What’s your business?
Wazoku is a software-as-a-service business providing online idea management solutions to global businesses. Idea management is the process right at the front end of where ideas come from and brings an element of collaboration to the innovation process.
For businesses, it is imperative that they understand the challenges they face and listen to as wide a voice as possible to inform this. Through our tools, they are then also able to source ideas against these topics, have the organisation help them to evaluate, prioritise and filter these ideas, and ultimately select the most valuable and important ones to work on.
We started in 2011 as the seed of an idea and launched last year into the market.
What’s interesting about it?
The name Wazoku means “great idea” in Swahili. Is that interesting?!
The software is pretty sophisticated in what it does as we are trying to remove the need for lots of human management and people process, instead using smart maths to help understand expertise, move ideas around in a smart way, and surface the best ones to the right people.
How’s it going?
It is going extremely well. Ideas really matter to businesses and the data that they can derive from the platform really adds to this value. The issue is never that businesses need more ideas (quite the opposite), more that they need a place for them to live, for most to fail early, and for the best to succeed in the most collaborative environment they can.
We just appeared in the 2013 Gartner “Who’s Who in Innovation Management” report and that has helped put us even more on the map. This year is all about expansion for us – we have some big plans and are investing heavily in these.
What are the highs of running your own business?
The whole thing is a high. I have an amazing team who work their socks off for the business and I couldn’t be more proud of them all.
And the lows?
You care so much about what you are doing and put your heart and soul in – it can be very stressful at times.
What has been your biggest success in business to date?
We are working with some amazing clients and are helping true innovations come to the market. There are new facilities for kids in the local councils we work with that originated in our platform and became real things, there are TV shows born in our system, companies are inventing new products etc….we have helped to unearth and prioritise these. Each is a huge validation for what we are doing.
What mistakes have you learned from?
Planning early helps to avoid waste and repeat work later on. Plan, test, plan and only start spending real money when you are 100% sure of what you are building and why.
Which businesses/entrepreneurs inspire you and why?
I am ex-Huddle and am really proud of what the two founders – Alastair Mitchell and Andy McLoughlin – have built over there. Helping to grow that business gave me the experience and confidence to go on my own – I hope I can replicate their success.
What’s your top tip?
Act big – thinking small and acting small makes you small and it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. You need to act big and think big and if you do that, then anything is possible.
Also, reward your early supporters -they are your most valuable asset as they are your validation and learning post.
Is there anything you would like help/tips from other small businesses on?
We are always looking for partners and work best with SMEs. Any innovation-focused companies that might be interested in working with us, either as clients of our software or as partners to go to market, then please get in touch.