countries to work here,” he says. Another factor it shares in common with many burgeoning hubs is a persistent funding gap for laterstage startups. “It’s never easy for an entrepreneur in any market,” says de Zeeuw. Certainly there isn’t a paucity of seed capital available; he pegs the average seed round for a startup in the Netherlands at around £500,000, which only falls a little behind the average of £722,000 seen by the London Co-Investment Fund last year. However, after this point the 24

TNW Europe – Bas Uterwijk – Heisenberg Media

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Th e Ne t h er l a n d s

Because of this, the Netherlands can act as the perfect springboard for startups looking to secure significant international growth. “It’s a great country to test a product or service in,” says de Zeeuw. “It’s incredibly tech-savvy; its consumers are both very receptive yet critically minded.” And not only does the Dutch entrepreneurial ecosystem provide an ideal testbed to create and iterate an international startup but once an entrepreneur has established a firm footing in the market the next opportunity is only a stone’s throw away. “If you can make things work here, you either go east to Germany or west to the UK and suddenly the market opportunities are five to ten times larger,” he says. Whether it’s WeTransfer, Adyen or Layar, plenty of Dutch startups have been catapulted to international success. As a result, the Netherlands now has plenty of experienced entrepreneurs giving back to the community. “We’re seeing more and more founders of big successful startups becoming active in the community,” says Schoenmakers. “They’re using their knowledge and money to reinvest in the ecosystem.” Increasing numbers of entrepreneurs are helping to fund or provide support to the newest startups on the scene and this is having a transformative effect on the Dutch entrepreneurial community. “As we see more and more successes coming from the Netherlands, the ecosystem is continuing to mature,” he says. “It has become self-reinforcing.”

Building a startup

in the Netherlands forces you to think about i n t e r n a t i o n a l

scale from the get-go Pepijn Rijvers, Booking.com

And these kinds of high-profile wins aren’t only resulting in more resources on the ground: they’re redefining how the Netherlands’ startups define success. “Typically entrepreneurs make their dreams too small from the start, as a result of which they narrow themselves down into a sandbox where it’s harder to be successful,” says Rijvers. But as the Netherlands produces an increasing number of international success stories, Dutch entrepreneurs are steadily being encouraged to set their sights higher. “Shining more light on these successes can really help people have a different north star when they think of success,” he concludes. 26

Open book Booking.com

Without question, Booking.com has to be considered one of the Netherlands’ brightest entrepreneurial success stories. First created in 1996 by GeertJan Bruinsma and merging with affiliate BookingsPortal.nl in 2001, it has been a fixture of the Dutch tech community for two decades, something that clearly shows in its approach to business. “Our culture is very collaborative,” says Pepijn Rijvers, chief marketing officer of Booking.com. “It’s very much focused on learning, experimentation and agility.” There’s no doubt that being based in the Netherlands gave Booking.com a much-needed leg up. “Amsterdam has been very important for us,” Rijvers says. Pulling in engineering and data science talent was critical for the company’s success; at a time when much of the global tech talent was being hoovered up by booming then-startups Google and Amazon, it was vital to have an edge. Fortunately, thanks to the international appeal Amsterdam held, Booking. com was able to draw down plenty of skilled employees. “As a very open, culturally rich and diverse community, Amsterdam has really allowed us to be able to compete against the Valley, Berlin or London,” he says. Additionally, because of the nature of the Netherlands’ investment community, Booking.com wasn’t lured into the trap of raising excessive amounts of equity investment to speed up its expansion. “We’ve always grown on a profitable basis,” says Rijvers. “We’ve never had to burn huge amounts of cashflow in order to gain fast growth.” Because of this, not only did Booking.com survive the bursting of the dotcom bubble but, in 2005, it was acquired by The Priceline Group. And this has helped to cement the Netherlands’ position on the international stage. “Our growth has driven a lot of interest and attention,” he says. “When there’s a success story like ours, it creates a great culture and encourages people to go on to build successful companies of their own.”

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Running a small business? Here’s one less thing for you to worry about

Whether you’re thinking of starting a small business, or are already running one, it’s important to make sure that you’re properly insured. At the beginning of last year, the government estimated that there are more than 5.4 million small businesses* operating within the UK. That’s why Direct Line for Business offers a range of insurance solutions for all types of small business and allows you to tailor your cover to suit your needs. So where should you start? The types of insurance available can often be confusing to start-up businesses, however the following guidelines should help you choose the right insurance plan for your business. Here are the three most common types of insurance taken out by small businesses, which can give you peace of mind and allow you to focus on running your business. Professional Indemnity Insurance Do you provide professional advice or services to your clients? If so, they could claim for compensation if they think your advice was negligent and caused a financial loss or damage to their reputation. For contractors and freelancers – ranging from accountants to IT consultants – professional indemnity cover could make a real difference if things go wrong and will allow you to work with more confidence. Digital companies in particular should consider this type of cover in case of claims around data handling, copyright infringement, and intellectual property. Even sending an email containing confidential information to the wrong recipient could result in a civil case. Clients often request proof of professional indemnity insurance before they work with you, especially if you’re working with local authorities or large companies. What’s covered? • Up to £2m cover that’s tailored to your profession • Trade associations compliant • No admin fee for changes made during the policy period

Public Liability Insurance If you, a business partner or an employee are responsible for an accident that causes injury, loss or damage to a customer – or a member of the public – you’ll be covered under this type of insurance. It’s worth bearing in mind that small businesses falling into this category could include mobile hairdressers, tradespeople and tutors who work in customers’ homes. For small businesses that exhibit at craft fairs, summer fetes and Christmas markets, event organisers will often ask for proof of liability insurance before they agree to let you take part.

you’re making crafts, selling cakes or keeping stock at home, protecting your business requires specialist cover. Cover for stock, equipment and loss of income is included as standard and you can rest easy knowing that you’re protected against some of the most common business risks.

What’s covered? • Up to £1m public liability cover with the option to increase up to £10m • 24/7 legal helpline • £1m product liability protects the products you provide

Direct Line for Business guarantees to beat any quote for the same cover.

Home Business Insurance Don’t fall into the trap: it’s a common misconception that if you’re running your small business from home, your equipment and materials are covered by your home insurance. In most cases, however, this simply isn’t true. Whether

* Business Population Estimates 2015, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

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Not sure what cover you need? Call Direct Line for Business on: 0345 303 1739 www.directlineforbusiness.co.uk In association with

JULY 2016 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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04/04/2016 16:03


Mark Pearson co-founder, Fuel Ventures

What investors look for in early-stage startups

If it hopes to stand out from the crowd, any enterprise seeking investment needs to tick a number of boxes

I

nvestment is never an exact science. When it works, there are few better feelings. But there will inevitably be times when it doesn’t quite work, for whatever reason. The longer you spend as an investor, the more you subconsciously look for the same defining traits in the people you are about to hand money to. This is where I truly believe it’s more of an art. How do you find the diamonds in the rough whilst thumbing through hundreds of pitch decks? And, as a business looking for investment, how do you hope to stand out? The founding team I absolutely invest in people more than ideas. Ideas can – and often need to – be developed, whereas there is little that can be done if founders don’t have what it takes. You’re looking for people who are hungry, dedicated and not too precious to hear honest feedback. I don’t want founding teams that roll over when it gets tough; the best development happens when people with integrity and passion work together to achieve the same goal. Proof of traction There is absolutely no reason that a startup can’t create a minimum viable product and test it to gauge interest. If you can demonstrate that people will pay for your product or service, you’re already on your way to succesfully securing investment because investors will be in a much better position to envision future funding rounds, an exit or perhaps even an IPO.

I absolutely invest in people more than ideas

Keep it real We’ve all watched Dragons’ Den and seen somebody burnt on account of an inflated valuation. If you haven’t made a penny but ask an investor for £500,000 for 10% of your business, you will be laughed out of the room for valuing your as-yet unproven business at £5m. That’s why realistic expectations are incredibly important. Understand the market We tend to invest in e-commerce businesses because that’s where our strength and experience lies. But Expocart, one of our investees, is in the exhibition business, an area we know little about. So, when we are approached by a company from a market that’s unfamiliar to us, we need to be convinced that they do really know it. And, just as importantly, we need to feel confident that the market is big enough for the company to grab enough of a share and thus create a good exit. Scalability I started my career in restaurants where I quickly realised that scaling meant expanding into a chain. But the margins involved for the effort expended didn’t make sense to me. It’s a lot easier to scale nationally and internationally in e-commerce, especially when proof of concept and market size is a given. We take a look at every potential investee that comes through the door and ask ourselves: “Just how can this startup scale – and what’s the size of the opportunity if it can?” JULY 2016 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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C

M

Y

CM

MY

CY

MY

K

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Alice Bentinck co-founder, Entrepreneur First

How talent is changing singapore’s startups ‘if you’re good enough to work for Google, don’t’. And this certainly holds true in Singapore. Creating an entrepreneurial culture means showing them that startups and tech are separate things. We’re starting to see this happen with a nice mix coming from larger tech corporates and computer-based research labs.

