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A watercooler moment with... Matt McNeill

Written by Josh Russell on Friday, 07 March 2014. Posted in Snapshots, Interviews

A watercooler moment with Matt McNeill, CEO and founder of permission marketing platform Sign-Up.to

A watercooler moment with... Matt McNeill

In a nutshell, what does Sign-Up.to do?


Sign-up.to provides a software platform and supporting services that help businesses utilise permission marketing, with an aim to turn their contacts across email, SMS and social media into customers.



Where did the idea for Sign-Up.to come from?


The initial concept came from the fact that our first customers were record labels. We started back at the time when CDs still came with little return cards in them. The initial thought was ‘that’s quite stupid because that’s quite an expensive way of doing things: there has got to be a better channel‘. It all evolved from that. Starting with email and SMS, it folded in social media a few years ago when that started to become a wider channel.


When did you start up?

2003.



How has it gone so far?


It’s been a fun journey. We’re happy to still be around after ten years, which is a relatively unusual in the tech space. We’ve never taken any external funding: we’re entirely bootstrapped. And we’re now up to the point where there’s over 30 of us in the UK and Australia. So it’s been a good journey and we’re only really just getting started.


What has been the biggest challenge so far?


Making sure that you’ve got the right people. It all stems from that. Having the right people in place. I’m confident that we’ve got that now but it’s always been a challenge, particularly during the start-up phase.



How would you say you differentiate yourself from the competition?


We try to provide a balance between software and services. We don’t function purely as a technology company: we provide a lot of added assistance and value-added services. That’s our primary difference: we’re not a pure services company relying on other people’s technology and we’re not a technology company relying on users to do everything themselves. We try to find the right balance to benefit our customers.


What has been the best decision you have made to-date?


Starting my own business is probably the fundamental one. That and expanding our operation into Australia.



Where do you see the business in 12 months’ time?

It’s very difficult to answer in the tech space. Growing still. We have a long term plan but we try not to plan in detail more than six months in advance because things change very quickly. However we certainly intend to continue our growth in the UK and Australia. And we have a lot of exciting new technologies in the pipeline so we hope to be able to help our customers to make their marketing even more relevant and powerful.



If you had one piece of advice for entrepreneurs, what would it be?

Focus all of your time and energy on your team, on hiring the right people and giving them the support that they need. Make sure you put as much effort into that as you do on your external activities. Because, ultimately, having the right team and the right people is going to make the difference as to whether you can deliver on your promise or not.
 

About the Author

Josh Russell

Josh Russell

As editor, Russell is the man in charge of properly apostrophising our publication and ensuring Oxford commas are mercilessly excised. Our digital doyen, he’s also a Photoshop Pro, a dab hand with InDesign and the man to go to if you need a four-hour soliloquy about the UK's best silicon startups.

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