Our Start Up Loan funding is a really important part of the Virgin StartUp offering - but just as important is our mentoring programme, matching amazing entrepreneurs with established and experienced mentors who can help them move to the next level. One of our mentors is Evan Levers of Escrow London, a software and SaaS company. Here's why he decided to become a Virgin StartUp mentor, and how he works with his mentees.
Tell us a little about you and your business
At the age of 24 I co-founded DataBank, a business we grew to become a large data protection and cloud services company. Our clients included many of the worlds’ largest companies including IBM, Intel, Apple, HSBC, AIG and Coca Cola. I led DataBank to its acquisition in 2015, and at the end of my term as CEO I relocated to London with my wife and two kids.
My latest venture is a company I co-founded called Escrow London. We specialise in software and SaaS escrow services. Software escrow agreements are commonly used as part of a wider software licensing agreement; our role is to protect the source code or SaaS data on behalf of a developer and an end user. We hold that data in a secure location that may become available to the end user for a number of reasons, such as bankruptcy or material breach of an agreement by the developer.
Our business model was simple; to provide a breath of fresh air to a market that had a reputation for being inflexible, stale and old-school by providing a world-class software escrow service that was more flexible with fair and transparent fees without compromising on quality. The business model has proven to be amazingly successful and we are growing rapidly. Our clients include companies such as Vodafone, MunichRE, Ipsos MORI and many other large enterprise companies.
How did you hear about the Virgin StartUp mentoring programme and what inspired you to get in touch?
After my 15 year experience in the world of business, facing almost every possible problem, I felt that I wanted to give back to the community and volunteer as a mentor. The Virgin Startup program really appealed to me, as the matching process between mentor and mentee was well thought through.
What do you like specifically about the Virgin StartUp programme?
The initial training session provided by VSU was excellent. The Virgin StartUp meetups and events also add a lot of value to my personal business life.
Did you have mentoring experience before?
Virgin StartUp was my gateway into mentoring. Since joining I have also volunteered for other community entrepreneurial programs which I thoroughly enjoy.
How has your Virgin StartUp mentoring journey been and who is your mentee?
My first mentee was Daniel Mohammed from Urban Intelligence. This was a very interesting journey, as his business is based on a SaaS platform around town planning regulations. I learnt a lot from Daniel about the town planning industry, which I did not have much prior knowledge of. My mentee for this year is Joseph Cox from Capex Marketing. He has an interesting business model, providing a marketing service to SMEs as an all-in-one package.
What's the top thing the experience has taught you?
The top thing the experience with Virgin StartUp has taught me is to focus on listening to a mentee's issues or pains, and then provide guidance and clarity based on their points they raised.
Any tips for mentors thinking about joining the Virgin StartUp programme?
The overall experience of being a mentor is truly rewarding. You get to follow an entrepreneur who has recently quit their day job to follow a dream, and over the year you see them grow as an entrepreneur. Through this program you will also widen your knowledge base on other business areas or industries that you ordinarily would not have come across.
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