Name: Mike Newman.
What is your business called?
Where is it based?
What services does it offer?
my1login works in conjunction with existing business passwords, providing firms and their employees access to business web sites and services using just one, highly secure login.
my1login improves business security and makes the web simpler for employees as they only need to remember one login.
Who does it sell to?
Our service is geared towards business customers, with a totally free version available to small businesses.
What is its turnover?
Income from our first year (2012-2013) was in the region of £50,000 and indications for this year are showing strong growth in the UK, US and Australasian markets.
How many employees?
When was it formed?
Why did you take the plunge?
Since childhood I've always aspired to do something entrepreneurial. However, after landing a fantastic post-university job with Scottish Telecom plc, I soon became attuned to corporate life and the progression and opportunities this brought. Before I knew it I became caught up in the trappings of corporate life and it took me until my late 30s to realise that I wouldn't be entirely happy in my career until I'd tried building a business myself.
When my employer, Cable & Wireless plc, issued me with yet another password and login to remember I realised I had my start-up idea - a password manager that would work from any device so I could always get access to my work and personal websites securely without having to remember all the different passwords. The big question was - how to make it secure?
After a bit of research into military grade encryption I had my answer, and discovered a way of making it totally impossible for anyone to access users' passwords without the "key phrase" created by that user. Not even my1login could access the data and this meant that even if somehow hackers got into our systems it would still be totally impossible to access users' data without the "key phrase".
After that, I self-funded my1login for three years, paying the salaries of software developers to build the complex security infrastructure while I continued with my day job. Fortunately I had the full support of my director and my MD - who gave me permission to run a limited company in my spare time.
We ran private beta trials and continually iterated to improve the product and this was critical to eventually securing the private equity funding that enabled me to commit to my1login full-time in 2011.
What were you doing before you took the plunge?
I joined Scottish Telecom in the mid 90s following deregulation of the telecoms industry. This was a rapidly growing subsidiary of ScottishPower plc, which we grew into THUS plc. In the late nineties we floated on the stock market in what was the largest IPO in UK history at the time. I was fortunate enough to be part of the business from the start, gaining tremendous cross-business experience and opportunities as we grew.
I went on to spend the best part of the past 20 years in the telecoms and internet sector, holding a variety of leadership roles spanning marketing, sales, product development, operations and acquisitions. This included roles within ScottishTelecom, THUS plc and Cable & Wireless plc.
How did you raise the start-up funding?
I was fortunate enough to be in a position where my income from my previous role afforded me the opportunity to invest in building my1login. This allowed me to employ staff and build a prototype product, which was critical to raising our first round of private equity from business angels.
What was your biggest break?
Closing the first round of equity funding in 2012 gave us the biggest break. Various investment experts have told me that anything from 1 in 100 to 1 in 250 businesses raise their equity funding and with that in mind I knew it wouldn't be easy. Closing the deal gave us an essential 'shot in the arm' that was necessary to launch into the consumer and business markets.
We've raised over £600,000 in private equity funding from investors including TRI Capital and Equity Gap, which compliments some fantastic public sector support in the form of grants.
What was your worst moment?
Building an internet business in the UK is a long way away from building one in Silicon Valley. In the US there are start-ups raising large funding rounds off the back of an A4 summary. Getting started here though is a different story. Building the necessary prototype, plans and raising investment was tough and time-consuming, and during the time it took to do this I was forced to stand back and watch as a small number of US-based competitors began to emerge. That was gutting to watch.
What do you most enjoy about running the business?
I guess this is the point where I own up to being a control freak!! Actually I think it's more than that. When you build a business you have to enjoy the accountability that it brings - it's no good blaming macro-economic factors if your business doesn't perform. You are responsible for pushing and pulling the levers of your business and this is what makes it succeed or fail.
What do you least enjoy?
Administration - but it's a necessary part of the job.
What is your ambition for the business?
To continue driving growth across global markets and to build a brand that is synonymous with online security.
What are your top priorities?
Revenue growth, so sales and marketing are key areas of focus. This needs to be underpinned by responsive customer service and agile product innovation.
What could the Westminster and or Scottish governments do that would most help?
The Scottish Government, and for that matter UK Government, is doing an incredible job in supporting start-ups.
There are a huge number of grants and equity match schemes provided by Scottish Enterprise, while at a national level there are phenomenal tax breaks for private investors like the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme. We've also recently started to see some significant support emerging at a local council level, such as Glasgow City Council's Digital Enterprise Glasgow scheme.
But we need more awareness of the tax benefits for investors, more business angels and more risks to be taken.
We also need a more coherent vision for start-up Britain that galvanises the disparate support available and assists businesses in navigating their growth.
What was the most valuable lesson you learned?
Say 'yes'. The value of networking has never ceased to amaze me. Any time someone offers me an introduction to someone, I always say 'yes' - you never know where or to whom it's going to lead.
How do you relax?
I don't, well not much nowadays. I used to be a regular at the gym but now I prefer cooking and the results of this shift are certainly taking their toll!! I also enjoy a bit of skiing and snowboarding when I get the chance.