The UK boasts one of the most competitive startup landscapes in the world, but that hasn’t been enough to ward off one ambitious entrepreneur: David Monks.
Monks entered the competition hoping to generate visibility for his business as it prepares to pitch for first-stage funding. While the competition was strong, myself and the judging panel believed iNovar had incredible vision and clear growth potential, with operations already in place in the US, and with a customer portfolio spanning Kuwait, Dubai, Malaysia and Singapore.
I caught up with Monks to learn more about the differences doing business in the UK versus the US, his tips for pitching potential investors, and what’s in store for iNovar over the next 12 months.
Congrats on becoming Dell’s Start-up in Residence! What are you most excited about?
The ability to work with a world-class organization of Dell’s caliber has me jumping up and down.
Working closely with Tim Griffin and his team in the UK, and with the wider Dell Centre for Entrepreneurs community, including Ingrid Vanderveldt, Dell’s global Entrepreneur-in-Residence, is a real game-changer for us.
What is iNovar and how was the business born?
iNovar is a mobile business intelligence solutions provider. The organization is focused on “results through innovation” and has its origins in the great working relationships our team fostered at a previous enterprise, which led us to being named by Gartner as the number-one “Cool Vendor for Business Analytics” in 2012.
We have created a technology that enables companies to mobilize existing Business Intelligence (BI) content from the likes of SAP BusinessObjects and Oracle, without re-engineering, but with 100 percent data security, and deployed in days.
When our previous employer unfortunately ran out of funds in late 2012, my co-founders and I believed the BI team was too strong to lose and so iNovar was born. The entire BI Division team came across to iNovar, but when we looked closely at the technology we had previously developed, we decided we could build a much more powerful and efficient solution — even if it stayed rooted to our founding principles. As a result, we spent most of 2013 developing the technology from our first principles.
Your business operates in both the US and UK. How do the markets differ?
In the US, businesses are willing to evaluate new ideas and on a much larger scale. However, in the UK it can often be an uphill struggle to get companies to even recognize that there are solutions available that can improve businesses operations.
That said, the UK is opening up rapidly. We are seeing major UK organizations starting to listen to us now that are prepared to evaluate (and hopefully go on and purchase) our solutions. The UK operation is the base for our international sales and support efforts.
Did you enjoy the pitching process?
It was excellent. I enjoy pitching to an engaged and interested team that asked probing yet relevant questions.
My advice to other entrepreneurs pitching for investment is to try to film your pitch. Watching the video back through the “investor’s lens” can help identify mannerisms or speech that could be distracting to your audience.
Also, be enthusiastic: If you can’t get excited about your business, then why should they?
What small business issues are you most passionate about tackling as part of the Dell UK Centre for Entrepreneurs Advisory Council?
Having pitched our business to investors in both the US and the UK, we encountered many would-be investors who said, “I’d love to invest, but don’t want to go first.” It’s something that can be frustrating for a startup looking to accelerate its growth.
Any mechanism we can find to get that first investor on board would make life a lot easier for companies trying to raise funds.
How do you think Dell’s technology will help your business grow in the future?
With a wide range of world-class technology, from tablets through to the data center, the technology Dell has put at our disposal will make a dramatic difference to our growth, as we’ll be able to bring new people on board without the concern of how we’ll equip them.
What’s the big focus for iNovar over the next 12 months?
We have a number of areas of focus, the most immediate of which is completing our funding. As a funded business, we will then be able to get maximum impact from our sales and marketing plans, leading to major expansion across our international markets from our new base in Bracknell.
Dell Entrepreneur Spotlight Series
Occasional profiles of U.K. entrepreneurs
- 1Dell Entrepreneur Spotlight Series: Casper Oliver
- 2Dell Entrepreneur Spotlight Series: Jordan Fantaay
- 3Dell Entrepreneur Spotlight Series: David Monks