“I got the required grades but really didn’t enjoy school at all,” Cameron Worth, the 33-year-old founder of SharpEnd told me. “I had it constantly in the back of my head that life would properly start once I could apply my brain to things that made more sense to me, and I was better at it.”
Cameron wasn’t wrong there. In 2015, the tech-savvy entrepreneur launched his creative technology business, SharpEnd, to fill the gaps businesses were facing in a more connected world, with a rise in online services to cater to growing demands from customers across the digital space. Customers were getting more digitally savvy, and companies needed to catch up.
Cameron told me about how he came up with the idea for launching SharpEnd – and it all started at a pub in North London. “I was sitting in The Bull and Bush pub in North London and saw someone scan a QR code on a beer mat,” Cameron told me. “I didn’t know what was happening but I just had an understanding that this was going to be something everyone would be doing one day, as it made total sense to be able for brands to deliver connected experiences through physical products to learn more about consumers than ever before.”
Cameron realised there was a gap in the market when it came to creative technology from businesses to customers, including online payments, digital ticket sales, location check-ins, access authentication, QR codes and more. “The infrastructure that would power this connected future didn’t exist so I set about assembling the team to build it, and knew the initial component was creative thinking to make sure people had good experiences with the tech,” he added. “It would then need the right software and platform elements to support the billions of interactions happening every day through technologies such as QR Codes and NFC.”
Cameron’s idea to create an ‘Internet of Things’ platform grew on to businesses almost instantly, and he secured a deal with a major brand very early on after launching his start-up. Absolut Vodka, a multi-billion-pound vodka business, gave him his first deal – and companies jumped at the opportunity to work with him. “The early days were the easiest actually, we were profitable from day one,” Cameron said. “Absolut Vodka cut me my first cheque and it’s gone from there. Having one of the industry’s sexiest brands give you initial backing gave others confidence. Most of the early struggles, and even to this day actually, are the personal ones that you are supposed to pretend don’t affect your abilities to be a ‘leader’.
“I say to people that I planned for every scenario except being right, which is essentially what happened when all the technologies I’d created a company around became mainstream.” SharpEnd allows brands to be more creative with the technology they use on their products and in their stores, including the use QR Codes, NFC and Augmented Reality. This hugely benefited businesses, particularly during the pandemic, as consumers flocked to the digital space when shopping in store wasn’t an option. And now, the world has entered a paradigm shift in the way businesses interact with their customers. Many brands have now realised the benefits and opportunities of creative tech, helping them connect to their customers better – and in a more sustainable and eco-friendly way.
SharpEnd now hires around 50 people across the US and UK with headquarters based in London, delivering campaigns to more than 130 countries. But Cameron said success to him isn’t about numbers, but more so about delivering ‘creativity at the heart of technology’ with a thriving and happy team. “Success to me really isn’t about a massive exit currently, it’s the creative satisfaction of having really hustled to place ideas and creativity at the heart of technology innovation with cool brands,” the founder explained. “I’m really proud of the team too and get a proper kick when I see a full office vibing with each other.”
Launching and managing a business with is no easy feat. But Cameron still finds time to pursue his passion. The founder runs his firm during the day and on the weekends, he is a DJ blasting epic tunes at gigs across Europe. Speaking about his hidden talent, Cameron said: “I love it. I get to travel about listening to my favourite music really loud on crisp sound systems and I get to look at loads of people who give me space and time to create a vibe. Amazing. I have dates for Ibiza, Bulgaria. Morocco and New York so far for the summer. More dates will come but I always ensure work remains first. My Managing Director Rob does these ridiculous ultra-marathons in his spare time and I am convinced what he does is the real crazy stuff.”
In a few words of advice to others who wish to launch their own business, Cameron said: “In the last few years I’ve come to understand the value my mentors bring to my life. Particularly as a young founder my mates don’t often go through the same things I do, and to have some experienced ‘been there done that’ people around you is very comforting. Also, get a good lawyer! To be able to trust your lawyer and to know they care for you as a person is truly a wonderful feeling. And the last bit of advice will be to not call yourself an entrepreneur as it’s a bit lame. Founder will do.”