Entrepreneurs in the fast lane: Stephen Newton on change, taking first place, and challenger brands

Closing in on its first decade, Stephen Newton’s challenger consultancy Elixirr is in extremely rude health. And for an accountant-turned-entrepreneur he knows all about taking the racing line in business.

He’ll be looking to eclipse 2017’s £13m turnover this year and now has more than 100 employees working across 25 countries.

A multiple award-winning business, Elixirr regularly makes lists of Europe’s fastest-growing companies and topped the poll in the UK.

Taking a Business Test Drive

So getting behind the wheel of the sporty Alfa Romeo Giulia for some quick laps around the infamous Silverstone race track is precisely the kind of thing that appeals to Newton.

Proving adept at fielding questions while negotiating some of the best-known corners in motor racing, he tells Startups he’s on a mission to disrupt the consulting world. “If I claim to be able to reduce your costs, then I’ll put my money where my mouth is,” he asserts, with Elixirr’s model based on the business taking a stake in the outcome of its work.

The model has proved highly attractive with more than 750 projects delivered for over 100 clients and close ties to Silicon Valley’s most powerful venture capital firms forged.

Loving his spin in the Giulia, the South African entrepreneur shares his success mindset. “I’m a very practical person. I like to get things done,” he says with added emphasis. “I like to pick a direction and go.”

Not afraid to acknowledge the value of failure, he reveals that he’s “made thousands of mistakes”. “I don’t think there’s one I can actually pick. I make them all the time,” he admits. “I’m not afraid of mistakes. I think that’s what actually allows you to succeed because you learn from them. And to me an inextricable part of being successful is learning to fail and to grow from your failure.”

Demonstrating that the Alfa Romeo Giulia is fit for the very best entrepreneurs, as was suggested by our motoring expert, Newton has this to say: “It’s very sporty, but it’s hugely comfortable, so I could see myself driving for hours in it.”

Looking to the future

Switching to the strong and reliable 4×4 Jeep Compass (rated ‘best for sales people') for a few more laps, Newton says the thing most likely to hold his business back is “ourselves”. “I don’t turn up for second place, so I want to make sure the rest of the business doesn’t turn up for second place any day of the year.”

Looking to the future he thinks the consulting industry will – and has to – change. And inevitably, he hopes the business he ranks as his “third child” will be at the forefront of leading the charge.

“It’s going to be businesses like ours that get more and more traction that start driving people to change.”

To book your business test drive click here, or call 0808 168 4089.

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