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#7 Defining markets and building value with Adrian Dwyer



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Product-focused entrepreneur Adrian Dwyer has worked with and founded multiple technology companies covering industries including wave energy, autonomous vehicles and would-care technology. He’s an adviser on the commercialisation of IP, including angel and private equity fund-raising.


Adrian shares examples of the importance of stepping back and positioning your product within the right market, building revenue traction and creating value for acquisition. We also look into the lessons and advice he provides to his own mentees and the importance of mentoring.


  • This episode of The 10th Degree covers:

  • Choosing the right market for your product

  • Re-focusing your product

  • Common mistakes of early-stage companies

  • Building value for acquisition

  • Future-planning

  • Mentoring


Links:


Adrian Dwyer: https://www.linkedin.com/in/adrian-dwyer/

Anthony Story: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anthony-story-4032a63/

Podcast Labs: https://www.podcastlabs.co.uk/


Key highlights:


"I think the standout thing for me would be that they probably underestimate how difficult it is going from no revenue to a decent level of revenue. That revenue traction, pretty consistently, people think it's going to be easier than it actually is. So that's why I like to look at you know, what is the market, you know, what is the lowest fruit in that market, it might not necessarily be the one that the inventor or the person is passionate about their technology has identified, but I think getting sales, getting revenue in the first instance is is really tough, and I think that's one thing that people probably think is going to be easier than it actually is."


"I think one one thing I'd suggest is just stepping back before putting the pedal to the metal, and making sure that the market that you think you're going to is the lowest fruit."


“Even within a service business you can build value. It’s about what is it that those founders can do that's expandable? How can you expand the business from a one man band to a two man band to a ten man band? What is it that you've got? What can you do with that experience and knowledge? How could you either productize it or how can you expand it? How can you deploy that in a way that's an expandable business?”


"To be absolutely fair to the young inventor and the young entrepreneur, they probably haven't had any experience of what it is to go and buy a company. You have to put yourself in the buyers shoes, what would I be looking for in a company, if I was going to buy it and if it's just a one man band with some good clients, you would value the business on the clients but then you would apply a heavy discount because it comes down to one person."


Transcript


Anthony Story

So I'm here today with Adrian Dwyer. Adrian is a consultant with a broad breadth of experience. You've been a director, a non exec director with a range of different companies. You've worked extensively with technology most recently employing deep learning, AI and communications, developing autonomous vehicles over the past six years...?


Adrian Dwyer

That's correct.


Anthony Story

Okay, so rather than concentrate on specific business, though, your core focus is based on a much broader reach within companies. So that's included, identify business opportunities, analysing and evaluating markets, initiating new ideas, and adapting commercial propositions to fit the requirements. Does that sound about right?


Adrian Dwyer

I think that sums it up very well.


Anthony Story

Okay, excellent. Let's kind of dive into that in the moment but before we do, let's go back a little bit. I was really interested in the fact that when you started out you studied yacht and boat design?


Adrian Dwyer

Yes, I studied yacht and boat design and I worked for a number of the top yacht designers for a while. I was really lucky because, you're old enough to remember the 386 computer an the 486 computer, and it was a time when, for the very first time ever, we were able to define a yacht's hull by a 486 computer. Whereas a naval architect would take literally weeks to design a hull, I would take, probably a day. But where it really paid off was on things like the hydrostatics and the stability calculations that previously would just take weeks and weeks of work, and I could do it at a touch of a button. But what I learnt from that was not that I was a particularly smart designer, but being able to show designers and show naval architects that technology in a way that didn't demean their experience. So it was good grounding for being able to introduce new technologies to different market places really.


Anthony Story

So you came out of university with a high level of innovation from the get go really. It's not like you followed into a particularly pre drawn path, you've kind of innovated from the start.


Adrian Dwyer

Yeah, well, it was just exactly at the time when they were bringing in new computing to yacht design and that was my sport, but also my passion. But it absolutely revolutionised yacht design and naval architecture. So in that respect, I was in the right place at the right time. I was the first person in the UK to do full size lofting of hulls using a PC computer, which previously, not only would take large amounts of space in a boat yard but would take weeks of time for people to do. And I was able to do that from a computer using large printers to print out the hull, not quite full size but large enough that they could then manufacture the hull, straightaway so taking weeks and weeks off the development time.


