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RebelTalk - The Founders Repainting the World

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In our first RebelTalk book, five rebel entrepreneurs share stories of heroism, stupidity and honesty; with themes as serious as the mental health problems that often face sole founders, the struggles that come with fundraising, the ever-changing journey from startup to scale-up and the realities of being a successful founder.

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RebelTalk - The Founders Repainting the World

  1. 1. REBELTALK Issue 1: The founders repainting the world
  2. 2. Contents
  3. 3. LAUNCH The 'soft' new threat facing tech startups
  4. 4. For a time, entrepreneurs were onto a good thing. A golden PR glow surrounded tech startups. An alluring and aspirational path to success was visibly laid out for any wannabe entrepreneur eager to participate in the ‘dream’ and for everyone else, the theatre played out by young Silicon Valley types was great to watch. That glow is now fading. The truth, as the founders and entrepreneurs in this book will attest to, is that creating the ‘next big thing’ was never easy. Anthony Eskinazi, founder and CEO of JustPark; Benji Lanyado, founder of Picfair; Daisy Pledge, founder of Surreal Studios, Anthony Rose, founder and CEO of SeedLegals and Laura Pleasants, head of marketing & PR at Captify speak with brutal honesty of what it took to launch and grow their businesses. Our entrepreneurs tackle themes as serious as the toll taken on their mental health as sole founders; their struggles with fundraising and their failures with hiring and scaling. Their stories are peppered with a mixture of smart insight, grim determination and - at times - gallows humour. While entrepreneurs and founders - each one rebelling against some piece of the status quo - always faced such challenges, they enjoyed the support and admiration of society around them. Stories of how they were transforming the world; how we communicate, work, travel and shop; fed a keen appetite for change and accorded them a halo effect. Top graduates shifted their gaze from solid career paths in the City to fast-talking, exciting startups that promised a ‘rock-star’ culture along with bonuses and share schemes. Investors threw billions of dollars at the most hopeful, impressive and adventurous startups in the market. Lots of this is still the case but there’s a less supportive wind swirling around conversations regarding both technology and startups. The‘soft’newthreatfacingthe rebeleconomy If founders and entrepreneurs didn’t already face enough challenges, the act of building brilliant and sustainable new businesses is about to get harder.
  5. 5. A ‘too much technology is bad’ narrative is growing in volume. Facebook and Google are under almost constant scrutiny from global politicians and media alike over the volume of information they have on individuals and how they use that data. With a scant disregard for the potential virtues of compromise or the power of a meaningful apology when goodwill is running low among stakeholders, technology executives’ lack of ability to show remorse or take responsibility for shortcomings paints them in a similar light as bankers after the 2008 global crash as far as much of the public is concerned. Benji Lanyado, Picfair With fake news spearheading the tide that’s turning against the founding fathers (and mothers) of startup culture, the reputation of the entire technology landscape stands to take a hit. Iabsolutelybelievethatthereisa backlashagainsttechcoming The Edelman Trust Barometer in January 2018 found that just 24 per cent of the population trusts social media giants Facebook, Twitter and Instagram when it comes to finding trustworthy information. Almost two thirds of respondents (64%) were concerned that social media companies are not “sufficiently regulated”. The closing of Cambridge Analytica following the Facebook data scandal will not prevent further investigations into how our personal data may be subject to abuse by commercial organisations. Picfair founder Lanyado sums up the perspective of many on this ‘Founders Special’ episode of the RebelTalk podcast: “Technology is in severe danger of disappearing up it’s own arse,” he says. “I absolutely believe that there is a backlash against tech coming, and am frankly amazed that it hasn’t been worse already.” Indeed, there are signs of such a backlash pretty much wherever one cares to look:
  6. 6. A key (if far from surprising) realisation, certainly among the business and investor community, has been that not all startups or founders are equal. And even those with strong commercial instincts can fall into some easy traps. A list published by CB Insights in February this year of the top 20 reasons that founders felt their startups failed, revealed that most startups break simply because the market doesn’t need what they’re selling. Admittedly not a great advert for the usefulness or value of the startup community. Future-gazing experiments such as cars launched into space, once seen as exciting glimpses of things to come, are just as likely to be seen as pointless PR stunts or - worse - crude errors of judgement when benchmarked against everyday real-life problems that need solving. Why, asked Guardian opinion writer John Harris in April, is nobody in Westminster preparing the economy for an immediate future when automation could claim 10m British jobs? The tech startup story - technology itself - is in danger of losing its glimmer. Founders may find it harder to make their startup the one that raises the money, attracts the right people - especially if you believe the talent data that Linkedin released last month in its Workforce report - and beats the odds to scale to success. The number of UK startups launched in 2017 dropped by more than 10 per cent to 589,008, according to data released by Companies House, down from 657,790 the previous year - the first drop in business launches since 2010.
