Page 1

Moving with

the times

Frustrated with relying on estate agents to do things he could do himself, Daniel Attia launched Yopa, the hybrid agency with tech at its core Cover - Daniel Attia 0118.indd 1

15/01/2018 19:38

COLLABORATIVE COMMUNICATIONS THAT MEAN BUSINESS Get a world-class business phone system for only 33p a day. Learn more

Untitled-4 1

19/12/2017 16:41

THE LEADING ALL-IN-ONE PHONE, TEAM MESSAGING, AND VIDEO CONFERENCING SOLUTION. Reliable, easy management and use anytime, anywhere

Works on your mobile devices, computers, and with desk phones

Call recording, call forwarding, and fax

Keep your existing phone numbers

Number options: Free-phone, local, non-geo, and international

Hold audio and video conferences with screen sharing

Auto-Receptionist, music on-hold, extensions, and multi-level IVR

Free 24/7 support

Call today on 0800 098 8340 to receive the first

2 Months FREE

©2017 RingCentral, Inc. All rights reserved. RingCentral and the RingCentral logo are registered trademarks of RingCentral, Inc.

Untitled-4 2

Quote Elite18

19/12/2017 16:42

40 THE ELITE Interview

Daniel Attia Embracing naivety and showing no fear helped Daniel Attia build Yopa, the hybrid agency putting homeowners in charge



Contents.indd 1

15/01/2018 19:52

16 issue 45 JANUARY 18

REGULARS 7 8 13 82

From the editor Upfront The big idea The crunch

columns 15 Anil Stocker 27 Gary Stewart


Talented tallinn

The fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of Skype made Estonia a startup paradise



Revolutionising Brainstorming business receipts Avoid becoming a Flux is removing the faff from receipts


InIs ittheir own coin safe to raise funds with initial coin offerings?


How technology could prevent the retail apocalypse



Life in the fast lane

Transportation-tech startups are changing everything

Closing Shop


protecting boundaries


Making gains

one-hit wonder and keep innovating

Staying healthy is no longer a perk but a smart business move

Startups can’t afford to be soft on sexual harassment after #MeToo


Contents.indd 2


15/01/2018 19:52

AD PLACE.indd 1

12/01/2018 09:23

EDITORIAL Josh Russell – Editor Eric Johansson – Feature Writer DESIGN/PRODUCTION Leona Connor – Head Designer Jenny Allen – Designer Lewis Sharp – Designer Dan Lecount – Web Development Manager SALES Gemma Campion – Head of Sales & Marketing Jemma Tonge – Senior Account Manager Taylor Blayney – Account Executive Jordan Banes – Account manager CIRCULATION Paul Kirby – Circulation & Data Manager ACCOUNTS Sally Stoker – Finance Manager Colin Munday – Management Accountant ADMINISTRATION Natalie Mawdsley – Media Assistant DIRECTOR Scott English – Managing Director Circulation/subscription

UK £18, Europe £38, Rest of World £60 Elite Business Magazine is published four times a year by Channel Edge Media, 1st Floor, Regency House, 16 Victoria Road, Chelmsford, CM1 1NZ Copyright 2018. 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 Channel Edge Media, cannot be held responsible for such variation.

Overcoming your legacy S peaking recently with Estonian entrepreneurs, I was told that, in having to rebuild their country’s infrastructure after the fall of the Soviet Union, the people of Estonia were able to create a bureaucracy with technology at its heart. Now the nation has one of the most innovative administrations in the world. That’s why I decided to dedicate this issue of Elite Business to those innovators who don’t let legacy systems prevent them from innovating. Whether it’s the tech talent transforming our transport infrastructure, startups like Flux bring the public paperless and pain-free receipts or the blockchain brainboxes disrupting investment using

cryptocurrencies, our pages this issue are packed with entrepreneurs who definitely weren’t afraid to stick it to the status quo. Daniel Attia definitely fits into this category. Few industries have resisted disruption so ardently as estate agency but Attia refused to listen to the naysayers claiming that it was impossible to bring innovation to the industry. Now his startup Yopa is winning over agents from its bricksand-mortar competitors and counts Savills among its backers. Josh Russell - Editor


Eric Johansson Our resident Viking loves all things tech. Luckily, he had his fill in this issue finding out how technology is revolutionising transport and how it may save Britain’s shopkeepers.

ANIL STOCKER Late payments is a particular pet peeve of MarketInvoice’s founder, which is why he’s penned a piece in this issue about how big businesses coughing up their dues too late can harm UK SMEs.

GARY STEWART A recent trip to Africa showed Wayra UK’s director how underrepresented the continent’s entrepreneurs are and how VCs may be biased against minority founders around the world.

Emilie Sandy It’s hardly a secret that Sandy’s high-quality photographs make us constantly commission her services. And her images of our cover star Daniel Attia are absolutely true to form.


From the editor.indd 1


15/01/2018 19:53

The investment rounds that rocked the startup community last quarter



T r a n sf er W ise

$280m Having helped cement London’s reputation as the fintech capital of the world, TransferWise’s latest $280m round proves that Brexit hasn’t deterred investors from betting on promising startups.


Del i v eroo

$98m The food-delivery startup may have become a unicorn but its appetite for growth has hardly diminished. This latest round will be used to provide more flexible well-paid work for riders.

Apple confirms acquisition of UK tech firm Shazam Shazam’s future has been up in the air ever since the music-recognition app announced an IPO in 2013 and never followed through. However, the speculation ended at the end of 2017 when Apple announced its acquisition of the company. And it seems like the deal was quite the bargain. While Shazam was valued at over $1bn in 2015, sources familiar with the matter told the Financial Times that Apple bought the former unicorn for about $400m. A reason for the surprisingly cheap price could be because Shazam has reportedly struggled to make ends meet. And while it’s still one of Apple’s priciest acquisitions to date, it’s easy to see how the service will benefit Apple Music: Shazam’s extensive database will make discovering fresh tunes easier. With this deal it seems like at least one UK startup’s future is secured. And that’s music to our ears.

Shopping with voice-controlled devices expected to triple in 2018



Mon z o

£71m Even though the challenger bank raised a smashing £71m in November, Monzo quickly topped up its series D round with £878,100 from backers on Crowdcube in December.




$60m This scaleup has helped companies of all sizes improve their planning ever since it was launched in 2006. With this latest round, Anaplan is planning to keep it up for years to come.


Image: Shutterstock


Playing our song

Chat your way to checkout

From toilets to fridges, this year’s CES conference made it abundantly clear that smart speakers are no longer alone in being voice-controlled. Already, people are asking Alexa and Google Assistant to control everything from their playlists to thermometers. But increasing numbers of people are using these devices to do their shopping for them as well. Having surveyed almost 3,000 UK consumers, the retail-tech startup Narvar has revealed that not only are 2% of them using voice-controlled devices to shop online but also that 6% expect to use a voice-controlled device to buy things on the web during 2018. Commenting on the research, Amit Sharma, CEO at Narvar, said: “Although it’s still early days, we have found that UK consumers are already using voice for shopping and that activity will increase.” And given that Amazon is also trialling drone deliveries, we’ll definitely soon see the day when running out of toilet paper will be a thing of the past.


Upfront Jan_18.indd 1

15/01/2018 19:22

All about

the money Global investment jumped by nearly 50% in 2017 Most entrepreneurs depend on outside investment to be successful. Fortunately, investors around the world are seemingly eager to open their chequebooks. In fact, new research from CB Insights, the VC database, has revealed that global funding hit $164bn in 2017, an increase of almost 50%. Additionally, not only are VCs splashing more cash but they are investing in more businesses: the number of deals around the world rose by 11% to 11,042 in 2017 compared to 2016. And European founders have reason to cheer as the annual funding in the continent’s startups totalled $17.6bn across 2,483 deals, respectively up 40% and 16% from 2016. Moreover, Europe’s entrepreneurs have reason to cheer no matter what stage their startups are at: seed-stage funding rose by 24%, earlystage investments jumped by 4% and late-stage funding increased by 16%. And given how European startups are constantly exceeding expectations, these investors are sure to get their money’s worth.

January 26 China Britain Trade Expo 2018 Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Broad Sanctuary, Westminster, London, SW1P 3EE

February 22 The Business Funding Show 2018 East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf, 43 Bank Street, London E14 5NX

February 1 Smart Cities 2018 Chelsea FC, Stamford Bridge, Fulham Road, London, SW6 1HS

March 21 - 22 Internet Retailing Expo National Exhibition Centre, Halls, Marston Green, Birmingham, B40 1NT

March 21 - 22 Cloud Security Expo ExCel Centre, Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway, London, E16 1XL March 23 West London Business Show Park Inn, Bath Road, Heathrow, UB7 0DU A full event listing is available on our website.

Shortcut Your Startup, Random House Business Books, £14.99, Out now

ou know that old saying that those who can’t, teach? Well, Courtney and Carter Reum certainly don’t fall into that category. Having first sharpened their business chops working at Goldman Sachs they have since gone on to not only prove their entrepreneurial flair with the alcohol startup VEEV Spirits but also invest in companies like Space X, Lyft and Pinterest. Fortunately, they are eager to share what they’ve learned along the way. Shortcut Your Startup offers budding entrepreneurs a thorough road map from the conception of their company to their exit. Drawing on both their own experience as well as that of other heavy hitters in Silicon Valley, they reveal what it takes for an idea to be viable enough to grow a business from, how to best scale a company and whether or not you are cut out to be an entrepreneur. And the Reum brothers are certainly not afraid of sharing both their accomplishments as well as their failures as long as the reader can learn from them. Fully packed with nuggets on what you can learn from everything from mini-carrots to speedboats, this book is a must-have on every budding business owner’s shelf. JANUARY 2018 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Upfront Jan_18.indd 2


15/01/2018 19:24

Successful crowdfunding campaigns that have closed in the last quarter


£1.92m Equity 9.64%

Founded in Shoreditch in 2011 to challenge mega-brands like Starbucks, Grind has since opened nine café-bars. With this latest round it plans to add ten more shops to the count


£1.23m 4.72% Equity

Having overfunded its round on Crowdcube, the developers behind this AI-based homeenergy assistant have plans to give giants like Nest a run for their money



Equity 6.22%

Crowdfunder has helped over 80,000 organisations raise money since its first crowdfunding round. Eager for the platform to keep up the good work 1,039 backers backed the company this time around.



Equity 18.03% Even within the wealth of London’s fintech startup ecosystem, Chip stands out thanks to it’s impressive AI-powered savings account app. Not surprising then that 3,177 backed the startup in November.


James Damore sues Google He claims the tech giant discriminates against white men Google has long been accused of being biased against women and people from ethnic minorities. As a matter of fact, the company is currently facing a Department of Labor investigation and a private lawsuit claiming that it discriminates against women. But in an ironic twist, the tech giant is now also being sued for allegedly discriminating against white conservative men. The former Google employee James Damore is behind the new case. He rose to fame in August 2017 after penning a memo in which he argued that women

were biologically less fit to work as coders than men. However, he found himself in hot waters after his tract against diversity went viral, eventually resulting in his dismissal from the Silicon Valley company. Damore and his lawyer are now accusing Google of being “anti-conservative” and “anti-Caucasian”, backing their claim up with 84 pages of screenshots of internal conversations from the company. It certainly seems as if Google can’t get rid of its controversy-courting former employee that easy.

What’s the word

We should stop pretending that because they sit on beanbags in T-shirts they are not ruthless profiteers Ben Wallace, the UK’s security minister, didn’t mince his words when he critiqued social-media platforms for hosting extremist content

The world feels anxious and divided and Facebook has a lot of work to do Mark Zuckerberg pledges to up his company’s game to better tackle abuse and prevent interference in elections

If the government continue to mishandle the negotiations we could be heading for a lost decade of lower growth and lower employment London mayor Sadiq Khan painted a rather lacklustre image of what will happen if Britain leaves the EU without a good deal


Upfront Jan_18.indd 3

15/01/2018 19:24

Getting real about wages Britain is bucking the trend but not in a good way. By the end of 2017, Korn Ferry, a leading people and organisational advisory firm, released their estimations about how wages would evolve in 2018. And workers around could rejoice in seeing the average global real wage increase by 1.5%. However, that was not the case in the UK. Instead, the decision to leave the EU combined with the 2.5% inflation rate is expected to cause real wages in Blighty to drop by 0.5% over the next year. Comparatively, workers France and Germany can on average expect their pay cheques to jump by between 0.7% and 0.8%. The question is how this will affect Britain’s startup ecosystem.

Xenios Thrasyvoulou founder and CEO, PeoplePerHour

Mark Rhodes marketing director, REED

Angelika Burawska COO, Startup Funding Club

Paul Tombs head of SME proposition, Zurich

The news that real wages are set to fall once again will be welcomed by no one but will particularly be felt by SMEs that struggle to retain talent on a stringent budget. Now these employers are faced with the choice to either lose money through enhanced staffing overheads or face lost productivity when staff jump ship. In not increasing pay for employees, employers are exercising a false economy, throwing away talent for a short-term saving, which will bring long-term costs.

Sourcing talent will remain a huge challenge for startups in sectors that already suffer skills shortages – such as technology and engineering. While rising inflation will further pressure employers to review the salaries they offer, startups should consider how on-the-job training can develop the skills of existing staff or new employees. Positioning your startup as an exciting alternative to tertiary education could be a great way to attract talented young individuals.

Startups usually cannot afford high wages anyway and their employees aren’t motivated purely by money but by the opportunity to grow within a successful organisation. However, lower wages can discourage people from moving to the UK, particularly because the costs of living are generally higher than in other parts of Europe, potentially shrinking the talent pool. Overall, the drop in wages will impact startups less than larger organisations where salaries play a more important role.

Falling wages and innovation are directly correlated. Innovation creates new opportunities and profitability, which pays for the talented people needed to innovate. Businesses struggling to increase pay must take stock of the bigger picture and assess whether their current direction is right for the future. Talent is important to succeed in all sectors but its impact on maximising small companies’ commercial potential is even greater than for big businesses.


Upfront Jan_18.indd 4


15/01/2018 19:25

The smarter way to trade. Use the New World Account to hold and switch between multiple currencies in one simple place. Be everywhere. Register at

AD PLACE.indd 1

11/01/2018 18:16

Anon AI

name no names

Anon AI automates data anonymisation BY Eric Johansson


hether you’re a researcher at a university or working at a big conglomerate, sooner or later you’ll have to deal with sensitive data. But if you want to share this data securely, it can be a timeconsuming endeavour to anonymise it. In fact, some companies have people employed full time to deal with these issues. Fortunately, Anon AI is aiming to solve this issue once and for all. Using AI, the startup’s technology aims to make the process of anonymising data more effective. All you’ll have to do is to express your intentions and the system takes care of the rest.