The evolving Talent pool in singapore has made the city-state perfect for startups

M

uch like London, Singapore’s pro-business policies and a strategic location have made it a thriving state as well as a favoured Asian business destination. So, when Entrepreneur First was looking to open its first global office, setting up shop in Singapore was a nobrainer. But what’s actually happening on the ground? From value-adding to value-creating Asian consumers are increasingly demanding quality and innovative products. Likewise, the Singapore government is increasingly advocating the need for its economy to move from value-adding to value-creating. This is developing an environment where individuals with a deep technical

ability and ideas can translate them into commercial solutions. The result of this is countless innovations and opportunities in areas such as preventative healthcare, the digital economy and solutions for urban sustainability to name a few. The new ‘traditional career path’ London and Singapore both have reputations for their top talent being poached by the financial services industry. Singapore has exceptional research taking place in its universities but its talent still follows traditional career paths in banking and law or moves into some of the heavyweight tech companies. But that is something we are working to change. One of our mantras is:

Amazing education system Startups in Singapore have plenty of options for finding individuals with the relevant skills thanks to the high quality of education available in the country. Nearly 80% of our first intake in the country studied at either the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University or Singapore University of Technology and Design. That is three of the six biggest national universities. This is symptomatic of a wider trend. We are seeing a spike in people working on things like robotics, electric cars or augmented reality, all with years of research and industry experience on niche topics. There are now lots of people doing groundbreaking stuff who, up until now, have had very few role models for building companies with hardcore technology. Exciting future We have been truly amazed by Singapore’s talent. At the moment, Entrepreneur First is the only organisation in town doing this; in a few years it’s going to be very different. Right now we feel like Singapore is on the cusp of something great and so is Entrepreneur First. We’ve got a great team and a brilliant cohort waiting in the wings, so it is safe to say that Singapore’s startup scene is heading towards something good. JULY 2016 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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off Ta i l s. c o m

BY Eric Johansson

A surreal phone call turned James Davidson’s life on its head and made him bet everything on the bespoke dog food company Tails.com. With tens of thousands of satisfied customers, it is fair to say the gamble has paid off 32

Ask James Davidson, co-founder and CEO of Tails.com, how he got involved with the bespoke dog food company and he’ll tell you that it was barking mad. “It was such a surreal moment,” he says. “I was on the 52nd floor of the J.P. Morgan Tower in New York; at the time I received the call, Henry Kissinger was in the next meeting room.” Davidson had been in discussion about taking a role at Chia Co for four months but, on answering his phone, he heard the voice of Graham Bosher, serial entrepreneur and founder of Graze, the snack company. “He was working on a new idea with a vet named Joe Inglis and asked ‘why don’t you come and talk to us about it?’,” he recalls. Two days and one transatlantic flight later, Davidson found himself cramped into a one-bedroom flat in Kingston watching Bosher and Inglis excitedly explain their idea. The duo wanted to sell tailor-made dog food online, cutting out the middleman in the process. Whilst Inglis had the nutritional knowhow and Bosher could draw upon his e-commerce experience, they needed someone able to organise people and operations. “And that’s where I came in,” explains Davidson. As the former head of supply chain communications at Innocent Drinks and a life-long dog lover, he was perfectly suited for the role. And recognising a diamond in the rough, it didn’t take long to convince him. “By the end of the following day, I’d joined them,” he continues. “Ironically, Chia Co called shortly after with their final offer but they were too late.” Forgoing the high-paying job in the States, Davidson bet all he had on Tails.com. And the gamble paid off. Today, Tails.com has tens of thousands of dogs on its books and produces kibble and wet

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food tailored to each specific hound’s age, breed and health issues at the company’s factory in Heathrow. With the production handled in-house and the middleman out of the picture, they have been able to bring down the price, making it not just a product for the super-rich. “You are not going to change the world of pet food if only the rich can buy it,” argues Davidson. Having slashed prices, he became frustrated when reading an early review from a publication that didn’t believe Tails.com could pull off what it had promised. “It said that it was ‘marketing bullshit’ and that the equipment alone must cost a fortune,” says Davidson. But then he realised that the review was actually a blessing in disguise. If the reviewer couldn’t get their head around how the company could keep costs down, then their competition was probably far behind too. If no one else was making bespoke food at the same price, then Tails.com’s technical and organisational knowhow was sure to give them an edge. “That’s how we knew we could be a successful disrupter,” Davidson continues. But the company wouldn’t have been in the position to disrupt anything if Davidson and its other seven cofounders hadn’t put a lot of hard work into the company from the beginning, a process that started in November 2013 and climaxed with the business launch in July 2014. “We did so many things during those nine months,” says Davidson. “We had to find the right facilities, the right people and build relationships with suppliers.” However, another type of relationship proved equally important. While many startups struggle to raise money, the

founders of Tails.com used their networks to easily convince a group of angel investors to invest in the venture’s seed round. “An experienced co-founding team with a social network and a track record of success makes people more likely to invest,” explains Davidson. “For instance, Graham’s experience from Graze meant he already had relationships with many investors.” Securing cash was only half the battle though and there were still plenty of kinks for the company to work out. “You never understand everything until you go live,” says Davidson. One of the teething problems was that dogs proved to be surprisingly fussy eaters: some didn’t exactly wag their tails at the prospect of swapping familiar chow with new grub. “It is pretty demoralising to put in nine months of blood, sweat and tears for it to not work the way you wanted,” says Davidson. “At that point, it was important that we didn’t lose faith and found the energy to fix the problem.” Instead, the company solved the issue by expanding the selection of kibble available, ensuring that even the pickiest of canines could enjoy the taste and benefits of tailor-made food. Another thing they got wrong in the early days was how eager their clientele would be to interact with them. “We thought our customers didn’t want to talk to us,” says Davidson. However, that assumption soon proved to be erroneous. The buyers of the bespoke food simply weren’t content with anonymously ordering food online but wanted advice, James Davidson, Tails.com support and, encouragingly,

Knowing that we make a difference to people’s lives is my number one energy source 34

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to share the positive impact the food had on their dogs. Not only were the customers’ canine friends munching on the goodies, they were becoming healthier and their owners couldn’t stop themselves from telling Tails.com. “I get emails from customers every single day,” continues Davidson. “A dog is a member of the family so that improvement is a big deal for people.” And engaging with costumers and taking their suggestions to heart in this way has enabled Tails.com to offer a service awarded with an impressive 9.7 Trustpilot ranking. Not satisfied with simply reviewing the service online, a lot of customers send the company pictures of their dogs next to bags of kibble. In fact, one of the walls on the Richmond headquarters is covered with happy snaps of canines anticipating gastronomic bliss. “It is really amazing,” he says. “Knowing that we make a difference to people’s lives is my number one energy source.” And that knowledge is not just important to him but has proven essential for the company’s recruitment. “It is part of the reason why people want to come and work for us,” he says. “They like to sense that they are making a difference.” Chia Co’s failed attempt to net Davidson has also influenced Tails.com’s recruitment process: the CEO emphasises it’s important to hire swiftly to snatch interesting candidates. “If you like a CV, then you must do something about it quickly,” he says. Refusing to let talent slip between its fingers has enabled Tails.com to populate its Richmond headquarters with former Amazon software engineers, Nestlé employees and nutritionists with over 20 years of experience – including the person who developed the food formula for the royal dogs. And if working with A-players like that wasn’t fetching enough for prospective employees, another perk might do the trick. “They can bring their dogs to work,” says Davidson. With the team in place and a steadily expanding customer-base, Tails.com

You are not going to change the world of pet food if only the rich can buy it

James Davidson, Tails.com

is now looking towards the future. “Our goal is to change the world of pet food forever, so we have ambitions to move beyond dogs,” says Davidson. A European or an American expansion may also be on the horizon but, for now, Tails.com is focusing on ensuring the high quality of their service continues. “Choosing not to do stuff and focusing on executing what you do exceptionally well is really important,” he says. With the choice to forgo the job with Chia Co changing the course of his life, Davidson knows a thing or two about the importance of choices. Looking out at the office, at the miniature schnauzer Narla ambling around between the desks to say hello to people and at the photos on the wall, Davidson hasn’t regretted the decision for a second. “I remember sitting on a plane to Denmark to meet a supplier,” he says. “Looking out the window, I thought that this was the best job I’ve ever had because we are the masters of our destinies.” It isn’t New York but in many ways it’s much better.

