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Ross Fobian: “We are honest to a fault”

5 Mins

Name: 

Ross Fobian

Role and company:

CEO of ResponseTap

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

£2.5M

Employee numbers: 

50+

Growth forecast for the next three years: 

200 per cent this financial year and 400-500 per cent over the following couple of years due to our international expansion.

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

We’re the first company to allow marketers to track a customer’s online journey to an offline phone call. Today we are the clear market leader for visitor level call tracking in the UK, processing more than a million phone calls every month. 

What’s the big vision for your business?

ResponseTap will be the global leader in marketing technology which connects all online and offline engagement data and make this information actionable and valuable.
Current level of international business, and future aspirations: At present, we are successfully operating in the UK, US and Canada, but not wanting to rest on our laurels, we have begun planning for further international expansion into several other countries around the world. 

Biggest career setback and what you learned from it: 

Not so much a setback, but looking back I would have raised more money earlier. We were lucky enough to have profit from previous businesses to invest, but a bigger up front injection of cash might have helped us move even more quickly.

What makes you mad in business today?

I would say dishonesty or “bending the truth” comes at the top of my list. We are honest to a fault and have lost business due to competitors making false promises. The annoying thing about this is that I feel we have done these prospective clients a disservice by telling them exactly how it is and then they choose to do business with a company that we know will not deliver on time or in some cases at all.

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

Technology is advancing quicker than ever and it is not going to slow down. The biggest change we are seeing is in how people are using the web. Mobile adoption is growing rapidly and the way people consume and convert on mobiles is very different to what we have been familiar with over the last ten years, HTML5 is changing the way websites behave and operate, webRTC is going to change the way people communicate from their various devices.

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

We were fortunate enough to have profit from previous businesses to fund our business initially and then later we turned to VCs. I do believe that if you have an idea that is scalable and you can prove people will buy then investors will take the risk. However, for many European technology start-ups it is hard to raise the seed capital they require to get their ideas off the ground.

How would others describe your leadership style?

Someone who is always thinking a few years ahead. That’s both a good thing – it keeps us innovative – but I know it can also be frustrating for people who are trying to deliver on the here and now! 

Your biggest personal extravagance?

I don’t really go to the extreme with personal things, but do like to be able to look forward to going home to relax at the end of a long day.

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

  • Keep your manifesto promises regarding banks helping small and medium-sized enterprises. These start-ups will create the jobs for the next generation, but they need easy access to financing; and
  • Clarify the UK’s stance on software related patents; most of the future innovations will come in the form of software solution. Blocking these patents simply because they use software is counterproductive and will leave the UK vulnerable.

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