And the technology couldn’t have come at a better time: not only have high-profile hacks like the WannaCry ransomware attack last year made more businesses focus more on cybersecurity but the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) also means that everyone from SMEs to huge corporates is taking a closer look at how they store data and protect consumers’ identities. Given the need for its services, it’s hardly surprising that Anon AI has drawn considerable investments despite having only launched in January 2017. For instance, CyLon, the cybersecurity accelerator, invested £15,000 in March last year. And in January 2018, Anon AI raised an additional £340,000 in preSeed funding from the UCL Technology Fund, the London Co-Invested Fund, AI Seed and Ascension Ventures. Commenting on this latest round, Harry Keen, CEO and co-founder of Anon AI, said: “This investment will enable us to create a tool that addresses one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today: avoiding the potentially catastrophic consequences of a data breach, while tapping into a vast source of opportunity.” With so many businesses getting ready for GDPR, we’re betting that Anon AI won’t run out of customers any time soon.


The big idea.indd 1


15/01/2018 19:03



M{ZD{ CX-3

Introducing the all-new Mazda CX-5, a mid-sized SUV range which includes responsive 2.2-litre Diesel engine that delivers 150ps, up to 56.5mpg with CO2 emissions starting from 132g/km. All of this means low BIK^, making it a true company car alternative. Or, if you’re after something a little more compact, there’s the Mazda CX-3. Offering nimble responsive handling, comfort and an engine that delivers up to 70.6mpg with CO2 emissions starting from 105g/km. Together with exquisite high-grade interiors, you know that whatever Mazda you drive, it makes real business sense.

Visit to find out more. The official fuel consumption figures in mpg (l/100km) for the Mazda Range: Urban 28.0 (10.1) - 65.7 (4.3), Extra Urban 51.4 (5.5) - 80.7 (3.5), Combined 39.2 (7.2) - 74.3 (3.8). CO2 emissions (g/km) 167 - 99. The mpg figures quoted are sourced from official EU-regulated test results obtained through laboratory testing. These are provided for comparability purposes only and may not reflect your actual driving results. Models shown: All-new Mazda CX-5 150ps 2WD SE-L Nav, OTR from £25,695. Mazda CX-3 150ps 2WD SE Nav, OTR from £19,995. Models shown feature optional Metallic paint: Soul Red Crystal Metallic Paint (£800) and Ceramic Metallic (£550). On-the-road prices include 20% VAT, number plates and 3 years’ European Roadside Assistance. ^Mpg and CO2 figures apply to the all-new Mazda CX-5 150ps 2WD SE-L Nav, OTR from £25,695, Mazda CX-3 105ps 2WD SE Nav, OTR from £19,995.

Untitled-6 1

09/10/2017 15:22

Anil Stocker co-founder and CEO, MarketInvoice

Defrosting the payments freeze facing small businesses

Recent research from MarketInvoice reveals late payments are becoming even more prevalent. Evidently further action is needed


ate payment is the silent killer of modern businesses. And it’s getting worse. The simple act of not getting paid when you should has an adverse effect on the success of any company. But it’s Britain’s SMEs – which make up 99% of all UK businesses – that bear the brunt of the problem. At MarketInvoice, we crunched data on over 80,000 invoices and the findings reveal a very real, prevalent issue that affects millions of businesses owners every day. Of the £21bn of invoices issued by UK SMEs in 2017, 62% were paid late, up from 60% in 2016. The average value of these invoices was £51,826 and three in ten invoices paid late took longer than two weeks from the agreed date to settle, with some taking almost six months to be paid. The research also analysed which sectors, UK regions and countries were the worst late payers to UK SMEs. Clearly a bad situation is getting worse. The problem is being compounded by 90-day payment terms demanded by larger organisations, which are becoming more common. Real action must be taken to stem the problem at its source. Larger companies must take more responsibility in their position of power with suppliers and change

what is currently a damaging culture for UK businesses. SME owners respect long payment terms but late payments are inexcusable. For every day an invoice is late, it’s more time spent chasing payment. This means less time for business owners to focus on growing their business, creating innovations and hiring more people. Things need to change quickly. Which is why we look forward to seeing how the government’s Duty To Report measures – which require large businesses to report on invoice payments twice yearly – that came in to force earlier this year will play out. This is not about naming and shaming but encouraging positive behaviours at big business. Unfortunately, the late-payment culture knows no borders. The proportion of UK invoices being paid late – and the amount of time taken to settle them – by EU and USA firms has risen dramatically between 2016

and 2017. A colossal 73% of invoices sent by UK businesses to EU firms were paid late, up from 40.4% in 2016. And across the Atlantic, the number of invoices paid late by business in the USA increased from 45.7% in 2016 to 71% in 2017. The new trading environment in 2017, with ongoing Brexit negotiations against a backdrop of global economic uncertainty, could have caused some consternation amongst late-paying firms around the world. But this is not an excuse to not honour their payment terms. UK businesses need to understand what measures they can take to reduce the risk from late payments. These include making terms and conditions clear from the outset, chasing payments down and enforcing the right to claim compensation. And hopefully with the mood change we are seeing around initiatives like Duty To Report, late payments will soon be a thing of the past. JANUARY 2018 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

A.Stocker column.indd 1


15/01/2018 19:04






NO MATTER WHO YOU TALK TO, the Estonian capital Tallinn has a serious rep for tech. While there are just 400 startups in the country, with a population of scarcely more than a million people it actually has the third-highest number of startups per capita in Europe, according to the Startup Investment Report Estonia by Funderbeam, the blockchain-based startup stock exchange. Clearly Tallinn has become a startup hub to reckon with. “It’s incredible: in the past few years, there has been a startup explosion,” says Norris Koppel, co-founder and CEO of Monese, the mobile current account startup. “It almost feels like startups have taken over the city. There have been multiple references now to Tallinn being the Silicon Valley of Europe.” JANUARY 2018 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK



Despite this, Tallinn hasn’t always been synonymous with tech startups. “Twenty years back, there weren’t any startups in the way we would define them today,” says Koppel. In fact, in 1991, the country went through a very jarring rebirth: while the disintegration of the Soviet Union and Estonia’s declaration of independence meant the nation regained its sovereignty, it also meant that its infrastructure all but collapsed. “Initially it was very painful: the Soviets left and everything fell apart,” Koppel says. “There were no police, no banking system as such, so we had to quickly rebuild everything.”

But excruciating though this was, rebooting the country’s infrastructure from scratch actually proved to be a blessing in disguise, allowing it to modernise much faster than more wellestablished nations. “If you start to build a new house today then you use the latest materials and technology available,” says Karoli Hindriks, CEO and founder of Jobbatical, the talent-matching platform for international tech jobs. “Whereas renovating a very old castle will be much harder.” Just as the internet age was dawning, Estonia was looking for efficient ways to implement bureaucracy and infrastructure and naturally it made best use of the tools at its disposal. And the result is that, for several decades, the country’s bureaucracy has been primarily digital: not only was internet access declared a basic human right in 2000 but citizens have long been able to do things like pay taxes, open bank accounts, secure mortgages and vote in elections online. “The user experience of the country is really easy: setting up a business takes ten minutes online from a cafe,” Hindriks says. “You waste so much less time on things, which means you can actually invest that time in building your business.” While this supplied the fuel for Tallinn’s tech revolution, the spark that finally ignited it is likely much more familiar to less digitally native nations: Skype. Although the startup was founded by the Swede Niklas Zennström and the Dane 18



Janus Friis, much of its tech was developed by an Estonian developer base led by Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu and Jaan Tallinn. “Skype’s success showed Estonians that it can be done,” says Koppel. “It doesn’t matter that you’re a tiny country where it’s cold and dark: big companies like Skype can emerge.” And the videochat app’s meteoric rise and its high-profile acquisitions by eBay and Microsoft have not only inspired a new generation of entrepreneurs but also helped to seed and support the growth of many new startups. “Many people exited Skype with a little bit of cash in their pocket and, eager to do something else with this new money, started their own businesses,” Koppel says. And Skype’s success didn’t just get budding business people to start taking tech seriously: it also cemented the importance of entrepreneurialism in the eyes of the Estonian government. “It made it really clear to the government that good things will come out of the startup ecosystem if it is nurtured properly,” says Koppel. Not only has the government taken an active interest in promoting Tallinn’s startups on the international stage but it also makes itself far more available to the city’s entrepreneurs to ensure the needs of the ecosystem are heard. “Entrepreneurs can speak to decision makers as and when we want,” Koppel says. “I’ve spoken to a number of presidents and prime ministers and haven’t had to work that hard in order to get that sort of access.” While it may be easy at first to dismiss this as politics as usual, with politicians paying lip-service to the concerns of the community, it has in fact yielded radical results. In 2014, the country launched its e-residency scheme, a potentially revolutionary innovation that allows entrepreneurs from around the world to become Estonian e-residents and access company formation, banking, payment processing and taxation within the country. “E-residency is doing for countries what startups are doing to corporations,” says Hindriks. By lowering the barriers to establish a company in the country and making it easier for international entrepreneurs to access its infrastructure, it could be argued the e-residency scheme is disrupting the idea of nationality itself. “The openness to taking a risk like that is a very good reflection of the mindset that you see in Estonia,” Hindriks says. “Instead of asking ‘what might go wrong?’, you can see the opportunity of it.” But while Estonia isn’t afraid of dreaming big, this doesn’t mean that Tallinn’s tech is in any way flighty: in fact Estonia’s entrepreneurs, by their very nature, have a preference for the practical. At a time when much of Europe is struggling to secure the technical skills needed to drive its tech forward, Estonia is widely recognised as producing the highest calibre of coders. Part of Karoli Hindriks, Jobbatical the reason for this is that while western nations have started waking up to the importance of strong STEM education, many of Tallinn’s entrepreneurs were raised under an education system where these subjects predominated. “Not that I want to say anything positive about the Soviet Union but the education system




Ta l l i nn

had a very strict focus on science and mathematics,” Hindriks says. Inevitably, Estonia’s shift toward being a digital-first society hasn’t tempered this passion for technical skills. “Science and technology are still very important in the curriculum,” says Hindriks. “Kids are taught coding in the first grade.” And this is reflected in Tallinn’s attitude to entrepreneurialism. “It’s a very pragmatic culture: they’re very down to earth,” says Michael Jackson, ex-COO of Skype and partner at Mangrove Capital Partners, the early-stage VC firm. “You’re more likely to get projects that solve definitive issues rather than do fancy, hipsterish sort of things.” While Silicon Valley obsesses over nailing the next social smash or unveiling the Ubers of umpteen different verticals, Tallinn’s entrepreneurs are focused on delivering much more practical, polished products. In fact, one only need compare the Valley’s beleaguered ride-sharing startup with Estonia’s Taxify to see how in Tallinn firm foundations are valued higher than flash. “The young men behind it are doing very well; they’re very down to earth,” Jackson says. “They’ve got a fraction of the staff of Uber and yet they have decent turnover, are very pragmatic and have grown without a lot of investment.” Historically, this preference for building more organically may be part of the reality of the Estonian investment landscape, which has taken a while to mature. “In the early days, the typical Estonian investor wanted to invest ¤10,000 for half of your company,” says Koppel. “But I’m very happy that this thinking has started to change.” With high-profile successes like those of Skype bringing an influx of capital into the country, increasing numbers of homegrown angels are looking to invest in the next generation of startups. Meanwhile, the number of Estonian VC funds is currently exploding: the next year alone will see the creation of multiple seed funds offering around $30m to $50m. But perhaps most importantly, thanks to its top-notch tech skills, international funds are increasingly eyeing the 20

Science and technology are still very important in the curriculum: kids are taught coding in the first grade Karoli Hindriks, Jobbatical

Estonian ecosystem and looking to invest in its innovations. “Technical talent and founders from Tallinn are really well known now,” Koppel says. “If you go to any Silicon Valley VC, they know who Estonians are and where they are coming from. And Estonian entrepreneurs certainly aren’t turning their noses up at this attention from overseas: while Tallinn’s ecosystem is coming along in leaps and bounds, the size of its market means that its startups need to be thinking internationally from their inception. “Estonia’s a tiny country with 1.2 million people; it’s about the size of Bristol,” says Jackson. “They know it’s a small market so if they’re going to introduce a product that’s going to be any use at all, they know they’re going to have to try to move somewhere.” Thanks to this and the role Skype has played in whetting many Estonians’ appetites for entrepreneurialism, for

years many of them have looked to follow in its footsteps by expanding to Silicon Valley or, if not, London. However, it does seem like attitudes are changing. “The more coverage the country gets in terms of thinking differently, being different and being an innovator, then I think we will see much more VC money but also founders actually coming to Estonia,” says Hindriks. Not only are initiatives like e-residency drawing in founders virtually but the buzz around the hub is motivating them to move there in their droves, with many international entrepreneurs looking to tap its talent and make use of its friction-free infrastructure. “You couldn’t even imagine that happening five years ago or ten years ago,” she concludes. “There’s much more confidence about the future so I think we will see many more people looking to build their company from this corner of the world.”


International.indd 5

15/01/2018 19:31

Untitled-5 1

21/12/2017 12:32


Untitled-2 1

04/01/2018 13:59

SOUND FAMILIAR? We’ve been helping business owners like you for over 40 years with market-leading business benefits, a powerful voice in Government and supporting a network of members across the UK. Our aim is to help you achieve your ambitions by freeing you up to do what you do best – running your business. Benefits from day one include: • 24/7 legal advice line • Online legal documents and templates • Free business banking† • Tax investigation protection • Debt recovery service • UK wide networking with other members And many more

Visit to learn how FSB can help your business from just £172.50 in the first year* †Subject to status *Membership starts from £142.50 per annum with a £30 registration fee in the first year. This rate is applicable to businesses with no employees. Rates increase depending on your number of employees. Please see the website for full details of subscription rate bands. Federation of Small Businesses Registered Office: Sir Frank Whittle Way, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY4 2FE. VAT No.997 3427 63. The National Federation of Self-Employed and Small Businesses Ltd (FSB) is registered in England, number 1263540.

