Follow the Leader - Colin Chapman of Digigrow

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In our series of interviews with business leaders about their journey so far and plans for future success, we speak to Colin Chapman, commercial director of digital development consultancy, Digigrow, based in Sandyford, Dublin.

Prior to joining Digigrow as a non-executive commercial director and digital transformation consultant in August 2017, Colin Chapman was also a commercial director at Microsoft Ireland.

What is Digigrow's elevator pitch?

“To digitally transform a business to increase customer engagement and make internal operations more efficient, with the view of adding value everywhere in the business process, ultimately driving business growth.”

What was the key motivation and raison d’être behind setting up business?

“There are many partners delivering solutions for businesses, but there was a gap in the market for digital services [marketing, analytics and now data protection compliance] for smaller businesses with limited resources.

“The business initially offered app and website development for online presence, which naturally extended into digital marketing and then customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning solutions.

“Over the past 12 months there’s been a surge in demand for services for the General Data Protection Regulation [GDPR] and the business accelerated as we started offering consultancy services.”

Looking back at the early stages of the business, would you do anything differently in terms of leadership?

“We would have accelerated partnership building with non-competing partners. Along the way, we’ve found some good people to work with who’ve complemented our business. If we could have found some of them sooner, it would have given us more credibility.

“We would also have hired more quickly – we tried to do everything ourselves, but having one or two extra people on board would have made a significant difference early in our development.”

What keeps you engaged and motivated to drive the business on?

“Having a positive impact and growing businesses, building partnerships and helping them to engage their end user. There are many opportunities for digital transformation in Ireland.”

What does achievement and success look like for your business?

“Continuing to grow in Ireland is the main objective, but over the past six months, we’ve experienced huge growth in interest from US companies that need assistance in dealing with the implications of GDPR. This could involve working as a direct consultant or with other partners in the US, offering our services to their customers. We’re also looking to develop our profile in the UK.”

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

“’Keep things simple’ is the mantra I’ve applied to Digigrow. It’s easy to complicate a business, and you have to work hard to make things simple.

“Another sound piece of advice is to surround yourself with good people – you need a strong network when you’re starting out.

 

“Make sure you’re investing in mission-critical customers and activities and execute things well. Too many businesses spread themselves too thinly rather than doing a certain number of things well”

 

Colin Chapman, commercial director, Digigrow

“Of course, none of us would be in business if we didn’t focus on the end user and the bottom line, otherwise you won’t be successful. You need to know everything about your end user, and we’ve seen organisations that talk a lot about revenue without also focusing on profitability.”

What has been your proudest achievement with Digigrow to date?

“Working with any start-up business is a challenge. To see the business grow and build presence domestically and internationally, and see our customers’ businesses grow on the back of that, is a source of great pride.

“When you hire people, you feel you’re empowering others in the organisation – and that also feels good.”

Your approach to leadership is best described by which three words?

“The first would be ‘honesty’. If you’re honest about what you’re trying to achieve, you’re more likely to gain the trust of your employees and your customers.

“The second would be ‘mindset’. You always need to have the view that there’s more to deliver and better ways of doing things as well as being hungry to learn. Having an open mind can help the business in all sorts of ways.

“The final word would be ‘focus’. Make sure you’re investing in mission-critical customers and activities and that you execute things well. Too many businesses spread themselves too thinly rather than doing a certain number of things well.”

How are you preparing and planning for Brexit in your business?

“Because we’re a supplier of technology, location is less significant, and the UK accounts for a relatively small percentage of our business. The final shape of the regulations will determine where we open offices in the future.

“My advice to other businesses would be to be agile; Brexit will also be responsible for creating new opportunities.”

Parting shot: what's next for Digigrow?

“We’re dealing with a growing number of requests for assistance with GDPR compliance from businesses in the US, and our near-term focus is on making a success of the business in that market, while continuing to develop the business in Ireland, taking advantage of any opportunities that might arise in the UK.

“Building our presence in the US is an exciting prospect. There are offices to be opened, partners to be found and regulations from a trading perspective that we need to understand.”

 

Comments 1

Tara De Buitlear on Wednesday, 23 May 2018 15:36

Great to hear about Colin & Digigrow's journey.
Hear more from Colin at the SFA Conference in UCD tomorrow when the panel discusses Digital Transformation.

Great to hear about Colin & Digigrow's journey. Hear more from Colin at the SFA Conference in UCD tomorrow when the panel discusses Digital Transformation.
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