Role and company:
CEO of User Replay
Growth forecast for the next three years:
100+ per cent annually.
In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:
UserReplay’s session replay technology lets you record, re-run and analyse every visitor’s journey through a website – just like CCTV in a shop. For e-commerce companies this is invaluable as it enables you to find and fix site bugs, resolve disputes, recover abandoned baskets and prevent fraudulent transactions online.
What’s the big vision for your business?
By replaying user journeys e-commerce providers will be able to improve customer experience, reduce technical faults, combat fraud, and resolve of customer disputes. E-commerce is becoming vital to the economy and we plan to be an essential underlying technology. We plan to become 10 or 20 times bigger in the next three years.
Current level of international business, and future aspirations:
We are just dipping our toe in the water internationally, and expect to win our first French customer later in 2013.
Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:
I’ve led six technology businesses, mostly early stage. I’ve also been involved in three highly successful exits.
However, start-ups nearly always have highs and lows, and there have been a number of years in my career where despite working hard and doing the right things, growth just didn’t come. I didn’t give up, held my nerve, made the necessary changes, and eventually profitable growth kicked in.
I’ve learned how important it is to understand the business problem the company is solving from the customer’s perspective, to keep costs low, and that ultimately it is always about people. I’ve also learned that luck plays a part in business, however much we like to think our successes are entirely down to personal brilliance.
What makes you mad in business today?
Seeing young businesses choking on payroll taxes. Start-ups have the potential to deliver millions to the taxman once established, and should be better supported in their early years.
What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?
Growth. Online trading is here to stay and will become a more important part of both B2C and B2B trading in years to come. Mobile is also going to continue to revolutionise e-commerce.
Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow?
Yes. The business angel market is fairly strong, helped by government initiatives such EIS and SEIS. However getting the first institutional round remains hard; many companies who would deservedly get a Series A in the USA don’t get one here, and that doesn’t help the UK be competitive in technology.
How would others describe your leadership style?
Inclusive, consultative but also decisive.
Your biggest personal extravagance?
Travel. The world is an amazing place and I enjoy experiencing it. It’s hard to take long holidays when running a start-up, but short breaks are a great way of uncluttering your mind and getting re-energised. I even enjoyed a short five day trip to Australia over Easter. I’m hoping to see the Northern Lights in the coming winter.
You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:
I’d spend a minute thanking him for what has already been done: EIS, Enterprise Capital Funds, R&D tax relief and the AngelCoFund are good things for start-ups, as is Entrepreneur’s Relief.
However in my final minute I’d ask for more, and in particular seek some help with payroll taxes for early stage businesses.
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