  7. 7. Founders and entrepreneurs contribute much to society and the economy that would be hard to replace: innovation and new products, new business models, rapid growth and above all, a badly-needed heroism. True, the heady mix of vision, fearlessness, speed and ‘kamikaze-can-do’ attitude can often result in stupidity of the highest order. But when startups work, their approach rubs off on every person and organisation that comes into contact with them and leaves an impression. Tech startups and the entrepreneur rebels that create and grow them from nothing, show us what is possible. We all need them to keep thriving. Anthony Rose, SeedLegals Othersseeaproblem.Entrepreneurs seeanopportunity.IfIseepeople whinging,Ijustthink:'Yourwhingeis myopportunity.' Analternativeview:AnthonyRose, CEOandfounder,SeedLegals I disagree with the premise of this feature. I’ll argue with anyone who suggests the tech startup scene is in trouble. The tech scene is vibrant. More people are emerging from school with an entrepreneurial mindset. Once upon a time you left school with the intention of working in the coal mine or the mill or whatever it was that kept your town alive. When you found that job you’d be in it for the rest of your life. Now people believe they can decide their own futures. I remember a survey that said in 1999, 5% of school-leavers said they wanted to run their own business. In 2016, that figure was 27%. That huge change shows people understand they control their own destiny. Here are three reasons I reckon startup landscape is in rude health: 1. Any clear increase in a mindset that promotes meritocracy, that says you do not have to listen to others, that you can make your own future, is clearly positive. 2. Thanks to the government EIS and SEIS tax incentive schemes, there is a large amount of money available for funding. 3. The cost of creating something new has fallen dramatically. You used to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on servers. Now everything is in the cloud. The cost of launching a startup is a tenth of what it was a decade or two ago. I'm hearing from more founders dreaming up bigger ideas all the time. Soft new threat? It's rubbish!
  8. 8. HUSTLE Daisy Pledge, Surreal Studios
  9. 9. RebelTalk: Hello, how are you? Daisy Pledge: Yeah, I'm not bad, and you? RT: Good thanks. Where are you up to with Surreal Studios? DP: I’m right at the beginning. There have been a few successful tests and I’m in discussion with investors about funding a Beta launch of the app. I guess you could say I’ve got a vision and I’m working on it. I haven't proven my product yet. It’s not easy. RT: What’s the next milestone on your horizon, the one that’s keeping you going? DP: An image recognition and advertising company is looking into holding a test-event for me in London and if it goes well the idea is that I’ll launch with them at Advertising Week in New York in London and if it goes well the idea is that I’ll launch with them at Advertising Week in New York in October. RT: What's behind Surreal Studios? What's the problem you're trying to solve? DP: I'm actually solving a problem for three different audiences: brands, events and people attending those events. I’ve gone to so many networking events. As a PR I used to go to three a week those events. I’ve gone to so many networking events. As a PR I used to go to three a week sometimes. It was actually quite horrendous. Some of them were awful. People stand in a corner, don't do anything and don't talk to anyone. When you do try to meet people you end up talking to the wrong person and it's exhausting. Then you go home and Name: Daisy Pledge Founder of: Surreal Studios What is it? An AR gaming studio reshaping networking at large industry networking events Stage: Fundraising Read Daisy elsewhere: Tell Me No, I Dare You - Minutehack Ten Lies Entrepreneurs Tell Themselves - Elite Business Thenextbigthing We sat down with Daisy Pledge, founder of early-stage startup Surreal Studios, to discuss seeking funding, staying focused, and bringing the hustle.
