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Working For A Startup Series, Ian Brookes, CANDDi Chairman

Published 27 May 2014 by Ian Brookes, CANDDi
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A chance to hear from CANDDi Chairman, Ian Brookes and his experience working with a tech Startup.

Ian Brookes

One of the rewarding aspects of working in a start-up business is that you get a sense of self-perspective about where work fits into your life, why you do what you do, who you do it with, and why. Co-founders, partners, colleagues, kids, customers, hobbies - it’s a right mix up, but its vital that work and the folks you work with sit neatly into your tapestry of life - do you work to live, or live to work?

Hobbies are important and for many of us sport plays a key part, as participant or spectator. For me sport is a vital ingredient, providing camaraderie, emotional highs and lows, and an opportunity for a lively exchange of opinions - and an addiction – I’m a Burnley FC fan through-and-through and we’ve just ended a truly fantastic season and won promotion to the Premier League.

We’ve also got the England rugby tour in New Zealand on the horizon in June, but then its Summer sports. Summer sports are rubbish. Tennis is boring. It’s played by boring people and watched at Wimbledon by the worst kind of middle class bores. The place seems full of middle-aged women from Princes Risborough in frumpy flowery skirts and men called Sebastian from minor public schools in Hampshire.

And what about cricket? The fact that George Osborne enjoys cricket should tell you all you need to know. Cricket is so tedious and unpopular that they’ve now reduced it to 20 overs of slogging in order to finish the game as quickly as they can so people can go home. Prior to this, they thought players wearing coloured clothing would make it thrilling. It goes on for five bloody days. That’s if it happens at all. The slightest spot of rain or dark cloud can stop them. But do you get your money back if they walk off? Of course not.

I’m ignoring Athletics, which is so boring I am bored thinking of what to write about it, that leaves us with golf. Why do hordes of people gasp at a tee shot when they have no idea where it will land? Four-day extravaganzas of umbrellas and knitwear tell me that golf is actually played by and run by a right-wing cabal with too much time and money on their hands. And the lambs’ wool sweaters in mauve and lemon and the trousers unashamedly called ‘slacks’. Hang on, BBC Sport are reporting ‘Rory McIlroy is ripping up the course on day two of the US Open’. What, is he in a sulk and this is an alternative to chucking your clubs about, or simply vandalizing the course?

Other sporting diversions we are offered in the summer include Rowing where they go in a straight line for a couple of minutes and then stop. If they were dressed as Vikings, drinking fermented Yaks’ blood and fighting each other with Antler helmets I could see the point. How about a flutter on the Gee Gees? I don’t get horse-racing. Every race is an exact copy of the previous one. The only variant is how many horses are running. You can tell it’s really boring because aficionados think it’s really exciting if a brown one doesn’t win.

And finally, there’s F1 - which is the same as horse racing only with cars. Now put horses in cars and you’d have a sport worth watching. There’s something very odd about F1, let’s face it, it’s for nerdy people who like watching traffic and the sound of car engines. Wow.

There, I told you sport enables you to engage in a lively exchange of opinions and passions!

But what sport does give you is an appreciation of successful teams, identifying what makes them tick, and then take the lessons into your business. And it’s the team at Canddi that has really struck me as being something special, it’s not just about the smart technology, customer service and results we deliver for customers.

At the heart of Canddi is an inspired team of individuals who have come together to make something remarkable happen – a high performing team that is energised, producing outstanding results, harnessing individual talents to achieve the team goals. The team is transformed from a collection of individuals into a single entity with a shared identity – team members become a plurality with a single-minded focus and purpose.

The business headlines and metrics are about demos booked, demos converted to sales, and customer wins – like any SAAS we have a relentless focus on gaining new customers and winning new ones – but there also internal business headlines about the team that is making it happen:

Their working style has an unforgiving, frenetic rhythm and set of expectations

  1. The team emanates a discernible energy and focus
  2. They are utterly unique in the ambitions of their goals, the intensity of their conversations, and their focus on results
  3. Intense and intimate, they work best when forced to work under strict time constraints, but retain a focus on the welfare of colleagues
  4. Team members put a great premium on collaboration, yet are not afraid to encourage creative confrontation
  5. They focus on ‘thinking correctly under pressure’, they deliver when the chips are down
  6. Each team member has a personal credo of ‘it’s down to me to make a difference’

Manchester has a rich heritage of outstanding business teamwork - Factory Records perhaps being the most remarkable. Here, a team of mavericks – Tony Wilson, Alan Erasmus, Peter Saville, Martin Hannet and Rob Gretton - came together, broke all the rules of an industry, set down their own yardsticks of success, fused ideas, attitudes, talent and did stuff their own way and ultimately created an iconic cultural movement that influenced an entire generation and beyond, a breakthrough unheard of for an independent record label.

Whilst the Canddi team hasn’t yet made it’s mark on Manchester (or the world) to the same impact, it shows all the traits of fusing, a young start-up team on the road to success. And I’ll let you into a secret, three little phrases that drive us on as individuals and a team, the Canddi ethos, that would work in any start-up:

  1. Be the person that makes the difference
  2. Maximum effort is the minimum requirement
  3. Be relentless, be limitless
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