What do you currently do?
I’m the owner and Managing Director at DCSL Software Ltd, an award winning software development company based near London. The company has been a field leader since it was founded in 1994 and our team of technology experts conceptualise, design, code, test and support software for large and small companies across the UK. I also co-own First Contact SaaS Ltd, a Telemarketing SaaS product and have investment stakes in a number of other tech businesses.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
I was inspired by the fact that there is an exponentially growing global market for software – especially new start-ups and also large companies who want to streamline their operations with software. At DCSL we fuse traditional and new methods to develop high quality, bespoke (or custom) software at speed, while retaining a personal touch and fastidious attitude to planning. It’s this amalgamation that’s resulted in us becoming a trusted partner of brands such as WaterAid, Lidl, and the NHS.
DCSL is approachable for all sizes of businesses, from large public organisations through to smaller owner-managed companies. We have also had some really interesting ventures and start-ups trust us with their projects, such as a wall-mounted calendar made of children’s plastic bricks that can be digitised simply by taking a photo.
What defines your way of doing business?
I have always believed in a sales-led focus to push my ventures forward. Without pushing the boundaries of what you can achieve as an individual and as a team, you can’t grow your business.
But of course you can’t have a culture like this without the right people with those shared beliefs; since I took over DCSL in 2013 I’ve grown the team from 10 to over 60 highly skilled software engineers and managers, with whom we have developed an open trust culture; we now have a highly motivated and efficient workforce.
We’ve developed established methods of delivering software products and we keep proving that time and time again with our great software and happy clients.
I also try to invest in start-up companies that I believe I can add value to as I think this is key to continuing the growth of the economy and myself. Two of my most recent investments have been into a cyber security platform and a Facebook-like app for dementia sufferers.
Who do you admire?
I am a huge fan of Elon Musk. Since his beginnings as a PayPal founder, single-handedly developing the complex security algorithms to protect against fraud, he has gone on to creating multiple tech businesses that truly break the boundaries of what most people would think possible. From software developer to global superstar of business and technology, he’s someone who will be in our history books for a long time to come.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
Yes of course – and there is no business leader on the planet who would say otherwise unless they have their head in the sand. The one thing I will say to everyone – and I know this is a common thing, but probably one of the most important of all – hire the right people. Removing or attempting to improve poorly performing people from a business, is extremely time consuming, expensive, sometimes emotional, a complete drain and can seriously stunt growth. So if you are considering bringing people into your business, never, ever settle for 2nd best.
What advice would you give someone just starting out?
Talk to people, lots of people. There are unlimited breakfast clubs, networking events, seminars, competitions and entrepreneurial programmes that you can attend or get involved with. There, you will learn about others’ experiences, tips on recruiting, finance, operations, sales and so on. So my advice is join in and learn from others who are in the same position or can give you the advice you will undoubtedly need. And most importantly – don’t give up if you hit a bad patch, as it happens to all of us.