Untitled-2 2

04/01/2018 14:00

The rise of VoIP solutions

Bruce is a busy guy. Follow his day and see how he manages to stay in control. Bruce is often out of the office...

8PM: Bruce travels 9AM: Bruce picks up his office calls on his home number

overseas and downloads the mobile app to take calls anywhere

11AM: A quick stop at the cafe and Bruce takes calls directly on his desktop app

2PM: Bruce gets out in the open and diverts calls directly to his mobile

Never miss a call again



When unavailable, he always has a back up plan... DURING OFFICE HOURS


Important callers are forwarded straight to his colleague

Bruce’s calls are forwarded to colleagues working late Bruce’s team pick up calls based on who’s availble in their Call Group

If nobody answers, the call diverts to the main company switchboard

When no-one is available, calls are sent straight to voicemail

Want to be more like Bruce? Get your own personalised infographic with tips on how to take full control of your communications. Request yours by emailing


AD PLACE.indd 1

10/01/2018 15:33

GARY Stewart director, Wayra UK

And so we rise: championing Africa’s entrepreneurs

Impressed by the calibre of companies being produced on the continent, Gary Stewart believes it’s time to take African talent seriously


uring a recent visit to Cape Town, Lagos and Abidjan, I was confronted by my own ignorance. Though it shouldn’t have, the depth of talent of African entrepreneurs surprised me. I’d only begun to take African startups seriously when I saw partners like the Duke of York and the European Commission increasingly focus on Africa. But having grown up black in America, my perception of Africa is complicated. I proudly proclaim myself African-American and I’ve seen Roots. But Africa was always a conflicted concept, at once both a mythical homeland full of beautiful black kings and queens and a savage place to which I’d never want to return. So why did I go to Africa? Selfishness. Graduating at the top of my class at Yale College and Yale Law School doesn’t mean anything as long as blackness denotes inferiority. Immigrants with varied skin tones from other developing economies have gone on to found companies like Yahoo and run businesses like Google and Microsoft. But most large tech firms seem allergic to black people. In the US, many have fewer than 2% black employees, despite blacks being 13% of the population. One wouldn’t be silly to conclude that it is easier

for a black person to become president of the United States than to get an executive position in a large tech company. And things don’t appear much better in Europe. “It’s a pipeline issue,” I’m often told. But if talent is distributed randomly – and one doesn’t believe implicitly in the genetic or cultural inferiority of people of African descent – then talent alone is a weak argument. There are more than 1.4 billion people of African descent worldwide and the number of Africans alone will grow to 2.4 billion by 2050. While the populations of Europe, Latin America and North America will stagnate, Africa will approach the size of India and China combined by 2100. So unless God himself blocked the pipeline, lack of opportunity is the real issue. Indeed, what I found on my African tour of startup ecosystems were highly educated African entrepreneurs with the same big dreams as their European and American counterparts. They spoke the same language of entrepreneurship, albeit with different accents. Their startups attacked the same problems but tougher ecosystems had forced them to generate real traction — in terms of revenues or users — or perish. And from an investor point of view, they were significantly cheaper. All these talented entrepreneurs need is someone to believe in them and give them a meaningful chance. Wayra UK is investing in two African companies, inviting them to join our accelerator programme, and partnering with the Duke of York to allow them to pitch to royalty and heads of state at Pitch@ Palace. However, this is a drop in the ocean compared to the depth of talent I saw on one brief trip. Africa will undoubtedly become a startup continent. And anyone not aware of the opportunities will likely miss out. JANUARY 2018 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Gary Stewart Wayra.indd 1


15/01/2018 19:05

Flu x




Scaling up.indd 1

15/01/2018 19:17

F lux


aside from becoming post-washing pocket mulch, paper Receipts don’t seem good for much. Fortunately, Flux has created a digital alternative that offers proof of purchase without the fuss BY Josh Russell

If you’ve ever seen the number of receipts that pile up at automated tills in supermarkets or the veritable snowdrift of advice slips that litter the floor near cash machines, you’ll know that our current solution for how we issue proof of purchase is broken. Not only are paper receipts wasteful and easily lost but they have utterly failed to keep pace with innovations in the retail and payments space. “It’s insane that today you go from using 21st century contactless cards to receiving 100 BC paper receipts,” says Veronique Merriam Barbosa, co-founder and COO of Flux, the receipts and loyalty-card startup. “There is no way to have any record of what you’ve bought in the real world except for those tiny little pieces of paper.” Having met as some of the earliest employees of Revolut, the digital bank and crytpocurrency exchange, in January 2017 Flux co-founders Tom Reay, Matty Cusden-Ross and Barbosa decided the time was right to change proof of purchase permanently. “We joined the Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstars programme as one of 600 companies chosen from around the continent,” says Barbosa. While the entrepreneurs began to make progress with developing their own app, they quickly realised that part of the reason so few of their predecessors had made headway is that they were approaching the issue of receipts from completely

the wrong direction. And this sparked a fundamental pivot. “It dawned on us that we are on the cusp of openbanking regulation and banks are completely changing their attitudes as to how they’re going to work with third-party fintech,” Barbosa says. “We realised there was a huge opportunity on our doorsteps to actually directly integrate with the banks, rather than building a standalone app.” Rather than convince consumers to entirely change the way they pay, Flux’s most intriguing innovation is how it uses the banks’ and retailers’ existing payment architecture to provide the public a pain-free product. “Flux exists inside of your banking app: all you need to do is enable it,” Barbosa says. “Once you’ve switched on Flux, that’s it: you just pay as normal.” Effectively creating a data exchange between retailers and banks, when customers pay with their usual bank card, Flux logs itemised transactions from point-of-sale (POS) systems and collates this as receipts within online- and mobile-banking apps. As well as seeing the value of their total transaction, consumers can see a full list of the things they’ve bought and have a formal proof of purchase – all without having to press a button. “Beyond knowing that you spent £10 at Starbucks, you’ll actually see that you bought a soy cappuccino and a blueberry muffin,” says Barbosa. “It’s a pretty awesome customer experience clicking a transaction that you’ve just made in your banking app and seeing exactly what your money was spent on.” But the surprise and delight doesn’t end there. Once Flux’s co-founders had hit on the idea of building upon existing payment infrastructure, they quickly realised there was an opportunity to JANUARY 2018 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Scaling up.indd 2


15/01/2018 19:17

Flu x

streamline and unlock value in a whole new vertical: loyalty vouchers. With so many stores still using paper-based systems, it’s not hard to recognise many retailers current approach to loyalty schemes is woefully out of date. Research conducted by Quadstone in 2001 found that 19% of consumers claimed that they ‘usually forget’ to redeem points accrued in such schemes. “I know a full loyalty card is worth money but I always shove it in my pocket and forget,” says Barbosa. “And that’s a really frustrating customer experience.” While there are many startups and larger brands offering their own bespoke solutions, customers have to remember to check into umpteen different apps as they shop in various stores and remember to redeem the benefits when they’re due. Conversely, with Flux’s solution, all they have to do is pay on their cards as normal and, when they’ve accrued enough purchases, their perk will be redeemed automatically. “Imagine a world where you don’t have to search for a loyalty card and don’t even have to remember that you’re due a free item,” says Barbosa. “It’s completely seamless: you just get rewarded instantly with a cashback to your account.” Having hit on these innovations, it wasn’t long before partners began to express a real interest in Flux. No sooner had the startup graduated from the Barclays Accelerator and launched the first iteration of its product in April 2017 than Monzo, the challenger bank, agreed to come on board as its

It’s insane that today you can still go from using 21st century contactless cards to 100 BC paper receipts 30

first banking partner. But this wasn’t Flux’s most significant coup: with a bank already on board, it soon managed to convince Eat, the sandwich-shop chain, to add its service to its POS system. “It only took from April to June to convince them to roll it out across the country,” says Barbosa. “And that took them less than 48 hours.” And this served as a serious endorsement of the digital-receipts startup. “Our closest competitor took almost five years to get a large high-street name on board; it took us less than six months,” she says. “That rapid adoption says a lot.” Flux is aiming to get many more brands to follow in Eat’s footsteps. “Where we would like to see Flux take off is in high-frequency food retail, including coffee chains,” says Barbosa. “But if you don’t have a significant number of customers, you can forget talking to retailers: they just don’t care.” As a result, Flux’s big focus recently has


Scaling up.indd 3

15/01/2018 19:18

F lux

been on bringing its service to as many consumers’ banking apps as possible, which is already yielding significant results. Not only did it announce in November 2017 that it will be trialling its solution with 10,000 Barclays mobile-banking customers in Q1 this year but it also announced that it would be partnering with Barclaycard to help package its services to the brand’s retail customers. “Barclaycard provides merchant banking for at least 30% of the UK market, so some of its clients include the likes of Sainsbury’s and Pret-a-Manger,” Barbosa says. “So we’re now working closely with the bank on both sides.” And there’s a good reason why Flux is consciously developing relationships on both sides of the transaction: not only is this key to the way in which its solution works but its entire monetisation strategy is built upon the benefits it unlocks for both parties. For example, banks will happily pay because the increased paper trail created means that they bear less burden for disputed transactions. “If the customer does not have a proof of purchase – which the majority of people will not have for purchases under £20 – then most chargeback schemes are not liable for it,” says Barbosa. “A lot of the time that means the banks will compensate customers out of their own pocket to keep them happy.” Meanwhile, retailers will gladly pay to be able to avoid the hassle normally associated with operating loyalty schemes and issuing paper receipts. This means that, unlike many similar products, Flux isn’t incentivised to make its money from selling consumers’ data to the highest bidder. “The important thing about how we monetise is its not about collecting and selling your data,” Barbosa says. This is a particular point of pride for Flux. With the new General Data Protection Regulation set to come into force on May 25 and increasing backlash from consumers about the careless manner in which some companies are handling their data, the startup knows that a responsible

Beyond knowing that you spent £10 at Starbucks, you’ll actually see that it was on a soy cappuccino and a blueberry muffin approach to how it handles data is pivotal in ensuring the public is happy to trust it with something as private as its purchasing habits. “We’re not some silent third party on your bank account, sucking up all your data without your awareness,” Barbosa says. “We are very much a transparent business; we’re very explicit about how data is used and go above and beyond the new legal requirements.” This means that not only do customers have to explicitly opt-in to using its services but the access retailers have to their information is very limited: the only data available is for retailers to use for promotions is aggregated and anonymised. “They can only do it in the same style that they could on Facebook,” says Barbosa. “You can only target groups, like ‘people who buy avocados’ for example.” This mindful approach to data coupled with its efforts to declutter consumers’ pockets definitely seems to be proving a hit with retailers, banks and the public alike. But Flux is only just getting started. “Those tens of thousands of customers at Barclays are a huge success but for us it’s just the beginning,” says Barbosa. Flux isn’t just aiming to build on its relationship with Barclays and Eat by securing full roll outs with the big four banks and more high-frequency food retail brands: long-term Barbosa can envision consumers being able to plug their transaction data direct into other products, such as expense or personal finance apps. “I really believe that we have the opportunity to build the first Google in this space,” she says. “They built the best search in the world and they built exciting products around that. Essentially I believe we’re in the phase of building our search.” JANUARY 2018 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Scaling up.indd 4


15/01/2018 19:18

A dv ert i s i ng f e at u r e

Funding How? Many entrepreneurs struggle with funding. Fortunately, The Business Funding Show can help startup founders find some answers


p to 93% of UK businesses eventually fail, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Given that SMEs are the backbone of the UK economy, this is an alarming statistic for both the business owner and for the nation as a whole. Why do so many businesses fail to get off the ground? The most common reason is simple: poor cash flow. These companies can’t keep up with their own expenses, leading to missed invoices and mounting debt - and perpetuating the illusion that there’s not enough funding available for small businesses. The truth is that UK entrepreneurs have more options for obtaining outside funding than ever before. Only a decade ago, most entrepreneurs who needed funding applied for a bank loan. However, after the 2008 financial crisis unfavorable lending conditions made


these loans more difficult to get, forcing entrepreneurs to become more creative with fundraising. The result has been the expansion of previously uncommon channels such as venture capital and angel investment, and the creation of new ones such as crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending. Suddenly, entrepreneurs have an overwhelming array of alternative funding options including grants, incubators and accelerators, startup competitions, equity crowdfunding, business angels, VCs, peer-to-peer lending and challenger banks. It’s clear that, for many entrepreneurs, the problem is not a lack of available funding but not understanding of how to obtain it. While yesterday’s entrepreneurs had nowhere to turn after being rejected by the bank, today’s entrepreneurs have too many options and are not sure which to pursue.

Seeking - or even receiving - the wrong kind of funding for their business’s life stage and circumstances can be as problematic as having no funding options at all. Entrepreneurs who do take on the challenge of learning about their options are often disappointed by the lack of information available and the difficulty of connecting with funders. Often, the process leads to more questions than answers: “How do I make an effective pitch? What are investors looking for? What exactly is due diligence?” The Business Funding Show was created to fill this knowledge gap from all angles, providing entrepreneurs with the expertise, connections, and advice they need to grow their businesses. This non-profit initiative’s flagship event brings all of the above mentioned funders under one roof in London’s East Wintergarden on 22nd February 2018. The only UK and EU event focused solely on business funding, this full-day event features a conference, an exhibitor showcase, and one-to-one Investment Clinics. At the conference, attendees will hear from successful entrepreneurs and industry experts from Atomico, Innovate UK, London Stock Exchange, Crowdcube and many more. The unique talks and panels will cover topics from successful fundraising strategies to global expansion. Entrepreneurs who attend can meet these speakers, as well as an entire spectrum of UK funders and growth support institutions. Oneto-one investment clinics will give entrepreneurs an ample opportunity to propose and discuss their unique business concepts and circumstances in the light of their funding needs with industry leading investors as well. The Business Funding Show is the place to be at for entrepreneurs struggling to find and connect with experts who can help their businesses take off, as they’ll have the exclusive opportunity to spend a day with representatives from the most prominent UK funders - all there to help them navigate the best funding solution for their businesses.


