Case Study Ninja: Sarah Dillingham
Having looked to outsource case studies herself in a previous career, this entrepreneur decided that if you can't find it - build it!
Tell us what your business does:
We help you create, manage and publish your case studies.
Whether you call them case studies, credentials or client stories, it’s always important to demonstrate how you help your clients succeed. Unfortunately, writing up or filming case studies and client testimonials often falls to the bottom of the to do list.
That’s where we come in. We’re the experts when it comes to case studies. Our cloud software and apps helps you to create and manage your case studies using a guided template and secure dashboard. You can create PowerPoint and Word documents too for pitches and proposals.
If you want to use your case studies for marketing, you can publish them your website or our Case Study Gallery.
We also offer a full concierge service, so whether you’re looking for a one off case study write up or a comprehensive project gathering case studies for a large bid or award, we can help.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I’ve been helping professional services organisations manage their case studies for years, and had noticed that many of them had similar challenges.
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The conundrum is that they need great case studies to win bids, pitches and for general marketing, but often lack the time and resources to write them up and manage them effectively.
I’d been looking to outsource case study development and management myself in a prior job role, and finally thought, well if I can’t buy it off the shelf I’ll build it myself!
How did you know there was a market for it?
My market research was initially based on personal experience, as I’d run into the problem many so times over my career.
As we built our MVP we started talking to more people in our target market, and would hear the same thing over and over again ‘Oh yes – we’re *terrible* at that’.
In fact, I’ve only talked to two companies to date who say they do it brilliantly.
We backed this all up with a survey and some business research courtesy of the Institute of Directors.
What were you doing before starting up?
Before Case Study Ninja, I spent 20 years of working on knowledge management and enterprise information project for large corporates.
Fed up of the politics, I took a year out to something completely different. I ran a fun (and successful!) bridal business alongside occasional freelance gigs to keep my skills sharp.
This gave me the confidence to set up Case Study Ninja.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
I’ve always has some sort of side project going on, to make extra money and have fun – so decided that if I was going to seriously take the plunge I should do it before I hit 45.
How did you raise the money?
We are proudly bootstrapped and 100% founder owned! We believe that it’s critical to get out to market, get product validation and drive revenue, prior to seeking investment.
We know that this makes us a more attractive proposition for fund and Angels alike, and will help us achieve a higher valuation.
Once we’ve built up some traction, we’ll start looking for SEIS funding.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
We combine a SAAS business model for use of the cloud software and apps, with bespoke pricing for our concierge services.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
My no one challenge is the emotional rollercoaster that comes with running a start-up.
It’s tempting to buy into the ‘work 20 hour days or you’ll fail’ start-up culture, but things like sleep, healthy eating and exercise are essential to manage the stress and pressure, so I make time for them.
A surprising challenge comes from the start up community itself – there are many wonderful supportive collaborative people in the London and Croydon start-up scene…and a few sharks!
So for newbie start-ups, remember to do your due diligence, and guard your cash and equity accordingly!
What was your first big breakthrough?
We are very excited to be working with Arthritis Care and helping them to manage their case studies effectively.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
The most powerful way to market your business is through the voices of your customers.
Start gathering testimonials and tracking the value you deliver from day one.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
On my boat, enjoying a sunset and a margarita, with all the hard working people who’ve helped me build and sell the company.