Tell us about yourself?
I have been working in the world of virtual agents and conversational AI since 2000 and founded Creative Virtual in November 2003.
Prior to this, I worked for a US software company in various roles (starting as a Software Engineer, then as R&D manager and then as Sales & Marketing Director).
Employing my technical and entrepreneurial skills, and through the development of the enterprise level V-Person™ technology, I am proud to have established Creative Virtual as one of the world’s leading providers of conversational AI.
I have a passion for creativity, innovation, technology, and physics, and in my spare time enjoy snowboarding, running, and watching my beloved West Ham (where my optimistic nature is sometimes stretched to the limit!).
What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?
Perseverance, Perseverance, Perseverance! Never underestimate the importance of continuous innovation that is driven by customer needs.
That is key to building long-term relationships with customers, especially during the tough times. Always make time to contemplate strategy and decisions.
One of the reasons I love to run is that it gives me the opportunity to unplug and think.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Become a postman instead! Just kidding! I would tell myself that one’s first instinct is usually correct, so trust yourself and act on that more quickly!
A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?
Well, I’m answering this question on a Sunday night, so I should probably say I haven’t managed that too well!
Seriously though, I find accepting that as an entrepreneur work and personal lives are one and the same really does help.
Being an entrepreneur is a way of life, so don’t create unnecessary pressure on yourself by trying to keep your work and personal life completely separate.
However, finding ways to switch off from work is really important for yourself and your business.
Being surrounded by loving and supportive family and friends and having hobbies and interests can help with this.
For me, that’s bringing up my amazing toddler Matthew, socialising with friends, watching West Ham, running and keeping fit, and snowboarding – these give me plenty of distractions!
Always keep things in clear perspective and accept that, at the end of the day, business is just business.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
The company is based on a love of technology, innovation, art, and working with great people.
We channel all this into creating something special and unique in the world that delivers significant value for our customers.
What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?
Creative Virtual’s magic sauce is definitely our people and their dedication to creating the best products and providing the best services for our customers.
A low staff turnover rate creates consistency in our managed services and lets us get to know the specific goals, history, challenges, and intricacies of every project.
These relationships help us to both deliver successful solutions and also continue to innovate in a way that will help our customers tackle real challenges and deliver real results.
How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?
Taking a long-term view and building long term relationships is key to our sales strategy, and is the cornerstone of everything we do at Creative Virtual. Business is all about relationships, and building those bonds with customers, partners, analysts, and industry experts is essential for success.
Positive relationships help build a positive reputation in the marketplace, which in turn helps your sales team both bring on new customers and grow your presence within existing customers.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your business, and how did you overcome it?
Leading Creative Virtual for nearly 19 years there have been quite a few challenges!
Having an amazing team of people who have been by my side for many years, has given me the strength to fight through these challenges and emerge as a global leader in the conversational AI space.
What do you find are the advantages of operating your business in London?
Having our HQ in the world’s best city speaks for itself!
As someone born and raised in London, I still love living and working in this city.
It’s a great location not only for meeting with customers and attending events in the UK, but also for being able to stay involved with our offices in Europe, APAC, and the Americas.
Are there any issues with having a London based business? Have you experienced these?
London is a very crowded city, and its infrastructure has reached breaking point in some areas.
The National Health Service is significantly challenged, good public schools are hard to find, and housing is very expensive.
I don’t think any of these issues should keep someone from basing their company in London, but it’s important to consider theses things when deciding, for example, where to locate your business and whether your employees will need to work in-person.
How has the higher than UK average cost of living impacted your ability to work and live in London and how has this also impacted your ability as an employer?
I believe the benefits of having our HQ in London far outweighs any additional cost of living costs.
Being a company that is set up for remote work has helped with this, particularly as the cost of living is rising everywhere.
We are able to maintain a smaller space since many team members don’t work from the office on a daily basis.
It also allows our employees to choose to work from just about anywhere, meaning they don’t need to live in London.
If you had to relocate your business to another city in the UK, which one would it be and why?
I can’t image ever relocating out of London! If I had to relocate our HQ from London, it would probably be to another country rather than another UK city since we currently operate other offices around the world.
How has BREXIT impacted your business (if at all)?
No, we’re not experiencing any impact from BREXIT.
What is your vision for your company in the next 5 years?
Right now, we are gearing up for a major release of our technology that has seen the involvement and input of every member of our team across all departments and locations.
Our vision is to build on our momentum from this release and continue to lead the global conversational AI space with the world’s best team and technology.
And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?
Visit out our website to learn more about our team and technology.
We publish some great industry insights and tips on our Blog, so be sure to check that out here: https://www.creativevirtual.com/blog/
We also send a Monthly Newsletter that includes industry research, company announcements, event information, and conversational AI resources – subscribe here:
If you have any specific questions or want to arrange a demo session, you can contact our team directly at [email protected].