Anthony Story

So what's lofting?


Adrian Dwyer

So yacht designers work on a drawing board that's A0 in size and you need to build a boat that's 40/50/60/70 foot long or whatever, so the the business of scaling up that drawing, basically they draw out the whole hull on a very flat floor using some very traditional skills but to make sure that all the curves are perfectly formed from the scale down A0 drawing, that's what lofting is and from that you then can manufacture the frames and the bulkheads in order that you can then go make the hull.


Anthony Story

Here we are, working in a digital creative tech industry, but actually that commitment to planning upfront that's really strong, and can be alien for quite a few people working in our sector.


Adrian Dwyer

I completely agree, when you're introducing a technology that revolutionises somebody's career, somebody's business, there could be a tendency for them to just look the other way and pretend it's not happening, but actually showing them that it's a tool that they can use with their experience and knowledge, something that I didn't have as a young designer, that it was just a tool for them, got us from from being an interesting idea to actually selling some and actually making some money.


Anthony Story

And presumably that stands you in good stead particularly for the work that you do, when you're going into companies and giving them some help and advice? It's that grounding in some of the basics up front, and the reason people need you is that they haven't always thought of those things to begin with.


Adrian Dwyer

I think very often people are very focused on what they do and what they're good at, and sometimes, somebody like myself, an external consultant can come in and say, "well, actually, how about looking at from a different angle? Or have you thought about this..." and for some of those questions, some of the answers would be very obvious, but some of them will cause people to go away and think about things and hopefully they will come back then with a more robust proposition.


Anthony Story

So when you're going in and you're helping somebody in terms of developing vision, developing their strategy, do you have a particular approach that you have when you start off with that? Or do you just kind of respond to what's being presented to you?


Adrian Dwyer

Two big things really. One is fundamentally listening, understanding and the second thing is just understanding their business and what that proposition is to a high level of detail. So I will take quite a lot of time talking to people, talking to the inventors or to the people running the thing. Yeah, really getting a deep understanding of what it is they can actually do. What is it that's good in their business and what is it they're doing that somebody else isn't doing? And I think once you sort of understand that sort of fundamentals, then it's asking is that company in the best position to deliver that? Is it the right market they're in? Could there be a different market? Have, they got the right set of skills internally, have they got a fully baked management team, for example, with all the skills they need, but if you really understand the underlying technology and what it does, then that gives you the basis in order to be able to identify those things. I often come across people in universities or colleges who have got some fantastic ideas, but they don't have much experience, in the commercial world and much experience beyond that level of detail, so I come along and say, "Well, actually, maybe you could use that technology for something else and maybe that something else is a market that's easier to access or a market that's perhaps growing quicker, and if it's growing quicker, it might be easier for an early stage company to get traction." So it's asking those sort of questions and then be able to apply some good experiences and some mistakes I've made and I very much hope that, some of these companies don't make the mistakes that I've made.


Anthony Story

One of things we're really keen to try and do is to help in terms of providing some insights into what people might be able to do for themselves. So, when you come along to the company for the first time, do you find that there are consistent failings that people do? There are certain steps that the majority of people haven't really thought through in depth? Which just thinking through those things now might make a big difference?


Adrian Dwyer

I think the standout thing for me would be that they probably underestimate how difficult it is going from no revenue to a decent level of revenue. That revenue traction, pretty consistently, people think it's going to be easier than it actually is. So that's why I like to look at you know, what is the market, you know, what is the lowest fruit in that market, it might not necessarily be the one that the inventor or the person is passionate about their technology has identified, but I think getting sales, getting revenue in the first instance is is really tough, and I think that's one thing that people probably think is going to be easier than it actually is.


Anthony Story

And in terms of going about trying to get those sales what is that people aren't doing which they ought to be doing more of?