  10. 10. try to meet people you end up talking to the wrong person and it's exhausting. Then you go home and feel you’ve completely wasted an opportunity. Especially if you’ve paid for a ticket. In this scenario everybody loses; the event owner, the sponsor and the delegate. It gets worse. When I started looking around for a solution and talked to people about networking it became clear that others felt the same. I read a Harvard Business School study that basically said many people avoid professional networking despite knowing it could benefit their careers because ‘it makes them feel so dirty’. So I want to help make networking easier and more enjoyable for everybody. The idea is by using games we can create a neutral playing field so that everyone's in the same boat - even those that are terrible at networking. If we succeed we might find that different types of people will start progressing through organisations because they will start growing networks they never had access to before. I don't know if we'll ever be able to claim we were responsible but maybe if a few years down the line all of a sudden we started seeing senior management becoming more diverse, I’d like to all of a sudden we started seeing senior management becoming more diverse, I’d like to think that our augmented reality Nerf Gun battles helped that. RT: Sounds cool. So what’s the priority at the moment? DP: I’ve taught myself to code and I’m building the app. We’ve done ok so far without it but we now need the tech. I’ve done a few Nerf Gun networking battles - some for clients and some private ones that I organised myself at universities and co- working spaces. The idea is to use the battles to connect people. Everyone gets a wristband with their names on them and then if you shoot someone you get their wristband and have the right to claim their contact Daisy Pledge, Surreal Studios Ifwestartedseeingsenior managementbecomingmorediverse, I’dliketothinkthatouraugmented realityNerfGunbattleshelped.
  11. 11. them and then if you shoot someone you get their wristband and have the right to claim their contact details which we share after the event. There’s more to it but that’s the basic premise. It’s going brilliantly and people love it. I need the tech because I just couldn’t streamline it for 400 people at a time which is what I’ve been dealing with - taking details and directing participants into teams and so on. Now when you go into the app you login and choose the event and type of people you want to meet. For example you can specify whether you want to meet PR or media agencies or brand owners or whatever. We then use that information to put you into teams with or against people you actually want to meet. Everyone who plays in your game goes into a connection page that's there forever with notifications available in case you want to remind yourself to contact someone later, favourite them, or put them into a list. There's a button to connect through LinkedIn if you want or email and so on. If you haven't done it through the app then a week or two later we can send you a little push notification - just a fun sort of conversation starter or two later we can send you a little push notification - just a fun sort of conversation starter like: ‘You shot John nine times - maybe you should apologise!’ We find people are really bad at following up after events so we want to help them. RT: You taught yourself to code? DP: Yeah, I taught myself a basic level in three months so I could build the prototype. I couldn’t sell myself as a developer - my coding is pretty ugly but the prototype works. RT: What sacrifices would you say you've made to get Surreal Studios this far? DP: My social life has definitely suffered. I have a bit of one, I probably socialise once a week if I'm lucky. I live at home or at my sister’s place. I’m often only going out with my step brother but I need to leave the house as I get cabin fever. I have lost friendships. Unless you’ve tried to start a company it is very hard to understand how much stress and pressure you are under, especially once you've quit your job and you've got no income. A lot of people don't really get that. When I tell mates I don't have any money to go out or away for the of people don't really get that. When I tell mates I don't have any money to go out or away for the weekend that means I really don't have any money. And there’s not a lot of time to relax with people either so yeah, some friendships have kind of dropped off which is hard. Daisy Pledge, Surreal Studios Unlessyou’vetriedtostartacompany itisveryhardtounderstandhowmuch stressandpressureyouareunder
  12. 12. RT: You quit a job? DP: Yes, a PR job. I was working as an account manager for a PR agency called Simpatico. RT: What’s the secret too few people know about being an entrepreneur? It’s sometimes a very lonely journey. I don't think that people really talk about this enough. All we hear are the great stories of the amazing entrepreneurs who made it big and made tonnes of money transforming something. More needs to be said about the journey, getting there; those days when you don't want to talk to anyone because it all just gets a bit too much. RT: In an article you wrote for Elite Business magazine, you say founders make the mistake of creating products nobody wants. Are you sure that people want Surreal Studios? DP: I hope so! All the research we’ve seen states that it makes sense. All the things I did to prove that it works shows people are willing to play games to make it easier to meet good people so yeah. It will be hard because I'm changing people's behaviours but I’m determined to make it work. Daisy Pledge, Surreal Studios Moreneedstobesaidaboutthe journey,gettingthere;thosedays whenyoudon'twanttotalktoanyone becauseitalljustgetsabittoomuch. The making of a rebel: Daisy Pledge “I flunked school. Completely blew it. From age 17 I worked at Waitrose whilst living at my grandparents' house and elsewhere. Every job interview I attended ended in rejection. I went from full-time team leader to a part-time delivery driver for Waitrose and used the time to learn Mandarin and got myself a CELTA qualification; that’s a certificate in teaching English to speakers of other languages. Once I got my CELTA I moved to Changchun in China, which I thought was basically hell on Earth. I came home after a few months and fell into a job as a PA for a PR agency and within 3 years had worked my way up to Account Manager. "I've been used to rejection from a young age, which is probably why hearing people say ‘no’ to me doesn't scare me. It’s also maybe a big driver of my need to succeed and prove myself.”
