Can you give me a bit of background to yourself?
I am Adrian Kingwell, founder and MD of Mezzo Labs (www.mezzolabs.co.uk), the web analytics consultancy. About a year ago, I also founded Coformance, an analytics tech start up, which I'm very excited about.
I was a bit of late starter as an entrepreneur – I was 39. But this is what I do now and I love it.
What is Mezzo Labs?
At Mezzo Labs, we use web data to help companies improve their digital marketing.
It's all about understanding what the data means. We show our clients which prospects are most likely to buy – and then target them in real time.
What was the inspiration behind it?
So many things… But I have always been excited by the power of anything that disrupts traditional models. Data has that power.
Traditional advertising hasn't really changed since the Mad Men era: one size fits all, mass market campaigns through mass media channels. But customer data can break that mould. We can be far smarter with our money. Create far more engaging experiences. That is really exciting.
How have you funded it so far?
It is a boot-strapped business. Entirely self-funded. To be honest, if you focus on delivering value straightaway, for the right customers, the money will come. Not huge amounts, and not that quickly, but enough to move you in the right direction. Also self-funding helps you develop a sixth sense about use of time and money. You won't develop that sense if someone throws a million dollars at you and says "spend it!"
What has been the biggest challenge in starting your business?
People. Finding the right people takes a long time. Hiring the wrong people will either slow you down or kill your business altogether.
How have you overcome this challenge?
Simply, rewriting the interview process. Before, it was too subjective, too easy for mediocre candidates to get a job offer. By asking better questions, and really challenging the candidates, I made finding world-class talent a core competence.
What have been your biggest achievements since you launched your business?
There have been so many. But the biggest was the day I decided to stop diversifying and start focusing. It was a tough decision to make; to say goodbye to being jack of 20 digital trades and to place all bets on becoming master of just one - analytics.
It felt scary at the time, but it pays dividends every single day.
How do you differentiate from the competition?
We start with your customer and work back. Analysts typically start by looking hard at the data, looking for a silver bullet in there somewhere. But data means nothing without context.
We start with what the customer wants to do and then find the right data to support it.
It's a much better way of working. It stops us from drowning in data. Gets us quicker to decision-making.
What advice would you give any entrepreneurs just starting out?
Establish the "why" of your business, as Simon Sinek would say.
99% of running a successful small business is about focus and sheer hard work. But what separates the good from the great is in that final 1% - the ability to challenge the way things get done.
That is what people will want to talk to you about… the thing that makes you different, the thing that will make them look good in front of their boss. It is the "why" of your business; "why" you are special, "why" you exist, "why" anyone should give a damn about you.
Make "why" clear from the start and you align everyone and everything to the same goal.
Great advice! Thanks for your time. Learn more about Mezzo Labs here: www.mezzolabs.co.uk