MyDealMaker: Glenn Hopkinson and Nick Butler
Glenn Hopkinson on why 20 years of managing and growing high-tech businesses came in handy for his investment site
Company name: MyDealMaker.co.uk
Founders: Glenn Hopkinson, Nick Butler
Based: Leeds, Yorkshire
Staff Numbers: 4
Date started: 01/10/07
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Tell us what your business does:
MyDealMaker is an interactive website that brings young science and technology companies together with investors and specialist business advisors to share information, advice and ideas with a view to securing investment and forging successful and profitable business relationships.
What were you doing before starting up?
I have over twenty years experience in managing and growing high-tech businesses. After completing my Ph.D. in 1985 I spent three years working in Silicon Valley, before returning to the UK to become Software Development Manager of Orac Ltd, a spin-out from the University of Leeds.
Nick worked for many years as a corporate lawyer at DLA in Leeds, during which time he dealt with many VC transactions culminating in the award of the ‘Dealmaker of the Decade’ title by Yorkshire Business Insider magazine in 2001.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
This is the third start-up I have been involved in, but I have also worked for large corporates in R&D so I have seen innovation from both sides. I guess the best thing about being your own boss is that you can be more proactive and go after opportunities as they arise. Being part of a small team that is united by a common purpose is very empowering and intellectually stimulating.
What challenges have you faced how have you overcome them?
The main challenge we have at the moment is getting people to sign up to and use the website. We want MyDealMaker to reach beyond Yorkshire, so we have the challenge of establishing a nationally recognised brand in the long term without alienating our Yorkshire contacts.
How have you promoted your business?
During the beta phase we are engaging in a blog programme to soft launch the site to gain feedback from young technology companies and investors as well as slowly build awareness. We also have a PR programme in place to try and secure articles in key offline and online media about the site and some of the business issues it addresses.
What about staff – how many do you have? Is it burdensome?
There are four employees including Nick and myself, Axa our web content manager and Rachel who is responsible for direct marketing. We are a small team so all pitch in together to get things done and work closely to focus on priorities.
What’s the impact on your home life been like?
My first two start-up businesses took over my home life, but this time around it’s a lot more balanced! What would you do differently?
Like Einstein said make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler. I would have released a simpler application sooner and waited until version three to get it as complicated as it has to be. If something adds value it will get used. If it adds more value it will be used more.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
In the next five years, MyDealMaker aims to have 1,000 paying users from the wider northern region of the country and be seen as a leading UK online networking community for young science and technology companies, investors and advisors. Additional services will be added to the site including mentoring and support for the companies.