Business Funding Show Jan18.indd 1

15/01/2018 18:39

Accomplish Accomplish your your 2018 2018 funding funding goals goals at at thethe only only funding funding exhibition exhibition in in thethe UKUK && EUEU

BUSINESS BUSINESSFUNDING FUNDINGSHOW SHOW2018 2018 FEBRUARY FEBRUARY22, 22,2018 2018| LONDON | LONDON| CANARY | CANARYWHARF WHARF This This is your is your chance chance to:to: • • Connect Connect with with leading leading finance finance providers providers • • Receive Receive one-to-one one-to-one advice advice from from investors investors • • Exhibit Exhibit in front in front of of high-net-worth high-net-worth individuals individuals • • Learn Learn thethe secrets secrets of of successful successful entrepreneurs entrepreneurs • • Choose Choose thethe best best funding funding solution solution forfor youyou

Meet Meet representatives representatives from: from: • • Venture Venture capital capital firms firms • • Business Business angel angel networks networks • • Crowdfunding Crowdfunding platforms platforms • • Accelerators Accelerators • • Service Service providers providers

Tickets Tickets available available atat


Keith Keith Morgan Morgan Jenny Jenny Tooth Tooth TimTim Hames Hames British British Business Business Bank Bank UKUK Business Business Angels Angels BVCA BVCA Association Association

Goncalo Goncalo de Vasconcelos de Vasconcelos

SyndicateRoom SyndicateRoom

Tom Tom Tyler Tyler London London Stock Stock Exchange Exchange


Business Funding Show Jan18.indd 2

15/01/2018 18:41








CONOMISTS ONCE SCOFFED at the idea that – effectively cryptocurrencies unique to their cryptocurrencies would come to replace platform – in return for investment in cryptocold, hard cash. But not only are they or traditional currencies, entrepreneurs can more valuable than ever – at the time of capitalise their companies without needing to writing, the total global value of cryptocurrencies undergo the same scrutiny required when issuing stood at $813.9bn according to CoinMarketCap, equity. If the startup later becomes successful, the cryptocurrency market capitalisations tracker these coins can then either be sold on at their new – increasing numbers of startups are issuing new value or redeemed as tokens against the business’s ones to raise investment. Dubbed an initial coin product or services. This hunch evidently proved offering (ICO), the investment mechanism has sound, as ICOs have proven to be a huge hit. turned the world of fundraising upside-down, “ICOs have been running for about a year now and with the Financial Times reporting there were there’s already been $2.2bn of investment done 587 offerings in 2017 alone. Despite this, many up-to-date,” Abell says. investors are discovering that all that glitters is Part of the reason for this rapid uptake is not gold and many are calling for the sector to be because of the glut of cryptocurrency currently more stringently regulated. available. Thanks in no small part to the colossal As is the case with many innovations, ICOs inflation seen in the value of bitcoin over the last were primarily born out of frustration. Many few years, there are a great number of people in entrepreneurs were looking to get capital into the blockchain and crypto spaces with money their businesses but traditional means, to burn. “There’s a massive amount such as angel investment, venture of money that people have gotten capital and IPOs, often come with a for nothing so they’re quite happy great deal of fiduciary responsibilities to spread it around,” says Michael that can significantly lengthen the time Jackson, partner at Mangrove Capital it takes to raise funding. “Sometimes Partners, the early-stage VC firm. the process eclipses the purpose in the This means that many of the early fundraising arena: entrepreneurs all get investors in ICOs have been those that deeply frustrated by having so many have a degree of familiarity with the hoops to jump through,” says Antony marketplace and who are willing to Abell, founder and managing director take a chance with money they know of TrustMe, the startup developing they can spare. “Basically independent blockchain-enabled asset-trading investors are putting money behind Michael Jackson, platforms that is currently in the projects that they like the look Mangrove Capital process of rolling out its own ICO. “All of,” Jackson says. “That means the Partners of these things take time, money, effort successful ICOs are the ones that are and resources and entrepreneurs really wanted to attractive to people with crypto assets.” find a more efficient means of raising capital.” Unfortunately, as ICOs have become more However, over the last couple of years mainstream and the buzz around bitcoin has blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies have begun to draw in amateur investors looking to steadily been eroding the primacy of physical make their millions, increasing numbers of people currency. And as increasing numbers of bitcoin are getting involved who are much less familiar barons hit it big and crypto crackshots came up with investment or the blockchain sector. “Firms with innovative new tech, they began to wonder like Mangrove Capital Partners are used to venture financing: projects go wrong all the time,” if they could help each other out directly and Jackson says. “We’d normally take things step by bypass traditional fundraising channels entirely. step and give these projects $500,000 because They hit upon a novel solution: by issuing ‘coins’




A new chapter in the Christopher Ward story, the light-catching lines of the allnew case are inspired by English design. With a power reserve complication to our Swiss-made in-house movement Calibre SH21, the C1 Grand Malvern Power Reserve blends Swiss ingenuity with British elegance.

AD PLACE.indd 1

10/01/2018 15:33

In it ia l c o i n of f e r i ngs

There is definitely an element of the wild west to ICOs Antony Abell, TrustMe

we know a lot of people can’t even get it off the ground.” However, some startups are issuing ICOs and drawing in £20m, despite not even having demonstrable revenue streams or product-market fit. “Crypto people are raising tons of money for unproven projects and some of those will fail,” says Jackson. “We’re going to see people feeling very disappointed and very cheated.” And, perhaps inevitably, the gold-rush mentality created by the huge claims being staked has attracted plenty of unscrupulous swindlers eager to profit off of others’ enthusiasm. “There is definitely an element of the wild west to ICOs,” Abell acknowledges. While he feels the top third of the market is offering innovations with enormous potential and the middle third is creating products and services that will – despite their best intentions – falter, clinging to the bottom of the market are plenty of individuals actively looking to exploit investors’ naivety. “Some absolutely ridiculous ICOs have gotten money that shouldn’t have and that has given everybody else a bad name,” he says. But some believe that issuing cryptocurrencies in return for investment could have risks that extend far past the impact it could have on individual investors. Voices like VC Bill Gurley and Y Combinator president Sam Altman have raised concerns that the excitement and overvaluations seen in the ICO market may be driving a speculation bubble. “Those who witnessed the dotcom era know that when the hype exceeds the reality it’s a very dangerous time,” says Abell. “That’s when there is a real risk of processes running off the rails and people losing money they worked hard for and can’t afford to lose.” However, this hype isn’t unique to ICOs and even Altman believes that the enormous benefits they can bring far outweigh the risks – as long as the sector is properly regulated. Fortunately, it seems like everyone – including companies issuing ICOs, traditional investors and regulators – is singing from the same hymn sheet. “The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is very keen on market

transparency with orderly transactions, checks, balances, processes, controls and that’s as it should be,” says Abell. Not only has the FCA issued a very stark health warning to those looking to invest in ICOs but it is engaging with startups like TrustMe through its sandbox innovation programme to help them ensure they are structuring their offerings in a way that protects investors. “We’re very happy they’re doing this and we’re not the only ones,” Abell says. “There are plenty of people that are also very keen to see that happen and are trying to work with the regulators, the private-equity industry and business to get this right.” Protecting the casual investor’s cash isn’t the only reason to introduce some regulation into the sector though: taking a proactive stance on ICOs could stand the UK in very good stead. “At the moment we’re in a leadership void,” Abell says. While the Chinese government hasn’t yet made it illegal to own or mine cryptocurrencies, it has recently banned both ICOs and bitcoin exchanges. And although the US hasn’t adopted anywhere near so hostile a stance, it hasn’t yet welcomed ICOs with open arms either. Which means Britain could easily claim the title as its own. “There’s a hell of a lot of bitcoin out there right now looking for other asset classes to invest in,” says Abell. “That means if London manages to frame itself as the blue-chip ICO capital of the world, with good processes, regulator approval and adoption, then all of a sudden we’re in a highgrowth area of the financial marketplace.”


Finance.indd 3


15/01/2018 18:44

BUSINESS FUNDING THAT REFLECTS YOUR AMBITIONS A TRUE ALTERNATIVE TO THE BANKS ThinCats is a true alternative finance provider, dedicated to funding ambitious SMEs. Liberated from ivory tower thinking, inefficiency and high overheads, ThinCats provides a focused, responsive and accountable service, enabling businesses to seize opportunities and grow revenue.

ThinCats is a trading name of Business Loan Network Limited. It is a member of the Peer-to-Peer Finance Association (P2PFA) and the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers (NACFB), registered in England & Wales No. 07248014. VAT Registration Number: GB104044961. Business Loan Network Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 724062). Business Loan Network Limited is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

AD PLACE.indd 1

WE ARE THINCATS NOT FAT CATS Tel: 01530 444 040 | Email:

10/01/2018 15:28

THE FREEDOM TO ACHIEVE ThinCats is dedicated to funding SMEs up to £5M. We can fund the following scenarios to help your business prosper: - Funding Growth – working capital, property, stock or equipment purchase, or expansion plans - Management Buyouts and Buyins - Acquisitions - Re-financing/restructuring of debt


AD PLACE.indd 2

10/01/2018 15:28






TAKING ON THE ESTABLISHED property giants is something few would have the stones for. Attempting to undermine brands with as solid foundations as Foxtons and Countrywide either requires a degree of naivety or a bucketload of bravery. Fortunately, Daniel Attia, co-founder and CEO of Yopa, the online estate agency, recognises how both of these things can be an asset when attempting to disrupt incumbent brands. “People are so scared of failure but that fear will stop you ever trying anything,” he says. “Keeping an aura of naivety allows you to experiment and try more things.” Certainly this attitude stood Attia in good stead as a young boy growing up in Hampstead: thanks to the combination of the credulousness and confidence of youth, the entrepreneur was never afraid to jump in with both feet. “The first thing that I did was I threw a party for 13,000 or 14,000 kids,” he says. “It wasn’t even meant to be 1,000 kids but this thing went viral and at the time I made £1,200, which at 13 or 14 was like two years’ pocket money.” Attia’s next money-making scheme involved snapping up Levi’s jeans wholesale through an embryonic eBay, having a friend embroider them with patterns and then selling them at school for a profit. And before too long this entrepreneurial mindset had become something of a habit. “I was always trying and thinking of new ideas,” he says. “Whether they worked or failed, we always enjoyed the feeling of making money and the independence that comes with it – you kinda get addicted to that.” JANUARY 2018 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Da ni el At t i a

A After finishing school in 2008, Attia headed to UCL to study for a bachelor’s in economics but this was an uncomfortable fit for someone so used to ploughing their own furrow. “I hated academia,” he says. “I was encouraged to go down that route but it wasn’t for me.” Fortunately, after graduating, Attia found other learning opportunities that were a better fit for his enterprising personality: after doing some internships in the property sector, he began working for agencies that bought and sold commercial property. And this gave him the opportunity to build upon the foundations he’d laid during his youth. “It’s very entrepreneurial: you can make money out of nothing and that’s always fun,” he says. “I was always buying and selling so I learnt to understand how the whole process works and the dynamics of selling. And the more Attia grew to understand the industry, the more he realised that the sector had some structural issues that would benefit from some renovations. “It was super archaic,” he says. “It just wasn’t harnessing technology in any way.” While commercial property agents were at least used to using data and detailed calculations to arrive at property valuations, the industry as a whole hadn’t kept up with the digital revolution. And given the sector had little in the way of 42

People are so scared of failure but that fear will stop you ever trying anything

external pressures or competition, in Attia’s view there was little to force those operating within it to up their games. “Everyone was plodding along, content with how much money they were making,” he says. “When you’re in a situation where you can charge a very high fee base and not come under any fee pressure, you have no incentive to innovate. This experience began to fuel Attia’s desire to reform the industry but the spark that actually ignited it came when he sold a property of his own. “I got landed with a contract with a 2% fee: it was 2.5% sole agency, 2% multi-agency,” he says. “And I was like: ‘that’s crazy because I could sell this place myself.’” But while Attia initially thought he’d be able to list directly on platforms like Zoopla and Right Move, the reality was far more complex. The platforms didn’t allow the public to list unbrokered property and, although this left a gap in the market, he could clearly see that no new business would be able to compete head-to-head with the incumbents. Instead, teaming up with friends David Jacobs and Andrew and Alistair Barclay – respectively the grandson and son of Sir David Barclay, co-owner of the Telegraph Media Group – Attia realised there was the massive opportunity to create a fixed-fee, truly digital estate agency. “There was no R&D done, there was no market size analysis,” he says. “It was just instinctive, like ‘this could be huge: let’s do this.’” True to form, Attia wasn’t afraid to follow his gut, although he admits naivety in this case meant that he and his fellow entrepreneurs faced a pretty serious learning curve. “If we’d known at the time how big a project it would be, we probably wouldn’t have decided to do it,” he says. “We had no idea how to build a product; we had no idea about customer journey.” While Jacobs had plenty of experience in e-commerce, developing a product like Yopa turned out to be far more complicated than any of the team had anticipated. “Essentially the initial website just didn’t work,” Attia admits. Fortunately, tales of this plucky band of entrepreneurs taking on bricks-andmortar estate agents spread and attracted the attention of Tim Muir, former product manager at easyProperty, Rightmove and Zoopla and current chief operating officer at Yopa. “He came in and really was the one that was like ‘right, let’s look at this and do this properly’,” Attia says. “The learning curve has been crazy from that to where we are now, which is just a phenomenal product.”


Cover Interview.indd 3

15/01/2018 18:31

Da ni e l At ti a

When you’re in a situation where you don’t come under any fee pressure, you have no incentive to innovate

On top of providing insight into how Yopa could smooth out its customer journey, Muir also helped the entrepreneurs address a more fundamental issue with running a purely online play in the property space. “The service we were providing was sub-par: not being present had such a negative impact on valuation quality,” says Attia. “We didn’t have local expertise: I knew that there was a hole there.” While Attia had already begun to realise that Yopa needed to pivot, it was Muir that helped him see that a hybrid model could offer the best of both worlds. By enabling existing estate agents to conduct business online while still carrying out valuations and meeting clients in person, they could boost their productivity and earning potential while offering a cheaper deal and more flexibility for the consumer. “It was a no brainer: the estate agents are from the high street and have at least five years experience,” says Attia. “We are just techenabling them to be more efficient, reminding them when to make customer-service calls and helping them to keep in touch with vendors.” And embracing a model that brought together the best of online and offline came with some additional perks: those selling a house no longer had to either go down the purely fullservice or do-it-yourself routes. “It essentially allows people the choice to sell their home the way they want to, not the way that suits the business at that time,” says Attia. Rather than it being a case of all or nothing, Yopa’s users have significantly more granular control over the level of involvement they want in the process, picking exactly which parts of selling their property they want to take on and which parts they want an agent to handle. “You can have a pick ‘n’ mix: if you want to do your own viewings or you want someone else to do them, you can,” Attia says. “If you want to talk to buyers directly or you want to have zero interactions with them, you can do that as well.” Bringing estate agents on board wasn’t without its challenges though: getting them to leave their comfort zones working for established agencies and take a punt on the then untested platform took some convincing. “It was quite a challenge to get the first lot to jump ship but I’m happy they did: a lot of them are still with us,” says Attia. “And it’s become easier the more the brand gets known: it’s clicked with a lot of agents that much of the market share is moving toward this space and they need to get in early.” JANUARY 2018 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Cover Interview.indd 4


15/01/2018 18:31

Da ni el At t i a

Attracting homeowners to the platform followed much the same journey. “The first thousand customers are the hardest because they’re essentially the guinea pigs and the early adopters,” Attia say. When dealing with the most valuable asset the vast majority of people will ever own, trust is pivotal. Consumers want to be able to see an agent’s track record, the reviews they have received, their boards around the neighbourhood but these are all things that only come once an agency has reached a certain scale. Fortunately, two attention-grabbing ad campaigns – first featuring the Village People discussing whether it was time to move on from their past success and then focusing on the surreal reasons customers would have to find to not give Yopa’s platform a go – got the word out to consumers and gave the platform the push it needed. “Now, on our site, we have thousands of properties and people can find some that have sold in their neighbourhood,” says Attia. “So the marketing gets more efficient naturally as you scale; it’s a snowball effect.” But creating this kind of customer-base for the company required some serious capital and accessing investment for the burgeoning business was easier said than done. “It was really brutal to be honest: we were rejected so many times,” said Attia. “At the time, the business was in a very primitive form and we were asking them to invest £15m in four 26-year-old kids, so we needed someone with a lot of vision and understanding.” Fortunately, the startup eventually found the help it was looking for in the unlikeliest of places – Savills. While the international estate-agency giant was in essence part of the very industry Yopa had been looking to disrupt, it evidently saw something in the plucky startup that separated it from the other startups in the proptech sector. “You’ll have to ask them how they came to the crazy idea of investing in us but I hope they’re happy they did,” Attia jokes. “We were very pleased to secure them as a lead investor because it provided everyone with the seal of approval that this is a model worth looking at.” Without a doubt, having this kind of high-profile backer on board has also helped Yopa bring home top talent – although it’s true that Attia doesn’t need a huge amount of assistance here. “The skill set that I’m probably the best at is spotting, chasing, hounding and retaining great people in this company,” he says. “I know that these guys make my job a lot easier so I genuinely don’t take no for an answer when I’ve found someone that I want to hire: I’m quite relentless in my pursuit of excellent people.” But Attia doesn’t just invest in talent outside of the business: he also dedicates a lot of energy into identifying and building up untapped potential within Yopa. “You’ve got to keep your ears open in your own organisation as to who the rockstars are and give them that growth,” he says. “That creates a culture brilliant people can thrive in and therefore encourages more people to join us.”

Not being present had such a negative impact on valuation quality: we didn’t have local expertise



Cover Interview.indd 5

15/01/2018 18:31

Your team is wasting 1/3 of their time on email.

Glip, your messaging app for teams, enables your team to communicate without being tied down to their emails. Sign-up for a FREE account

Untitled-4 1

19/12/2017 16:42

Da ni el At t i a

Having such talented people on side – whether it be in Yopa’s head office or helping to sell consumers’ homes – means the startup is in a strong position, come what may. And in light of research from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) revealing that house prices are expected to fall across London and the south in 2018 and the lingering economic uncertainty resulting from Brexit, the sector definitely needs to prepare for leaner times. “It’s unfortunate that we’re in year three and the country is going through a tumultuous time but that’s the nature of business and you have to stay strong,” says Attia. However, Attia isn’t unduly concerned: even taking into account the fact that money pouring into certain sectors has a tendency to ebb and flow, property will always remain a strong industry and so the most important thing to focus on is capturing as much of the market as possible. “Markets will go up and down,” Attia says. “The measure that I always look at is how your market share is growing: within the good times or bad times, that should always be increasing.” And this is clearly a lesson Attia is embracing with Yopa. “By the end of next year, I’d like to be a top five UK estate agent in terms of volume; the year after I’d like to be number one or two,” he says. “Eventually I would like our marketshare to be large enough that upwards of 7% or 8% of all transactions in the UK go through Yopa.” And it seems like Yopa is right on schedule: last year Yopa achieved 2.7x growth over 2016 and, if Attia gets his way, it will top that in 2018. “I’m a super-competitive guy and always have been,” he says. “My ambition is making sure this is a huge success and that we create a great consumer brand everyone knows and loves.” And while Attia’s plans for the future of Yopa are evidently ambitious, he feels naivety and ambition are far less likely to threaten the long-term survivability of a startup than negativity or being overly cautious. “People will give you a million reasons why not to do something: everyone from family to friends told me this company would fail, that it was a dumb idea, that it would never work,” he says. “So surround yourself with people who think in the same way you do and don’t let those that don’t get you down.” As long as an entrepreneur has identified a clear customer need and an effective way to address it, they needn’t spend too long worrying about other people’s doubts. “Figure out what the problem is, why customers wouldn’t be happy with the existing status quo and how to solve it,” concludes Attia. “That’s the only thing that really matters.”

I genuinely don’t take no for an answer when I’ve found someone that I want to hire: I’m quite relentless in my pursuit of excellent people



Cover Interview.indd 6

15/01/2018 19:24

Big on colour, small on mono costs Our LED colour printers give your business stand out

To beat the competition, it pays to look professional. That’s where OKI can help. Our LED technology ensures superior colour that feels more alive, as well as high quality mono for no more cost than with a standard mono printer. Discover how else OKI can help bring your business alive – just visit


QC Untitled-6 1



09/10/2017 15:28

R eta i l t ec h no lo gy

Closing shop Online platforms are forcing many high-street stores to close. But while technology has caused this crisis in bricks and mortar retail, innovation could also be traditional shopkeepers’ salvation




Sales & Marketing.indd 1

15/01/2018 18:47

R e ta i l te c hnology

for ways to adopt new technologies. For instance, Walmart has opened a tech incubator in Silicon Valley and, closer to home, John Lewis is supporting startups through its JLAB accelerator. Moreover, established players aren’t the only ones supporting a new generation of entrepreneurs. In 2016, VCs dashed out over $384m to new enterprises in this space, according to Crunchbase, the startup database. Clearly, both big brands and budding businesses are recognising the demand for innovation. “It’s no longer a choice; it’s a musthave,” says Kotsur. “If your competitors can bring both the convenience of online and the experience of physical stores and you can’t, then your customers will become frustrated.” In other words, while technology is at the centre of these companies’ woes, being able to evolve with the times can prove to be their salvation. A nation of shopkeepers. That’s how Given that traditional retailers’ problems began with online Adam Smith referred to Britain in shopping, it’s only logical that many companies’ first step is to The Wealth of Nations, arguing that offer their products on the web. “The contrast in performance a society influenced by merchants between businesses who use e-commerce and those that had a strong foundation to become an don’t is significant,” says Douglas Gurr, UK country manager empire. However, the past decade has at Amazon. And it seems as if this point has hit home as the seen the emergence of e-commerce number of UK SMEs planning to sell throw traditional retailers into a state products online is set to rise from 64% of crisis. Customers have in a short in 2017 to 88% by the end of 2018, time become accustomed to a hassleaccording to research commissioned free and frictionless service that’s by Amazon UK and Enterprise Nation, on demand, online and on time. As the small-business community. The a consequence, bastions of the high report also found that SMEs that use street such as Jaeger and Austin Reed e-commerce expect three times faster have all gone bust. Similar trends can revenue growth and two times faster be spotted across the pond where 2017 jobs growth compared to those that saw more stores close than during the don’t. And if you ask Gurr, this faith in financial crisis, sparking talk about a the power of online is well founded. retail apocalypse. “The impact digital tools and services And it’s relatively easy to see why, have on a small business cannot be according to a study from Ipsos Retail, underestimated,” he says. “They can the footfall in bricks and mortar stores improve productivity, boost revenue Olga Kotsur, Mercaux has dropped by 22% since 2007. “The growth and provide real export power.” truth is that modern offline retailers However, rather than being satisfied are extremely ineffective,” says Olga with simply opening e-commerce Kotsur, CEO and founder at Mercaux, sites, retailers are actively looking for the mobile-retail platform. Just ways to blend the offline and online consider how much time you’ve wasted experiences offered to customers. “The in fitting rooms for sales people to two can’t be siloed anymore,” says Eric fetch you the right size shirt only to discover that your size Jones, vice-president of global brand is unfortunately out of stock. In comparison, any online shop and communications at WP Engine, the will not only inform you if they’ve got the right garment but WordPress-hosting platform. Instead also provide several similar alternatives within seconds. “The of having the digital and physical convenience of online is hard to replicate in the offline world sides of your business compete with right now,” says Kotsur. each other, they should instead offer But difficult as it might be, it’s not impossible as long as different sides of the same coin. “The retailers are willing to innovate. In fact, their very future battle starts online,” says Jones. “It’s depends on it. “It’s going to be really hard for retailers very unlikely that you’d walk past a who don’t change to survive,” says Kotsur. Maybe that’s store and just pop inside unless you’d the reason why many major brands are actively looking heard about the store online first.”

It’s going to be really hard for retailers who don’t change to survive


Sales & Marketing.indd 2


15/01/2018 18:47

R eta i l t ec h no lo gy

Another reason to mix the digital and the physical realms is because customers are increasingly expecting to receive a holistic experience from brands. “Their general attitude towards technology is changing,” says Jones. For instance, while 37% of baby boomers say that the internet will determine what they do each day, that number rose to 51% for Gen Z, according to a report from WP Engine. “For Gen Z, it’s very much at the core of who they are,” says Jones. “They don’t differentiate between online and offline, technology and non-technology. To them it’s all just a part of the human experience.” Nowhere is this blend more prevalent than in the way retailers are starting to use augmented reality (AR). “Done right, AR creates enjoyable and memorable experiences for shoppers – both in-store and at home: almost like pieces of theatre that can bring campaigns to life,” says Malcolm Fogarty, chief digital director at tcc global, the retail-marketing firm. Companies like IKEA and Amazon have already developed tools to see how new furniture would look in your home before making the purchase. Similar innovations can be seen in bricks and mortar stores. For instance, fashion brands like Uniqlo and Burberry have used AR mirrors in their stores to boost their customers’ experience. “Ultimately, for those businesses that are brave enough to see the vast opportunity of AR and dive in, AR can change customer experience and shopper journeys for the better,” Fogarty says. Another way technology can change the tide for retailers is by empowering their salespeople. “There is a huge and urgent need for this and it’s definitely something retailers are looking at,” says Kotsur. “And it’s obvious why when you think about it.” Indeed, store personnel can struggle to keep keep track of an ever-changing range of products, know where everything is located in their store and what’s in stock. Fortunately, simple things like providing staff members with tablets can enable them to provide a better service. “It can make them more effective and help them sell more,” says Kotsur. And if customers buy more, it can only be stellar news for retailers’ bottom lines. But adopting innovations can also provide retailers with a better understanding through big data and AI. That’s true whether they are using AR or tablets to boost customers’ 50

experiences in their stores or offering their services through voice-activated smart devices like the Amazon Echo or the Apple HomePod. “From a retailer’s perspective all these things are generating massive amounts of data around the consumer, what they are searching for and how they’re using products,” says Steve King, CEO and co-founder of Black Swan, the data-mining Eric Jones, WP Engine startup. By analysing this data, retailers can cut wastage, improve their supply chain and acquire a better understanding of what customers want. “On airlines alone, we’ve seen how AI can cut wastage by 20%, eliminating £1bn worth of waste and delivering improved margins,” says King. In a business with such low margins as retail, using AI and big data is a god-send. Clearly, retailers have the world to win by adopting new technology. But even if it’s easy to be overwhelmed and even wooed by new technological innovations, they must remember their prime directive hasn’t changed. “Customer experience [comes first], technology second,” says Fogarty. With everything from AR to big data changing the face of retail, Fogarty warns against using new technology just for the sake of using it unless it can improve customer experiences. If it doesn’t then adopting it becomes an exercise in futility. “What is clear is that despite the increasingly digital world, customers still yearn for the human touch,” he concludes. “Regardless of predictions of their downfall, bricks and mortar has a key role to play.”

Their general attitude towards technology is changing


Sales & Marketing.indd 3

15/01/2018 18:47

A dverti si ng f e ature

MARKETING MATTERS New data reveals that integrated marketing strategies bring higher roi for uk businesses


ardly any SME throughout the UK doesn’t allot some expense toward marketing strategies. However, recent marketing data shows that an integrated approach to marketing is equivalent to higher ROI every time. It’s like betting on a winning team, a no-risk shot at success. One sure bet in the UK is Blackjack Media, a fullservice digital and marketing agency headquartered in Birmingham that delivers winning results. For over 15 years, this award-winning marketing agency has garnered the affections of UK businesses and was listed as one of the top three marketing agencies in Dudley, West Midlands in 2017. With those kind of credentials, it’s easy to see why Blackjack Media has risen to stardom among the ranks and has been distinguishing itself as a champ in the industry. The secret to its success? Blackjack Media focuses on four core service areas of strategic, creative, digital marketing, and data analytics. By optimising them and integrating them for the best possible solutions to each client’s unique business needs,

Blackjack Media can generate higher conversions, more exposure, more product sales and a leading edge in the online realm.

