Welcome to the latest in an ongoing series of entrepreneur interviews for The Small Business Blog. These short Q and A sessions feature some of the most exciting entrepreneurial figures in the business world today.
Why did you become an entrepreneur?
It’s in my blood! I come from an entrepreneurial background. My father and his brothers owned grocery shops, and later a shoe wholesaler, therefore the idea of running my own business seemed like a very natural thing to do. I never really imagined I would do anything else.
Finding the inspiration and company niche came from personal experience, however the drive is something that was ingrained into my upbringing. There’s something inside that urges me to push myself, even if I’m not fully comfortable or have done it before. I think most entrepreneurs will find they have this trait. It also offers me a trade-off between responsibility and freedom. I fully understand that it’s not for everyone, but I enjoy what I do and it suits me perfectly.
What have been the biggest obstacles in running your company?
We’ve never looked to outside support to fund our business. Luckily we have managed to get where we are without this, which is great in one sense, however we could have grown faster if we were better funded. We plan to take this on as our next challenge and look to raise money in 2014, however if I was to do this again I would look to raise money at an earlier stage.
As a technology company we’re faced with tackling new consumer technology adoption. There is big opportunity when selling new ideas and concepts, it’s all very exciting, however it does come with its challenges! We are in the process of creating a new market and migrating through the change in customer perceptions which can be unpredictable – It takes time for the majority of consumers to feel comfortable enough to buy new technology products, despite there being numerous accolades and reasons why they should.
In addition, we’re not a large global electronics vendor. This has now actually started to swing in our favour, however at the beginning some people used to say “what if XYZ launched a similar product, their name alone would be enough to sell the product.” The majority of people we speak to now realise that smaller companies who specialise generally do a better job on the product than a global corporate simply adding another item to their portfolio but the preconceptions and concerns can still be there.
Personally, while juggling a growing, business I have also had to focus on maintaining a stable work/life balance. Since starting Y-cam 7 years ago a lot has happened in my personal life, including the birth of my 2 daughters. I always promised myself that I would remain actively involved in their upbringing yet the balance is an on-going challenge.
Name one thing you have learnt from while in business, and from who.
The importance of focus from Guy Rigby, our accountant. In 2010 our business was growing very nicely month on month, however our ambitions were greater and we were planning the launch of a new cloud product offering that would risk distracting us from what was then our core business. We decided to hold off going down that new direction and, in hindsight, it was a great move as we went onto launch it once we were in a better position to manage it, together with launch partner Vodafone.
As entrepreneurs we generally like to do lots of things and get excited by new opportunities but often we need to step back and look at what our core focus is and should be and stop spending time on unrelated activities.
What are your business and personal goals?
As a business we believe remote video technology can be extremely valuable and in many cases it can change lives, especially for those that look after ill or vulnerable loved ones. So our overriding company goal is to make remote video monitoring easy and accessible to everyone, irrespective of technical knowledge or what devices you use.
Personally, I always try to enjoy life and be a positive influence to those around me, whether it’s my children, family, colleagues or friends. I believe it’s really important for individuals and communities to do the right thing.
Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs?
Having a partner or sounding board, I don’t think I would have lasted if it wasn’t for my business partner Sheng Tang. It can be a difficult road at times and I believe everyone should have someone they trust and rely on, plus can discuss all areas of the business with.
Nothing good comes easy and there’s no other way around it. The truth is building a successful business, it takes time and hard work (almost always more than you initially thought!).
I’d also express the importance of maintaining a healthy work/life balance, there’s no point having a boss that’s constantly worn out and exhausted. Be nice wherever possible! Ultimately we’re all human beings and no one responds well to nasty behaviour.
Thank you to Devin for taking the time to participate!