Nick Imrie is the managing director of 03Talk, a brand new conference calling service. In the first of a series of interviews with entrepreneurs across the country, we caught up with Nick to find out about 03Talk, the effect of the recession, and the life of a small business owner.
Hi Nick. Tell us about 03Talk. What does your business do?
03TALK is a free conference call service. In essence we help organisations work in a different way and enjoy the cost and organisational benefits of the only truly free conference call service on the market. Before we launched we asked small businesses if they wanted to cut cost and work smarter – they gave us a resounding ‘yes’, so here we are.
Our customers radically cut their travel cost (by conference calling more), drastically reduce their existing conference call costs (because we are free compared to their current supplier that typically isn’t), they can offer flexible working to staff with a cost effective way to do it, they increase effective communication between multi-sites or suppliers and tend to be more collaborative which is crucial in this joint venture, supplier panel and subcontract world. Needless to say the decision making / buy-in process is also massively improved.
What was the inspiration behind the business? Did you have prior experience in the field?
The inspiration for the business is twofold. My partners in the business are in telecoms and had all of the infrastructure necessary to deliver a super competitive, stable and quality conference call service. I have set up a number of companies (in media, non-profit and internet sectors) over the years and always thought conference calling was a great service for a small business but historically seemed difficult to set up and very expensive – so we decided to change all that. Where we all have commonality is that we believe that conference calling should be quick, no contract and free to use, so that’s exactly the service that we set up.
Others in the market place claim they are free but they still make money from your call, by getting a cut from your mobile or landline provider. 03TALK is different; we don’t get a cut from your call because your call is included in your bundled minutes, as we use the Ofcom regulated 03 range of numbers. This may sound like a small point but its seismic for driving down costs.
Do you feel that previous jobs helped prepare you for entrepreneurship?
I have built and sold two other companies prior to 03TALK (the most recent was a media company that was sold to Bob Geldof’s Ten Alps Plc) as well as starting 2 non-profits, and prior to that had a number of senior marketing roles in the corporate arena. I am comfortable in the entrepreneurial environment and also have stakes in two other companies where I perform a non-exec role. I really enjoy building companies and relish the challenges of starting from nothing. I like the ability to move fast and be flexible.
How has the recent downturn affected your business?
Although on many levels I wish there wasn’t a recession, it has been massively positive for 03TALK. Companies are looking to cut costs and 03TALK slashes costs from both the travel budget (meet more but spend lots less doing it) and also the existing telecoms budget. Even small companies who don’t travel a lot or make more than one conference call a week save hundreds of pounds a month, and this goes straight to a company’s bottom line.
Also, with less staff doing more tasks across more functions, companies are looking for ways to make discussions more focused and more efficient in a way that doesn’t require complex technical implementation.
What advice (if any!) would you give to other prospective entrepreneurs?
Nothing beats action. So many potential ideas don’t happen because people spend too long waiting for everything to align and this will never ever happen. I believe in careful consideration, but balanced with just getting started. You can always improve over time and there is nothing wrong with a version 1.0 to build upon. There is nothing worse than a great idea gathering dust in a notebook somewhere.