We want to be seen as the extended marketing team of the businesses we work with so they can rely on us to provide honest advice, support and implement the most current market leading solutions in a rapidly changing digital world Mani Sharma, Managing Director of Blackjack Media

Not just a one-trick pony, Blackjack Media has been around long enough to know what works and how to achieve results using its proven method. Looking at the results of its labour, it’s much easier to see. For Lets Move In Estate Agents, a brand new mobile responsive website with a cutting-edge property search interface and other advanced functions allowed data to be sent directly to the UK’s largest property portals like Zoopla Property

Group. This strategy netted more website traffic for the client while creating a more user-friendly website. Understanding the needs of the client as well as those of the client serves translated to a winning outcome. PrecisionFM was another client that came out ahead thanks to Blackjack Media. By developing a clear and defined brand strategy for them, the PrecisionFM brand was able to grow into a global market and gain sales around the world. Thanks to the success of working with Alachi Restaurant with the creation of a revolutionary social media management dashboard and mobile app, Blackjack Media is launching a brand new online platform called ClickDine in February 2018 that will provide effective marketing support to businesses in the food and drink sector including bars, cafes, restaurants, delis, pubs, and takeaways to name a few. Additionally, by streamlining the project process to utilise their teams in both their Asian offices and local UK offices, the quality of work provided is unparalleled while at the same time being a fraction of the cost of many other UK agencies. The devotion to provide award-winning design and service as well as speedy delivery and technical support is an incredible bargain, one that UK businesses shouldn’t miss out on when seeking to better their businesses. It truly does take money to make money, but when that cash is invested wisely into a venture such as working with a solidly-founded marketing agency like Blackjack Media, it is money well-spent. It’s also money that comes back in the form of greater profits and market share, something that is virtually priceless. For more information on Blackjack Media or to schedule a consultation, call 0121 736 0352 or email hello@


Blackjack Jan18.indd 1


15/01/2018 16:13

DPS.qxp_Layout 1 13/12/2017 11:49 Page 2


A dve rt is in g fe at ur e

Accountex Summit North 2018

Hundreds of senior accountants and finance professionals based across the Midlands and North of England have already taken up their free delegate places at the industry’s new, must attend, one day accounting conference and exhibition.

The NEW one-day conference & exhibition dedicated to the accounting profession CONFERENCE | NETWORKING | EXHIBITION

Taking place on 6 March 2018, at Manchester Central, ACCOUNTEX SUMMIT NORTH is free to attend and will play host to a full line-up of CPD accredited keynotes, seminars, panel sessions and interative workshops, focusing on the latest developments and issues facing today’s accountany professionals. Leading suppliers with the latest products… The central exhibition boasts around 80 companies showcasing their latest products, services, software and solutions. Among them are 2020 Innovation, ACCA, Accountancy Age, AccountancyManager, AccountingWEB, AIA, Analyser Accounting, AutoEntry, BrightPay Payroll Software, CaseWare UK, CIMA, CIPP, CIS, Coface, Compleat Software, Debt Collection Services UK, DivDoc, Economia, Enterprise Tax Consultants, First Corporate Law Services, FreeAgent, FUJITSU, FUTRLI, GAAPweb, Global Infosys, ICB, IFA, QuickBooks, IRIS, Effective Pricing, MyFirmsApp, Octopus Blue, Opt Pensions, Practice Ignition, Premiere Capital, Qubic Tax, Receipt Bank, Redundancy Claims, RollPay, Sage, Spotcap, The Learn Centre, and Xero. Who attends…

will attract accountancy and finance professionals from the north of England, all working in business, in practice and the public sector including: Partners | Managing Partners | C-level Executives | Practicing Accountants | Bookkeepers | Auditors | Tax Specialists | Marketing Managers & Directors | IT Directors | Financial Departments & more… ACCOUNTEX SUMMIT NORTH

Leading Keynote speakers Streamed content in dedicated theatres 100 leading suppliers CPD accreditation – up to 8 hours Refreshments and lunch included

Registration is FREE and places are on a first come first served basis Register using priority code ASN023


Accountex Jan18.indd 1

@ACXsummitnorth #ACXsummitnorth

A FREE delegate place includes:

Keynote speaker programme – taking place in the main auditorium, the programme will feature high profile speakers offering the latest industry insights Top suppliers in the networking & break out area – who are helping to change the future of your industry 4 dedicated break out theatres – covering the latest trends and hot topics for more interactive sessions 8 hours of CPD accreditation Complimentary refreshments – all refreshments and a light lunch will be included free of charge

is free to attend for accountants and finance professionals only. Places are limited, and all registrations will be verified and confirmed. To apply for a delegate ticket, please visit and quote priority code: ASN024


15/12/2017 11:28

A dverti si ng f e ature


ACCOUNTEX SUMMIT NORTH has unveiled its inaugural speaker line-up. The latest big name speakers to be confirmed are Sage’s Cameron John discussing efficiencies in the cloud, David Kaye from Intuit – QuickBooks giving his take on how to create a future-ready firm, Xero’s Damon Anderson outlining how to transform practices to embrace the digital revolution, and IRIS’s Steve Cox sharing his insights into the latest research on the accountancy climatic flip.

The summit will also feature topical Keynotes and discussions on digital tax, tools for management accountants, the transformation of the financial role, business challenges and new technology. Plus, Glenn Collins, head of technical advisory at ACCA, will head up an expert panel of practitioners debating the changing face of the accountancy practice and the growing importance of technology and strategies to deliver maximum business success. There will be over 20 sessions in four dedicated theatres – including the Tech Theatre, How To Theatre, Future and Growth Theatre, and the Keynote auditorium. The full programme is available to view at





08.15 –09.30 09.30 –10.30


Keynote Session

The Changing Landscape of the Accountancy Profession

KEYNOTE – Main Auditorium


10.30 –10.45 10.45 –11.15

Mark Wickersham, Effective Pricing Ltd

Value Pricing: Why ‘Making Tax Digital’ Means You Must Change Your Pricing Model

How To Theatre

10.45 –11.15

Paul Shrimpling, Remarkable Practice

The Business Growth Accountant – How to Transform Your Accountancy Practice into a Profitable and Valuable Advisory Business

Practice Growth Theatre

10.45 –11.15 10.45 –11.15

Cameron John, Sage David Kaye, Intuit Ltd – Quickbooks

It’s All About Efficiencies in the Cloud

Tech Theatre

Creating a Future-Ready Firm with QuickBooks

Business & Future Theatre


11.15 –11.45 11.45 –12.15


Making Tax Digital – The Clock is Still Ticking

How To Theatre

11.45 –12.15

Damon Anderson, Xero

Digital or Die: Transforming Your Practice for the Digital Revolution

Practice Growth Theatre

11.45 –12.15

Daniel Richards, My Firms App

Bringing the Best of the Add-ons Together to Strengthen Your Client Relationship

Tech Theatre

11.45 –12.15

SAP Business One

The Change and Transformation of the Financial Role

Business & Future Theatre


12.15 –12.30 12.30 –13.00

Amanda C. Watts, TwentyTwo Agency

Please Will You Marry Me, Mr. Accountant? (A Relationship First Approach To Marketing)

How To Theatre

12.30 –13.00

Steve Pipe, AVN

How to Become one of the World’s Most Inspiring, Respected and Profitable Accountancy Practices

Practice Growth Theatre

12.30 –13.00

Ed Molyneux, FreeAgent

Rise of the Robots, Accountancy at a Crossroads

Tech Theatre

12.30 –13.00

Chris Astle, Thinks Forwards

Future of Finance – Enabling Great Business Partnering

Business & Future Theatre


13.00 –14.00 Gordon Gilchrist & Ian Fletcher, 2020 Innovation Training Ltd

The Firm of the Future

15.15 –15.45

Steven Cox, IRIS

The Accountancy Climatic Flip – Time for Digital

How To Theatre

15.15 –15.45

James Ashford, GoProposal

How We Grew Our Firm’s Monthly Recurring Revenue by 50% in 9 Months

Practice Growth Theatre

15.15 –15.45

Mark Wickersham, Effective Pricing Ltd

Effective Pricing

Tech Theatre

15.15 –15.45


Today’s Business Challenges with Tomorrow's Technology

Business & Future Theatre

14.00 –14.45

KEYNOTE – Main Auditorium


14.45 –15.15


15.45 –16.00 16.00 –16.45

Glenn Collins, ACCA

Panel Debate: Changing Face of the Accountancy Practice

KEYNOTE – Main Auditorium

16.45 –17.00

Gordon Gilchrist & Ian Fletcher, 2020 Innovation Training Ltd

Closing Remarks and Conference Wrap Up

Main Auditorium

17.00 –18.00


For more information or to apply for your FREE place visit

Accountex Jan18.indd 2

15/12/2017 11:29



NURTURING A HEALTHY CULTURE BOOSTS STARTUPS’ CHANCES OF SUCCEEDING. HOWEVER, IT’S IMPORTANT THAT THE FOUNDERS START WITH THEMSELVES NTREPRENEURS SEEMINGLY face an impossible choice between succeeding professionally or staying healthy. On the one hand, small-business owners have to dedicate every waking hour to their company or risk failure. On the other hand, if they don’t take time off to care for themselves, founders could see their overall health get flushed down the toilet. This is a dilemma Angela Middleton, founder and chairman of MiddletonMurray, the apprenticeships and training provider, faced a while back after running her business for a few years. “I’d gone from looking fit to feeling overweight and heavy with a roll around my stomach and I wasn’t happy about it,” she says. Deciding to stop burning the candle at both ends, she devoted herself to an intense weight-lifting regimen and low-calorie diet, which soon bore fruit. Not only did she find herself sporting a six-pack at age 55 but also noted a clear boost in



her performance. “I’m more energetic, normally wake up before my alarm and feel more awake,” she says. And Middleton is hardly alone in feeling like she had to choose between her company and her personal health. “It’s a catch-22 problem because CEOs are at the peak of their careers and are extremely time poor, putting in long hours at the office,” says Keith McNiven, founder of Right Path Fitness, the personal-training company. “But these are the people who benefit the most from exercise.” Indeed, a study published in the Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine showed that simply adding two and a half hours of exercise per week can significantly boost productivity and decrease sickness absence. “When you don’t feel 100%, you don’t perform at 100%,” McNiven says. “It’s as simple as that.” However, taking the time to hit the gym doesn’t come easy for every




H ea lt h y b u si ness

entrepreneur. “I’ve worked with clients in the past who see it as a something of a badge of honour not to have the time to exercise,” says McNiven. “They are just working themselves into the ground and seem almost proud of it.” Unfortunately, establishing a culture encouraging entrepreneurs to emulate Elon Musk’s insane 100-hour work week can leave founders facing the risk of burning out before making their startup a success. This danger can be quite significant as 78% of entrepreneurs suffer from some sort of mental health issue, according to a study by researchers at University of California Berkeley and University of California San Francisco. Given the detrimental effect long hours at the office could have on your health, taking time off can ensure you can stay in the game for longer. “Like a car, your body can only take neglect and inattention for so long before it starts breaking down,” says McNiven. “Prevention is always better.” But even if founders want to keep up their physical maintenance, their shareholders may be opposed to the idea. “It’s a widespread view that if the CEO is not in the office it means they aren’t working,” says Peter Limbach, assistant professor of finance at the University of Cologne and Centre for Financial Research. This assumption is evident in a forthcoming study in the Review of Financial Studies, which suggests that the more a business leader golfs, the worse results their firms have. “This implies that that if the CEO is in the office, it’s better for the shareholders,” Limbach says. However, he’s found himself wondering if this widespread view is accurate. A self-confessed sports enthusiast who has experienced the benefits of staying active himself, he challenged this view in his own study. Limbach found that not only did the number of CEOs running marathons double between 2001 and 2011 but also that their participation in these endurance events benefitted their business. “On average their companies’ stock price jumped by 1% in the days around their participation,” Limbach says. “And we didn’t see any other reason for this systematic increase.” Moreover, he and his research partner noted that these companies were performing well overall and that professional mutual-fund investors were more likely to buy shares from companies that had a marathon-finisher as a CEO. 56

Like a car, your body can only take neglect and inattention for so long before it starts breaking down Keith McNiven, Right Path Fitness


Analysis - Making Gains.indd 3

15/01/2018 18:59

Hea lt h y b usi ness

Lee Dentith, CEO and founder, Now Healthcare Group

Michael Foote, founder, Quote Goat I’m a big advocate for staying fit and how much impact it has for entrepreneurs and their businesses. I try to do at least half an hour of strenuous exercise each day. I’ve noticed a significant difference in my productivity after doing so. When I first launched my business I worked long hours every day, sacrificed exercise time and replaced it with time behind the desk. Exercise gives a clear mind and therefore, although I spend less time behind the desk, I believe I am more productive as a result.

“So the pros actually outweighs the cons,” says Limbach. In other words, while hours spent teeing off may be bad for business, participating in endurance events that require a high-level of fitness may be good news. So when it comes to sports, it might be better to emulate Mark Zuckerberg rather than Donald Trump. Given the benefits in productivity, it’s hardly surprising that firms’ stock increases if their leaders maintain a healthy lifestyle. Even more encouragingly, working out can also help founders grow their networks. “Nearly everybody that I speak to now wants to talk to me about my fitness and health routine,” says Middleton. Other business leaders have also used their workouts to bond with others. For instance, the former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is known to go cycling with the Yahoo executive Dylan Casey. “It’s very much a talking point,” says Middleton. “It’s definitely a conversation starter.” Additionally, it’s not just entrepreneurs’ external relationships that can benefit from this new commitment to staying healthy. Incorporating it into their startup’s culture

Sanjeev Virdi, founder, we:bo Having played hockey internationally, studied psychology and sports science at university and worked in high-performing organisations for nearly 20 years, I’ve experienced first hand how being physically fit has made me more resilient, more alert, enabled me to manage stressful situations and make better decisions. Finding the time to fit in regular high-quality exercise is a challenge. Keeping myself fit and healthy requires motivation, commitment and a willingness to accept help from specialists. I believe these behaviours are also fundamental to being a successful leader.

Keeping fit and healthy is vital to my mental and physical wellbeing. I usually get to the gym at 6am and after an hour working out I feel ready for the day ahead. It keeps me focused, driven and enable me to maintain an entrepreneurial spirit and drive. We all know exercise releases endorphins and as a CEO of a fast-growing health business, I attribute exercise to helping me to maintain focus and giving me the energy to deal with any challenge the day offers.

Keith McNiven, founder, Right Path Fitness In my younger years I competed for England in wrestling, so fitness has always been extremely important. Training remained a huge part of my life even when I stopped competing. When I started Right Path Fitness those habits came with me, not only because of the industry I’m in but also because I believe strongly in the power of exercise for physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Fitness and business are alike in that they both require discipline and determination to see results. Keeping fit puts me in the right place to make my business work.