Adrian Dwyer

I think one one thing I'd suggest is just stepping back before putting the pedal to the metal, and making sure that the market that you think you're going to is the lowest fruit. With one of the companies I founded, we thought we were in one particular sector, and a very experienced person said to me, "what's the growth rate of that particular market?" and I knew the answer I said "4/5/6 percent and some of the sectors of that market are growing as much as 10%" and I saw on his face not quite disinterest but certainly it wasn't excitement. And he said, we'll have to take a step back and have a look at the other markets. And that's exactly what we did, went back home, got on Google, had a look around and we found a market in which the laggards were doing sort of 40% year on year growth. And literally that night, we turned from one market to another. And in that particular instance, you know, the rest is history because we were in a marketplace where everybody was receptive, it was a much richer market, and as I say the fact that it was growing at such a rate just enabled us to get that initial traction.


Anthony Story

So the secret isn't always about how good the product is, the secret has as much to do with, where is that product going to be sold and who's interested in buying that in the first place? And trying to look around and think broadly in terms of where you might be able to find a home for your product to go.


Adrian Dwyer

Yeah, I completely agree, and I come across, for example, ideas and products in the medical devices market, and part of the advice has been to actually step back and deliver a device with lower intellectual property as a first stage and get some traction in terms of revenues, but also make some progress in terms of things like Regulatory Affairs. And you can use that then as a stepping stone to, the next product or the next iteration of it. But by then you've got some revenue traction and you've got some basis from which to build.


Anthony Story

We hear a lot about the total adjustable market, the serviceable addressable market, the serviceable obtainable market. How do you go about trying to determine, in terms of what really constitutes the things which fit into those categories? For instance, you see people go, "Well, I'm building an app therefore, my total addressable market is everybody in the world." How do you try and scale in and focus on really what that is?


Adrian Dwyer

I think often when I come across people, they actually know the answers to some of those questions and know where to find them, and probably they do so better than perhaps I do. But it's rationalising that and actually coming up with a metric that converts that addressable market down to a market that I can actually address and I can actually sell into. So I don't think there's rocket science there at all. I don't think it's beyond the wit of man to do that. But I that rational exercise of doing that is a very healthy thing to do. And I think it gives you a far better idea of what is the easiest market? What is that addressable market for that particular product or proposition that I have?


Anthony Story

I suppose you gave the example earlier on where you completely refocused one of the products that you're working on to focus on something else. In terms of some of the companies who you're working with, can you think of any examples where you've been able to help people to slightly more broaden their market, broaden their focus? Or is it actually the opposite? Is it more about really targeting your focus so you're getting the people that really want to work with you?


Adrian Dwyer

Well, I think there's range examples, but there's one I'll give you which is that I was asked to review what I was told to be a wave barrier. So something that sits in the sea and reduces wave height, so reduces erosion and good things like that. And they'd received some early stage funding, some grant funding, very bright guys. And I looked at it and said to them, "Well, so what have you done in terms of marketing and how many leads have you got and how has that converted into sales?" And they'd done quite a bit of marketing, got almost zero leads and certainly haven't gotten any sales. So things were coming to an end. It was such a simple idea and the second stage of their patents were were coming up within six months, so basically, they either had to raise £50,000, to pay the next stage of the patent process, or really, they had nothing because it was so simple that without the patents, anybody could go off and do it. So I spent some time looking at the technology and their claims and I was a bit dubious about their claims, and we started to drill down. And what I actually found was that they were measuring the attenuation, the reduction, the wave height, through an actuator, and the actuator was then generating some electricity. And I said, hang on a minute, guys, so what's happening to that electricity? And they just very flippantly said oh we just burn it off on our resistor. And I stood back and just looked and said, "Hey, guys, this is not a wave barrier, this is a wave energy device." Lots of investment money is going into wave energy, everybody wants wave energy to be a solution to renewable energy, it ticks absolutely all the boxes and I managed to get them a £400,000 grant, literally within weeks of the next stage of the patent process. So that was a case of where they had some bright ideas, the market they were addressing was one they're familiar with, we challenged that in terms of what the market was doing. And guess what, it's a really excellent proposition, the wave energy marketplace, and we got the funding to get to the next stage of the patent process and to get to the next stage of the development of the product. So, it's good example of looking at technology and saying, "Well, actually, it may not be the market you think it could be applied for it could be something else."


