As part of our partnership with the ICAEW we hosted a webinar on how ACA accountants can get the most from their career, which you can view here.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Simon Gordon, who shared with me his journey of becoming a Tech Entrepreneur and also gave us great insight into his business, Facewatch, in this article here.
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Simon Gordon, Chairman & Founder of Facewatch, an independent cloud based crime reporting system and MD of Gordon’s Wine Bar, London’s oldest wine bar.
How did you enter the industry (Where did you study, where did you train)?
I initially trained in a small practice which gave me a very rounded type of experience and excellent exposure to all areas of the business. Once I qualified, I wanted to gain more experience at a big name, so I went to Deloitte.
You’ve had a unique career path – can you tell me about the inspiration for Facewatch?
I was Finance Director at Skandia, a large financial services company, but following my father’s death I took over our family wine bar. While I enjoyed great success running Gordons I began to think about the problems we were having combating low level crime, such as the theft of bags and handbags. After working with the police I realised a large part of the problem was how antiquated the reporting process was. We live in an age of instant communication but the police still had to physically pick up the CCTV discs!
After considering the process I realised two things; this must be a problem that many small local businesses struggle with and that the whole process could be innovated by using modern technology.
What are the biggest challenges to do this? How did you go about overcoming them?
There’s a lot to learn when building your own business. I read a lot about the classic learning curve for tech startups. One big challenge for entrepreneurs is actually turning your idea into a business. It’s easy to believe that everyone will immediately back your brilliant ideas, but you have to learn to sell it. You also need to get sales people involved early so you can test the market.
Another trap you may fall into is thinking you can go to Venture Capitalists sooner than you should. You have to be able to sell the benefits of your product – you need to be able to tell them a tight story and prove that you’ve made smart choices with your money to impress them.
Looking back, is there anything you would do differently?
I would have been more focused on sales and introduced sales people into the business much earlier. This would have given me the simple market facts that allowed me to refine and sell my product.
What advice would you give anyone looking to do the same?
Be careful with your cash and invest in strong sales people! Learn to listen; I got a lot of good advice that I didn’t listen to. Remember that you have to fail to succeed – I spent money on things that I didn’t need to, but this taught me a lot about the market and helped me to build a network of invaluable contacts. Learn from your mistakes, keep pivoting and read all you can.
Simon also provided us with great insight into his business Facewatch, who they are, how he turned an idea into a successful startup and what the future holds. Read ‘Simon Gordon explains Facewatch’ here.
Simon Gordon founded Facewatch in April 2010. As well as being the Chairman of Facewatch, he is also the proprietor of Gordon’s Wine Bar, London’s oldest, which dates back to 1890. Gordon’s Wine Bar has been in Simon’s family for many years. Simon is a qualified Chartered Accountant. His previous positions include Finance Director of The Skandia UK Group, Finance Director of Royal Trust Fund Management, and several other finance roles in the City of London.
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