Frazer Durris has come a long way since he mapped out a business plan on a kitchen table in 2010 with his partner Dean Cockett.
It became clear how far they’d both come at the beginning of 2021 when Nelson-based Businesswise Solutions was acquired by Inspired Energy in a deal that was reported to be worth £25m+ subject to growth performance.
The business today bears little resemblance to the one the pair sketched out at his kitchen table but he says they’ve never been afraid to try new things.
“We’ve tried to fire bullets, then cannonballs,” he told TechBlast’s latest Going 4 Growth roundtable.
The phrase was famously coined by Jim Collins in his book Great by Choice and is based on the idea of startups beginning with low-cost, low-risk ideas (bullets) to find out what works before concentrating resources on the big hits (cannonballs).
“We’ve tried and failed on lots of things,” he admits. “We thought we’ve had a great idea and it’s exactly what the market needs and they’ve fallen flat on their face but we’ve tried to fire bullets then cannonballs.
“Don’t over commit yourself, especially in the early days. If you’re going to launch a product test it. Get an MVP out and see what works.
“If you land on something that you think will add value to your customers then invest in it and push it as hard as you possibly can.
“Over the years we’ve always tried to pivot, adapt and look for opportunities. We constantly test new products and innovations based on what the customer needs and what the future might look like. It can be slow but eventually it pays off.
“We’ve now got a very controllable and scalable model. We know very clearly what we’ll need to resource it. The business plan for the next two years has a number of expected customers and we know exactly what we’ll need to fulfil it.”
Businesswise Solutions is expected to grow from 45 staff to 60 in 2023, mostly customer facing analysts and energy managers to keep up with sales growth.
It’s a far cry from the early days when Durris and co-founder Cockett did everything themselves.
“When you start a business you’re just trying to survive and find the right path for you,” he says. “We were no different.
“When we looked into the energy market we realised it was quite a badly served industry. We were surprised at how many opportunities we were getting. When we looked under the surface we realised the sector lacked innovation and great customer care.
“We’ve always tried to employ good people before we’ve needed them. That’s game-changing in itself to make sure we have the infrastructure for growth.”
Durris estimates the business has undergone three significant pivots during its lifetime but the priority has remained unchanged – meet the needs of the customer.
“We’ve always been very innovative,” he says. “We’ve always been very agile and moved very quickly.
“During our growth we’ve invested the money back into the business, including opening up a state-of-art Energy Centre in 2018.
“Having enough finance for us to be able to grow was really important. In 2022 the big thing for us is around client delivery and product evolution, the main product is there and the market is telling us it needs it.
“After a long time we think we’ve found a scalable model that works from the lead generation end of the business through to the delivery.”