Anthony Story

Have you found, in some of the experience you've had working with companies that you get real resistance to try and get into that change? Are people very wedded in terms of what their focus is?


Adrian Dwyer

I think that if you've got a good cohesive argument, then it becomes obvious and certainly didn't in that particular instance, there's no question. I think probably they were looking at the ultimate customer who would pay the money whereas I was looking at what's the next stage in the company development and it was about raising funding in order to do a prototype and then you'd need funding to do a first product, etc. So actually the targets were funders but the funders were interested because there's a lot of money going into wave energy. So you know, it was a cohesive argument, and actually, the penny dropped, and they were very happy that they got there and the next stage of the patent process paid for, basically


Anthony Story

One thing that strikes me is that a lot of people who set up businesses quite often come from a non business background. So there are people who set their business up because they've got very clear ideas in terms of creating strong creativity, or sort of more technical backgrounds, and they're interested in creating seamless customer journeys, or they're just people who, who are fed up with being told what to do when they think that the people telling them what to do that know as much as they do.

I can think of quite a few people who would tick that box.


Anthony Story

Because what that ends up doing is to be very wedded on your product, wedded on your process, wedded on the things that you create, the outputs that you have. So you have fantastically good products, but not necessarily good sales or not necessarily a good business strategy, or not even necessarily a good business. Is that the sort of thing that you come across in your experience and are their ways as a business leader, you could reframe the way that you look at your business?


Adrian Dwyer

I think there's always an opportunity to relook at what you're doing and to re analyse what you're doing and make sure it is driving you towards the objectives that you want to get to. The company we're talking about earlier, autonomous vehicles, started out as a very, very smart set of algorithms in vehicle dynamics. And actually the guy was doing it as a hobby. What actually happened was a certain Formula 1 team came across it and said actually it's better than the technology we're using, can we have it? And that was the start of the business. But vehicle dynamics is a very, very niche sector, I think there's probably 200-300 vehicle dynamisists in this world, so your market is very limited. So I got the guy to sit back a bit and say, well what's a bigger market here? And how can you address that? And it turned out that, with a fair amount of development work, that he could come up with a proposition in the autonomous vehicle market, because that is a huge growing market at the moment. And in that particular instance, the rest is history because he sold the company for an awful lot of money at the end of June.


Anthony Story

So how did that start? So basically, you've got somebody who's got a great bit of tech, believes in the tech, how do you go from that position, where I've got this fantastic peice of tech but what do I do with it? Where do I take this? How do I turn this into being a proper business?


Anthony Story

So that particular one was a long journey, a 6/7 year journey from really what was some smart technology but a very, very niche sector. And it was about constantly questioning, is this the right marketplace? Can we do better? Is there a better faster market that we can access and where are we making the most money? So it turned out that there was a particular area of interest that the founder wasn't interested in that particular sector part of it at all. But it turned out it made a very good margin. So he was able to focus on doing the sort of real high end IP generation but we identified a cash cow that started to pay the overheads and started to be able to pay the wages of developers who are developing the really smart stuff, but that was just by looking at the marketplace, seeing what it wanted, and could that be bolted onto what we were doing.


Anthony Story

So you were saying that success has come from a direction which the founder wasn't necessarily looking into in the first place?


Adrian Dwyer

Definitely.


Anthony Story

What's the importance of a strong team around you? And how do you go about trying to create that?


Adrian Dwyer

I think if you have a clear idea of where you want to be, ultimately, the sort of five year or ten year plan, for example to sell the company. If you then start to roll back from that, what is it that an acquirer wants to buy? What is it about your proposition that they want to buy? In one instance, there are a small number of very clever people, and so that will potentially be a problem to acquirer. So between now and the next five years, we need to develop a fully cohesive management team, one that's got all the relevant skills, so the potential acquirer, can look at this business and say "Great, I'll buy this business as it's not going to be terribly risky because they've already got all the skills they need. And I'm happy to pay a premium because they got some very clever IP there." So that's a case of knowing where you want to be in the 5/10 year time scale and looking back and asking what are the premises that I need at five years? You won't necessarily be able to afford to have those in on day one, but it does give you a clear idea of what you need to do, along that journey. Understanding where you want to be in 5/10 years could change decisions that you make along the way. A lot of people have a great idea and think they're gonna make loads of money straight away, but they don't necessarily think about how they're going to build value. So there's building revenue, which is tricky, and getting that revenue traction, there's also building value and the two are very different things.