JULY 2016 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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06/07/2016 21:30


Slice

of the

pie

Deciding who deserves a greater share of a startup isn’t always straightforward. But founders should take certain factors into consideration when calculating their equity split Divvying up equity fairly can be tough amongst members of a founding team. Many a startup has foundered upon these rocks, with squabbles over equity rapidly causing relationships between entrepreneurs to turn acrimonious. In light of this, working out a split that suits all involved can be pivotal in ensuring a company goes the distance. First of all, whilst it may be tempting to just split things down the middle, this isn’t necessarily the most effective solution. “There’s a school of thought out there that suggests that all cofounders should be completely equal,” says Luke Davis, co-founder of Money&Co, the peer-to-peer lending platform, and CEO of IW Capital, the private equity firm. “But not all companies are created equal: there’s often one person that brings a lot more to the table than the others.” One of the most significant things that an entrepreneur will be bringing to the table is the initial idea for the startup; as the core innovation that will drive the company, Davis believes this entitles the entrepreneur to a higher stake in the resulting business. “That should be reflected in the 36

BY JOSH RUSSELL

equity they receive because it was the catalyst that brought everyone else together,” he says. “Without that initial spark, there wouldn’t be a company to share in the first place.” Another consideration that will play a significant role in determining how much equity each team member is entitled to is how much effort they are likely to be investing in growing the business – so-called sweat equity. “If all founders are giving 100% of their committed time to the new project that’s one thing,” says Alessandro Casartelli, vice president at GP Bullhound, the international investment firm that provides advice on mergers and acquisitions, capital raising and private placement. “But if one of the founders is still doing a full-time job and can contribute only partially then that should be reflected in the ownership structure at the beginning.” But it isn’t always easy to predict how much work each party will end up contributing to a startup when founders first meet over a long black. Fortunately, this becomes much clearer with time. “You know intrinsically if people are pulling

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sp l i t ti ng e qui t y

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Spli t t i ng eq u i t y

their weight or not,” Davis says. He gives the example of a startup in which he was the majority shareholder: because the company wasn’t his only commercial commitment, he found that his co-founders were contributing much more time to its growth than he was. “They were basically driving the business forward and I was having to focus on other companies,” he says. “So I completely changed the equity structure and doubled their stakes.” Sweat isn’t the only factor that warrants a greater stake however; the equity split should also reflect how critical a founding team member’s skills are to the long-term goals of the business. “For example, if you’re building the next big artificial intelligence then the person who’s got a PhD in cognitive intelligence is going to write all of the algorithms,” says Casartelli. “That makes them the cornerstone of the business.” Given their talents will be instrumental in creating the startup’s secret sauce, this means they will warrant a much higher stake than someone working in a non-core area of the business. “The answer will be completely different from sector to sector but it boils down to the impact that they’re going to have on the success of the business,” he says. Not every consideration around equity is about what cofounders are bringing to the table: it’s also about the things they’re giving up. “If you’re founding a fintech company and you’re taking someone from a six-figure job in the City then there needs to be compensation for what they’re sacrificing to come onboard,” Davis says. Given startups don’t have the same financial clout as their larger brethren, they’re not going to be offering colossal salaries: instead the only way they can successfully fish in the same talent pool is by offering key hires a greater stake in the business. “You’re never going to be able to match the salary that they had from the income of a startup,” he says. “So you should offer equity options when certain milestones are reached.” No matter how founders go about splitting equity, it is vital that a proper vesting structure is put in place so that equity is awarded incrementally with time. “It depends on the industry but vesting should take place over three to four years to incentivise people meaningfully,” says Casartelli. “And, typically, for the first year they don’t get anything.” Ultimately the goal is to ensure that team members are incentivised to stay with the startup long-term whilst still allowing them to accrue a decent stake of the company in the medium-term. “Also you should give people a chance of

earning some liquidity along the way, for example by putting in place a scheme to repurchase equity for a set price,” he says. Discussions around equity should be an ongoing conversation: it is unlikely that any startup will hit upon the perfect split the first time around and never need to adjust things down the line. “The door always has to be open for discussions like that,” says Davis. “I’d rather someone sat down and spoke to me than think ‘it’s never going to move’ and end up going to a competitor.” Being willing to revisit equity arrangements periodically and having an open-mind when they do means that startups can ensure that all members of the team are pulling in the same direction. “It’s important to have flexibility, rather than just setting and forgetting it,” he says. Lastly, when working out cap tables and deciding how equity should be split amongst their founders, Casartelli urges startups to avoid overcomplicating the issue. “The overarching rule is simplicity,” he says. “These systems can become very messy and, if you create the wrong incentives, take a long time to unravel.” Instead of putting in place onerous and restrictive systems to divvy up equity, the most important thing to remember is rewarding those who will be instrumental in driving the company’s future growth. “It all boils down to what people have contributed to the story so far and how they are going to contribute to the story going forward,” he concludes.

If one of the founders can contribute only partially then that should be reflected in the ownership structure Alessandro Casartelli, GP Bullhound

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A DVERTI SI NG F E ATURE

Q A

able to offer solutions that ultimately complement their plans. Our clients find this a comfort; certainly it is something cited frequently in customer satisfaction feedback and is also supported by our repeat business rate, which is consistently in excess of 80% business-wide.

&

LDF is the UK’s largest independent provider of asset finance solutions to SMEs. Celebrating its 30th year in business this year, it has also recently launched a dedicated online asset finance solution, lendinghive

We chat to Andy Davies, LDF Sales Director about some key topics

Q: A:

What finance is available to SMEs?

There is a common misconception that finance can only be used for equipment and cars. However, businesses have quite comprehensive options available to them. We have seen a steep rise in the number of companies taking finance for areas of expenditure such as corporation tax, VAT, business refurbishment and more recently, business development. These alternatives help SMEs spread the cost of essential outgoings and to retain money within the business for investment in other areas. For many, it’s simply become an extension to their cash flow cycle, supporting investment at crucial points.

Q:

What support is available to businesses who need asset finance solutions outside of the nine-to-five?

A:

For many businesses, the options can be limited. Many banks and finance houses to tend to operate only within regular working hours and, whilst this is not an issue for larger businesses, for those sole traders and micro-businesses where owners are heavily involved in the day-to-day operations, taking time to

look at finance can be a difficult task. That’s where lendinghive is different. We aim to support smaller businesses who need to explore asset finance as a means to develop their businesses, but that need to do so outside of the nine-to-five. Users can access up to £100,000 in asset finance simply and, subject to providing us with the required information, they can expect a decision in a matter of minutes. Our online system puts business owners back in control and helps to put asset finance firmly back on the agenda.

Q: A:

Why is it important for businesses to find the right finance partner?

For most business owners, taking the decision to invest in their business is not taken lightly. Finance for many can be an alien concept but increasingly business owners are starting to explore the many merits finance can offer as part of a longer term strategy for growth. In order to develop, you need to invest and when funds are not immediately available to do so, other avenues are likely to be explored. We are a business committed to developing long-term relationships with clients and as such we take the time to understand their businesses in detail so that we are

Q:

Research has suggested that many business owners are still unaware of the different uses for asset finance and business loans. Is this evident?

A:

The last few years has seen a significant shift in banking and finance culture, in respect of innovative lending solutions. This has resulted in a positive change in the perception of third party funding as a means to support and facilitate growth There is still some way to go however, with 51.1% still uncertain of exactly which options are available to them and 30% still uncertain of using finance to support investment, be that in equipment or to cover other essential expenditures. For us, it is very much a process of education. It’s about helping businesses to realise their potential through finance and ensuring that they are fully aware of the options available to them outside of traditional banking channels. It is still a concern to us that so many businesses are still using their own personal funds to sustain business development and growth. So promoting the various options that are available is essential to provide an alternative for these individuals. It’s not just equipment that can be financed. We have seen a significant rise in other areas, specifically the level of businesses choosing to spread the cost of expenditure such as corporation tax, VAT and business development initiatives, not because they struggle to source the money to cover these costs, but because for them it makes sense to retain existing cash flow within the business. For many it has become an extension to their ongoing cash flow management and, as such, we develop ongoing relationships with these businesses. JULY 2016 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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Sharing the Love Not content with buildiofngthe Love Home Swap into oneceonomy UK’s premier sharing ow has startups, Debbie Wosskto help made it her mission otsteps others follow in her fo WORDS BY JOSH RUSSELL / PHOTOGRAPHY BY NATALIE SEERY

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C

Certainly Wosskow hasn’t ever lacked for entrepreneurial inspiration. “I’ve always been surrounded by entrepreneurs,” she says. Her father was an Oxford-educated lawyer with his own firm, whilst her mother owned her own printing and packaging business. Seeing so many people imbued with the startup spirit certainly had an impact on the young Wosskow: by age 12 she had started working at her mother’s business and became the national winner of Young Enterprise at just 15 with a business that sold hair scrunchies. “Not only is entrepreneurialism very much in my DNA but being surrounded by people that have started their own businesses normalises it,” she says. But Wosskow didn’t just get a taste for entrepreneurialism from her parents. “In my family, two things were really important: business and academic excellence,” she says. After leaving school, she followed in her father’s footsteps and secured a place at the University of Oxford studying philosophy and theology. As well as teaching her some incredibly valuable tools for her future career – such as being able to parse large quantities of information and present a

ounting female tech stars like Sarah Wood and Martha Lane Fox amongst her close friends, it’s safe to say that being connected to a community of likeminded entrepreneurs has been important for Debbie Wosskow, the founder and CEO of Love Home Swap. Having built the home-swapping startup into a household name, she is now dedicated to ensuring that the next generation of female-led startups have an ecosystem of their own.

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D e b b i e Wosskow

confident and coherent argument – her time there also brought her into the social circles of future digital luminaries like Martha Lane Fox and Brent Hoberman. “Within tech, there’s an awful lot of Oxbridge graduates,” she says. “I’ve been very lucky to have that network, particularly when it comes to women.” In 1995, entrepreneurialism wasn’t exactly a standard career path for an Oxford graduate, so after Wosskow completed her MA, she secured a position with the American management consultancy Oliver Wyman. “It was a real baptism of fire,” she recalls. “They graded you on how you were doing relative to your intake and I came bottom: I’d never been bottom at anything.” Despite this, for Wosskow it proved an invaluable experience: not only does she feel it’s important for entrepreneurs to learn how to overcome their limitations but her time working for the business also taught her a great deal about measuring performance and profitability. “If you’re going to be an entrepreneur, the sooner you can get that into your system the better,” she says. After leaving Oliver Wyman, Wosskow briefly went to work for the Brunswick Group, at the time just a plucky startup with 50 employees, and this once again started her thinking about creating something of her own. “At that time, it was the middle of the dotcom boom and lots of people I knew were setting up their own businesses,” says Wosskow. “It felt like the gold rush.” Eager to stake her claim in this wild new frontier, she co-founded Mantra PR with Lawrence Dore and, whilst she admits they were perhaps a little naive at first, they quickly learned a great deal about how to sell, scale a business and deal with investors. “We didn’t know much to start with but I really grew up with that company,” she says. Recognition of this fact came in 2001 when Wosskow was selected for the first ever Management Today 35 Women Under 35, something she felt definitely gave her a little extra punch when meeting with clients and investors.

