Please tell us a little bit about yourself
Following a degree in Geology, I worked briefly on an oil rig before deciding that wasn't for me and heading off travelling for a year. My background naturally lent itself to a move into media sales(!) so my publishing career then began at The Guardian, back in 1999, where I sold advertising space. In 2001, I joined B2B publishers Informa, where I stayed for 15 years, latterly in an operational role focused on sales and marketing process and technology. And then that’s how I met Charles [Thiede, Zapnito CEO].
How did you end up becoming a Zapnito advisor?
Charles approached me. He wanted some advice around sales process. I undertook sessions with the Zapnito team to explore customers' buying process, about the importance of understanding where you are and where customer is in that process, how that might differ and what to do about it. We spent a lot of time mapping a process that gives customers what they need as well as progressing the sales. I was then asked to be an advisor, and continue to support Zapnito on sales-related issues.
Why is Zapnito necessary and important today?
It's all about trusted information. How can you ensure people get the credible information they need? Zapnito creates communities of experts to communicate around specific topics. Publishers have done well in a one-way connection with audiences but Zapnito facilitates two-way. What's more, while social media enables two-way dialogue, it does not allow you to own the data and information on that dialogue or its participants, whereas Zapnito Networks do.
How do you see Zapnito’s business developing in the next 5 years?
In the short term, I see the company cementing its position within the market we’re already in, primarily publishing and media. Long-term though, I see more companies of different types wanting to create and 'own' content in order to demonstrate and share expertise, as well as to deliver greater value to their customers and stakeholders through enabling them to share expertise in a trusted environment.
What in your opinion/experience is the single-most important skill in running a successful start-up?
Well, you must have the great idea. This has to be different enough to what is already in the marketplace, filling a gap or meeting a new demand. This of course doesn’t however mean the start-up is going to be successful, however. You really need to communicate and engage with people about the idea and then they'll buy into your excitement of it. You must have the passion for it or it won’t go anywhere!
What has been the biggest lesson you have learnt in your career to date?
No-one is right all the time, everyone is learning. You must be open to learning, otherwise you stagnate. You need to be able to question even those superior to you: we’re all developing. So yes, realising everyone is learning even though that feels scary. Of course, Zapnito helps with this, to enable even experts in their field to learn from others in relevant, trusted environments.
And what is your main career goal for the next 5 years?
Well, I have just started a new job at LexisNexis, as Director of Go-To-Market Effectiveness, so success in that role is priority one. But my main goal is to work with a group of people and enjoy what I do with them. I want to learn more skills, understand more, and deliver value back to my organisation, ideally for a greater good.
Finally, if you had £1 billion and had to invest it in only one of the following three, which would it be and why? 1. Virtual Reality; 2. Artificial Intelligence; 3. Renewable Energy?
Renewable energy. If don’t have energy, you have nothing else. Questions around AI and VR are interesting but renewable energy could enable a lot more in the long-term.
Please do contact me if you would like to learn more about Zapnito or to get in touch about my work.