Why did you decided to undertake and become an entrepreneur?
I first became an entrepreneur in the late 70’s (i.e. aeons ago!) following a fascinating 7 years with Black & Decker in Marketing and decided to start up my own operation in a completely different sector as it used more of my analytical skills. I started iNovar in December 2012 with my 2 fellow founders as a potential management buyout vehicle but we eventually decided not to proceed with the buyout and instead opted to start from 1st principles and build from the ground up!
What milestones of the past year would you stand out since winning OpenAxel?
Milestones is a difficult one as we’ve had a major pivot since winning OpenAxel – however unlike other uses of the word pivot we’ve added a pivot i.e. we are still doing what we were doing when we won OpenAxel but since OpenAxel recommended that we apply for (and got accepted by) the Next Step Challenge in Denmark, we’ve added a whole new slant to our business (as well as a new Danish subsidiary). But if pressed I suppose we’d list being a finalist at Next Step Challenge, a finalist at Heidelberg Innovation Forum, a winner of Grants4Apps, a finalist at the Bully Awards 2015 amongst others.
What projections or plans do you have in short and medium term?
We are in an active scale up period where we are seeking to add a number of major new customers in a number of locations (UK, Denmark and Singapore) as well as commence our sales operations in the USA where we have a significant number of corporates interested in our solutions.
What has OpenAxel contributed so far and how do you think they can help you in the future?
OpenAxel have been a superb ‘opener of doors’ to iNovar and are directly responsible for having introduced us to the Danish opportunity as well as laying the groundwork for our US operations with a number of the connections made during the OpenAxel sponsored trip to San Francisco at the beginning of the year. They continue to be very supportive of our plans to grow and as you are probably aware have been instrumental in having us be at the Slush event in Helsinki this week. We look forward to continuing to work closely with them as we “Reach for the Stars”!
What kind of difficulties do you face as an entrepreneur in Europe and what kind of support do you miss?
The biggest challenge European entrepreneurs face is fundraising! The challenge we face is that with operations in a number of European countries whenever we get talking with investors in say Denmark they want only to invest in a Danish operation, with investors in the UK they want only to invest in a UK operation etc. There appear to be no truly European investors at angel or seed stage who understand that a company established within EU but with growth plans into other EU countries is a sensible investment!
What is the most satisfying thing of being an entrepreneur?
The most satisfying (and the most challenging) thing about being an entrepreneur is that you get to decide every day what you do that day – the challenge is that no-one else does things if you don’t!
What are your internationalization plans?
We are already international and will continue to grow internationally – I’ve just returned from a week in Dubai attending the Gitex exhibition and as a result now have a number of prospective customers and partners in the Middle East and further afield such as Pakistan and South Korea to pursue!
How do you help businesses in being more efficient? What kind of concerns do you want to solve?
We help businesses be more efficient by enabling their workforce to use all of their existing enterprise applications on mobile devices without having to change anything and with full data security thus meaning that users can act upon things as they arise wherever and whenever they want rather than having to wait until they get back into their office. This results in companies becoming more responsive, more competitive and ultimately more profitable.
What feedback do you receive from your clients on your product?
As with many companies trying to swim against the tide we often get the “if the others aren’t doing it your way why should we believe you” syndrome as well as the “vendor XYZ told me it would take months to go mobile at a huge cost, how can you tell me you can do it in moments for a fraction of their quotation” – however when we can convince a company to try a Proof of Value project with us the response has always been “Great – it works. Come and let’s see what else we can do together”!
Innovar has a head office in Johns Creek outside Atlanta and a development office near St. Louis in the US. Offices in both Bracknell and central London in the UK as well as, courtesy of an introduction by OpenAxel, an office in Esbjerg in Denmark!
As far as the latter is concerned we do have a spoof video of Life in Esbjerg ( Look for Esbjerg in a map to understand the basis of the video!).
Here is a video that will show you what life in Esbjerg is like!