If an idea gives you goosebumps every time you think about it, then you know it’s a keeper

“When you are young and don’t have experience, independent markers of success and credibility are helpful,” she says. And Wosskow was in rarified company indeed: fellow entrepreneurs Michelle Mone, Martha Lane Fox and Stella McCartney were all also featured the same year. “It was an amazing group of people,” she says. “They’ve been doing it for fifteen years now and there’s been some fantastic people on that list.” By 2007, Wosskow and Dore had decided it was time to move on from Mantra so they sold the business to the Loewy Group, the marketing services company. “For all sorts of financial reasons, it felt like the appropriate moment,” Wosskow explains. After a short time serving as an investor and holding several board positions, she plunged once more unto the breach when she founded Maidthorn Partners, an investment and advisory firm, with close friend and former EMAP board member Simon Walker. “Really it just started out as ‘let’s have some fun and invest some of the money that we’ve made in other people’s businesses’,” she says. The duo spent the next two years helping media and tech companies find their feet, something that Wosskow really relished. “It was a great time creatively and was really fun,” she says. “But the biggest thing for me was trying to find my next adventure.” Ironically, it was thanks to a rather underwhelming adventure abroad in 2011 that inspiration struck: Wosskow took her young children to an expensive hotel in the Caribbean but spent much of the holiday eating room service in front of a muted TV while her infant daughter slept. On the flight home, she happened to watch The Holiday, a romcom in which Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet swap homes. “I thought: ‘Does that exist? Because that’s the holiday I wish I’d just had’,” she says. On her return, Wosskow began to think about how a platform that allowed holidaymakers to trade their homes would offer a more personal experience for all involved – and soon she found she couldn’t get the thought out of her head. “If an idea gives you goosebumps every time you think about it, then you know it’s a keeper,” she says. “That was how the the Love Home Swap story began.” JULY 2016 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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Deb b i e Wo sskow

In Wosskow’s eyes, the best way to think about Love Home Swap is as online dating for homes: users set up profiles for their homes and their local areas and find people with whom they’d like to trade. “To a certain extent, what people are buying into is a life swap,” she says. “Of equal importance to the look of your home is your neighbourhood and the things that you do, whether that’s visiting your local farmers’ market or your favourite bar.” Perhaps its most innovative feature however is a relative recent addition: Love Home Swap now allows users to accrue points when people stay in their homes rather than doing a direct trade, for example enabling users to holiday in Cape Town yet share their own home with a Parisian. “That has been what has really driven our growth: 75% of all of our swaps are finalised using points,” Wosskow explains. Given its focus on facilitating conversations between consumers, one of the first steps that Love Home Swap had to take was establishing a thriving community. Not only did the startup get a lot of mileage out of techniques like PPC and SEO but Wosskow also invested a great deal of effort telling her tale to new audiences. “It was just about spreading the story, talking about the business and people behind it,” she says. And once Love Home Swap had attracted consumers to use its service, it encouraged them to share their experiences with others. “When people home swap, they go out and tell other people that they’ve had this amazing holiday,” she says. “So we really invested in incentivising members to share what they’d done with other people.” However, even once it began to build a community, it still needed to win over investors.

“Five years ago, there was no real understanding of on-demand marketplaces or the sharing economy,” explains Wosskow. This meant securing venture capital for the business was far from straightforward: many VCs struggled to wrap their heads around why someone would risk inviting an unknown element into their homes. Fortunately, thanks to her experience as an entrepreneur, Wosskow was able to convince MMC Ventures to take a punt on the business and invest £850k in its seed round. “Having a track record and previous exits was very useful,” she says. “I was seen both as someone who could drive the business forward but also who would convincingly be able to spread its story.” And MMC’s faith in the venture has since been vindicated, with the high-profile successes of startups like Airbnb and Uber driving greater public awareness of the sharing economy. “In my world, we see what we call the Airbnb afterglow,” Wosskow says. “It has normalised the very thing that investors said nobody would ever do.” Despite the fact that there are significant differences between the Silicon Valley homerental startup and Love Home Swap, the former has helped to really cement the concept of the sharing economy in the public conscious. “My mother stayed in an Airbnb in the summer,” she says. “She’s a 70-year-old woman: the thought of her doing that five years ago would have been very unlikely.” With the sharing economy taking off around the world, Wosskow didn’t constrain herself to just boosting her own business. Not only did she launch Collaborative Consumption Europe, a quarterly meetup and panel discussion for sharing economy startups, but in 2014 the UK government tasked her to produce an independent report into the sharing economy. “That was a huge piece of work,” she says. “It was very full-on.” After ten weeks, Wosskow delivered a whole host of recommendations for ways in which the sector could be given a helping hand, including the creation of Sharing Economy UK, a new industry body designed to represent the sector that she now chairs. In Wosskow‘s eyes, it’s absolutely vital for a new industry having someone fighting its corner. “It really helps an emerging sector to have a spokesperson who can articulate key messages on behalf of the entire

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D e b b i e Wosskow

Women in tech is one of my big passions; you have to put your money where your mouth is

industry, particularly to political stakeholders,” she says. “Everything that I’ve done is to try and make the UK the global home of the sharing economy.” But Wosskow believes that the sharing economy isn’t the only thing in need of a champion. “The statistics for female founders, women raising venture capital and female investors are all terrible,” she says. “And the only way that we are going to change that conversation is by doing something about it.” To this end, Wosskow has made it her mission to give female founders a leg up: she backed three female-led startups in 2015 alone. “Women in tech is one of my big passions,” she says. “And you have to put your money where your mouth is: you’ve got to pitch in and help out.” In light of these efforts, it’s hardly surprising that Wosskow was included in Queen’s 90th birthday honours last month, receiving an OBE for services to business. “I was in amazing company this year: I felt really privileged to be on that list,” she beams. Not only was there a big showing for male entrepreneurs – Richard Reed, Eben Upton, Martin Dickie and James Watt all received honours – but there were also a great number of female tech

entrepreneurs recognised, with Sarah Wood and Alex Depledge picking up an OBE and MBE respectively. “These are my proper girlfriends so it felt like a really good year for the girls,” she says. And it’s also been a very good year for Wosskow herself, with Love Home Swap going from strength to strength. “The business had 250 homes on the site when it launched,” she says. “It now has almost 150,000.” Thanks to two strategic acquisitions – Home Exchange in 2013 and HomeForExhange in late 2015 – as well as the recent purchase of a stake in the business by Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Love Home Swap has rapidly come to make serious inroads into Europe. And it has no intention of letting up: its targets are to at least double in size year-on-year. “Our growth has been enormous,” she says. “My strategy is to continue to grow the business organically but also to look at acquisitions where appropriate.” Beyond Love Home Swap, Wosskow admits she still has a few itches she’d like to scratch. “We’ve learnt a lot over the last five years about how to grow a sharing economy marketplace,” she says. “There’s a lot of other things that we could do with that knowledge.” Additionally, she intends to dedicate more time to championing female entrepreneurs. “In the same way that I’ve been focusing on making the UK the home of the sharing economy, I’d like to make it the best place in the world to be a female entrepreneur,” she concludes. “That should keep me busy for the next few years.” JULY 2016 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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Around the block

Increasing numbers of consumers are deploying ad blocking software to circumvent online advertising. But what can publishers do to tackle this trend? by josh russell

Ad blocking technology – which allows consumers to prevent adverts from being served when browsing the web – is having a huge impact on online advertising. According to The 2015 Ad Blocking Report produced by PageFair and Adobe, 12 million people were using ad blocking technology by June 2015, while the global cost to publishers grew to $22bn last year. Evidently there has never been a greater pressure on content outlets to understand and find ways to address the rising use of ad blockers. Numerous factors are encouraging consumers to adopt the technology, with perhaps the most obvious being obstructive and in-your-face marketing tactics. “The internet as a whole has become overloaded with ads at the expense of user experience,” says Mark Howard, chief revenue officer JULY 2016 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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A d b lo c k i ng

at Forbes, the international business magazine. Whether it’s pages choking under the weight of endless display ads or irritating autoplay videos, many users are frustrated with being bombarded by low-quality marketing. And this is causing reputable publishers to suffer along with the bad. “It’s the tragedy of the commons,” explains Howard. “While it may not be the more premium websites that are most guilty of it, certain consumers are choosing to deploy ad blocking to counteract what has become an overarchingly negative experience internet-wide.” Nosediving trust in online advertising practices is also proving a significant issue. Increasingly consumers are becoming more worried with the way their data is being handled and certain blunt advertising practices are not helping to assuage their concerns. Nic Oliver, founder of people.io, the marketplace allowing consumers to control and license their personal data, gives the example of ad retargeting, in which consumers that have browsed a certain product will continue to see it advertised around the web once they have left the site. Whilst the practice is entirely benign, it can understandably spook consumers who don’t understand the underlying tech. “All the naive consumer sees is this product following them around,” he says. “They go: ‘whoa, how do you know what I’ve been looking at?’” Because of this confluence of factors, publishers and platforms are increasingly panicking about the effect ad blocking could have on their

