This week we had the privilege of speaking with Tom Inglis, winner of the Bright Red Sparks 2019 Going for Growth category. We wanted to find out more about his business Wildcat Applications, his journey as an entrepreneur, and about the person behind the business.
Tell us a bit about yourself
”I do a bunch of cooking, hill walking, running, and I play a lot of board games. I’m actively involved in politics quite a bit as well. Areas of interest would be food, technology, and sustainability.
I was at school in England, went to Oxford University where I read classics, did a Masters in Computing at Edinburgh Napier University and a part time MBA at Edinburgh Uni.”
Tell us about Wildcat Applications. What is it all about?
”Wildcat Applications is a vehicle for my ventures. I have used it to do consultancy work, helping people to design great products and secure their data.’
More recently we have focused on our app, Cenefits, which helps organisations to manage and asses the social value (in Scotland we call this community benefits) in their contracts. 80% of my focus is on that, but I continue to do consultancy work, especially on product.”
What made you start your business?
”I started working on Cenefits because it was an open innovation challenge through Edinburgh and Glasgow Councils at the end of 2016, and it was in the area of sustainability that I’m interested in. I submitted a design, 150 people entered the competition and it took them about a year to figure out who won. We then did some focus groups and started building it in May last year, taking on board continuous feedback from the two councils.”
Practically speaking, how did you go about setting up the business?
“Because it wasn’t the first thing I’ve done, I had 10 years’ experience beforehand, so I already had a good handle on the processes and services required to set up this business. We got feedback from our customers and their suppliers, and I’ve also worked with the team at BRT on marketing and with our accountant Gray Associates on the structure of our equity. I’ve hired three interns now, two from Edinburgh Napier and one from Edinburgh Uni, and we also work with some developers in Poland who have provided some great innovations to my design. I’ve had support from my Dad drawing up our legal documents, and now thanks to this competition have received support from Shepherd and Wedderburn.”
How did you feel about winning the Bright Red Sparks Going for Growth category?
”I mean I wasn’t expecting to win. I was encouraged to do an entry and see what happened, and it was quite surprising to win it on the night. It seems to have a lot of reach – I went to an event last night and people knew that I had won one of the Bright Red Sparks awards. This proves that the awards are now a recognisable thing in the Edinburgh startup community.
We are already using the time with Shepherd and Wedderburn to update the terms and conditions for our website to make them compatible with our application to the UK government’s G-Cloud Framework. It is absolutely essential for going for growth because we want to avoid having to sign separate agreements with each customer on their terms, as much as possible.
The cash will be spent on advertising. We are doing an email campaign, a postal campaign, and LinkedIn advertising at the moment, and I’m paying an intern to help me with this.
Our strategy with that is to get something in front of a relevant person in most of the organisations we want to reach in the UK and Ireland, but we are trying to focus most on the City Deals, which sit above a number of local authorities / universities.”
If you could give aspiring entrepreneurs one piece of advice, what would that be?
”The most important things are having a really clear focus about what you want to do – it’s hard to get that – to really get the focus and understanding of how your idea can transform into a functioning revenue stream as quickly as possible. The second thing is to make sure you keep the cost of things as low as possible during the initial startup / prototype phase – only do exactly what you need to do – then you can survive long enough to raise revenue or get investment.”