“If you’re building a mansion you don’t get a cheap architect,” says Howard Simms, director of strategic partnerships at Manchester-based Apadmi.
“If you’re having facial surgery you don’t get a cheap plastic surgeon. It’s the same in business, you spend wisely on the right kind of advisors, partners and support to allow you to succeed.”
Apadmi’s clients include Argos, BBC, Co-op, Guardian, NHS, Lexus, Range Rover and United Utilities and the company recently announced it’s opening two new hubs in the Netherlands and Edinburgh.
Simms is one of the company’s four co-founders and describes Apadmi as a “band of creative individuals and innovators who design and build bespoke software solutions for big brands”.
He explains: “We’re an enabler. We can take a wonderful idea that someone can have and turn it into the right digital experience that allows it to fly.”
Today Apadmi employs close to 200 people and Simms believes the biggest mistake a founder can make is to skimp on the actual technology.
“You can argue that you cut corners to get to market and validate an idea but you can’t cut corners to build that idea to become a massively successful business,” he says.
“If you’re the founder of the business you’ve got to ask yourself: ‘How good is my technology? Is it secure, reliable and robust?’
“We have got this mantra at Apadmi and it’s this. Technology might not see you succeed but it will certainly see you fail.
“You want you to ensure that the technology that you’re now going to grow for the next five to 10 years is not going to fail. It’s got to be stable and secure.”
Simms says having the right tech stack can help unlock the required investment to take it to the next level.
“There’s a moment in time when you secure investment that you have to have to ask yourself some honest questions,” he says.
“The first is what do I need now to give myself comfort and peace of mind that my technology is the right tech?
“The other thing is the technology road map. Are the planned features the right ones? When will they be delivered? How quickly can they be delivered?
“Typically it’s a bit of a race. If you’re in Manchester with a brilliant idea the likelihood is someone else is having a brilliant idea in London or overseas or elsewhere.
“There’s normally only one brand that tends to dominate the market. You want strong foundations so you have to move very, very quickly.
“How do you do that? It’s very difficult to do that at the moment in a market where you can’t find people fast enough. There’s a massive skills gap challenge.”
According to Simms, this is where Apadmi comes in.
“The way we position ourselves is we’re playing the role of CTO or technology partner for a host of different roles,” he explains.
“We are everything to scale-up businesses so that their CEOs and founders can focus on the finances, investment and marketing so they don’t have to worry about the technology as they were doing previously.
“That means they don’t have to go and find a £100k CTO because we do that role for them.”
A good example is their work with Jennie Johnson and her new tech startup My First Five Years, which supports a child’s unique development.
The company has just raised £1.4m and has been working with Apadmi for over a year.
“She has a brilliant idea, a brilliant model and partner,” says Simms. “She didn’t have a technology partner or tech background.”
Johnson was introduced to Apadmi after a recommendation by Sandy Lindsay, founder of Manchester-based PR and communications specialist Tangerine.
“From day one Jenny knew the value of having a good solid partner and once we started working together she became an advocate of us,” adds Simms. “It’s a relationship that works.”