Why it's important to listen to your customers - Launchcloud

Matt Doyle is the founder of Launchcloud, which creates digital forms than enable data to be captured on and offline - meaning that businesses and individuals can collect and use data more smartly. He's also one of our Virgin StartUp ambassadors. Here he talks about why it's important to learn from your customers, and the importance of spending time away from the desk.

I was really honoured to have been asked to take part in the recent Virgin meet up with Sir Richard Branson, and I’m equally pleased to be asked to share the Launchcloud story with you. I think it’s really important for startups and developing businesses to have a voice, and be able to share experiences, and I’m happy to bring all of our ongoing journey to you - the good, the testing and the unexpected.

I’m not here to hide anything, or to talk a lot of business speak that you’ve all probably heard before - I’m here to talk about the day-to-day experiences of my business, and hopefully we can all share in the highs and lows and learn as we go. I suppose this is a bit like a diary, but without the embarrassment, I hope! Sometimes I can’t believe that we’ve already come so far since the original spark of an idea about a mobile data gathering solution that works. But then I think back to all the hard work and I realise that we’ve earned the successes we’ve had, and that it’s been a real hard slog at times.  That’s one thing that all the talking the game in the world won’t replace - hard graft and persistence. Of course we’ve also had a lot of support and advice along the way and everyone needs that, especially when starting out.

The importance of Virgin recognition

Receiving Virgin StartUp support has been an incredible opportunity for us, having benefited from the invaluable expertise of our mentor Marian Gazdik. I’ve gained so much from the whole experience, both as a CEO of a business that’s growing, and personally. The recent meet-up wasn’t just amazing because I had the opportunity to get some insight from Sir Richard. The real highlight of the day was probably speaking to all of the others who were there; there’s some reassurance to be gained from knowing that your own experiences aren’t unique. Everyone goes from banging their head to smug congratulation, sometimes in the space of a minute. The trick is to survive the head banging so you get to be smug more often, and having access to other startups is really valuable for this. It’s a two-way advice and support mechanism that really works.

Learning from our customers

Outside of the Virgin experience, one of the things we’ve been concentrating on lately is making sure we’re giving our customers exactly what they want. That might sound a bit basic but it’s really not - it’s one of the most vital aims for any business really. Not knowing what your customers want is a bit like serving beef burgers to a bunch of vegetarians just because burgers are what’s normally most popular.

Because our customers are our main focus right now, I’m happy that we’ve got an invitation to attend the IPM Shopper Marketing Conference, taking place on 25 June 2015, at Sadlers Wells. It’s going to take some planning, and it may mean some clever time-juggling is needed, but this is the perfect opportunity to get out there and speak to people first hand; to talk about what we’ve got and how we can give them what they need. It’s gold in the business world, the chance to get real solid first-hand knowledge of how well we’re able to deliver what the market wants.

Talking of customers, I want to make a quick mention about our work with ARC. We’re delighted to have them on board with Launchcloud, given their high profile in the marketing world, and we wanted to really understand where they are coming from with how they use Launchcloud, and what they experience. The best way to do this was to take some time away from the day-to-day routine and spend some time with ARC in the field, at John Lewis, speaking to the people who are using the Launchcloud system, and seeing first-hand what they are actually doing with it. We captured everything on video, and I can honestly say that there’s nothing to beat witnessing the reality of your product; a feeling that I never had sat behind a desk in the office all the time. See a link to our customer page here.

Strategising and sharing

Launchcloud may be growing as a business, but I know there’s still plenty to learn, and a ton of work to be done. It’s probably really clichéd, but there genuinely seems to be way too few hours some days. Even so, I’ve made the choice to spend some time taking a strategy course at Henley Business School. I figure that I’m not taking much of a risk, as I’m pretty sure I’m going to learn plenty I can put to real practical use. It’s always a conflict though, when your inbox has got way too many unread messages and it’s tempting to just sit down and blitz it instead. Weirdly all those conflicting priorities can be a buzz if you treat them as a positive and not a dead weight around your neck; and no that’s not always what I always say, but it is what I genuinely feel.

So, given what I’ve just said, I’m relishing the opportunity to speak at Google Campus on June 9th. Again, it’s time away from the desk, but it’s a heck of a challenge and a great opportunity to share my knowledge with business startups who can hopefully take something useful away with them. It's a Hipster's, Hackers and Hustlers event, and if you would like to come and also do some speed networking you can register at this link. I know a lot of what I want to cover, but I’m really interested to know what you think. What would you find useful to be included in this kind of talk? I’d really appreciate any ideas or comments, as I want to make this talk as useful and energising as it possibly can be. If you feel you can help please leave me some comments here - don't be shy!

Next month I’ll tell you how it went, and treat you to some of the highlights. Hopefully that means there’ll be plenty to chat about; I look forward to it!

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