  13. 13. RAISE & CLOSE Staying afloat: two founders describe the daily thrash of startup land
  14. 14. Anthony Eskinazi and Benji Lanyado could’ve done anything they wanted in life. The pair have much in common. They're smart, articulate and boast unusual emotional intelligence. Yet an urge to push boundaries, to break and shake things in pursuit of the world they want to live in, has pushed Anthony and Benji past their many other could-be lives. Instead the pair chose to found their own businesses - a path that would mean long nights, huge responsibility and a strong likelihood of mental health concerns - all before either of them hit 30. Aged just 23, Anthony decided to quit his Deloitte job - a role he’d held for six weeks - to launch JustPark. Benji launched Picfair aged 29 with backing from Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, who he'd stalked down in a New York coffee shop to pitch to. Fast forward a decade and JustPark and Picfair are both successful businesses that continue to evolve while still disrupting their markets and pushing boundaries. Neither Benji or Anthony though are ready to accept the label of 'success' however. Neither claims to be anywhere near 'finished'. Listen to the RebelTalk Founders Special podcast with Benji Lanyado & Anthony Eskinazi --:-- / --:-- Thethrashandswellofit Anthony Eskinazi, founder of JustPark, and Benji Lanyado, founder of Picfair, open up about the realities of being a successful tech founder - the good, the bad & the scary. Anthony Eskinazi, JustPark Beinganentrepreneurisalifestylechoice.Theupsanddowns,therollercoaster rideyougoon...It’sextremelylonely.
  15. 15. Benji&Anthonyonthesideofsuccess werarelyhearabout... Listen to the podcast for the full interview Anthony Eskinazi: Mental health. Being an entrepreneur is a lifestyle choice. The ups and downs, the rollercoaster ride I’ve been on over the last 11 years. The decline in your social life initially, the impact it has on relationships. I don’t know if there have been any studies into the mental health of entrepreneurs and what kind of crazy crackpot idiot you have to be to go on this journey, especially sole founders like Benji and myself. It’s extremely lonely. The advice I’ve given to so many people who are looking to start their business: get a cofounder. You'll want to share the ups and the highs and go out for a drink and have an excuse to go out with someone. You may want someone to hug when you lose that deal or you don’t get that term sheet. Someone to share the tougher experiences that will definitely come your way. It can’t be healthy to burn out two, three, four times a year - as I did at the beginning; to not physically be able to get out of bed or tap on a keyboard. Benji Lanyado: That’s it. It f**ks with your head. There’s that constant feeling that you’re not doing good enough - it comes back to the mental health issue. It’s a double-edged sword because on the one hand, you probably need to feel like that to keep pushing a business forward, and even just make the business successful in the first place. On the other hand, it’s quite draining to permanently feel like business successful in the first place. On the other hand, it’s quite draining to permanently feel like you’re not doing good enough. Benji Lanyado, Picfair Itf**kswithyourhead.There’sthat constantfeelingthatyou’renotdoing goodenough. Avoidthefounderburnout Join a group like ICE - the International Conclave of Entrepreneurs - a non-profit group of 200 founders, investors and startup leaders. “It’s about sharing problems, sharing solutions, just having someone to talk to and share the experience,” says Anthony.
