How to grow a global business
Is international growth key for your business strategy? We assembled seven entrepreneurs running £5m-plus businesses to share their tips and challenges
There’s no such thing as a free lunch. We couldn’t rightly invite, on behalf of our host Santander, a group of highly successful business owners for a three-course meal at exclusive London eaterie Villandry St James’ without turning it into a brutally frank and insightful roundtable discussion.
So that’s what we did and we weren’t disappointed. We asked our guests to tell us how they developed the requisite knowledge to trade overseas, where and how they source talent, the connections they’ve made and utilised, and the ways in which they funded their growth strategy.
And you can read exactly what was said – with mild censoring to protect sensitive information. So who was in attendance?
We only invited business owners running internationally-trading companies employing 50 to 100 employees and generating revenues in excess of £5m. Between them they trade or have exported products and services to most of the world, including the US, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Middle East and Asia, so they’re a pretty exclusive bunch. You can read their brief biographies below.
But if you’re keen to get straight down to business and find out what was said, here’s the first of our articles produced as a result of the Santander-sponsored lunch: Should you take your fast-growth business global?
Read on to hear our guests discuss their initial experiences of trading overseas, how they evaluated risk and assessed their overseas potential, as well as the advantages of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI).
Ben Whitaker, Masabi
Ben is co-founder of Masabi – an app which allows train passengers to buy and display tickets on their mobiles. Launched in 2002 with over £12m investment to date, the company works in partnership with leading brands such as Virgin Trains and MasterCard. Masabi has tapped into the US market with deals with train lines in Boston, San Diego and New York.
John Stapleton, Little Dish
John co-founded leading soup brand New Covent Garden Soup Co. in 1989 and sold it in 1997 having grown it to £16.5m revenues and £2.4m EBITDA. Following time in the US where he set up fresh soup concept Glencoe Inc., he co-founded natural children’s food range Little Dish in 2005. Little Dish has since become the dominant brand in chilled toddler food. John has over 25 years’ experience in creating FMCG brands in both the UK and US.
Guy Mucklow, PCA Predict
Guy is CEO of technology company Postcode Anywhere which specialises in cloud-based address management services. Guy founded the company with Jamie Turner in 2001 and it has gone on to achieve 30% year-on-year growth with customers ranging from Oxfam to Pizza Hut. Postcode Anywhere accounts for almost 50% of all addresses captured on e-commerce websites.
Jazz Gandhum, e-Careers
Jazz is founder of e-Careers, a market leading website delivering online education courses and programmes. Since launch in 2002, Jazz’s company has supported over 300,000 students worldwide through its team of 180 staff, which includes 100 working in R&D in India. The company works across 20 countries and has achieved year-on-year growth of 50% or more.
Simon Ellson, Nexus Engage
Having worked for the likes of Apple and Symantec, in 2013 Simon decided to branch out and launch his own venture Nexus Engage. The company works with over 100 UK shopping centres and 10,000 retail sites to help brands drive awareness among customers by using retail space to create campaigns. It has worked with Nokia, LG, HP and Microsoft and projects £7m turnover for 2016.
Dale Lovell, Adyoulike
Dale is co-founder and chief digital officer of Adyoulike – a native advertising specialist which has produced ad campaigns for the likes of Dior, Nivea and Microsoft. The company has an international reach with offices in the UK, France, Middle East, Germany, Spain and Italy. Founded in 2011, Adyoulike has raised almost $2m in funding.
Richard Smith, Search Office Space (SOS)
Property entrepreneur Richard is founder and CEO of Search Office Space (SOS) – a leading consultancy which specialises in serviced offices. Since launch in 1993, Richard has scaled SOS into an international company with offices in North America and Asia and over 60 employees. Richard has also recently launched two new ventures: So Recruit and room booking platform MeetingRooms.com.
Dave Sherrington, Santander
The How to grow a global business successfully roundtable discussion was sponsored by Santander. You can find out more about Santander’s Breakthrough International programme here.