The internet as a whole has become overloaded with ads at the expense of user experience Mark Howard, Forbes

50

revenue, which can lead to some taking counterproductive action. “The publishers are freaking out, think ‘we’ve got a reduced number of users, the pie is shrinking so we need to maximise the value of each consumer as much as possible,” says Dominic Waghorn, strategy director at Syzygy, the digital agency. “That means adding more intrusive ads and it just becomes a race to the bottom.” Alternatively, some publishers take the nuclear option and outright ban consumers deploying the technology but this fails to recapture the revenue those users would otherwise generate and simply drives the development of more sophisticated software to circumvent detection. “They’re not going to win that arms race,” he says. “They’re on a hiding to nothing.” Some platforms have opted for the slightly more elegant solution of offering ad-free subscriptions to users they detect deploying ad blockers but

this tactic is not without flaws. “There are very few publishers worldwide who have cracked the code for how to do that successfully,” says Howard. “They need to have an extremely strong value proposition for the consumer, offering unique content that they cannot get anywhere else.” And given that the publishing industry has historically struggled to persuade users to pay for online content, relying on subscriptions is not something publishers should enter into lightly. “It’s not something that can just easily be turned on or off: you have to make a major commitment to that strategy,” he says. Perhaps more effective is focusing on how publishers can up the value of their offering whilst keeping the disruption caused by ads to a minimum. “It’s about creating good quality engagement so that the user feels there is an equitable balance between ads and content,” Oliver says. Effectively if the industry can find a way to offer

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A d b loc k i ng

Breaking the block FORBES

The smart companies are thinking consumer-first; they’re the ones that are going to succeed

consumers positive experiences whilst obstructing browsing as little as possible, then it may begin to reverse the tide of individuals using ad blockers. “The ideal strategy is striking a better balance between disruption and value,” he says. Nic Oliver, people.io One of the best ways to do this is by improving the way ads are deployed. “Publishers need to work with experts to improve user experience,” says Waghorn. “If we have a better balance, people will be a bit more receptive towards seeing advertising on these sites.” By offering fewer yet higher-quality ads and ditching the most unpleasant formats, publishers may be able tempt consumers into adding their site to the ad blocker’s whitelist. And there is some evidence this strategy is working. “The media companies that have been experimenting with this have seen real improvements,” he says. Ultimately, rather than responding to ad blocking with hostility, the best publishers are directly participating in a dialogue around the technology with their audiences. “The smart companies are thinking consumer-first,” Oliver says. “They’re the ones that are going to succeed in this ad blocking debate.” In fact, by heeding consumers’ concerns over advertising, publishers have a golden opportunity to provide a much better service and win long-term loyalty. “The ones that will triumph when it comes to ad blocking are those that are thinking of their audiences, not the industry,” he concludes.

Forbes is certainly no stranger to dealing with ad blockers. “About 17% of our desktop and around 7% our global traffic comes in with ad blockers,” says Mark Howard, the magazine’s chief revenue officer. “It’s not an insignificant number when you add all that up.” Recognising last year that the problem was not simply going to go away, Forbes realised it had two options. “You can either take action and try to better understand why these people are using the technology or you can do nothing,” he says. “We always choose action over wait and see.” In December 2015, Forbes deployed detection software and started to ask those using the technology if they would consider turning off their ad blocker or whitelisting Forbes in return for an ad-light experience. This light-touch approach removed the site’s welcome mat, as well as autoplay preroll and interstitial videos, providing a much more streamlined browsing experience. “We’re very respectful of their concerns over the ad experience and, in exchange for them whitelisting us, we’re delivering them a very different type of experience while they’re on Forbes,” Howard says. And it added a new feature in May for those stuck behind corporate firewalls or who resolutely refuse to forego their ad blockers: the option of logging in through Facebook or Google for an ad-free environment. “We haven’t yet figured out a monetisation plan around those people but, in aggregate, we’re getting a much better look at who they are and how they engage with the site,” says Howard. All in all, these efforts to reclaim the impressions lost to ad blocking have been very beneficial to Forbes. “You can see how obviously month after month it adds up to be very meaningful,” he says.

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Funding for growth

could be closer

than you think

We understand that finding the right funding for your growth plans can be a daunting prospect, but the answer could be closer than you think. At ABN AMRO Commercial Finance we have the expertise and understanding to help you release the working capital within your assets. Our Asset Based Lending solutions give you the confidence you need to grow your business on your own terms. Contact our team of experts on 0808 278 4787 to find out more. www.abnamrocomfin.com/abl

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A DVERTI SI NG F E ATURE

Building your business with receivables finance – a leap into the unknown? Access to finance is commonly highlighted as a key problem for growing companies that are trying to juggle overheads while being hampered by Britain’s notorious late-payment culture. Receivables finance is a long established tool to release working capital from a company’s assets, the greatest of which is unpaid invoices. However, awareness of its existence and potential benefits is still painfully low among a large proportion of SMEs. A type of asset-based lending (ABL), receivables finance is perhaps one of the best kept secrets in the funding landscape. And it comes in two simple forms. 1 Factoring An ABL partner will advance up to 90% on unpaid invoices and will include credit control so that it collects from your customer. This can result in a reduction of late payment stress and, in some cases, headcount. This combination has the potential to allow the business to focus on growth strategy and new custom. The remaining invoice value is advanced upon receipt minus a fee. 2 Invoice discounting Again, an advance of up to 90% on invoices is available but it is often offered confidentially to businesses with a well-established in-house sales ledger management team, which collects payment from customers in the normal way.

So why isn’t it growing? The Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA), the trade body that works with organisations and businesses to regulate the industry, reported in January 2016 that ABL supports 15.1% of all UK company turnover (¤189.7bn). That equates to one-third higher than the European average. Separate research conducted by FundInvoice found that only 12% of the 100 fast-growth companies it surveyed were using invoice finance. Of the rest, only 5% had considered it, and the reasons why were quite revealing. Some 23.8% had never heard of it; 27.4% said that it wasn’t mentioned as an option by the bank’s accountants or advisors; 11.9% thought it would be too expensive and 3.6% still believed it was the last resort for failing companies. Ironically, another poll by FundInvoice suggested that those using invoice finance grow quicker than those that don’t. It found that 12% of companies with turnover growth of over 20% per annum were using invoice finance, against an estimate of just 0.86% of UK businesses overall. And when existing invoice-finance customers were asked if using these services had enabled them to grow their business, the vast majority confirmed that they had. So, while ABL’s greater adoption is being held back by a lack of awareness and pre-conception of high costs, businesses that have used the funding method are statistically proven to grow faster. ABN AMRO Commercial Finance is trying to deliver some clarity and transparency and has just launched a dedicated campaign to those new to receivables finance. Its 3-2-1 promotion offers three months of base-rate discount charges to ease the financial investment, a two-part loyalty reward to celebrate the ongoing partnership and a one-month rolling agreement to demonstrate its confidence that once you’ve experienced the benefits of receivables finance, you’ll want to maximise them to the full.

Receivables finance is perhaps one of the best kept secrets in the funding landscape

JULY 2016 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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A NEW

HOPE WITH THE COST OF LAUNCHING A SATELLITE BEING SLASHED BY THE SECOND, A NUMBER OF BRITISH STARTUPS ARE TAKING THE SPACE SECTOR INTO UNCHARTED TERRITORY BY ADAM PESCOD

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PUBLIC INTEREST IN OUTER SPACE has never been greater on these shores. But while many people have been celebrating the exploits of British astronaut Tim Peake and the triumphant return of Star Wars, what’s happening just below the surface is arguably more exciting. Better access to big data combined with declining launch costs have opened space up to smaller players – and they are harnessing it in ways that were previously unimaginable. “Space is becoming more privatised and much smaller things are being put into orbit,” says Joyeeta Das, co-founder and CEO of Gyana, the space-technology company. “That’s essentially making it much easier for small and medium-sized businesses to participate.” It’s certainly a far cry from the days when space was seen as the preserve of national governments. “The industry is going through a process of democratisation, where disruption is skewing things toward commercial applications,” says Mike Lawton, founder and CEO of Oxford Space Systems, the developer of low-cost deployable space structures. “That means we’re seeing smaller missions, more aggressive timeframes and a willingness to embrace innovative, risky technology.”