Analysis - Making Gains.indd 4


15/01/2018 18:59

AD PLACE.indd 1

10/01/2018 15:36

Hea lt h y b usi ness

could also help establish strong bonds within the company. “Last year we did a bit of a boot camp,” says Henrik Torstensson, CEO and co-founder of Lifesum, the fitness app. For four weeks, everyone at the startup got to test activities like CrossFit, outdoor training and cycling classes twice a week. “It was just after we’d had a bit of a hiring spree where quite a few new people joined the company,” says Torstensson. “It really helped us build and establish relationships across teams.” Empowering employees to take care of themselves could also mean making gains in retention and overall work satisfaction. “If you don’t promote healthier lifestyles you could risk staff feeling demotivated and unhappy,” says Lee Biggins, founder and managing director at CV-Library, the job board. And this risk is very real. Having surveyed 1,200 professionals across the UK, CV-Library, recently revealed that 29.1% felt that their jobs were making them fat and three-quarters felt unhappy as a result. “There are two aspects to this,” says Biggins. “Firstly, despite those out there trying to promote positive body images, it’s often true that weight gain can have a negative effect on our self-esteem. And not only this but eating unhealthy food and doing little exercise can leave you feeling sluggish and fatigued, [which] in turn can result in feelings of unhappiness or lack of motivation.” Clearly, there are advantages to promoting a healthy lifestyle across your startup. Ultimately though, the main benefit of staying healthy is that it ensures founders can go that extra mile even when things get hard. “Remember building a company is a marathon and not a sprint,” says Torstensson. “It’s extremely fun and even intoxicating at its best but it also means a lot of work as things don’t always go exactly to plan.” And when things go wrong, maintaining a healthy routine can ensure that entrepreneurs go the distance. “If you are able to stay healthy, you’ll have more energy, be able to work harder, keep your smarts up and be more creative,” concludes Torstensson.

Eating unhealthy food and doing little exercise can leave you feeling sluggish and fatigued Lee Biggins, CV-Library


Analysis - Making Gains.indd 5


15/01/2018 19:14




Increase operational efficiency

Streamline business processes

Reduce manual workload

Business Process Automation Specialists Automating business processes enables organisations to grow rapidly without the need to meet operational demand by increasing their workforce. This leads to smarter resource allocation and allows for a AUTOMATE | TRANSFORM | OPTIMISE

sharper focus on skills and innovation. With over 15 years’ experience in business process automation, Velocity helps organisations achieve business optimisation by building tailored software solutions that

+44 (0) 1908 545 770

AD PLACE.indd 1

meet automation and workflow needs. Contact us today to learn how our custom software applications could benefit your organisation. 10/01/2018 15:44

Take control of your business, with maximum reward at an affordable cost. Master your unique sales cycle by organising employee and customer interactions into workflow streams, using our refreshingly easy to use CRM platform. Through automating sales, marketing and customer service processes, Anthill provides the foundation for faster and more secure business growth. Increase sale conversion Improve process efficiency Reduce operating costs Live visibility of KPI’s Easily customisable

Increase customer satisfaction Track marketing ROI Single customer view Employee accountability Task automation

To ďŹ nd out more or for a FREE demo, call 0800 875 8014 or visit: TRUSTED BY LEADING COMPANIES

AD PLACE.indd 1 ANT001_205x266_Ad_S4.indd 1

10/01/2018 09/01/2018 15:45 19:12



FACE IT: NOBODY WANTS TO BE the Vanilla Ice of entrepreneurialism. Ice Ice Baby may have reached the top spot on the Billboard 100 but the singer’s career since has not exactly attracted acclaim. But at least his inability to follow up on his initial success is something founders can learn from: many startups’ first product may woo both VCs and customers but they’ll face trouble if they don’t follow up on their hit debut. “We see this all the time with scaleups where their initial service is innovative and they grow for a while but then stop evolving,” says Nelson Phillips, professor of strategy and innovation at Imperial College London. While it’s possible for startups to coast on their past successes for a time, not innovating as they scale could see them easily be overtaken by the competition. “If you don’t follow up your early success with ongoing innovation then you’re setting yourself up for failure,” says Phillips. Fortunately, founders can avoid becoming a one-hit wonder by creating a culture of innovation amongst their employees. 62



The first step to achieving this is for business leaders to take a long, hard look at themselves. “Creating something new is very different from innovating in an established business,” says Phillips. While a startup’s early days may have been devoted to raising funds and launching a minimum viable product, the focus changes as an enterprise scales. Suddenly, entrepreneurs will find their days being spent dealing with everything from HR to accountancy rather than innovation. “Founders have to be honest with themselves and thoughtful about whether they really want to run the company as it grows,” says Phillips. If they do want to remain the CEO, then they have to recognise that they must focus more on leading the business than on coming up with nifty solutions. However, not all entrepreneurs may thrive shifting into a more managerial role and leaving the innovating to others. “It might not be fun for them,” says Phillips. Fortunately, founders who’d rather stay at the coalface can easily solve this issue by letting someone else run the company while they themselves focus on innovation. “A great example of this are the founders of Google who hired a CEO so they could focus on the

But you have to give people a structure to come up with these suggestions that might otherwise be deemed as a bit silly Jacob Beckett, Vitamin London

technology and the projects they loved,” says Phillips. Given that Sergey Brin’s and Larry Page’s company has since grown to become the world’s second-largest tech company after Apple, according to the annual Forbes Global 2000 ranking, founders could do worse than taking a step to the side. But whether they choose to stay at the helm of the company or not, entrepreneurs still have to ensure they don’t lose touch with their user base. “Often the initial innovation came about because they were very close to the customers,” says Phillips. “But running a company, they get increasingly distant from them.” As the startup scales, founders’ attitudes towards their clients may shift. Instead of being a source of inspiration, interactions with customers risk being seen as problems to handle. However, given that 14% of startups that fail do so because they ignore their customers, according to research from CB Insights, the VC database, founders JANUARY 2018 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK


B o o st i ng i nnovat i o n

must take care to maintain this relationship and not let valuable ideas slip through the cracks. “They have to put in place systems and processes ensuring that the information from the people dealing with customers is fed back into the organisation,” says Phillips. While customers are an important source of insights, startups can also encourage innovation by actively giving employees time to really think. This is something Michelle Wright, founder and CEO of Cause4, the startup-and-charity-advising firm, has taken to heart. “For instance, we create time for employees to write blogs because it’s a natural way for them to think about their opinions, ideas and gain more knowledge,” she says. This can also be achieved by giving them the opportunity to visit other companies or to write down ideas into a suggestion box. “It’s about finding ways for people to contribute,’ says Wright. Another popular method of ensuring insights lead to innovation is to introduce regular brainstorming sessions. “If you keep those regular time slots and allow people to share developer, an account manager and a product manager that ideas – no matter how crazy, wacky or stupid aim to solve problems or finish projects. “That way you don’t they are – then you can find out what’s ticking lose sight of that innovative spirit because you have to solve away in people’s minds,” says Jacob Beckett, problems and remain close as a team,” he says. “So you can co-founder and creative director at Vitamin still act a startup no matter how big you get.” London, the digital-innovation studio. And Finally and no matter how counter-intuitive it might seem, these sessions don't just have to be within each founders must allow employees to fail. Instead of measuring individual team but the company could benefit success in revenue, entrepreneurs are encouraged to from cross-pollinating ideas from measure it in knowledge. “If you run different departments. In fact, it can an experiment and you don’t know also be an idea to collaborate and why it was successful, then it wasn’t listen in on brainstorming sessions really a success,” says Phillips. “But with partner companies. “It can if we try something that doesn’t be quite useful because sometimes really work but we learn a lot about you see something from the fintech our customers in the process, sector and can use it in something then that’s a huge victory.” That’s like horse-racing,” says Becket. “But essentially the thinking many Silicon you have to give people a structure Valley startups have adopted. By to come up with these suggestions implementing a constant feedback that might otherwise be deemed a loop where they develop, see how Nelson Phillips, Imperial College London bit silly.” things work, learn from it and develop But in order to ensure these again entrepreneurs can ensure they sessions don’t waste time, entrepreneurs must innovate as they scale. But to do that, they have to be less actively try out ideas. One way of doing that is disappointed when things don’t work out as planned. “The to empower teams to be more entrepreneurial. CEO and senior managers must act in a way where it’s okay “Essentially, it’s about giving people the reins of to fail and even promote people if they learned something the project and product they’re working on,” says from their failure,” concludes Phillips. In other words, if Beckett. For instance, at Vitamin London, Becket startups want to scale and keep innovating they should take has created teams that essentially act like minia leaf out of Mark Zuckerberg’s book and not be afraid to startups within the company. Each team has a move fast and break stuff.

It’s really critical that the early success is followed up by ongoing innovation


People.indd 3


15/01/2018 18:32

Give your business the edge... Virtual Numbers to make your business stand out.

Our virtual numbers allow businesses to have professional, high end business phone numbers at a price that even the smallest of businesses can afford. From just ÂŁ4.99pm+VAT you can have a virtual number diverted to your existing landlines and mobiles with over 10 features included absolutely free. No hidden costs. No long contracts.

Take full control

FREE Business Boosting Features

Control all your number features anytime with our free mobile app.

Welcome Announcements

Call Statistics


Hunt Groups

Timed Call Diverts

Holiday Settings

Missed Call Alerts


0800 999 1014

Untitled-4 1

22/12/2017 11:49

Unsure of which cloud strategy is right for your business?

Red Stack DPS Jan18.indd 1

10/01/2018 15:49

Let us guide you in the right direction. “Toto, I don’t think we’re on-premise anymore!”

There’s no place like Red Stack Tech. At Red Stack Tech, we help organisations shape their foundations to future proof business needs, rather than create generic solutions. Contact us today for your free cloud readiness assessment. Red Stack DPS Jan18.indd 2

10/01/2018 15:50









CONTRARY TO WHAT THE NAME may suggest, there is nothing drab about the Boring Company. Elon Musk’s tunneldigging enterprise plans to quickly and affordably build underground passageways connecting the cities along the US east coast. Once finished, the tunnels can be used for the Hyperloop, a high-speed travel-system promising to whisk passengers from A to B at 600mph. However, Musk is hardly alone in dreaming of transforming modern transportation. Not only are huge tech behemoths like Apple and Google developing self-driving cars but startups across the world are also revving up to revolutionise the way people travel. From apps making it easier to plan journeys to firms using big data to open up traffic bottlenecks, these ventures are now promising to change the very nature of the cities they operate in.

Given how some unicorns have already changed people’s lives, it’s hardly a secret why startups are gearing up to challenge traditional transport services. “Before Uber and those apps, we had to walk to a road to flag a taxi down,” says Tony Lynch, CEO and founder of Faxi, the smartcarpooling startup. “No one would ever dream of doing that today.” In other words, much in the same way Airbnb did in hospitality, transportation tech startups like Lyft, Blablacar and Uber have shown how innovation can transform industries in dire need of disruption. “Brilliant tech is benefiting everyone,” says Lynch. But no matter how shiny these high-tech solutions are, the engine behind successful enterprises will always be the demand for their services. Luckily for entrepreneurs, there are plenty of things in transportation that need a tune-up. “The car and transit infrastructure is not only old but also very expensive to change,” says Nir Erez, founder and CEO of Moovit, the transportation-technology startup. For instance, UK traffic-easing innovations have been stifled for decades by a combination of long-term government contracts, bureaucracy and old infrastructure, making solving these legacy issues extremely time-consuming. For instance, the Elizabeth Line in the London Underground was first approved in 2007 but is only due to open in December 2018. Similar problems can be seen across every area of public transport. “When a new hospital opens it can take three years before the city acts and makes the relevant changes to bus lines in that area,” says Erez. Fortunately, big data has enabled startups to accelerate these changes. “Mobile devices allow us to collect data in a way that is totally anonymous but that gives us a clear view of the daily demand,” says Erez. “You can compare rainy days versus clear days, summer versus winter and weekends versus weekdays.” He argues that, contrary to cities that only do traffic surveys every third year or so, tech startups can track demand by the second and quickly respond to it. In 2017, that was exactly what Citymapper, the London-based public-transit app, did when it launched a bus service between Highbury and Aldgate after the company’s data revealed a significant need for this service. “Having such huge samples allows startups to understand the need much better,” says Erez. Given how important big data is in boosting businesses’ chances of success, being unable to access information is unsurprisingly one of the biggest barriers for entry for entrepreneurs in this space. “Access to data to build services to JANUARY 2018 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Tr a nspo rtat i o n t ec h

customers is very small, even though it is slowly getting better,” says George Johnston, founder and CEO of Tech City Ventures, the startup network that launched the Nitrous accelerator together with Transport for London (TfL) in 2017 to support transportation technology startups. Luckily, the government and organisations like TfL are now making efforts to make data more accessible for startups. “But there is still work to be done in releasing better data that’s validated and usable for startups,” says Johnston. “Currently a lot of the data is unclean and takes a lot of work to prepare for development.” However, access to data isn’t the only road block for early-stage startups to overcome: VCs often are

need to mature your startup before investment is possible, which is why many later-stage startups that have bootstrapped, proven initial traction and validation raise more significant investments.” Luckily, governments across the globe are increasingly recognising the need for these startups. “More government grants are becoming available,” says Johnston. For instance, The European parliament has devoted some of its regional funding to support innovations in this field and in December it even kicked off a competition for startups that can develop sustainable mobility solutions. “And in the UK, the government has launched its industrial strategy and

There is no doubt that we’re going to stop consuming cars and start buying rides instead Nir Erez, Moovit

reluctant to fund them. “The majority of investments are made at a later stage,” says Johnston. While global VC funding per year in this sector has jumped from just over $2bn in 2013 to roughly $24bn in 2016, 45% was given to late-stage startups, according research from Venture Scanner, the VC database. “And this is because early-stage business in this sector are still seen as very risky because of the barriers to entry,” says Johnston. “You 70

provides grants for businesses that are looking at urban development and transport innovation,” says Johnston. And it’s easy to see why the government is stepping up to help: it is recognising how transport technology can help solve congestion problems. “There are several experiments going around the world,” says Erez. For instance, using big data can help divert traffic on motorways, shifting the directions of different lanes to suit

the needs. “By having a clear view of people’s demands and intent you can know in near real time how to best serve your citizens’ needs,” says Erez. Moreover, transportation technology in general and driverless cars in particular could potentially change the entire concept of ownership. “There is no doubt that we’re going to stop possessing cars and start buying rides instead,” says Erez. “And when that happens there won’t be a lot of difference between hitching a ride on the Tube and doing the same with an autonomous vehicle.” He believes organisations like TfL will control these fleets in a similar way to how airport traffic control oversees the use of runways. “The autonomous vehicle that picks you up at Piccadilly Circus might be operated by Uber but the central operating system of London will direct the car via a specific route in order to lower congestion,” says Erez. A similar notion was presented in 2016 by John Zimmer, president and cofounder of Lyft, who said that the end of private car ownership could happen as early as 2025. If true, this could dramatically change cities too. “We have hundreds of potential clients who are all thinking about building multi-storey car parks,” says Lynch. But with the rise of autonomous vehicles, there may not be a need for cities to build more garages. Today, cars spend only 4% of their lives being actually driven and the rest being parked somewhere, according to research by the RAC Foundation, a UK transport policy and research organisation. Undoubtedly, if all these cars never stopped moving, there would be no need to build parking spaces. “Multi-storey car parks will not be used in 25 years time,” says Lynch. But whether you’re talking about carpooling with a fleet of self-driving cars or quickly responding to the need of public transport by adding new bus routes, one thing is certain: the world of transport is never going to be the same. “The revolution has only just begun,” concludes Erez.