  16. 16. Ontheirgreatestscrewups... AE: Back in 2012, we did what you should never do when you’re running a tech company - we decided to do a big bang release. (That’s basically saying we’re going to effectively relaunch the entire technology of our website.) We did it right before a huge game at Wembley Stadium and a huge game at Twickenham the day after. The technology failed. We found out on Friday we had 1,000 cars booked into the same 10 parking spaces. So 990 cars full of football and rugby fans were about to be very unhappy. We had to commission an entire carpark close by. We just basically did whatever we could think of. I remember going home on Friday night, the closest I’ve been to a heart attack. I was thinking: 'I’ve dedicated my life to this business for six years. We’re dying this weekend. Six years of hard work is over'. Customers were emailing and calling our investors. It was carnage. It was a huge product mistake. Not enough quality assurance, not enough testing. We rushed it out. It was a huge product mistake. Not enough quality assurance, not enough testing. We rushed it out. You can do that when you’re a small business; when you’ve got 1,000 customers, something like that. We had a 150,000, 200,000 customers at that point. BL: We were once ten days away from running out of money. I had a team of six that needed paying. The frustrating thing was that the money was committed. It was just a case of getting an investor over the line and making them wire the goddamn money. At exactly that time, the investor went AWOL for a week. I remember thinking: 'Has this guy died, or has something awful happened? Because if I don’t get his money within ten days, I can’t pay my staff.' That was my mistake. I should never have let it get even close to that. Onfundraising... BL: I was so clueless when I started out. I wasted loads of time. I think it’s probably the hardest part of running a business at the early stages. Certainly, once you’re more mature as a business, lots of other problems start to become challenges too. But in the early stages of a start-up cash is king, especially a startup like Picfair where we were very clear we needed to focus on building the non- revenue generating side of our marketplace - the Anthony Eskinazi, JustPark Iwasthinking...we’redyingthis weekend.Sixyearsofhardworkisover. Customerswereemailingour investors,callingourinvestors.Itwas carnage.
  17. 17. clear we needed to focus on building the non- revenue generating side of our marketplace - the photographers and the images - before we fully went to market. So we've been reliant on investor money for the past few years. I decided not to raise through VCs and do big tickets. I did lots of smaller tickets which meant I’ve spent most of my time raising. I wrote a blog - A rookie's guide to raising investment - that I hope has helped other people raise money. I wanted to share what I've learnt. AE: Back in 2015, we were looking to raise money. We got a term sheet from Index Ventures, one of Europe’s largest and most respected VCs. But we only had one term sheet and the golden rule is when you’re trying to raise money, ideally have more than one offer on the table. It obviously helps your negotiating position. The term sheet was good, but it wasn’t exactly what we were looking for. We’d heard of crowdfunding and thought, rather than getting two VCs to square up against each other, why not have a VC on one side - they can ask for preference shares and additional rights; and then the crowd on a VC on one side - they can ask for preference shares and additional rights; and then the crowd on the other. They'd get ordinary shares and can have a lot of power in terms of an ambassador base as well as the PR you can generate off the back of it. So we played those two against each other. In the end, we did a hybrid, where we got the VC investment plus we got the crowd raise on top of it. With the crowdfunding, it’s not just retail investors you’re getting. You’re getting people who are directors of large accounting firms, directors of large property companies, people who can open up directors of large accounting firms, directors of large property companies, people who can open up their black book of contacts and really help speed up your sales cycle or become an advisory board. When you get that list of investors through and you jump on to LinkedIn to find out where they all work, you find this incredible network of really small angels who you can choose when you want to reach out to. When you need them, they're there for you, wanting you to succeed. In between engagements you have thousands of advocates talking up your business. I'd recommend the crowdfunding route.