Anthony Story

Does that work for service companies as well? Most of the examples you've got are product based, and a lot of the companies we work with are service based. So does that model work? Because a lot of service companies, are built around the skills of the founders in the first place?


Adrian Dwyer

I would challenge that and say, what, is it that those founders can do that's expandable? How can you expand the business from a one man band to a two man band to a ten man band? What is it that you've got? What can you do with that experience and knowledge? How could you either productize it or how can you expand it? How can you deploy that in a way that's an expandable business? I think that in most businesses, you can probably find a way through there, it's just, you've got to have the mindset to question how can we do that? So you're right most of the businesses, I've worked with are product businesses, but I still think in the services business it's how can we build value, not just how can we build the revenue.


Anthony Story

I think that raises a really interesting point in terms of, do you want to create a business? Or do you want to have a business through which you can express yourself, I suppose for want of a better description, whether that's creativity, whether that's technically or whatever, but if your motivation for the business is to do great work, then it's quite hard to divorce yourself from that. But are you suggesting that to go in with somebody else who does have that vision and somebody who can keep focusing on what the business is about, rather than about what it is that you can create?


Adrian Dwyer

I completely agree, and certainly with a creative business, it can come down to a very small number of people, could even be one person, so how can you build a business that looks like a team not just looks like one person? There's some challenges there, because often your client wants you, they don't want anybody else. So how can your proposition change over a period of time such that they become less dependent on you or your revenues become less dependent on you? And it looks like a business that somebody could take over and still retain that customer or still retain, the service contract that you have with them. So, those are the sort of things you look at in terms of trying to build value.


Anthony Story

I think that whole idea in terms of trying to look five years ahead and retrofit yourself backwards, is a really interesting discipline, probably not one that people explore very deeply, particularly in the examples we just talked about.


Adrian Dwyer

To be absolutely fair to the young inventor and the young entrepreneur, they probably haven't had any experience of what it is to go and buy a company. You have to put yourself in the buyers shoes, what would I be looking for in a company, if I was going to buy it and if it's just a one man band with some good clients, you would value the business on the clients but then you would apply a heavy discount because it comes down to one person. You know that as soon as you hand over the check they're going to be you know, off down to the Med on a big yacht or something. So if you put yourself in the shoes of the acquirer, then it becomes a bit clearer about the proposition that you have at that five year point in time.


Anthony Story

That's something that you also deal with, is trying to get people ready for that point when they can sell or when they can get investment.


Adrian Dwyer

Yes both actually


Anthony Story

Presumably for most people investment will come first?


Adrian Dwyer

Well, it depends. But if we take the exit first of all, I think it's a two to three year process for most companies. It takes an awful lot of sorting out and getting the thing looking like it's ready for sale. That's not saying you couldn't sell a company before that, but a lot of people sort of concentrate on the big ticket value, but actually, where the real work comes in is making sure that the deal that you get for selling the company is a good deal. So, you know, there are very much good deals and bad deals. But the more fully baked the proposition is by the time you go to sell the company, the better the terms on which you're going to get. So then coming back to investments, I think the experience we had the other day, was that there was a need for people to understand the investment business or why people invest, and how they invest and what it is investors are looking for. As opposed to "I've got a great idea, surely somebody's going to throw some money at it." Well, funnily enough, most investors are awash with people wanting them to throw money at them. But it's about what the money is for and how am I going to get my money back? All of those factors influence an investor in whether they're going to invest. But it's also about looking at the type of investor, what stage of the company and what stage of investor that you're looking at.


Anthony Story

Well, let me come back to the investment in a moment as I don't want to leave the exit thing quite yet.


Adrian Dwyer

Okay.


Anthony Story

So it's two years from when you first start thinking about "okay, I want to sell my company" to the exit lifestyle happening?


