Briefly tell us about your business. How did you first come up with the idea?
Aamplify provides marketing expertise, experience and outsource capability. We specialise in providing services to kiwi technology and professional services firms. We work with a range of clients, from Deloitte through to cloud-based software start-ups like Re-Leased.
We've had notable success helping companies with their brand story and content marketing, and technologies like their website and marketing automation platforms.
Aamplify came about as a result of seeing how digital and social media technology was rapidly changing how companies could compete and win business on the world stage.
With some 20-odd years behind me working in sales and marketing management for software companies in the States and UK, I believe there is both a gap in knowledge and experience of what it takes to promote a kiwi tech-business on the global stage.
Apart from a skills shortage in digital marketing, the platforms are changing so fast it’s really hard to keep up with what will work and what won't. Business to business (B2B) marketing is different to business to consumer marketing (B2C).
So much of what's on offer in NZ is around B2C. B2B marketing is evolving at a rapid pace also, with brand personality and character playing an increasing part of creating competitive differentiation in a crowded online world.
Clever, engaging targeted content – tailored to the business buyer – is now really important also, with platforms like YouTube providing really interesting possibilities to educate and show-off new ideas: since ideas are the currency of great B2B marketing.
What is the big goal for your business?
To incubate the business in NZ and then expand into Northern California. Silicon valley is still the most innovative and interesting place to work in the tech sector.
The American can-do attitude and willingness to give something a go is one of the most appealing parts of doing business in the States: that and the opportunity to grow far beyond what we can in NZ.
What inspired you to take the plunge?
Having worked in Australia, the US and Europe, I see NZ as one of the best test markets in the world. The relative cost and ease of doing business here makes it an ideal place to test and develop new business concepts.
You can be pretty sure that if it works here, it will have legs overseas, where you can gain substantial economies of scale.
More than that, the decision to start the business was seeing a significant disruption going on, where new opportunity was being formed with the right approach.
Such significant shifts mean there are ample new ways in which we can re-invent ourselves and what we do.
Taking the plunge for me was about figuring out what I love to do and having enough belief in that to give it a go. It's been challenging and rewarding at the same time.
It's great to get up in the morning and look in the mirror (as you're getting ready for work) and be totally jazzed about going to work.
What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of building your business so far?
Figuring out where to focus and on what. Scale and revenue comes from finding an effective repeatable formula that appeals to a particular vertical. Go too wide too quickly and you will burn cash that you need to re-invest to gain scale. It's been one of the toughest things I've done.
Even though I've been in and around start-up businesses for most of my career, it is entirely different when it’s your money on the line, and your house, and your family. The mental toughness required to start up and be successful should not be underestimated.
What keeps you going when you feel like giving up?
For me, the secret is doing something I really love doing and believing in the value of what I (and we) have to offer. People, passion and purpose really do make a difference – even though they may seem like cliché. Much like being on the rugby field, a staunch belief in who, what and why can make all the difference to match success.
What advice would you give to any people reading this who are thinking of starting a business?
It's a long game and it's a classroom. Think of it this way and the perhaps the fear of taking the risk will seem different.
Success can't be measured in the short term, only in what you're able to achieve with people over the long term. It is not all about the money: that's just one aspect of what it takes to be happy and successful.
I'm reminded of a quote from the American poet Maya Angelou, (who died recently) – and this is particularly true of any human endeavour; sporting, entrepreneurial or artistic: "I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will remember how you made them feel"