A group of people with notebooks and laptops sit around a table in a meeting room looking at a man standing at the head of the table

Lifting the lid on Scale Up

Our 2019 class report back

Four ambitious founders explain how our Barclays Scale Up UK Programme helped accelerate their ambitions for growth.

  • Crowdz

    When Payson Johnston and Steven Lee co-founded Crowdz co-founded an invoice exchange in 2014, they had plans to take things global.

    What does Crowdz do?

    What Crowdz is doing is creating a 24/7 global invoice exchange, really to help small, medium businesses improve their cash flow, and survive and thrive.

    What made you choose to come on the Barclays Scale Up programme?

    Barclays invited us as a follow up of the Tech Stars programme, really because we were bringing on money and needed to put into place our two-year growth plan. The Barclays Scale Up programme really helped us to define what that two-year programme would be, as we’re spending our money now, bringing our team on board, increasing our sales, hauling out our product and growing the company.

    One of the things that’s interesting is that we’ve been in eight Accelerators over that past year and a half. 500 start-ups, some of the best accelerators in the world. They are all start-ups with you. What I liked about the Barclays Scale Up programme was that, besides the fact that a lot of the companies could become our customers, was that you got to hear different industries, different companies, small companies, large companies, enterprise companies, giving their perspective which is vastly different to just the start-up world. And that was really helpful to us.

    At the beginning of the programme, you’re given a coach to help you through the programme. How has that relationship been?

    Andrew is a great coach for us. Always available, helped us think through stuff, chatted about stuff on the programme and just in our business in general. So we really appreciated that. And he was very knowledgeable, had done VC work, investing as well, so really understood how the process worked – and that really helped us.

    He supported us really just by coaching us. We’d come back and do it – I mean we were in the day-to-day of the business, so we were trying to embed it. We shared stuff with him and he would say ‘I like it’. It was really as a sounding board – when somebody has been through the experience before. In the academia world, a lot of theory is presented and I also teach as well. But you also have to balance it out with what works and Andrew is a good sounding board for that.

    Where are you going to be in two years’ time?

    We’re going to be closing out our Series B which is bigger than our Series A. If we look at how we execute as a company, we’re going to be following the plan that we created at this programme. We’re focused right now on the UK, US and Europe. In terms of industries, we’re looking at food, automotive and electronics. 

  • Rradar

    Gary Gallen, CEO of Rradar, talks about the importance of investing time into a smart technology platform.

    What does Rradar do?

    We decided to create a smart technology platform that delivered smarter better legal services for business. Where the company is moving now is to provide a platform of not only legal but smarter business services as well. Rradar was started when I became frustrated with traditional legal models and the profession and resigned and created the company in 2012 and commenced trading in 2014.

    What made you choose to come on the Barclays Scale Up programme?

    The Barclays Scale Up programme was something that had interested me and we were invited to apply for the Barclays Entrepreneur Awards. We were absolutely thrilled and delighted to have become the winners of the Northern Scale Up award and invited to London then to meet the team and be part of the London awards ceremony. As part of being winners of the award we were enrolled on to the Scale Up programme.

    What was your experience like at the programme?

    The programme massively impressed me; in a day and age where we can't afford to waste time and to remove yourself from running your business, you want to make sure that the investment is getting real value and will make things happen and make things work better. This programme has impressed me with the quality of the teaching, the peer-to-peer learning groups with the other cohort members that have been on the programme, the coaches and the faculty. And it's particularly the bit that I've liked the most is the approach, the sort of process the technology of problem solving issues that take place in fast growth businesses. I find that this programme has given me an approach that I haven't found in some other brilliant programmes.

    Our coach that we had was very useful. When you still get stuck in the day to day of running your business away from the programme having that touchdown between the modules to keep you on track, to kick you up the backside to get the legwork done, do the homework, be prepared for when you come back to get the maximum value out of the programme. If we had a query about how to approach one of the templates then you've got an independent touchstone to get in touch with him as well. I would add also that the faculty were extremely accommodating. In particular, the faculty made themselves available in between the sessions for me as well both by email and by telephone calls and for some of the face-to-face visits.

    What did you take away from the programme?

    As a CEO and a founder driving on a business the maximisation of your time is the most important and crucial thing so you cannot afford to waste it. I would go on the Barclays Scale Up programme course again because it is time well spent and that time out allows you to actually be more decisive and go faster in your business. 

  • Marketing Pod

    Directors and co-founders Jodie Williams and Jenny Hughes talk about Marketing Pod, and the practical support they gained for their marketing business.

    What was the reason behind starting Marketing Pod?

    Jodie: The Marketing Pod was formed in 2013 between myself and my business partner Jenny Hughes. We both worked in-house running marketing teams, and we were getting increasingly frustrated at the lack of an integrated agency offering. So we had the crazy idea of launching our own one that focused on the B2B segment and that's how the pod was born.

    What made enrol onto the Barclays Scale Up programme?

    Jodie: We enrolled on the Barclays Scale Up programme because we were five years old, we'd hit a turnover of just under £1million, we were ambitious still and wanted the business to grow. We needed help. We're marketers, not business professionals and we didn't want to plateau. We needed some support, some structure and some guidance on how we do that and how we actually start to develop those growth strategies. We thought, ‘Do we need funding?’ We just didn't have a clue; so we needed some support with that. When we were offered the chance to go on this course to give us that input on where we should take the pod next, we jumped at it.

    What did you learn from the programme?

    Jodie: When we first came onto the course we thought we would need around a £2 million investment to introduce the new services that we wanted. The course is great – it challenges you. One of the things that we were challenged with was, ‘Let's just assume we give you that money, what are you going to spend it on?’ We both just paused, we actually didn't know. We thought, ‘We'll pay for advice’. That's how it came out that, well actually, you don't need to give away equity within your business. You've got positive cash flow. You can bootstrap it and actually just pay for some advice – which is how we now have the non-exec director.

    Jenny: As part of the programme, they ask you to look at your target audience, the business sectors that you work with and where your kind of priority should be for growth. We were trying to be all things to all men and not really embracing our core skills, which were within a particular sector within the energy industry for us, for example. The course has helped us to say we don't need to be all things to all men. We've honed our proposition to be specifically in that industry. So whereas before we were trying to do everything, it's really forced us to overcome that challenge of feeling like you need to take everything and realise where your expertise actually lie in order for it to grow.

    What advice would you give to others thinking to enrol?

    To companies thinking about doing the course, just do it because it has provided us with an invaluable amount of time to reflect on the business. It stopped us working in it, and forced us to work on it. It has transitioned our organisation from being one that we knew where we wanted to go but we weren't quite sure how to get there, into being an organisation that is actually going there now. 

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