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At this stage in my career, it feels like I was born into it, to be honest, I seem to have been doing it forever. That said the reality is I was always a computer geek, writing BASIC programs on the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 in my bedroom in the ’80s developed into an ongoing love for tech which logically led to a career in IT. I gave up the programming very early on though and turned to the dark side when I got my first sales job and haven’t looked back since.
Davra actually spun out from a company I sold back in 2007. After the sale, two guys who had worked for me there approached me with an idea for a product asking if I could help with a business plan. Next thing I know I’m CEO and back on planes raising money and selling software solutions again.
Its been a great couple of years though, IoT (Internet of Things) is a seriously hot space right now and we’ve been quietly playing in the market since 2010 building up a great platform and a serious reputation as the guys who know what they’re doing. A couple of other platform companies have sold out early and been swallowed up by their acquirers, our goal is a bit more long term though, we’ve had a few approaches but our plan is to be the first pure IoT IPO.
Issac Newton said that he could only do what he did by ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ and Davra are no different. We’ve partnered with companies like Cisco & Intel to deliver our vision and you cannot put a price on the value that brings to a startup like us. Great technology is one thing but a big name like that takes away any risk the customer may feel about dealing with a small company.
We’ve also taken a unique view of our product and made it very pretty. With the exception of Apple, most tech companies haven’t traditionally put much value into the design and user experience of their software, Davra has a Lead Design Engineer who is involved in every element of our development and even early-stage customer engagements so our platform has a serious amount of style as well as substance. Given that our typical customer is evolving from being IT-led to being Operational Tech led this has proven extremely successful for us.
As I’ve already mentioned IoT is on fire right now but that can sometimes cause more problems than it solves because customers see a lot of hype and no solid offerings out there. A lot of the big numbers floating around the market are ridiculous too, “50 Billion devices”, “$19 Trillion Dollar value” etc, etc, all that does is cause a flood of entries to the market most of which have no substance or value.
Davra has taken a more pragmatic approach and just quietly delivered a solid solution and built some strong partnerships and satisfied customers. We actually have something to sell too which helps, you’d be amazed at the number of analysts and journalists I’ve spoken to who tell me that we’re one of the few companies out there delivering something real today.
In your life, you’ll have lots of jobs but only one family, use your time wisely.
Faster, Higher, Stronger. Well, that’s actually the Olympic motto but it’ll do just fine.
Pulling together the team we’ve managed to build is definitely our biggest achievement to date. As a small company getting the best talent can be a struggle, we don’t have free lunches every day, gyms on-site, relax rooms and all those other perks that the bigger tech companies can offer but we do give people interesting work, a supportive environment and a visible career path as we grow. We also ensure that every developer gets to see their code in action as a real feature in a product and every sales guy gets to meet his customers. It’s amazing how few companies can offer this and the best staff always want to see the fruits of what they do. No amount of foosball tables & jogging tracks can make up for this.
Asking my core team to complete a 360 Feedback questionnaire on me and finding out I was a control freak wasn’t a nice experience. Seemingly I tried to do everything in the early days and unsurprisingly didn’t get much of it done right, so seeing that written down and realizing people didn’t want to ask for my help because I’d take over and do a half-ass job on it is a feeling I don’t want to have again any time soon. Getting the balance right was good learning though, now I try to commit to a lot less and over-deliver whenever I can.
Everything you plan to do will take twice as long and cost twice as much as you think, allow for this and deal with it. Any company that says it was an overnight success is just successful enough to hire a good PR team.
I’d like to think I do it by leading from the front. It’s a bit of a cliché but if you’re not willing to get on a plane, spend time away from your family and do the footwork to build a new business yourself you can’t expect other people to do it for you.
My wife’s wonderful Chorizo stew and a small clear soup that I once had in a Japanese restaurant in Paris, which no matter how hard I’ve tried I have never been able to find since both are amazing. On the drink front I’m afraid I’m going to have to be a clichéd Irishman and say a nice pint of Guinness but only in Dublin, it doesn’t travel well so anyone who hasn’t had a pint here hasn’t really tasted Guinness.
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, an absolute classic and a book I just keep going back to for some reason and my iPad. Unfortunately, technology has led to my bookshelves becoming increasingly bare although my wife balances this out by steadfastly refusing to read on any type of screen. I think she single-handedly keeps Amazon in business.
Obscure one this considering he died 20 years before I was born but George Bernard Shaw was the ultimate innovator. He was a poet, a playwright, a scientist, an economist and one of the greatest minds ever to come out of Ireland. He not only founded the London School of Economics but was also the only man ever to have won both a Nobel Prize and an Oscar (he wrote the screenplay for ‘My Fair Lady’ which was based on his book Pygmalion) so his ability to adapt and change to suit his audience was amazing.
I discovered skiing a couple of years ago and it’s the only thing that makes me wish I were 30 years younger. I can’t believe I spent so much of my life not doing it.
The BBC ran a really interesting article on Monday about a new app from the Samaritans that monitors social media feeds for suicide warnings. It’s great to see technology being used in such a creative way to deal with such a serious social issue. Hats off to the Samaritans for continuing to do such great work.
The next step for Davra is to build our global presence. We’ve conquered Europe and the US but that leaves about 70% of the world’s population who don’t have a Davra office nearby. The Internet of Things isn’t waiting around you know!
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