Technology.indd 3

15/01/2018 18:27

A dverti si ng f e ature

Business Apps to help SMES get the best from Technology T

he business that thrives in today’s world is one that uses technology wisely. This has been true for some time, as forward-thinking businesses that adapt to change are those that succeed. However, technology and our relationship to it has evolved. While it used to be sufficient to employ a database and process automation to achieve a good return on investment, today’s truly successful companies are constantly looking for ways emergent technology can help them to better connect, engage, retain and collaborate with customers. We’ve already seen fintech and proptech: now we’re increasingly moving towards the world of biztech where the winners are those that not only use technology but also embed it in how they do business. Online has become essential for any business-to-consumer market and is increasingly moving upwards into the business-to-business arena just as many other trends of the first sector inherently move into the second. Additionally, real-time reporting is becoming more wide-spread, meaning you or your customers no longer have to wait for the report at the end of the month but can instead check your business’ vitals within seconds. Big data and machine learning allow this reporting to be more relevant, accurate and easily available, anywhere and anytime via apps. Because of external factors such as the introduction of the General Data

Protection Regulation, ensuring that your data management is secure and compliant is no longer an internal niceto-have. This will grow as regulators and the public at large see the value in data and demand better control over their personal datasets. Moreover, technology can ensure a better relationship with your customers. Remember that old adage of what gets measured, gets done? This is being applied to how customers engage with a business, in having an easy point of sale, seeing their order, transaction or project being delivered, and so have a transparent relationship that benefits both sides. This transparency is possible through technology and promotes a stronger

relationship with the company and the perception of value. While these opportunities are exciting, it can be a challenge to navigate this changing landscape without the right tools and knowledge to profit from them Our mission at CRMCS is to help SME businesses get the best from technology by integrating Dynamics 365 with the API economy to deliver quick deployment and functional apps to maximise the benefits of the cloud. This combination of the right tolls allows us to work in new and exciting ways, enabling companies to be agile and benefit from a fast and responsive model to quickly bank the ‘what-works’ and drop ‘what-doesn’t’.

How we do it – our Biz Tech Toolkit Dynamics 365

Document Control

Realtime KPIs


Our cloud platform helps you manage, grow and develop your business. Dynamics 365 is an endlessly customisable platform that grows as your business does, as well as integrating with the best-ofbreed functionality through apps and existing solutions.

Put GDPR worries behind you by storing documents compliantly with the law and securely for good record management. Our app links Dynamics 365, SharePoint and Docusign for ease of use to generate, store and manage documents.

Get visibility of the business – realtime dashboards for your team and managers to review what works and what doesn’t with your processes and customers. Our app allows the user to view dashboards inside CRM or on their smartphone for quick KPIs.

Collaborate with customers and suppliers online by sharing data, documents and engaging with them throughout their customer journey. Our app allows quick easy to use portal mini-sites to help your business be customer centric.


CRM Consultancy V2 Jan18.indd 1


15/01/2018 18:43

Sex ua l h a r ass m ent

Protecting boundaries With the #MeToo movement having exposed the sleazy behaviour of powerful men around the world, entrepreneurs have more reason than ever to ensure sexual harassment doesn’t happen in their startups BY Eric Johansson

o matter how you look at it, 2017 was the year when people decided they’d had enough of sexual harassment. You could tell something was brewing early on. By the beginning of the summer, several male VCs had been named and shamed for using their position of power to coerce female founders into having sex with them. However, things didn’t really kick off until the Harvey Weinstein scandal exposed sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry. This encouraged tens of millions of women around the globe to share their stories about groping, gender discrimination and sexual misconduct from coworkers and superiors. Politicians, actors and other highprofile men have all been caught in the crosshairs. In a rather telling move, Time Magazine named the women standing up against sexual assault its Person of the Year, passing over runner-up Donald Trump who famously bragged about groping women in the Access Hollywood tape. Clearly there is no place for sleazy behaviour anymore. For startup founders, the #MeToo movement should serve as a wake-up call that they have to ensure that sexual harassment doesn’t happen on their watch. “Not doing anything to prevent it can be quite costly both 72

Legal.indd 1

financially and reputationally,” says Sarah Chilton, a partner specialising in partnership and employment law at CM Murray, the law firm. The size of the fines founders may face depends on the severity of the actions but could amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds. For instance, in 2014 an employment tribunal awarded £360,178 to a former employee of BAE Systems who was dismissed after complaining that four colleagues had bullied and sexually harassed her. “And that’s not even mentioning the cost in management time that ticks away dealing with internal complaints and tribunals,” Chilton says. “It’s quite a big undertaking.” Fortunately, new enterprises have an advantage over more established businesses when it comes to preventing sexual harassment. “You can more easily control your culture because you are smaller,” says Chilton. Since startups don’t have to deal with any cultural legacy, they can ensure from the get-go that there is no room for risky banter that could lead to people feeling uncomfortable. “Nip it in the bud quickly,” she says. “Don’t allow things to fester.” An essential step to establish a culture that shuns sleazy behaviour is to understand what sexual harassment is. “This is important as you see a lot of people who are accused of it saying ‘yeah, I did X, Y and Z but I didn’t harass anyone,’” Chilton says. “But the legal definition is any unwanted physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment.” In other words, what the law views as harassment differs from case to case. For instance, while the talkRADIO presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer thought defence secretary Michael Fallon touching her leg at a dinner was “mildly amusing”, tribunals have previously deemed similar unwanted touching as sexual


15/01/2018 18:45

S e xua l ha rass m e nt

harassment. “So to an extent there is an element of subjectivity,” says Chilton. Fortunately, business leaders can prevent these things from happening to some extent by establishing thorough policies. “These should include the standard of conduct of what is expected of an employee in the workplace and what behaviours will not be tolerated,” says Chilton. Furthermore, these policies should also outline the potential repercussions of harassment and ways to report concerns. While this will help establish a better culture, it could also help convince tribunals that the employer has taken reasonable steps to prevent bad behaviours if they do happen, which could put the blame and any potential fines solely on the shoulders of the harasser. “It’s important to understand that the employer may still be responsible for the harassment but it will at least give them a shot at defending themselves,” Chilton says. Aside from possibly minimising the risk of being liable for an employee’s poor judgement, these policies can also demonstrate the employer’s commitment to taking these matters seriously, which would encourage people to take action when they are harassed. “Many people don’t report the harassment because they are worried about the repercussions it might have,” says Chilton. And its easy to see why, as 16% of the women who reported sexual harassment said things got even worse after doing so, according to research by the Trades Union Congress. That’s where having clear policies can help. “Put yourself in their position” says Chilton. “If the company has never publicly made it a priority, never had a training session about it or said that they endeavour to have a harassment-free workplace, then it’s easy to think you’ll never going to be believed or protected and that your career might be ruined.” So not only can putting these policies in place prevent a startup from facing


of all women have experienced some form of sexual harassment


of all women have experienced some form of sexual harassment didn’t report it


of those that did said things got even worse after reporting it Source: Trades Union Congress

hefty fines, it can also ensure women who experience unwanted advances can step forward. And when they do, it’s important that the employer take action fast. “Failure to act quickly could potentially risk being seen as not having taken reasonable steps to prevent further harassment,” says Chilton. That in turn could mean that the company could still be held liable even with a policy in place. Acting promptly, the employer should investigate the allegation and consider whether or not the actions would justify suspension and if there should be a disciplinary hearing. “The important thing is that people must know that it will be dealt with harshly and that this culture doesn’t allow people to act like this,” says Chilton. “If you do that, you’ll risk a lot less.” While establishing these procedures and acting on them quickly will not prevent all cases of sexual harassment, at least it will discourage most of them from behaving badly. JANUARY 2018 ELITEBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Legal.indd 2


15/01/2018 18:46


Find the right finance to support your plans We are a government-owned business development bank dedicated to making finance markets work better for smaller businesses at all stages of their development: starting up, scaling up and staying ahead. The Business Finance Guide, jointly published by British Business Bank and ICAEW’s Corporate Finance Faculty, outlines the sources of finance available to businesses – ranging from start-ups to SMEs and growing mid-sized companies.

Start your journey today


British Business Bank plc is a public limited company registered in England and Wales. (registration number 08616013, registered office at Foundry House, 3 Millsands, Sheffield, S3 8NH). As the holding company of the group operating under the trading name of British Business Bank, it is a development bank wholly owned by HM Government which is not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). It operates under its own trading name through a number of subsidiaries, one of which is authorised and regulated by the FCA. British Business Bank plc and its subsidiary entities are not banking institutions and do not operate as such. A complete legal structure chart for British Business Bank plc and its subsidiaries can be found at

175 MADE Advert.indd 1

26/10/2016 15:28

Part of the Europe’s Number ONE Enterprise IT Event Series

IPEXPO manchester 25-26 April 2018, Manchester Central

29931_IP_EXPO_Manchester 2018_A5_postcard.indd 1

Business Support Section JAN18.indd 1


SIX events under ONE roof CLOUD & IOT







20/12/2017 09:16

10/01/2018 15:54



A New Year, A New Software Why not make your new years resolution a change in the way that you operate your accounts?

Automation of your bank feeds, preparation of your cash flow forecasts and the organisation of your expenses. You can rely on your cloud accounting software to manage all the numbers.

powered by software, delivered by people







MARKETING We are your creative marketing and design partners. A full service agency that can help your business advertise and market to it’s full potential.


Untitled-3 1 TwoGuys Advert.indd 1

22/12/2017 10:51 22/12/2017 10:47:23


SMARTER COLLABORATION 16 -17 May 2018, ExCeL London







UC EXPO is the largest Unified Communications and Collaboration event in Europe. The two day event encompasses the technologies that enable smarter working and a truly connected business.

Register FREE today and save £35 *Visitors not registered by 7pm on Tuesday 15th May 2018 will be charged a fee of £35.

Find out more at Business Support Section JAN18.indd 3

10/01/2018 15:55

15th March 2018 1000 - 1600 Westpoint Arena, Exeter

The gateway to doing business in the South West

SWB Expo Highlights

260+ Exhibitors 3,000 Delegates 3 Keynote Speakers 15+ Seminars Speed Networking 100's of Opportunities

Our Sponsors

SWB Expo Charity

For more info and to book your FREE Delegate ticket: AD PLACE.indd 1

09/01/2018 15:06


Warehousing fulfilment & Distribution At our modern purpose built warehousing facility in Sussex we offer highly flexible warehouse services to provide a cheaper storage solution for your business.

Find out more about our services:

01903 736300

Business Support Section JAN18.indd 4

10/01/2018 15:55





20 18 :


Safety, Security, Certainty. It’s what we do – brilliantly. Join us on the 21-22 March 2018 to discover:

 100s of the world’s leading security suppliers. Including Censornet, CyberArk, DarkTrace, Duo Security, Echworx, F-Secure, Forum Systems, GlobalSign, Neustar, Qualys, Seculution, Sophos and Watchguard.  1000s of hours of free-to-attend conference and seminar content from over 150 leading industry speakers. Including: Avira, Burberry, City of London Police, Dovu, Facebook, John Lewis, Microsoft, National Cyber Crime Unit, The National Crime Agency and Trend Micro.  Learn from dozens of real practitioners from blue-chip companies, service providers and leading organisations.  Unrivalled networking opportunities with over 20,000 of your peers, industry visionaries and leaders.  FREE access to co-located events Cloud Expo Europe, Big Data World, Smart IoT and Data Centre World.

Register for your FREE ticket at: EliteBusiness CO-LOCATED WITH ORGANISED BY






AD PLACE.indd 1

10/01/2018 15:46








Companies House touch-less disinfection services

Business Advisors Business SalesFranchises Mergers & Acquisitions

DIAMOND HOME Giving you back the time in your life SUPPORT

Intellectual Property Office

Franchise Enterprise Limited Working together in providing innovative building solutions

16 TH & 17 TH FEBRUARY 2018 / EXCEL LONDON, 10AM - 5PM FREE ENTRY / REGISTER NOW 0800 157 7950 AD PLACE.indd 1

15/01/2018 14:18

The stats that matter – and some that don’t

$42bn 115 95%

was invested by VCs around the world in the third quarter of 2017

80% £9bn 68%

of European tech founders are male

mobile phones are lost every day on rail services

of Brits have thought about launching a business

of workers think less of a colleague because of something they found on a social network


is how much traffic jams cost the UK economy every year


of UK professionals aged 24 and under have said that they are not willing to take on work that EU migrants traditionally do in the UK

59% 84%

of office workers have perused a colleague’s social-media profile


of employers have disqualified job candidates after discovering dishonest or exaggerated information on their CVs

days is how much time on average UK SMEs have spent preparing for the GDPR legislation over the past year


of small business in the UK donate in some way to one or more good causes


of workers have purposefully shared confidential company information

Sources: Atomico, CV-Library, CB Insights, Inrix,, Egress Software Technologies,, Free Office Finder, Data Compliance Doctors, Crucial, Robert Half UK



The crunch.indd 1

15/01/2018 18:41

20% OFF



22/12/2017 09:52

A business credit score is more than just a number Unlock your financial potential with Experian credit insights

Find out your business credit score, and the scores of your customers and suppliers, helping you to: • Gain easier access to finance and secure preferential credit terms with suppliers • Remain competitive in a tender process and boost your chances of winning new business • Qualify customers, suppliers and contractors, by assessing their credit score Start understanding the scores that affect your business by credit checking any business today!

Start your free* trial! * For your own business report, a monthly fee applies after the 30 day free trial. You may cancel during the free trial without charge.

EliteBusiness0717.indd 1

10/07/2017 17:59

Elite Business January 2018  
Elite Business January 2018