Entrepreneur sees opportunities for the North

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Dominic McGregor is a man who at 28 has already accomplished a lot, but is not resting on his laurels.

He was only 21 when he co-founded social media marketing and publishing agency Social Chain, a company that grossed $ 200 million, employs 750 people and went public. Last year.

Today, the former COO, who at the end of last year took “a little time to reassess things and enjoy life a bit”, joined venture capitalist Praetura Ventures.

It’s a role that he said was the first post-Social Chain opportunity that came to him and that he knew he “could do and feel like it’s really useful” for both him and her. others.

So, ahead of the Disruptors North conference in October, TheBusinessDesk.com caught up with the successful entrepreneur who has worked with some of the biggest brands on the planet and disrupted the marketing industry, to talk about the resurgence of the North for the commercial innovation and in particular the dynamic technological scene which is bursting.

Smiling, he said, “If you had asked me maybe five years ago, what scene would I be like ?!” He explains how he sees the success of the media industry and the investments made in this area as having played a crucial role in “dragging” the tech scene north.

“Due to investments such as the BBC’s move to Salford Quays, the expansion of ITV, the appearance of large media agencies in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield, this has paved the way for a bit. As a result, you have a plethora of talents who are good at marketing, content, and creative approaches, as well as the new spaces that support them and all of which have tech needs.

“And so what we’ve had over the last three, four, or five years is the tech scene has been dragged a bit here. There has been a lot of investment in technology and a lot of people are realizing that you don’t just have to be in London. “

He explains that there is a ripple effect in places like Silicon Roundabout that are becoming saturated and that people across the UK are realizing that they can start a tech business and be successful, which is what he thinks. described as the “scene”.

“[The scene is] prosperous, I think if you have a tech idea in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, now you will get funding. This is probably the key element, as a lot of these companies generate losses up front, so access to capital from all over the world, not just from the region, but from London, the United States and elsewhere, because many places look to the UK. . “

He went on to share how he sees a real opportunity for technology in the North to be the disruptor, noting that many large companies are “rooted” in their approaches and that he would like more entrepreneurs to do so rather than to be afraid of competing with the big companies, but see it. as a “huge benefit”.

“I saw it myself, people around Social Chain who could do things better than us, because they were more nimble. There is a great thing about being a small business start-up because you are agile and can react. So, don’t be afraid of the fact that there are holders [within the sector], the incumbents are ready to be disturbed.

He adds that the more disruptive you can be, the more market share you can nibble at and the more opportunities will present themselves.

So how do you fuel the disruptions when, as McGregor has pointed out, many tech companies can be loss leaders or, as he described earlier, “focusing on keeping the lead?” out of water ” ?

“We used to have a saying where you are either in the trenches or in the clouds. The connotations were that you are fighting and understanding things or that you are in the clouds dreaming. But being in the clouds you can see all the movement in the trenches and I think for the first couple of years in operation we definitely spent too much time in the trenches, especially from a senior perspective.

So for McGregor, making that transition a success is crucial so that you can “look up in the clouds” and look ahead and what’s going on around you. He notes that without having this ability, he’s not sure Social Chain would have experienced what he says others saw as a meteoric rise in business.

He also cautions that for many entrepreneurs it’s easy at first to get too drawn into the trenches and says his advice is to always try to create a capacity where you, as a leader, can l ” influence from above rather than moving the company forward. from the bottom.

It is at this point that he would be remiss not to ask him what he is looking for in the companies that come to Praetura.

“It’s still the founder, the founders, it’s the first place you go. I sometimes think single founders have a downside because I know what it takes to make it happen. So in those situations where you have an individual founder, I think God it’s going to be tough for them, but when you have a really good team of maybe two or three founders, you would definitely say, ‘okay, it’s going to be very powerful ‘”.

He explains that it’s the ability to see how the founders interact and how they plan and get along that can give them strength. Although he adds “this can also be a bit biased by my experiences” where he says that the partnership between him and Bartlett has been crucial support, noting “there have been times when I don’t think one of us could have made it alone.

He adds that the reason the founder comes first and the idea comes second is because “no idea in version one, version two, version three will be the same in version 10.” Therefore, it is crucial to know whether the founder – the captain who runs the ship – has “the ability to maneuver the market, to react to what is going on and to have the kind of vision to see when something is working.” ‘he can double. “

But McGregor adds that there’s a third part to his investing decisions, and it’s always the product in the larger market context.

“So the questions become: is the founder / person good? Is the idea a good one? And is he ready and at the right time for this idea? Because there are a number of examples, tweets, and posts about how the right idea at the wrong time doesn’t work. So sometimes you say ‘this is a great idea, but you come too early or too late in some cases’. “

From his discussions with McGregor, it’s clear he’s excited about what’s happening in the tech scene in the North right now, about his journey with Praetura, and about helping the “next generation” of entrepreneurs. and disruptors!

To learn more about disruptors and for the chance to hear from the next generation of businesses looking to transform their industry, visit disruptorsconference.co.uk and sign up for your free ticket.

McGregor will also be the guest speaker at this year’s conference Northern Leadership Award, sponsored by CMS law firm, taking place at The Midland Hotel on September 29 – tickets are still available for purchase here


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