James comes from a background of social and mobile software, and have been running businesses on and off since he was 18. Experienced in social and mobile software, he loves social networking and Facebook so when in early 2011 he realised the world of marketing campaigns on Facebook for brands was confusing and complicated, PageHub® was born to make things a bit simpler.
Tell me about how you got into business?
We started in March 2011, I used to work at an agency managing social and saw customers wern't getting a good experience. I left and started PageHub on a shoestring, since then we have grown to serve some of the country's leading brands. I was the only sole founder of the company, which is slightly unusual these days. It can be hard making decisions on your own but it is possible, you just have to have more faith in your own judgement. Since then the team has grown and people have an opportunity to share ideas and experiment.
How did the idea for PageHub come about?
Working at an agency I saw how brands weren't looking at social analytics to evaluate their campaign. They were often overwhelming or too in depth, after speaking with several of them it became clear there was a need for a focus on simplification and bringing multiple products together into one system.
Tell me about the early days of PageHub, what was the hardest part of starting the business?
The hardest part in starting the company was gaining trust from large customers, it is very difficult at the beginning but you just have to have faith in your product and you will eventually gain traction. If you aren't confident in your product there is a problem, think about how you can pivot the business to meet a real need of your customers.
What is PageHub and what are you trying to solve?
PageHub is an online software which allows brands to run amazing campaigns on Facebook and see real time insights on how they are performing. We are trying to find new and exciting ways of connecting brands with customers which are both fun and valuable for both sides.
We believe in fast, iterative innovation and a focus on great ideas. All our team have the power to conceive and implement a great idea and ship in to production code.
How have you been able to fund it?
The company has been self-funded from profits and investments, and is profitable today.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow your business?
As I mentioned before, convincing big businesses to use PageHub and looking credible to build trust was the most important part. Having confidence in the product itself will lead to one big commission. Once you've got that, other businesses will start to trust you more - sell what you've already done, and make sure you've got permission to use case studies and quotes from that first big client in your marketing material.
Could you give us an example of a setback you had in the early stages of the business, how you overcame it and what you learnt from it?
Managing cash flow was the biggest thing, as it is within any small business. The way to overcome it as a problem is to focus your efforts on making a product which earns the company money, not a product that only you are passionate about. Passion is a great motivating factor, but you need to ensure you're putting your efforts towards something that's going to make the company money, allow you to grow the business. Once you hit profitability, and you have a reliable cash flow, you can look to refine what you already have, and start working on those projects.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Meeting the top people in the industry at an event, and having the chance to go to those kind of events is an amazing opportunity. You only get the chance to do that by putting yourself out there. Doing that, and making products that enterprise actually wants is quite exciting.
What should we be expecting from yourself and PageHub for the rest of the year?
We'll be continuing to expand our product range, with a relaunch of our platform in the coming months. We're aggressively recruiting, and we're going to be looking at taking on Apprentices to help them grow and learn alongside PageHub.
What three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
1. Get a product out there as soon as possible and then improve on it. Don't wait to launch something.
2. Move fast and break things
3. Focus on creating a product that's profitable from a beginning, to avoid the reliance on external funding and be clear on the revenue model