Adrian Dwyer

Yeah, as an average, as an ideal situation. The market is generally not any easier, so for example, I advised on the sale of a company that we sold in July. That was two and a half years, between accepting an offer and actually signing the deal.


Anthony Story

So was the company ready two and a half years before it sold, to be sold? Or were the people planning in advance in expectation for the fact they'd be in a position where they'd be very sellable?


Adrian Dwyer

They were a company that knew that they perhaps wanted to sell at some point in time. And they were going to get around to doing all the housekeeping that you need to do, they were going to get around to that and of course never actually did. So we then got a very good offer, but then when you go into due diligence, which is a real deep dive into the finances, a real deep dive into the legals, a real deep dive into some of the assets, a few issues started popping up. We had a couple of major issues and those have to have to be resolved in a ideal scenario. There's no company in this world that hasn't had some sort of issue in the past or there's some legacy stuff there, which doesn't worry me the least. What you have to do is sort of ring fence that and reduce the risk for the acquirer. So I've come across some quite challenging situations but by looking at those rationally and ring fencing them, they can be overcome to the point of somebody then paying a premium for the business. Those things take time and these are the sort of things that aren't driving the revenue of the company, they're not driving the company forward. I'm as guilty as anybody else, it's stuff that I'm going to get around to one day, it's just one day never quite happens.


Anthony Story

So if you have an expectation, you are going to sell in maybe in 5 years, 10 years or 7 years, whatever it may be. Are there any top tips of things that you ought to do to try and make that journey simpler when you finally get to the point to going "okay, I'm ready now."


Adrian Dwyer

I would certainly make sure that the financials are in good shape and can be rigorously analysed. So an investor will not just look at financials from one direction they'll look at it from many directions. And so having a set of finances that you can rigorously go through is key. Certainly in the digital world, making sure that your contracts are all as robust as possible, particularly if you're using subcontractors, absolutely you want to make sure that you own the IP, that you own the code. And secondly, that they don't own the code. I think there's sort of two things there. Those are the sort of things that typically trip people up. If you're in a manufacturing business or in a product business, things like "work in progress", how you're valuing that needs to be robust, because that's a typical area where somebody might, disagree with you on your assumptions there. So having something that can withstand a rigorous analysis, and that's where an accountant will will help you. But those are a number of key things and if there are issues, and as I say every company has a skeleton or has an issue, either dealing with those or ring fencing them such that the acquirer sees them as a ring fenced issue, and that doesn't detract from the overall deal.


Anthony Story

And presumably being honest about those up front? Because the chances are they are going to be discovered at some point, is it better to be upfront about it?


Adrian Dwyer

It's totally better to be upfront. Within the process, you will hopefully accept an offer and then you'll go into accepting the detailed terms of an offer and then the final iteration, you'll be asked to sign a number of warranties and the warranties will be extensive. Even for small companies. It will be extensive and I think any lawyer will tell you, you have to have everything on the table at that point. And so long as the acquirer knows about those things, they can take a judgement on them. But if you sign a warranty, knowing there's an issue and don't disclose it, you would be in a very difficult position thereafter, and frankly, you know, it's just not worth it, you want to go to sleep at night. So, disclose everything. And generally in mergers and acquisitions, there is an expectation that every company has got a few issues, so it's no big deal. Obviously, it depends on the issue itself, but they're not expecting an absolutely perfect company, because there's no such thing.


Anthony Story

Okay, and I suppose one of the ways to get to the exit, is by having some money to get you there. And obviously, if you get an investor, they're very interested in the exit because that's generally how they're gonna get their money back. So is there similarity with getting investment in the first place or do you think there's a very different sense of expectations you've got to create in the first place?