You won’t believe the amount of data we already have from space Joyeeta Das, Gyana

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£40bn

size the UK government is looking to grow space sector to by 2030

In many respects, the UK is the perfect place from which to launch a space startup. “There are fantastic universities and talent here and they are developing some amazing technology,” says Corentin Guillo, founder and CEO of Bird.i, which is delivering real-time satellite imagery to the mass market. “That’s something you need in order to build any type of business in the space sector.” Britain also has a space hub to be reckoned with in the shape of Harwell Campus. Located in the heart of Oxfordshire – and home to the UK Space Agency – the campus is connecting academics and startups with established players in a bid to drive the sector towards its £40bn target. “What Harwell offers is his transformation has not gone the ecosystem to actually accelerate unnoticed by the British government, that contact between small and large organisations,” says Dr Barbara which is looking to more than treble the Ghinelli, business development size of the UK’s space sector to £40bn by director for the Science and 2030. And this doesn’t just encompass companies Technology Facilities Council (STFC) at Harwell Campus.  that are helping put astronauts into orbit. “Space But that’s not to say the best can and does support so many other sectors; innovations are all emerging from the southern reaches of the UK. In things like agriculture or financial services,” says Scotland, the likes of Clyde Space Colin Baldwin, UK Space Gateway programme and PocketQube Shop are pioneering manager at the UK Space Agency. “As a nation, the miniaturisation of satellites, which is opening up a whole host we are trying to join up all of these dots and of opportunities for companies make people understand that space is relevant to and consumers alike. “If you can miniaturise the technology, the cost everybody, everyday.” to getting something into orbit is so much lower,” says Tom Walkinshaw, founder and CEO of PocketQube Shop. “That means you can disrupt massive industries and start looking at use cases that previously weren’t possible.”  And it’s this appetite for disruption that makes startups such a key part of the space industry’s

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future. “It’s very important we bring innovative solutions that are small, that impact the life of regular people and that are the result of direct upstream and downstream space technology,” says Das. “It’s not just about SpaceX and massive things like that.” In fact, the sector’s big hitters are becoming increasingly dependent on the work being done by the smaller players. “Some of the big names in Europe have openly said to us that they look towards SMEs to undertake the risk of genuinely disruptive technology,” says Lawton. “We are de-risking the scary new stuff for them.” Predictably, the innovations emerging from Britain’s space sector haven’t gone unnoticed by the investment community. “It no longer takes ten, 20 or 30 years to develop your technology; you can do this in a matter of three, four or five years,” says Guillo. “From an investment perspective, it’s much more attractive because you know you can invest in a company that could exit in a reasonable timeframe.” Moreover, with big data becoming bigger business by the day, there’s enormous value in the information that’s been drawn from space. “You won’t believe the amount of data we already have from space,” says Das. “We are sitting on a resource that is already there, that doesn’t cost anything and that is dying to show a use case. That’s a very compelling opportunity for investors.” The government is also stumping up capital for ambitious space startups through Innovate UK. As well as offering grants to help get businesses off the ground, last year’s Space Mission saw Innovate UK fly nine companies out to the States to seek investment and meet some of the industry’s heavyweights. “Being exposed to what was happening in the US really helped us accelerate the positioning of Bird.i,” says Guillo. “But the most important aspect was access to finance; it was an opportunity to pitch to investors and start making some connections.” 

If you can miniaturise the technology, the cost of getting something into orbit is so much lower Tom Walkinshaw, PocketQube Shop

Flying high Bird.i Corentin Guillo first had the idea for Bird.i while working in the French space industry. It was a time when Google, Yahoo and Microsoft were releasing their own mapping applications and the likes of Airbus were supplying the sector with real-time satellite imagery. “I always had this vision of bringing these resources into the reach of individuals and businesses,’ says Guillo. However, he soon realised this wasn’t a vision he could bring to life in his native country. “I discovered very quickly that it would never happen in France because of the state of the industry,” he adds. “That’s why I decided to move to the UK. The mindset of this country is much more open.” While working at the Satellite Applications Catapult, Guillo was able to access the finance he needed to get Bird.i off the ground and demonstrate it to customers. The company then became one of 90 startups to be inducted onto Mass Challenge UK, the accelerator programme. Not only did this help Guillo get to grips with pitching to investors and forging an effective marketing strategy, it also hooked him up with some business mentors. “That was really important because as a startup, you need to access people with experience who will help you succeed,” says Guillo. The company is now working closely with drone and satellite providers to make real-time satellite imagery available to the mass market. By way of example, Guillo says having access to this imagery could allow a construction company to monitor the progress of its building sites in real-time. Alternatively, a holiday-goer could check whether the online description of a hotel really stacks up. “By showing you the latest imagery, you will know that if you book this hotel today and you go there next week, this is exactly what you will find,” says Guillo. ‘It’s really about making this imagery a part of your life.”

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Inside knowledge Gyana Gyana is a great example of how space can breathe new life into big data. The company started to take shape while its co-founder and CEO Joyeeta Das was studying for her MBA at Oxford; a government-funded trip to the Kennedy Space Centre saw her spend some time with NASA, as well as industry heavyweights Virgin Galactic and Lockheed Martin. “I got to see up close and personal what these guys are doing,” says Das. “And I found that there are still a lot of things that we can do with big data and space.” Suffice to say, it got her entrepreneurial juices flowing. “I couldn’t have been an astronaut but I thought I could maybe make a good space entrepreneur,” she laughs. Before long, Das had brought Gyana’s two co-founders on board; Andrew Li, her MBA classmate, joined as COO, while her husband David Kell, also from Oxford, assumed the role of CTO. And, with some serious academic and engineering credentials behind it, Gyana set about developing its groundbreaking tech. Bringing emotional intelligence together with deep learning, machine learning and satellite imagery, it can identify how people in a particular place are feeling at any time of the day, while also providing data on transport infrastructure and trends such as crime rates. “There are many things we want to know about a place when we are looking down on it from above,” says Das. “What we are trying to do with Gyana is bring that to life.” Raising its first seed round from a VC in Chicago in May 2015, Gyana extend this to $3m in November and has already ploughed over $1m into product development. It is now targeting a Series A raise of $20m before the end of 2016, which will come from investors in both the UK and Silicon Valley. “The money we are raising right now is to scale up the product,” says Das. “We want to take Gyana to everybody.”

As a nation, we are trying to join up all of these dots and make people understand that space is relevant to everybody, everyday Colin Baldwin, UK Space Agency

However, UK space startups still face a number of challenges when it comes to funding. As it stands, only 20% of government money is available through Innovate UK, with the remaining 80% committed via the European Space Agency (ESA). While bodies like the Satellite Applications Catapult are doing their bit to help companies secure vital funding from the ESA, Lawton says it has been one of the biggest barriers to growth for Oxford Space Systems. “The ESA struggles to work with highly innovative, fast-moving companies because it is risk-averse and doesn’t understand disruptive business models,” says Lawton. “That essentially puts a brake on the industry.” Another challenge facing the industry is space pollution. With companies launching ‘mega constellations’ of small satellites, outer space could soon find itself clogged up with even more debris. “If the world wants to exploit space in a sustainable way, we need to find a way to get rid of the satellites that are not being used anymore,” says Guillo. “Otherwise it will be too crowded and risky to launch anything.” Thankfully, the ESA, along with a number of other companies, are busy working on solutions to this problem. “That’s another industry that’s already starting to grow,” says Das. “It’s looking to clean up the space industry.” In spite of these obstacles, the future looks bright for the British space sector. And its place on the map will surely be cemented when Europe’s first spaceport opens on these shores. “That will show that the UK is serious about space,” says Baldwin.  JULY 2016 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

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Pa rt-t i me ent r e p r ene u rs

DON’T GIVE UP THE DAY JOB (just yet)

Walking away from a job can be incredibly tempting for anyone with a great business idea. It’s easy to see how the prospect of self-employment and taking something of your own to market could convince anyone to hand in their P45. However, in a world still recovering from recession, it’s impossible for the majority of entrepreneurs to quit their day job straight away. Unless you’ve got some serious savings tucked away, reality dictates that you’ll have to balance business ownership with full-time employment in the early part of your entrepreneurial journey. Yet, far from being a necessary evil, sticking with the nine-to-five is arguably the most prudent course for budding entrepreneurs. “If you create options for yourself and explore those options before jumping in full-time, you can materially increase your chances of success,” says Patrick McGinnis, managing partner of Dirigo Advisors, the investment and advisory firm, and author of The 10% Entrepreneur, which examines how people can fulfil their entrepreneurial ambitions while maintaining a steady salary. Not only does remaining in work remove the pressure of having to succeed straight away, it also gives entrepreneurs a chance to experiment without the money running dry. Moreover, as McGinnis explains, it lets people assess whether they’re really BY ADAM PESCOD cut out for entrepreneurship. “I have talked to many people who dreamed of being entrepreneurs but the minute they actually did it full-time, found out it wasn’t suited to them,” he says. Suffice to say, part-time entrepreneurs must be pragmatic and strategic with the time they spend on their startup. “It’s about having realistic expectations about what you can achieve,” says McGinnis. “You’ve got to be smart about the goals you set and the timeline you create.” Ultimately, someone who is equipped with an entrepreneurial mindset should have no problem balancing the two. “In reality, anybody who has ever dreamt of being in charge of their own destiny will make time to do so,” he adds. “And they will do it in an intelligent way by setting realistic goals and viewing it as an incremental but ongoing part of their lives.”

