Tell us about yourself?
I’m the founder of Octopus Intelligence and global board member of Competitive Intelligence’s governing body – SCIP.. Former Association of MBAs Chair. Shorin Ryu Karate Black Belt (still a learner!). Born in Cumbria and currently living in Nottingham,. England.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
The single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups is that it’s all about getting angel investment in. Any start up is hard work and trying to get an investor in is twice as hard and frustrating. And if you achieve it may have cash in the bank but you have someone to report to and justify yourself. Having too much money in the bank when you start takes the edge off. Makes things easier in the short term. Nothing more gives you a focus on a sale when you know you can’t pay yourself if you don’t get it over the line.
If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?
Don’t be too nice and trusting. Forget partnering with anyone. 99.9% of attempted partnerships come to nothing as the other party is in it for themselves. Or they are not a passionate about what they do.
What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?
Belief in what we do is special and no one else can do better. Maybe they can but that sort of attitude is not going to get you anywhere.
What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?
Small reporters notebook and decent pen taken everywhere with me. Start writing anything. Starts as gobbledegook and then it starts to clear your mind and develop good ideas. Also removing Linkedin connections of takers, wasters and charlatans. And marketing is all about content. Not content to make you look really clever, but smart simple messages.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
I was in military intelligence and I loved the job. but hated the bull that got in the way of it. I wanted something I could do in the real world. So I set this business up. It was only afterward I decided it was I wanted to do that I realised there was a market fr it already. And it was called Competitive Intelligence. And there was a gap in the market between the academics and data collectors.
Where do you see your business in five years?
Still here enjoying, perhaps working from a villa, but still working it. Further developing our network of good people. Avoiding idiots and Octopus Competitive Intelligence seen as the trail blazers.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?
Same as it has been for the last 5 years. Making sure we have as much money in the bank as possible.
Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?
Corporates and investors coming to us for insight and leaving have happy with what they receive. Telling us that we have done is far superior to anything they have experience before. That we showed how much we care to find the right insight.
How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?
Clients and customers find us online and through recommendations. Great content and managed SEO brings people to our table. We get recommendations from CEO’s of major players we have not done work for. We do a (almost) daily single line tip of the day which people read. I am not the sales person. Not in my skill set. Always good to have a great relationship developer on your team.
What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?
No matter how cool your idea is and what an expert tells you it’s about getting and keeping money in the bank. Most problems are solved with more sales.
And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?
To the point where investors are kicking our door down to give us their money. And to be in a position to tell them “no thanks”