The BizSpark startup of the day is Money Dashboard, based in the UK. You will find below an interview with Gavin Littlejohn, Founder & CEO of Money Dashboard. All the best to them and congrats for being the startup of the day!
Interview with Gavin Littlejohn, Founder & CEO of Money Dashboard
Tell us who you are and your role in the company:
Founder & CEO.
What did you do before creating your company?
Before setting up Money Dashboard I had previously been the founder of other companies, ranging from a haulage and archive warehousing operation set up in my early 20s through to a digital compliance company for IFAs in my late 20s.
How do you feel being the most promising ‘Startup of the Day’ per Microsoft BizSpark?
Happy and greatly encouraged by the recognition of this prestigious programme.
What is your company’s mission?
Money Dashboard is the ‘One place to manage your money’ for the UK consumer. This is the sign above the door, and is also evolving into the company’s internal mantra. We really want to make it easier for people to manage all of their financial relationships in one place.
How did you get the idea for your company?
There were two strands: Firstly, as an entrepreneur by habit, I had identified a highly disrupted market in retail finance, where a number of things could be done better. Secondly, who in that market was serving me? The answer was no one. Keeping on top of a myriad of bills and financial decisions when you are time poor is hassle for just about everyone in the mass market. Money Dashboard was built to serve me and millions of people like me. I just love using it.
Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding? If so, how much?
We have had £1.6m in 4 rounds, most recently £1m in October 2009. We will shortly be starting a process to fund the next stage of product roll out and marketing activity.
How many employees do you have? How many developers?
Total Employees: 16 Developers: 4.
Are you hiring? If yes, what are you hiring and where?
Yes we are always hiring, or so it seems. Currently we are looking for c# developers with WCF and/or Silverlight experience to join the team. As a fast young company it is the people in the team that we invest in and finding the right people is core to our business.
Which platform are you building on? Why?
We are building the application using a range of Microsoft technologies. For the User Interface we decided to take advantage of Silverlight's rich interface capabilities that still support our line of business requirements but also provide our users with the rich experience they are looking for. Supporting this rich user experience is a hybrid mix of private cloud (powered by hyper-v) and public cloud (Azure) infrastructures. The application framework itself is built using C# .NET 4.0. As a Greenfield project we are taking advantage of the complete range of technologies to make our development efficient, cost effective and still deliver the features our users demand.
Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/internet area?
Clearly mobile apps, rich internet applications and collaborative marketing – harnessing social media – will provide a fascinating journey for entrepreneurs over the next few years.
On a more technical level, designing with flexibility and scale in mind can provide a wealth of opportunity. We have chosen to build a Service Orientated Architecture which allows us to scale, develop and monetise in a variety of ways. If you can build your application in this way, and when combined with a modular approach, you have flexibility. It’s this flexibility that allows you to adjust to changing user needs and market demands.
What do you think about the BizSpark Program?
The BizSpark program has been hugely beneficial to us. From the BizSpark team we have gained awareness and support ranging simple advice through to networking and industry contacts. From the BizSpark program we have gained access to resources that would have normally been prohibitive at this stage of our business. We have been able to build our application in the way we want, the right way, from the start and not had to compromise on substandard solutions and an inability to grow when we need too.
Do you have any advice for young Software entrepreneurs?
Going bust is easy. It only has to happen once. Make sure you manage risks, don’t press the accelerator until you know you have a product that really solves a market pain, raise money in tranches appropriate to your stage, find great people to co-own your vision and communicate constantly with your shareholders. Above all, product management is king; if Users really enjoy your software, the rest is easy.
Who’s your role model?
I have two controversial business role models actually, Scots Canadian media tycoon and financier Lord Beaverbrook, and financier Sir James Goldsmith. Although not everyone’s ‘cup of tea,’ I admire their energy, vision and ability to quickly cut through the baggage of an issue to get things done. What really single out their business careers, is their finely tuned instincts for risk and decision making bravery.
What’s the ONE THING you would like readers to take away from this interview?
I am enjoying the journey; especially working with enthusiastic and committed people to build a great service for our Users.