Running a startup alongside a job is a serious undertaking but it can help de-risk a founder’s first taste of entrepreneurship

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The write stuff Despite being a freelance TV presenter, Adrian Simpson was effectively working full-time when he had the idea for All Speeches Great and Small, which offers bespoke, professionally written speeches for weddings and other occasions. His role on A Place in the Sun, the popular Channel 4 show, often saw him filming from the crack of dawn. “I would sometimes be up at 5am and then I’d work all the way through until midnight,” says Simpson. “But it’s the same for anyone who starts a business – unless you are prepared to put the hours in, it’s never going to work.” The All Speeches Great and Small story started when somebody asked Simpson to write their wedding speech. As a former journalist, it was something that he relished. “I wrote a lot of speeches for myself at work,” says Simpson. “I always really enjoyed the creative side of it.” And when a stag and hen weekend startup founded by a friend acquired a website that offered bespoke wedding speeches, Simpson decided to get involved. “Before long, I decided I would start my own company and just build it from there,” he says. However, Simpson’s personal circumstances meant he couldn’t simply drop his freelance commitments. “I needed an income because I’ve got 64

three kids,” he says. “Whilst the actual money to start a service business is quite small, having to advertise can be relatively expensive.” Securing startup capital for All Speeches Great and Small was also out of the question. “I don’t think my wife would have allowed me to take on external funding,” Simpson laughs. “And, as a freelance TV presenter, I just wouldn’t have been able to borrow any money.” While the speechwriting side of the business came naturally to Simpson, his shortage of digital know-how meant he had to learn a number of other things from scratch. “There are so many different moving parts to a digital business that understanding them just took lots of time,” he says. “I was learning through Google’s Digital Garage how to do the advertising and the analytics.” Simpson spent a year juggling his job with his startup before deciding to run the company full-time. “I contacted my agent and said, ‘that’s it: I’m done’,” he says. “It was a very lovely moment.” Suffice to say, Simpson didn’t take the leap until he was sure it would provide him with a steady income. “I had a good idea of what the sales cycle might look like for the business, what ads would be costing me for a year, how much business I could expect in and what my Patrick McGinnis, Dirigo markets were,” he adds. Advisors It was a tough 12 months for Simpson but, given he is now writing speeches for politicians, musicians and Premiership footballers, the hard work appears to have paid off. “Mentally and physically you have to be on top of your game because you will be working long hours and juggling two different lives,” he says. “But it’s going to lead to a critical junction where you can say goodbye to one life and embrace another. So you just have to steel yourself for that.”

It’s about having realistic expectations about what you can achieve

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Just the job Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library, was first inspired to launch the job site after struggling with his own search for employment. “It was really timeconsuming having to post my CV to everybody, visit numerous recruitment agencies and drive around to local companies,” says Biggins. “It seemed to make sense to create a website where you could post your CV and everyone could come and find you.” But with zero experience of the recruitment industry to draw upon, Biggins wasn’t able to jump headfirst into launching the company. For the first couple of years, he balanced his startup commitments with paid work at local job agencies. Not only did this provide Biggins with a regular income but it also helped him get a better grasp of the market he was entering. “I knew I needed to understand the sector if we were going to provide an online recruitment platform,” he says. “So I continued to build the business off the back of what I was learning day-to-day in the recruitment industry.” After starting to work part-time for his fater, Biggins was able to focus on CVLibrary in his down time. “He provided me with a small office next door to his business, so I ran them both,” says Biggins. “I was quite lucky in that regard – it really helped me financially.” Something else that helped Biggins balance employment with entrepreneurship was having a business partner to pick up some of the slack. While Biggins bought out Brian Waken in September 2013, sharing the load for the first 13 years has certainly stood the company in good stead. “When I was working, I was actually paying to support everything while he was working full-time on the site,” says Biggins. “You open up flexibility by having a trusted partner.”

it’s going to lead to a critical junction where you can say goodbye to one life and embrace another Adrian Simpson, All Speeches Great and Small

And it was when CV-Library started its own recruitment drive that Biggins began working full-time on the business. “Our first employee needed managing, so we really had to make that transition,” he says. “By that point, we were making enough money to take people on.” Fast forward a few years and CV-Library has 10 million registered users and more than 190,000 jobseekers signing up every month. It’s certainly been an impressive journey for Biggins but he’s under no illusions about the challenges involved in running a company on the side. One of the many tests that CV-Library faced was making sure it was totally open with its earliest customers. “If you are working full-time, you need to make sure you don’t overpromise,” says Biggins. “You absolutely have to manage your clients’ expectations.”

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Facing the

tech talent

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the latest technologies,” says Steve Hill, director of external engagement at the Open University. “If startups don’t have a tech-savvy workforce, their costs will increase, their productivity will drop and they’ll fall behind the competition.” Ultimately, tooling up your staff with tech will turn your enterprise into a well-oiled machine. “Technology can make your business operate more smoothly and increase profitability if you have the knowhow to use it in the right way,” says Nick Yockney, head of people at Property Partner, the property-crowdfunding startup. While the importance of having a tech-savvy workforce is undisputed, recruiting one is easier said than done. To prepare for the rise of the machines, Owen advises founders to define exactly which tech skills their companies need from candidates. “Different roles require different skills so it is really important that hiring and onboarding processes identify the skill set they’ll require,” he explains. Yet, relying on recruitment to build a team of tech savants isn’t always the best strategy. “The costs of bringing on new members of staff – both in terms of the time required and productivity losses involved in bringing people up to speed – are huge,” says Hill. Of course, some entrepreneurs may argue that they are already prepared for the brave new world of robotics, autonomous services and cyberphysical systems. But while startups tend to hire tech-savvy staff members, a person’s proficiency can differ greatly depending on their background. “Our staff who are in their mid-30s and younger, they pick up these things really easily because they’ve grown up with it,” says Yockney. “Our more senior staff do get it but they just need it explained to them.” This relationship may urge entrepreneurs to drag the talent pool for faces fresh out of university. However, given the increasing demand for tech-savvy employees and the fact that that universities aren’t educating enough students to overcome the skills shortage, startups might not be able to rely on recruiting young candidates for much longer. “There simply won’t be enough school leavers,” says Hill.

With the fourth industrial revolution transforming the world of business, failing to boost employees’ tech skills can consign startups to the dark ages BY Eric Johansson

In January, World Economic Forum delegates descended upon Davos to hear how the fourth industrial revolution is distrupting whole sectors and changing the workforce forever. While steam engines were the driving force of the first industrial revolution, the fourth is characterised by a fusion of technologies that are blurring the lines between the physical and digital worlds. Sounding almost like a Darwinian prophecy, the forum concluded that companies failing to adapt to the evolving technological landscape are fated to fade into obscurity. “Keeping up with technology has become a necessity for businesses to have an advantage and remain competitive,” says Neil Owen, director at Robert Half Technology, the IT recruitment agency. The firm recently interviewed more than 100 senior IT executives, 94% of whom believed business growth in the coming years would be driven by technologies that boost employee efficiency and customer experiences. “Technology is a business enabler,” continues Owen. “Tech is at the front end, driving business insights through big data and real-time information.” However, innovations such as the internet of things, virtual reality and robotics – not to mention the increasing need for cyber security – don’t just require business leaders to invest in tech. Their workforces need to level up as well. “It is incredibly important for employers to ensure all staff members are up to date with

It is incredibly important for employers to ensure all staff members are up to date with the latest technologies Steve Hill, The Open University

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Tec h - sav v y wo r k f o r ce

Given the widening tech-talent gap and the expense of attracting new staff, startups might consider alternative avenues when it comes to boosting their workforce’s tech-savviness. “Employers need to engage their employees and not see it as a problem that can be rectified by recruiting new staff,” says Hill. “Organisations must focus on lifelong training across their workforce instead of relying on younger individuals coming into the company to solve technology problems.” Not only does training staff to use tech help future-proof startups but it also improves employee retention. “Once a startup has recruited a highly skilled individual, they want to retain them,” explains Hill. “If those individuals don’t believe they’re getting the relevant training, then they’ll leave to find an organisation willing to invest in them.” However, bringing your workforce through the fourth industrial revolution also relies on the technology that the business uses and, more importantly, what solutions staff members actually need to do their jobs. “The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is that they focus on the technology without thinking about how it is going to be applied,” says Chris Herbert, co-founder and CEO of TrackR, the item-tracking platform. In other words, a tech-savvy workforce is worthless without the right tech in place. Herbert learned that lesson the hard way when the company tried to implement Salesforce without checking if the software was what the employees really needed. “None of our salesguys used it because they hated it,” he laughs. “It didn’t solve any problems.”

Keeping up with technology has become a necessity for businesses to have an advantage and remain competitive Neil Owen, Robert Half Technology

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In order to make the most out of the staff, leaders are advised to involve their employees in the decisions as to which technology to invest in and explain how they’ll benefit from the new tech. “We take them back to the 1950s and show how the process would look like without the tech,” explains Herbert. The idea is that once staff understand how new tech has made secretaries, filling cabinets and switchboard operators redundant, then they can fully appreciate how it will benefit them. “If you give a high-tech workforce the knowledge it needs to fully understand how technology has changed the process, then you get incredible results,” he continues. Still, swapping an old piece of tech with a new one will unavoidably require some getting used to for employees. While productivity may drop during the adaptation period, it is important that entrepreneurs give their staff continuous training or risk seeing workers revert back to the old system. “There is no silver bullet,” says Herbert. “It takes time.” Ultimately, investing in tech and the knowhow required to use it enables startups to succeed in the marketplace and leave the competition shrinking in their rear-view mirrors. The alternative for entrepreneurs is finding themselves left behind in the rubble from the fourth industrial revolution. “You simply can’t afford to fall behind if you want to remain viable in the marketplace,” concludes Hill.