Adrian Dwyer

Probably the thing I come across most is people who've got some great ideas and think that investors will purely back a good idea. They've got less knowledge or are not able to set the expectations in terms of how the value of that idea will be realised ultimately. Most investors will want to know what is the money being used for and how is that driving the business forward? Is it making a quantum difference to the business or not? But ultimately, how am I gonna get my money out? They won't be terribly interested in simply taking dividends or simply getting paid a part of the profits. They're interested in much bigger multiple of their investment than that. So, ultimately that will mean an exit, some sort of corporate event, so, it could be a pure sale of the company or it could be what we call a secondary exit. So initially an investor will invest to get to the company to a certain stage, knowing that there will then be another bigger investor coming in with more money at that next stage. But having a clear idea of what that is pretty important. But again the fundamentals are there, how does the investor, get their money out and what are the metrics behind their lump of money going in? How does that fundamentally change the business? I've had people come to me and say we want a load of investment and we're going to invest it in production or areas of the business but it's not then obvious how you're going to increment the value of the company. If you're going to invent the next best thing and that becomes valuable then that would work. Or if you're going to invest in sales and marketing, because you've been in a sort of pre sales and marketing mode as a company, and now you want to invest in exploiting that IP by increased revenues, I get that that would increase the value of the company. So those are the sort of things that an investor is going to be looking for.


Anthony Story

We should probably wrap up at the moment, but I'm thinking just in terms of one other aspects. I think the investment is really, really interesting. It's a very interesting area in terms of how you go about trying to get that money in the first place. But I just wanted to touch on one last thing that particularly aligned with what you do in terms of mentoring and how you start to, develop the relationships that you have where mentoring can be really valuable? What is it that people benefit from mainly through having a mentoring experience?


Adrian Dwyer

Good question. I think it's a number of different things. It's having a sounding board, it's having somebody who they can trust them and they can say, "well, I'm about to employ this person or I'm thinking about developing the business in this area or I've got a product here" and having somebody who can sort of rigorously question them and rigorously analyse that. So having somebody that they can share those thoughts with, who understands about commercialising how you might actually get revenues from that and how you grow those revenues. I think in the longer term, it's then having the guidance as to what you need to do. What is a fully baked business? What is a fully baked senior management team, for example, what does that look like? What skills do we need to plug in? A company I visited recently, I think the CEO thinks he can do everything really well and for the first four or five years of the business, he has done a really good job, but when we looked at the five year plan, and said, actually, you know, we want to increase the revenue substantially well, that's not going to happen by him being involved in sales, him involved in production, him involved in finance. And I think there's been a sort of slow realisation, that he's actually got to accept that he needs to bring other people into the business and to trust those people. Because if he doesn't, he's not building value, he's just treading water, implementing the revenues a bit, but he's not really adding value, he could actually double the revenues of that particular business, but I'm not convinced that it would have much impact on the value and it's separating those two out that I think, you know, hopefully the penny with that guys is dropping, and that, he needs to have a management team because that's something that somebody would buy, whereas they're not going to just buy him.


Anthony Story

And how much do you find that trying to get someone to take on board those ideas that your role as a mentor is there to provide advice? Or is it as much to help people to discover the answers for themselves?


Adrian Dwyer

That's a good question. I think most of the people I work with probably know 80% of the answers themselves, but sometimes need some teasing out of those answers in order to then have a strategy going forward. And there are exceptions, with some of the legal matters and some of the financial matters, perhaps but I think generally they have a very good knowledge of their overall business, but sometimes it just takes a bit of more focus to develop that business.


Anthony Story

And have you had mentors yourself in the past?


Adrian Dwyer

Yes, I have. And that's been a mixed bag, to be honest. There's one particular person who said one thing that completely and utterly transformed our business and took it from something that was nearly about to flop to something that eventually we sold. So yeah, getting the right people and it's got to work from a chemistry point of view, because otherwise it just doesn't work. And I would certainly encourage people to work with the people that they like working with. And if there are issues with chemistry with people then move on. And the mistake I made early on was trying to trying to work with somebody who clearly I was never ever going to work with. I now lament that with frustration, and what I should have done was just cut a deal and moved on. It would have been painful, but it would have been a searing of the boil, and then able to move on, as it was, it was a constant drag, and I would never want to go through that again. But that's experience isn't it? That's business.


Anthony Story

Yeah. Adrian, I could keep going on with this for ages, but we've probably should stop there, so thank you so much for that, that's been really interesting and let's do it again another time and we can pick up on the new parts.


Adrian Dwyer

Fantastic. Thank you very much indeed.