Unique IQ. Growth Through Passion.
At Growth Rocket, we love meeting entrepreneurs that are passionate about their customers because it's such an important aspect of a growing business. If you care about your customers and their needs, then your products are going to outperform the competition. David Lynes, Managing Director of Unique IQ, is a great example. Unique IQ provides software solutions to the care sector, and their goal is simple. Make the care sector better.
This customer focused approach is obviously paying off because Unique IQ have recently received a large investment package which has fuelled some rapid growth. In fact, after learning that Unique IQ have doubled in size over the last 12 months, we knew we had to give David Lynes the Growth Rocket treatment to find out what else he can tell us about growing a successful business.
Can you describe Unique IQ in one sentence?
We are a solution provider; delivering cloud software services to home care, cleaning and facilities management sectors, we help clients manage their workforce more effectively.
Tell us about the founding of Unique IQ. What made you start the business?
The business was formed to deliver better value for small to medium businesses. I used to work for a PLC and there was some great software we were developing, but it was vastly expensive and not great value for money - which was taxpayers’ money.
I wanted to start a business that would actually offer better value for money whilst still tailoring solutions to whatever that challenge might be. Unique IQ started by building online solutions – systems, portals, interfaces and websites that were essentially offering the best value.
How has the business grown since you started it? We read that you've recently scaled up significantly, can you tell us about it?
The business was originally started in 2003. We spent a long time with a small compact group of dedicated employees, where we focused on building the product and building the business.
Then in November 2018, we received a significant investment from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) / Midven. This investment has helped us to accelerate some of the business building, but our core values, purpose and what we are trying to achieve remains the same. We have used this opportunity to bring in more people at a faster pace than we were bringing in before, helping to accelerate the vision.
What do you think has been responsible for your recent success?
The investment has a big part to play in it. This has been a pivotal moment where we have really understood our vision and where we sat in the sectors we work in. Instead of looking at our competitors or looking over our shoulders all the time, we ignored them and focused on our own purpose and what we wanted to achieve.
As soon as we got comfortable in our own skin, that’s when we really started to accelerate and became confident as we weren’t trying to imitate someone else, we were trying to deliver what we know through our team and be proud of what we have got.
We are very different. It’s quite surprising how different we are to everyone else, especially within the care sector. We are driven by passion and enthusiasm to make the care sector better, whereas we’ve discovered a lot of others are financially driven. I’ve not come across anyone else yet at my level who is as passionate about care as I am, and that’s surprising. But then again, that gives us the edge as I genuinely believe the software we build could be built by anyone, but actually, dovetailing that with the care and support we give, truly makes us unique – pun intended.
If you could go back to the beginning of Unique IQ and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Make sure to bring in good, honest people from the start. It’s easy to believe you’re doing the right thing whilst you’re on your own, but having people who will tell you if it’s good or bad keeps you accountable.
As a B2B business, you have different challenges to face in finding new customers. Can you tell us about your most successful strategies for on-boarding new clients?
Referral and word of mouth has been our most successful way of finding new customers. It’s not particularly quick, but if we deliver great service to a client and they are willing to talk about it to others, then that by far is the best marketing tool you can ever have.
It’s not particularly rapid and it does take time, but it has got us into organisations and companies we would have never seen from an email campaign, or a letter, or an exhibition stand.
We have more recently gone into alternative marketing forms (such as building our profile via social media and content marketing) which have so far proven a great success, but for the past we have relied heavily on word of mouth.
Can you tell us about some of the biggest challenges you've faced since starting Unique IQ and how you've overcome them?
It has always been people challenges – as we’ve always been a people business. Getting the right people around and within the business is harder than it seems. There are also pressures on bringing people in quickly, which can have detrimental effects. But I think one of our biggest challenges is finding people who align with our visions and our goals and bringing those into our business, which isn’t easy and it’s not quick. Getting the recruitment piece right is a challenge.
I think I also have an ongoing challenge about how my role has changed. About how I pass on responsibility to key people in the business and give them the responsibility and freedom to go and deliver without me stepping in and being involved.
You've worked very hard at your business to get it to this stage. Have you got any advice for entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
Don’t bother, stick to the 9 till 5! [laughs] No seriously, find the differentiator, find the uniqueness – excuse the pun this time. We’ve shaped our position in the sectors that we work in by being different, by not being the same as everyone else.
People talk about propositions and all those sorts of things; Unique IQ has shaped ours by being different and keeping our core values at the heart of what we do.
What does the future hold for Unique IQ? Where do you see the business in five years?
I think we’ll be doing exactly what we’re doing now, delivering great software to great clients.
For Unique IQ, there will be lots of growth going on; lots of new people and revenue and all of those things, but ultimately, it boils back down to as long as we’re delivering software that makes a difference then we’re doing our job right.
In the last twelve months we have doubled our size, both in terms of people and revenue. I do believe we can double it again because of the contracts we are bringing aboard, the confidence that we are getting, some of the work in progress, some of the great features we are building – I genuinely think we will double again.
From a personal point of view? Same position, but more experienced which will work to the advantage of the business too.
What's been the best thing that's happened since you founded the business?
I don’t think there is necessarily one thing, there have been some great moments. The investment has been one;when an external independent third-party gives their verification and stamp of approval to say “what you have is good and we believe in you” is a real key moment for us.
I also think there have been several moments recently such as the awards; winning two and being a finalist in others has been a big highlight in the last 18 months for me and the company. Being recognised for certain aspects of the business has been great, certain conferences and exhibitions we have attended have also been a big achievement.
Certain contract wins that are household names that believe in what we have got, in what we say and what we do is also a big external verification.
I don’t think there has been one moment to say or validate what we’re doing is right, there have been a number of them.
N.B. Award highlights this year include:
· ‘Innovation of the Year’ winner, North Worcestershire Business Awards
· ‘Business of the Year’ winner, Birmingham Awards
· ‘Innovation in Technology’ finalist, LaingBuisson Awards
Finally, can you tell us about a typical day as founder of Unique IQ?
There isn’t one! [Laughs] Every day is different, that’s a typical day and that’s why I enjoy it so much. I think that’s why the team enjoys it so much; no day is the same here. Different challenges, different conversations.
There are the normal things that you need to get done, but there are also lots of different things and lots of different meetings, conversations etc, plus my role is constantly evolving and bringing new challenges so that’s fun!
The desire is always there to deliver great software, it’s exciting. I enjoy coming into work and I think it’s fair to say everyone else enjoys coming into work, even on a Monday morning when it’s raining and cold, I still have a genuine want to be in the office.
Learn more about Unique IQ: