David Simpson is co-founder of Andersen, makers of premium electric vehicle (EV) charging points. We asked David what was the inspiration behind the business, and what advice he would give anyone looking to start up.
What do you currently do?
I’m the co-founder and technical director of Andersen. We are a start-up company that produces stylish Electric Vehicle Charging units. We use superior technology for supreme reliability and to ensure we are ready to meet the future e-mobility needs of our customers. I lead the product, design, software and hardware engineering and manufacturing teams, and am responsible for creating attractive, functional, safe and profitable products.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
It was the classic case of being frustrated with a technology product that seemed very unloved and a feeling that I could do something better. All the Electric Vehicle (EV) charge points I could find seemed rather uninspiring and lacked a sense of innovative powerful technology. When I started to look closer, I felt the electric vehicle charging industry seemed to adopt a race to the bottom strategy.
I knew that charge points would soon be a feature of every home and thought other people must feel the same. Designs should discretely merge into any built environment and work seamlessly with smart energy networks of the future.
What defines your way of doing business?
Personally, I’m open with my partners. I’m also quite abrupt. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. And sometimes that commercially compromises me, but I don’t believe in secrets.
I try to take a very collaborative approach and actively seek partners who naturally work together, I bring them together and mix those ingredients. I like to identify where the weaknesses are in the business and work out how to fix it. Also, sometimes I like to make small changes to one part of the business, as these tiny changes can often have a great impact on your output quality.
In a start-up you need to have all hands to the deck, so I always look for bright people who are also very flexible and multi-skilled. They’ve got to not mind writing a strategy document on one day and doing some monotonous admin the next.
What do you admire?
I admire business people who have battled through an awful lot of resistance. It takes time to be successful and no one is an overnight sensation. There’s always a back story and pre story that often doesn’t get told. A lot of entrepreneurs who have ultimately been very successful have had very difficult challenges to overcome. Running your own business involves tenacity and risk taking. People don’t often talk about the personal sacrifices and the worry from family members that it’s all going to fail.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
Yes, I would have made sure that I had very clear and concise engagement contracts with my partners and consultants. You can avoid legal challenges and loss of IP, not to mention a whole lot of money, stress and conflict which you can do without. If your paperwork is water-tight. It can really distract you from the day-to-day running of your business.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Do your research, define your niche. And concentrate on that niche. It helps you focus and excel at doing well in that business area. Don’t be over ambitious by trying to do too much too soon. At Andersen we started by focusing on electric charge points for residential homes and making beautiful high-tech charge points for that part of the premium market. In one of my previous businesses, my solution was to make a good product that did an awful lot of things.
Very quickly it became very unsustainable. I learnt that lesson the hard way. Once you’ve built a solid platform you can move into further business areas in a more successful way and with a good reputation.