Five to Watch: Will Read, Sideways 6

Tired of seeing his ideas bouncing off the boss’s door, Will Read’s virtual suggestion boxes allow employees to drive their company’s innovation without fear of rejection

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Will Read, 28
Company: Sideways 6

As an analyst working for Sky TV, Will Read says he found out “what it was like to feel like you had great ideas but had nowhere to put them.”

This experience has shaped Sideways 6, a virtual suggestion box which allows employees to drive their company’s innovation process in a two-way environment.

Unlike other suggestion box offerings, Sideways 6 meshes with Slack, Yammer and Workplace by Facebook, three of the most popular social networks among Britain’s workforce, so staff can continue working with the technology they already use. There is no need for any app downloads, training or tutorials, so the system is truly democratic.

Anyone with a good idea will be heard.

Once they’ve set up the ideas box, employers and senior executives can monitor the suggestions via an in-built dashboard, and analytics tools tell them which ideas are generating the most buzz among the workforce – giving them a valuable ‘in’ to the mood and ambition of their team.

The business has already worked with around 30 companies including Sainsbury’s, BA, British Gas and Virgin Trains, reaching around 3 million employees. Alongside these commercial wins, Sideways 6 has partnered with charities and good causes such as Mencap, giving them a 90% discount for access to its platform.

Thus far the company has refrained from major funding rounds: its only external injection has come from a £500,000 seed round which was joined by veteran Brent Hoberman. Nonetheless Read has been able to build a staff of 26 and is turning over millions with growth of 300% year-on-year.

With three years’ success behind him, Read wants to expand into new territories having made breakthrough client acquisitions in Australia and the US, and is eyeing new integrations with platforms favoured by Sideways 6’s clients.

Ultimately, Read says, the goal is pass 50 million users, “and prove to the world that great ideas can come from anywhere.”

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