Simon Hill on starting ideas management company Wazoku

Simon Hill started innovation management company Wazoku in 2011 and is already looking to turn over £400,000 for his next year of trading.

What does the company do?

Wazoku is a subscription-based business with software that helps generate ideas and innovation within a company, taking the traditional company ‘suggestion box’ online, adding social and sharing tools to help capture, discuss and evaluate employee ideas and ensure those good ideas find the right people within an organisation.

How did you finance it?

In the early days we raised £50,000 through friends and family, but I also sold my flat and put the proceeds towards the business. I raised another £150,000 on top of that through business angels. The first main spend was on staff, I’m not a software guy  so I needed to get a senior developer in to build the vision and get all the coding right.

How was it marketed?

Marketing is an ongoing challenge. We’re not a big ticket item so we can’t spend a lot on marketing just yet. However, I originally worked at (cloud collaboration software provider) Huddle and I was able to use that connection with a successful UK business to get some press attention. We also do a lot of online marketing and advertising, using the internet as much as possible to draw people to the site.

What was a big challenge?

Hiring has been really difficult. There’s a lot of competition for good developers. As a start-up you can’t match the salaries that bigger companies will pay, so you’ve got to find the right people and it’s a tough ecosystem to make that happen at the moment. The ideal employee is someone prepared to take a bit of a risk and do it for interest, love, a bit of sweat equity.

How would you assess the business climate right now in the UK?

The Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) makes a huge difference in terms of early-stage fundraising. It’s enabled a new type of investor to come in earlier for businesses, especially when considering there’s not a lot of attractive places to put your money at the moment. So we can bring in higher-risk investors through EIS.

See also: 5 reasons why SEIS/EIS is the best funding route for tech startups – Tax-based startup funding raised through the Government’s SEIS and EIS schemes is amplified if you work with a tech startup specialist, argues Alistair Marsden

What about the new Funding for Lending scheme?

I am slightly cynical. One of the big problems with any young business is it’s hard to tell when cash is going to come through, so taking on debt at an early stage of the business is quite conceptually difficult for a lot of early-stage companies.

Alan Dobie

Alan Dobie

Alan was assistant editor at Vitesse Media Plc (previous owner of before moving on to a content producer role at Reed Business Information. He has over 17 years of experience in the...

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