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Qubit CEO Graham Cooke: “We are always looking for disruptive new ways”

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Name:

Graham Cooke

Role and company:

CEO of Qubit

Company turnover (and most recent ebitda/most relevant profitability metric):

We grew our core platform license revenues by 300 per cent last year.

Employee numbers:

55

Growth forecast for the next three years:

Our target is 120 per year for the next three years.

In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:

It might sound self-congratulatory, but innovation. As a company founded by ex-Googlers, we are always looking for disruptive new ways for website owners to use technology to maximise their data and get closer to their customers. This is a theme that runs through everything we do and is why we have such a good client-base.

What’s the big vision for your business?

To become the de-facto organisation for helping companies understand and apply big data to improve their digital presence. Whether on the web, mobile or elsewhere we want to help create the most engaging and profitable experience for their visitors. The number of interactions that people have with the web is growing daily, generating vast amounts of unstructured data. We see it as our mission to help companies collect, analyse and use this information in a way which allows them to make their websites more effective.

In the future, websites will moves towards becoming personalised for each individual visitor. This is a huge area for Qubit to exploit. Our technology will allow those in charge of websites to analyse the traits of specific visitors and provide them with the digital experience which is most relevant to them. This is a holy grail for website owners and something which we are primed to help them achieve in the future.

Current level of international business, and future aspirations:

Since 2010 we’ve grown from four to 55 employees and now work with some of the biggest blue chip brands in the world, including John Lewis, Arcadia Group and Hearst. In the future we’re aiming to enable businesses to automate and dynamically personalise their websites in response to individual visitor’s needs – this moves beyond product recommendations which most businesses are using today.

In terms of growth, we hope to open up more geographical markets, establish ourselves in new vertical sectors and reinforce our credentials in areas where we are strong.

Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:

When we first started, we were focused on mining web data collected from people’s existing technology. We developed our technology around this approach, before realising it was way too limiting and had to rebuild our entire engineering team. It was painful and meant that it has taken us longer to do things, but in the long run we have created far more opportunities and value.

What makes you mad in business today?

Inefficiency– it’s all over the place and it slows everyone down, sometimes it’s like a black hole that can suck you in. There are many organisations that are busy doing the wrong thing, and you try to tell people that but it’s very hard for them to see it. In the end, those inefficiencies can really hurt a business, even kill it.

What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?

Mobile and social media are the two key trends keeping everyone on their toes at the moment. As the ubiquity of smartphones increases, driven by better networks and cheaper devices, it will present an interesting challenge for those in charge of websites. In addition, social media is continually in a state of flux. Whilst there are a number of social platforms currently dominating, something will always come up which will turn the whole market on its head. This transience is why the technology industry is interesting; it means you can never count your chickens!

Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?

Technology companies are being asked increasingly tough questions by investors to justify exactly when and where their return will come from. I think if you have a bulletproof business model and a solid differentiated offering, then the money is there. We recently closed a $7.5m funding round from Balderton, so we are familiar with the process.

How would others describe your leadership style?

Determined and focused but always open to ideas, suggestions and different ways of thinking.

Your biggest personal extravagance?

Apart from a few ski holidays in the winter it’s got to be Kindles and e-books. Every time they come out with a new version I buy it, as well as a few books a week. I love the flexibility of the platform – there is real innovation there.

You’ve got two minutes with the Prime Minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:

Change the way they teach computer science at British universities so it focuses less on research and theory and more on how to become a hacker. In American universities they teach front end technologies like javascript and entrepreneur courses. This creates a culture of students who know how to prototype sites like Facebook in their dorm-rooms.

I would also like to see the government think of more innovative ways of injecting money into the economy – instead of propping up a lot of older institutions or businesses that are destined for failure in the next ten years. 

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