  18. 18. SCALE Lessons on scaling 'from the inside'
  19. 19. RebelTalk: Captify has grown considerably in the last few years. What was it like to experience those growth stages first-hand? LP: In the early days, the company was hugely dependent on the founders for everything - for strategy and culture, for ideas and so on. When I joined three years in, marketing was already underway and there was a reluctance on the part of others to let go. And rightly so. They’d built a business from the ground up and how it’s represented to the market is incredibly important. Today there’s more of a focus on the bigger picture. The founders are willing to let go and trust each Today there’s more of a focus on the bigger picture. The founders are willing to let go and trust each team to do its job well. When Captify began, there were grads and interns that relied on Dom and Adam a great deal. Many of those people are still here but have learned to become their own ‘bosses’ within the business. Constant change at such a pace is incredibly exciting. But fast growth is hugely challenging and you need to build the right marketing infrastructure to support it. My job was to communicate that growth externally and a big part of that is the brand identify - we had to move it from a start-up vibe to a more grown-up brand whilst also retaining our unique identity. Lessonsinscaling'fromthe inside' We took five with Laura Pleasants, head of marketing & PR at Captify, to find out what it's like to live and breathe the world of startup to scale-up - and how she's managed the journey. Business: Captify Founded: 2011 What is it? Search intelligence and sentiment powering insights and media for the world’s biggest brands Founders: Adam Ludwin and Dom Joseph HQ: Covent Garden, London Markets: UK, US, France, Spain
  20. 20. RT: Do you sometimes have to ‘wrestle’ things from the founders? LP: Not so much anymore. Adam (Ludwin) and Dom (Joseph) have worked hard to make that shift. Their role now is to be on the business, not in it. Essentially what they're getting to is a point where every function can behave in the way that it should without reliance on them. I think I was (and am still) in a unique position. Firstly the guys understand the value of marketing and secondly, they are both very marketing savvy. I was really looking for that when I moved to Captify. It can be very hard to find in the world of B2B marketing. RT: What have you personally had to learn in order to equip yourself better for the job? LP: In the early days it was mainly about pivoting - being nimble and reactive - in order to grab hold of the opportunities as they came your way. That’s still important but now it’s more about forecasting and predicting, and leaving time to ‘react’. I have found myself learning more about the economics of growing a business - outside of marketing. It means I can better handle the demands and opportunities, through its stages of growth. This has made me a better marketer. Marketers need to think more like entrepreneurs. You're brought in to a startup during the incredibly intense growth stages so it’s perhaps natural that you see yourself as part of the business. You’re employed as someone who can get stuff done. The need for you to go above and beyond what you might do in a regular job is immediate. This idea that you build it together, which is one of our values, is the only way to look at it. I know that I find it hard to let go, but it’s difficult when you’ve built it from the ground up and are so protective over it. You stop seeing it as ‘just a marketing job’. You’re fully vested. RT: Do you find it easy to keep people? LP: Our retention rate is 97 percent. You very rarely get one-to-one interaction elsewhere like we do with the founders and I make sure my team know how lucky they are. A lot of people are not builders. They like the security of a stable structure. Startups however need to find people that really want to build it. You need entrepreneurial people. It's not for the faint hearted. Laura Pleasants, Captify It'suptoustomakesurethefounders areusingtheirtimemorewisely Hiringforstartups “Up until the point where you can start to bring in layers of more senior people, you've got to find proper ‘doers’ who are just going to put their hands around it and build it. There wasn’t a job description when I joined Captify, which I found refreshing. There were already some great ideas underway so I had to get things done, as well as put everything in place in order to scale at pace. We make a lot of mistakes along the way, but you just dust yourself off and move on. I love that we have the freedom to try new things and make those mistakes in the first place.”
