In December 2010 after almost three incredible years with Huddle, I walked out the doors of our then Bermondsey Street office for the final time and soon after that we began the next adventure with Wazoku. Having been a part of one of the most successful B2B tech start-ups from the 2007 wave of tech businesses, and then gone on and founded another high-growth and successful B2B Enterprise tech business in Wazoku, I thought that some of the insights, experiences, mistakes, highs and lows might be worth sharing. If for no-one other than me, it seems a good time for some reflection!
In a short series of posts I will try and cover the key elements, as I see them, of starting and building a tech business, establishing a market, building a team, expanding to new territories, and whatever else springs to mind as I go. I welcome input from others, so if you do read this and have an alternative viewpoint or perspective, please do get in touch….
Starting from scratch…
Starting a company is easy. I have started more businesses over the years than I can probably remember. Most didn’t make it. Some were not great ideas. Some were not the right ideas for me and therefore I didn’t put the required blood, sweat and tears in to make it the success it could have been.
When we started Wazoku we had a broad concept of what we wanted the business to be. We had seen the problem in the market and as I had worked in these circles as a strategy consultant at PwC and Deloitte, I was certain that the large consultancies were not well equipped to deal with the issues we wanted to bring solutions forward to address. In the early days of starting the company, especially in an expensive city like London, a number of conflicting thoughts play a key role in how, if and when a new venture may get off the ground. One is of course money – how can I live if I am not earning £x to pay rent, have a life etc. Another is opportunity. I had just left Huddle and that experience was valuable, there were a number of really great roles already on offer, I very nearly took one of them.
As a result, I had to be really sure that the idea we had, with no name, a loosely defined market, some expensive and seemingly well-funded US players and a small team of enthusiastic entrepreneurs in London, was actually THE IDEA we wanted to go forward with.
So what did we do?
- Market research
- Ran the numbers
- Sold my flat
- Spoke it over with family, close friends and trusted mentors
- Designed the MVP
- Set a deadline
- Founded Wazoku (though it was initially called something else!)
- Found some part-time consulting work
All of these were really important steps in the decision-making process and I don’t believe that one was more important than any other. We had to be 100% sure we believed in the business, the business model, the numbers, the reasons we were doing it, had the backing of those we love and trust and didn’t let it drag on for too long. The final bullet may surprise people, but for my own sanity I needed to be earning some money, but also I had an opportunity to do some of the other bullets whilst earning and that made all the difference.
It took three months from the time we sat down in December 2011 until we made the choice to found the company and start on the Wazoku journey. Since then it has been an incredible 3.5 years and I will endeavour to explore the key elements of that journey in some of my later posts. Until next time.
About the author:
Simon Hill, CEO Wazoku – is an experienced business leader and entrepreneur who has successfully built market leading B2B businesses in the Innovation and Collaboration sectors.