Spotlight: The Brockman family (RGS 2004-2013)
Mike Brockman (parent) is part of a family team with son Alex (RGS 2004-2011) and daughter Megan (RGS 2006-2013). Together they are launching an amazing new tech company ThingCo and products like Theo that look to revolutionise the insurance market. They answered some questions from us together telling us more about the business and their professional lives.
What is a typical day like at ThingCo?
At present, we have a small team of 12 people but work with many external business partners. We have to carry out all the normal offices activities; payroll, VAT payments, HR, internal accounting, expenses, recruitment, contracts, office space etc. On top of this we have to build the business, the products and attract customers both B2C and B2B. Essentially, we divide ourselves into Administration, Operations, Marketing, Business Development and Relationships and IT. Many of us are multi-skilled and will carry out several of these activities in tandem. The typical day is busy, fast moving and stressful. The day is 24/7 and work never stops. Who would want it any other way!
What is ThingCo all about?
ThingCo is all about creating and delivering next generation connected car solutions to the B2C and B2B markets. This makes use of telematics, camera and intelligent voice technologies creating real-time feed back to business and consumers and developing products from this which provide real business and consumer value. We have just launched our consumer product Theo on drivetheo.com
What is the best way to launch something new?
A lot of preparation, planning, testing and having a risk taking and relentless mindset. Thousands of people have great ideas, very few follow them through and make them succeed. My advice is always; think the whole process through from beginning to end before you start. Think through all the scenarios which could go wrong and have a solution. Think about plan B and C. Create resilience to your idea. Most importantly, believe in yourself and get ready for a hellish time!
What are the key challenges of setting up and launching a new business in 2019?
There are so many. Forget the Banks, they will not support you and will make your life difficult. They are completely risk adverse and hide behind regulation. They are running scared after 2008! Getting finance is always difficult. No one parts with money easy, and you need money to get your idea to work. If you’re young, you also need support by experienced people. Being organised really helps. Start-up incubator organisations can be really useful support, providing access to funding and help to nurture your idea.
What factors do you think will have the biggest impact on your business in the next three years, and why?
We are at the start of the most exciting period in our lives since the start of the industrial revolution. The pace of change in technology will change everything we do. Every business needs to adapt and be aware otherwise it could be left behind. Forward thinking is essential and making sure your business is taking full advantage of the technological revolution. There is risk to this but also a big opportunity.
What skills do you think got you where you are today?
Having the ability to think differently to others. Relentless self believe. Focus and competitiveness.
How is it working in a father-son-daughter team?
We worked together previously but in positions more remote from each other. This time we are still in start up mode and we work really closely. It’s currently working really well!
What advice would you give to any entrepreneurial readers out there who are looking to launch something new?
Talk to the startupbootcamp and get some advice, take a deep breath and just do it!
What will you do next?
Mike – I’m on my third business now and ThingCo has got a lot of legs in it. This will be my last though (at least my wife hopes it will be!)
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