  21. 21. Startupmarketing RT: How is Captify different when it comes to marketing and getting its story out there? LP: I would say that Captify operates more like a B2C brand than a B2B company. Some tech companies think they should be faceless - glossy and white and corporate - because it makes them look bigger. In doing so they can forget to get their personality across. Our culture and personality oozes from our marketing. We know our voice, which means if we go to a huge trade show with oozes from our marketing. We know our voice, which means if we go to a huge trade show with bigger players, we’ll do something different because we have the opportunity to be daring. If you’re a Series A or B tech startup and you’re trying to cut through in a market full of huge American companies with multi-million dollar budgets, you've got to find a way of presenting your values to the world. It also massively helps when you have a very differentiated product. We’re also very lucky in many ways: we have an innovative product as well as a very honest data set that is search, as ammunition at our disposal. It’s our most valuable currency. We’ve got very ‘PR- able’ founders and a super-savvy and PR-focused senior management team. All this makes for a strong ‘marketing climate’. RT: As head of marketing, how much information are you exposed to? LP: Everything! We’re incredibly transparent as a management team. Each quarter we present to the whole company to make sure everyone is told everything they need to know. Also from a marketing approach, we really focus on communicating what we’re working on - it’s important to get buy-in across every department. We literally spend about a week working on it behind the scenes: myself and the founders Dom and Adam. We share updates on everything from financial performance to partnerships; how we’re doing against our goals, where we need to put extra focus and what's coming up. It's a two-hour marathon of information. “We invested earlier in marketing than most companies of our size. We also invested heavily in design, which is another element that entrepreneurial tech companies tend not to focus on early. We engaged a creative agency when we were just two years old to help us build a visual brand. A lot of companies tend to invest exclusively in their tech rather than on how the brand looks and feels, and what it represents. If you invest in marketing as soon as you can, you’ll find it will pay off in dividends.”
  22. 22. That means I'm privy to a lot of information. It’s much easier to understand certain decisions when you’re close to the numbers. You’re a lot less likely to get annoyed if you understand the reasons behind certain decisions. RT: How is the marketing team changing as you scale? LP: I head up everything including events, PR and comms and product marketing too - across the UK, US, France and Spain. Now though we’ve started to build the team into functions, which has really helped. We’ve started hiring specialist roles - we recently hired a product marketer from IBM. RT: What are the challenges of telling a story about a company that keeps evolving? LP: Everywhere you look in tech you hear from companies that boast ‘a unique data set’, or a ‘magical algorithm’. For us though the tech and product teams are genuinely pushing out the most amazing stuff almost constantly. Our challenge is in grabbing hold of it and making sure it’s packaged up and communicated in the right way. In a company like Captify where you see trends and listen to a market that never stops moving, you have to accept that some evolution in the stories you’re telling will be fairly constant. If you've got a very nimble, fast-moving product roadmap you've got to move with it and take everybody with you. That's hard when the company is also growing fast. We’re global now so we’re creating product and messaging that fit multiple markets. There’s a need to work in different languages too. As you scale it gets bigger and wider, and the reach and cost of that message gets bigger. I think that's been the biggest challenge. RT: That sounds like a lot of stakeholders. How do you manage the feedback loop with so many people involved? LP: My rules are simple. Give feedback if it's business critical and absolutely necessary. I love hearing everyone’s viewpoints but when we have a lot of people with different ideas on the look or what it says, there is no room for personal preferences. It has to be based on business value and on facts. There is no way that marketing can address everyone's idea or opinion. Sometimes you have to serve the masses. It can be difficult but I had to get good at it when I was a team of one.
  23. 23. RT: What’s the biggest current challenge when it comes to marketing Captify? LP: I think the challenge that we have now is scale. Everything we did before at the start to amplify Captify was very personalised. Our style was different and included a lot of one-to-one marketing. Now I look at it and think “can this scale?” or “can I execute this project globally?” Operating in the UK is one thing, having your team around you, but then having to work with other countries that don’t have face-to-face time with you is another thing entirely. RT: Marketing and sales teams are notoriously known for ‘butting heads’ - how do you work with sales at Captify? LP: As a team we’ve been told we’re “the glue that holds it altogether” because I have to make sure the message is right for the market and that it's true from a product and data perspective. But you've also got to present it in a market-friendly way. In the past I've suffered from sales functions not getting the role of marketing and not seeing the value in it. I think in a lot of companies the sales team are seen as heroes because they bring in the money. We don’t have that 'sales first' culture. As marketers we put ourselves in the shoes of our commercial teams and listen to their opinions and feedback. After all they’re out in the field - they’re our ears on the ground. At Captify, we are peers and work on the same level. Myself and the senior sales leaders set the goals from the outset. We're open and transparent in shouting about our wins and losses. It’s a continuous work in progress, but we have a very strong sales and marketing relationship. Marketing is your rocket fuel when scaling up Laura Pleasants, Captify Thereisnoroomforpersonalopinion