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The enemy within Entrepreneurs failing to fight corruption may end up facing unlimited fines and jail time. Yet protecting startups against corruption is easier said than done BY Eric Johansson

O

n the eve of London’s Anti-Corruption Summit on May 12, leaders of 17 professional bodies pledged to fight corruption, bribery and tax evasion. Malcolm Trotter, chief executive of the International Association of Book-keepers, was one of them. But, while he’s been fighting foul play for years, winning seems harder than ever. “It is becoming worse,” he says, blaming a culture that’s rewarding corrupt business leaders for outsmarting the system. “We have to fight against an attitude saying ‘well done’ to people for getting away with it.” This may seem shocking considering that Britain was perceived as the tenth least corrupt country out of the 168 states investigated earlier this year by Transparency International, the global anti-corruption coalition. “Corruption isn’t seen as being British,” says Trotter. But while the UK is not perceived as corrupt as other nations, a culture that seemingly rewards businesses that circumvent regulations may change that. “If we don’t do anything about this attitude – even though we are still held in

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C orrup ti on

high regards overseas – then our chickens will soon come home to roost.” Unfortunately, corruption is inherently hard to detect. It doesn’t occur like in the movies; suitcases full unmarked bills rarely change hands. “Corruption is intimately linked to greed and power but it doesn’t always involve the exchange of monetary assets: it can occur through trading favours,” says Sundeep Tengur, business solutions manager for banking fraud and financial crime at SAS, the business analytics software and services firm. In fact, according to the Bribery Act 2010, favours such as paying for a luxury dinner or front-row seats at a football game can still be very much seen as corruption. The legislation lists any act giving someone a financial or other advantage to another person to perform their functions improperly as bribery, anyone guilty of which could face up to ten years in jail and unlimited fines. So, tempting as it may seem to bend the rules to gain a competitive edge, entrepreneurs must refrain from channelling their inner Wolf of Wall Street. In fact, rather than giving entrepreneurs an edge over their rivals, getting caught stepping outside the bounds of the law can prove to be incredibly damaging. “For startups, where the value of the company is largely based on future expectations, reputational damage can be devastating,” says French Caldwell, chief evangelist at MetricStream, the governance, risk and compliance apps company. Even if entrepreneurs aren’t caught with their hands in the cookie jar, corrupt companies can still crumble. “Think of it from a purely selfish point of view,” says Trotter. Instead of getting a startup the best deal, having corrupt employees dealing underneath the table could mean that businesses could end up without the best product or price for a service. “Companies waste resources when employees give friends, family and whatever other connections favourable prices,” he continues. Yet, future-proofing a company against corruption is easier said than done; attitudes toward the practice are often seeded by those at the head of the company. “This culture of condoning and normalising corrupt practices is often cascaded down from the top,” says Tengur. “The message from the senior leadership teams needs to be unequivocal: corruption isn’t an

acceptable way to achieve any business objective.” However, saying that dishonesty is not tolerated is one thing, enforcing the stance is something completely different. Eversheds, the international law firm, recently surveyed 500 board-level executives in large firms across 12 countries, 59% of which believed their anti-bribery and corruption policies did not work effectively. “Many companies and organisations have grabbed a set of generic policies from the web, a law firm or an HR firm just to tick a box,” says Trotter. While copy-and-paste policies may seem a quick fix when trying to protect against corruption, those polices often end up as toothless paper tigers, particularly if they don’t outline which processes companies should put in place to safeguard against foul play. For instance, Trotter recommends that invoices are reviewed by multiple people and that companies don’t spend money unless it’s perfectly clear what they are paying for. “If an invoice comes in, demands £5,000 for services rendered in the past quarter and that’s all it says, then your alarm bells should ring,” he says. “You need to have a detailed list of what those services were.” There should also be processes in place to protect against illicit activities in other company’s networks abroad. “Most cases that are reported to the Serious Fraud Office involve corrupt business activities by foreign subsidiaries,” says Michelle Wright, founder and CEO of Cause4. For this reason, businesses are advised against accepting or making payments to a foreign subsidiary of companies they’re dealing with. “Again that should sound alarm bells,” says Trotter. Instead UK businesses are advised to stand firm and inform the other company that they want Michelle Wright, Cause4 to deal with the parent company, not the foreign subsidiary, thus avoiding getting into bed with complete strangers. And once a policy is in place, startups must ensure that it is followed. “Employees need to receive and acknowledge regular training to ensure that there are no gaps in upholding the anti-corruption values within the business,” says Tengur. Not only this but he recommends that policies are subjected to regular internal audits. Even if fighting against corruption seems like an uphill battle, there are reasons to be optimistic. When David Cameron ended this year’s Anti-Corruption Summit, he emphasised the government’s commitment to cracking down on this kind of unscrupulous conduct. “With such political scrutiny surrounding financial crime, businesses found cutting corners will be exposed and potential fines and reputational damage may undermine their very ability to still exist in the future,” concludes Tengur.

Corruption is intimately linked to greed and power

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A DV ERT I S I NG F EAT U R E

WHat’s next? Following the brexit vote, Business Doctors explains what business owners should look out for and how to plan ahead

T

he political unrest following the EU referendum will further impair the confidence in the market and we will potentially have negative GDP growth for the remainder of 2016 resulting in a recession. The following steps will help you prepare for the uncertainties ahead. Take some time to discuss the current economic state Currency exchange rates, world stock markets and commodity prices will be volatile. Ensure you take some time to fully understand how this will effect your customers and their customers. Additionally, ensure you know how your business costs and sales are likely to be affected.

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Take an external view Purchase of big ticket items, cars, trucks, houses, infrastructure and capital equipment expenditure, larger technology investment, along with business merger and acquisitions will likely be delayed. Larger companies will probably postpone their recruitment plans. At the same time, the prices will go up for imported products, oil-based products and raw materials. Seek professional advice if you are concerned or envisage a reasonable risk. You cannot afford to do anything radical unless you are advised to. Chat with your staff Sit down with your key employees and managers to share any potential

implications that may affect your business. Draw up three potential scenarios based on low, medium and high risks outcomes. From these, create action plans and review them every fortnight. Agree critical trigger points and implement appropriate actions when necessary. Don’t just focus on the negatives Not all business sectors will be negatively affected by the referendum fallout. If the value of the pound remains low against the world’s main currencies for the next six months, it will encourage foreign tourists to come to the UK as it’s cheaper. If you are linked to the tourism industry you may well benefit in the short term. Giving the sector an extra boost, UK citizens will find it at least 10% more expensive to go abroad, so they will holiday in the UK. If you export products or services this could well be an advantage to you too. Stay neutral Don’t post political views or vent on social media. It looks unprofessional and could potentially damage you and your business more than the financial volatility in the marketplace. Your employees and customers are looking for someone with a level head to give them some clarity, guidance and reassurance, not a keyboard crusader. Consistently communicate with your staff Employees will be concerned that their jobs are at risk and particularly if you have any EU or overseas workers. They’ll need some reassurance. Stay close to your customers Keep in close touch with clients who have already ordered but not taken delivery. Reassure them and check if there are any risks to cancellations. You may have to incur increased costs, resulting in reduced margins or repricing conversations.

ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK JULY 2016

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HOW TO NAVIGATE THE FUNDING MAZE With so many funding options now available to SMEs, an independent finance broker can help business owners take the right path The commercial finance landscape has changed beyond all recognition in recent years as new products and lenders have sought to fill the gaping hole left by the dramatic fall in traditional bank lending. Invoice finance, peer-to-peer lending, equity finance, hire purchase and leasing have all become familiar terms, and business owners are rightly opening their minds to the different benefits they bring. Yet this amount of choice also means the importance of identifying the right option has grown too, which is proving to be quite a challenge for many.

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decisions, the search for commercial finance is far more complex. With so many variables to consider and each lender having their own USPs and twist on how they structure facilities, it is impossible to compare solutions from different funders in the same context. Figures from the British Business Bank show the majority of businesses (57%) contact their existing lender when looking for a new facility. Although this has benefits – as they ought to know your business inside out and provide a quick lending decision – it restricts the solutions that are presented to that lender’s portfolio. Yet approaching a large number of lenders can be a timeconsuming and often fruitless exercise.

SO WHAT’S THE ANSWER? For these reasons the role of an independent finance broker has grown increasingly valuable in recent times. One phone call gives them the opportunity to get to know your business and understand your challenges to help identify the most suitable facility and funders. A good broker will help you consider the options available to your business and give you choice, adding value and making the whole process easier. And they’ll keep in touch once a facility is secured to ensure everything is running smoothly and your needs continue to be served. At Hilton-Baird Financial Solutions, we have 19 years’ experience at doing just that for businesses of all sizes. T: 0800 9774833 E: info@hiltonbaird.co.uk W: www.hiltonbairdfinancial.co.uk

07/07/2016 13:58


THE CRUNCH The stats that matter. And some that don’t

18%

$315m average annual revenue generated by a European unicorn

of London’s tech companies employ no women at board level

$129m 41%

of business travellers say exploring new cities is the best part of travelling for work

£5.9bn of investment in the UK was delayed in the run up to the EU referendum

92% 8%

35%

of business travellers say meeting new people is the best part of travelling for work

49% of people express gratitude when borrowing £20 from a partner or family member

of feedback given to coworkers is positive

of feedback given to coworkers is constructive

76 minutes average amount of time per day decision makers at SMEs spend on admin

82

18%

of employees find the leader of their company inspiring

16%

feel truly grateful when borrowing £20 from a partner or family member

Sources: Cebr, Presentation Conference, GP Bullhound, Tech London Advocates, Give as you Live, Impraise, LeasePlan, Paym

average annual revenue generated by a US unicorn

ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK JULY 2016

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Elite Business Magazine July 2016  

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