Marcus Lambert is the co founder and CTO of KnowledgeMill, the email management software provider and responsible for the client's vision, architecture and engineering team.
Whilst working in Clifford Chance’s Architecture with James Allchin and Hisham Anis developing a pioneering ‘File As You Go’ technology, they suddenly realised that email management was by far the biggest stumbling block to individuals’ daily productivity and together decided to set up KnowledgeMill in Marcus's spare bedroom, the rest as they say is history.
Hi Marcus, Thanks for doing this. How are you doing today?
Hi Joseph, I am great, thanks. Just finished my first espresso of the day.
Can you give us some background information about yourself?
My background is in software engineering. After leaving university, I worked for an IT company providing trading floor support to investment banks in the City. Following that, I took on a number of Solution Architecture roles for organisations including Mckinsey & Company, Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance. Within my current role as CTO Client Technology for KnowledgeMill, I am responsible for our client vision, architecture and engineering team.
Tell me how you initially got into business?
I met the other founders of KnowledgeMill, James Allchin and Hisham Anis, while working in Clifford Chance’s Architecture team. Together, we were developing a pioneering ‘File As You Go’ technology for the firm. During this project it became clear that email management was by far the biggest stumbling block to individuals’ daily productivity. James, Hisham and I felt the email filing technology we had developed held great potential, not only for other legal firms but across the board so we left corporate life and set up KnowledgeMill in my spare bedroom.
How did the idea for Knowledgemill come about?
The ‘File As You Go’ project at Clifford Chance aimed to address not only individuals’ productivity by intelligently and automatically filing and sharing emails, but also compliance and storage issues. With the deluge of emails that lawyers had to manage every day, there is an obvious benefit of being able to file, find and share emails more easily. We started KnowledgeMill because we could see the potential of the technology not only for legal firms, but all individuals and organisation which communication using email.
Tell me about the early days, what was the hardest part of starting the business?
I think the first hard decision was leaving the comfortable corporate life, especially as stock markets were crashing and the economic outlook was doom and gloom. Once this decision had been made, we faced the same challenges as any start-up business, namely sourcing adequate funding and employing the people we needed to grow the business.
What is Knowledgemill? And what are you trying to solve with it?
KnowledgeMill was established in 2009 and is an email management software provider. Our technology enables organisations to automate the process of filing, finding and sharing information by email. We founded KnowledgeMill on the premise that businesses need to find more effective ways of helping employees manage their inboxes, allowing them to spend their time more productively, and address the security and compliance issues associated with the information emails contain. Our software currently handles over 200 million emails and we help some of the world’s leading organisations save time and money by automating their email systems.
How have you been able to fund it?
We initially funded the business ourselves but in July 2012, KnowledgeMill received a £1.5 million growth capital investment from YFM Equity Partners through its managed fund Seraphim Capital and MMC Ventures.
What sorts of advice do you having for entrepreneurs looking to raise money for their startups?
Having a great team of people around you is vital. Investors will be investing in you as well as your product. I would also advise anyone looking to start up their own business to prepare an ‘elevator pitch’ selling your business idea in no more than 60 seconds. You never know when you might be speaking with a potential investor or customer so the value of being able to pitch your business mission and product clearly and concisely at any time cannot be overstated. I would also urge entrepreneurs to consider using a broker with a full understanding of fund lifecycles who can help match your business to the right VCs.
About the first few months, how excited were you, tell us about how those months felt, what happened?
Receiving our funding in July 2012 was a very exciting milestone for KnowledgeMill. Since then we’ve seen the product develop and our team has grown significantly. Getting our first customer’s feedback on KnowledgeMill’s bespoke solution was another high point for us and since then we have worked with many more organisations to help them save time and cost through more efficient email management.
How did you initially get traction?
Our website was invaluable in the early days for raising awareness of KnowledgeMill. Each of the founders also had their own network of prospective contacts and customers which helped us gain traction initially.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow your business?
Our investment funding last year was certainly the most significant step in the growth of KnowledgeMill so far. It enabled us to expand and further develop our product. Since receiving our funding back in July 2012, we have been able to make a number of key appointments to our senior management team which will certainly make an impact as we embark into new markets in 2013.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Again, gaining investment into the business has to be the biggest highlight for KnowledgeMill, and for me personally, so far. It has allowed us to ramp up activity, bring new skills and expertise into the business and make big plans for growth in 2013.
What should we be expecting from yourself and the KnowledgeMill team for 2013?
2012 was a fantastic year for KnowledgeMill but I anticipate we will see further significant growth in 2013. We plan to move into new sectors and develop our product even further in view of expanding beyond the legal sector to incorporate all industries and knowledge workers with a need to collaborate and share information by email. It’s clear there is now a pressing need for a solution to email overload across every industry. Because KnowledgeMill addresses collaboration and compliance issues as well as productivity, I have no doubt we are going to be busier than ever in 2013.
Lastly, what three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
Maintain laser focus on your goals and objectives. Build a great team of skilled, self-motivated individuals to drive the business forward, business cannot afford to carry anyone when they are starting out. And finally, act like a good start up and be a good shepherd of your cash.