  24. 24. REPEAT Serial founder Anthony Rose on how to 'rewind and replay'
  25. 25. Sometimes you just get it wrong. It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve done this for, or how focused you are on constantly trying to improve. Once I hired a software guy who performed excellently on a very tough technical test. By day two it was clear he was struggling. On day three he came to me and said: "I just can’t cut it here. It’s best if I go before you fire me.” I’ve never launched a new startup with an exit in mind. I’ve built and sold a few startups. With each one you go on a journey so if an exit opportunity arises that's worth taking, you take it. It was never on my mind at launch stage though. Sometimes I talk to founders who have an intent to found a company and flip it. It’s a bad approach because you’re then focusing on a hyper-curve rather than building a sustainable business. It’s a because you’re then focusing on a hyper-curve rather than building a sustainable business. It’s a high risk strategy and less rewarding than doing something you love. Not everyone makes the cut. You have to be able to embrace the fear and the struggle that comes along with launching and running a business. It’s both a fantastic freedom and also incredibly stressful. In a large company there is always someone you can turn to but as a founder, particularly of a startup where time and cash is limited, you have to get to scale in order to get to the next round just to survive. As an entrepreneur, every decision is yours. You have major decisions that you need to make. You can ask outsiders for advice but the advice you’ll get is ultimately useless. Certain decisions just have to come from the gut. Your gut. There is no science or maths and only in the fullness of time will you know whether you got it right. Name: Anthony Rose, Founder & CEO Founder of: SeedLegals What is it? A SaaS platform founders use to simplify UK funding rounds Rebel record: - Board Director, Vizrt - Founder & CEO, 6Tribes - Co-founder, QJAM - Co-founder & President, Beamly - CTO, BBC YouView and Head of iPlayer Theartofthestartupreplay Serial founder Anthony Rose, founder and CEO of SeedLegals, shares insights he's learned from a lifetime of starting up, hitting pause and playing again. Anthony Rose, SeedLegals Companiesthatreallydoinnovate rarelytalkaboutit.Theyjustfocuson lettingtheirteamsgetonwithit.
  26. 26. Decide or die. Not making a decision is not an option. At the BBC there are people who can go through their day or week or year without making decisions. At a startup, if you don’t make a decision, you are dead. I love the thrill of having to do something. You learn quickly which informs your instincts. Often as a founder you feel like you’re winging it which feels to many like an irresponsible way to run a business. But instinct draws on the sum of your experience. It’s like crossing the road - you instinctively know to look both ways for cars comes coming - you don’t need to read a manual every time you do it. Focus. I learnt this the hard way over the years. It’s a red flag if I meet a startup planning all the amazing set of things they’re going to be doing. The more features they tell me about, the more red flags I see. I’ve come to the conclusion you can do one thing really well or several things badly. Investors know this. They look for laser focus on one thing that can be scaled. Agility is measured in the number of people you need to check with. One of the things I hear in large organisations is people moaning about needing sign off for the most minor of decisions. That’s what makes them so slow. A measure of how agile your organisation is how many people need to say ‘yes’ before you can do something. If the answer is 17 you’ll never develop anything new. If the number is zero then you probably have complete chaos. If the number is one or two that’s probably about right. Give your people creative freedoms. We created a startup within the BBC. I liked to build teams that were inspired to come up with good ideas that lay beneath the ‘minimum checks’ level. We tried to create a playpen where the rules were clear to the team members. If you want to do something at a certain level of ‘severity’, just do it, do not ask anyone else. If it’s a bigger thing then ask me or maybe one your colleagues. Everything is an opportunity. If you’re worried about something, a downturn, Brexit, whatever, then dude, you are not an entrepreneur. Because an entrepreneur is thinking: “Hmmm, Brexit that might mean less of something; so what am I going to make that fills the gap?” Get on with the job. Any time I hear companies talk about innovation, I know they are not innovative. Companies that really do innovate rarely talk about it. They never say the word. They just focus on letting their teams get on with it.
  27. 27. Feel that tingling feeling in your fingertips? That's the magnetic urge to contact us. hello@rebeltechpr.com Thanksforreading RebelTalk Share with colleagues, mates, family members, pets etc Cookies Terms Privacy P O W E R E D B Y

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