Role and company:CEO of Passle, a new online tool that makes business blogging more straightforward
Company turnover (and most recent ebitda/most relevant profitability metric):The company is a privately funded start-up.
Growth forecast for the next three years:We hope to have 1m accounts in three years with 50,000 paying customers.
In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:Using a simple browser extension, key people from across an organisation can quickly and easily contribute to their company’s blog. The blog is therefore both more interesting and, crucially, sustainable in the long term. No other business is trying to address the ‘dead blog’ problem.
What’s the big vision for your business?We want to create a platform so that people can quickly and easily share research in private groups and to be able to post that research to their blogs and to their social and business networks. To simplify, we want to create a transparent organisation.
Current level of international business, and future aspirations:We want to be the Britain’s first global web property (aim high, right?)
Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:My first business, although not quite bust, was hit hard during the dot-com crash in 2001. What I learnt was that I was not unhappier when things went bad. I think I enjoyed ‘giving myself a good talking to’ in the mirror most days. And when things go really well – as they did with my second business – then that’s really exhilarating too. There is a scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where a black knight is guarding a bridge. He refuses to let King Arthur pass and loses limb after limb, until he is nothing but a torso – all the while claiming ‘Tis but a scratch’ and later that he has “had worse”. I rather like that knight.
What makes you mad in business today?Nothing has ever really made me ‘mad’. I used to get depressed when I had to do government paperwork, so I try to never touch it – if I do it usually ends badly.
What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?I think business communication networks (Yammer, Jive, LinkedIn, and of course, Passle) will become ubiquitous. They will start to talk to one another at an API level and, from there, I don’t think it will be too long until e-mail in business dies out completely.
Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?I don’t know right now as we have not yet needed to raise capital. We will at some stage, and unfortunately I think it is unlikely that we will raise in the UK, as the market for technology venture capital is so tilted to the US. What can be done about this? I think Europeans should court their technology entrepreneurs and give them money to invest. That’s the US system and I think we should just copy it.
How would others describe your leadership style?A colleague told me that my style was to “get good people and let them get on with it”. I think, given responsibility, clever people take their jobs seriously and enjoy themselves a lot more. So, it solves lots of problems not to micro-manage. Plus, I hate being told what to do, and I’m pretty sure everyone else does too.
Your biggest personal extravagance?My wife.
You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:It seems that the developed world is increasingly breaking down into three groups:
- A very highly-skilled core of people who can design, control and maintain machines;
- Those in the service sector, at all different skill levels from lawyers to cleaners; and
- The unemployed.
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