Day 4 of Newcastle Startup Week is focused on helping companies grow and scale. Entrepreneur Bean Benson, Founder of Visualsoft, will be joining us on stage to share his scale up journey and plans to grow. Together with his co-founders, Dean grew his digital marketing and eCommerce business into an award-winning organisations with multi-million revenue and clients across the world. We had a chat with Dean to learn more about his story.
1. Hi Dean. Can you tell me more about your business and how it helps entrepreneurs?
Visualsoft is an award winning complete eCommerce eco-system based in the UK. We help retailers grow their business online through our eCommerce platform and digital marketing services.
2. When was the business established, how many staff do you employ & where are they based?
We set up shop back in October 1998 (Just one month after Google!) We are approaching 300 staff across our three UK offices in Stockton-on-Tees, Newcastle and Manchester.
3. What inspired you to start your business?
I’ve had a keen interest in technology from a young age and an entrepreneurial spirit right from the start. Starting a business in this industry was second nature – it was something I had a passion for.
4. Where did you go for help or advice when you first started out?
Family & friends – The business was co-founded, there were three of us initially so we bounced ideas amongst each other but family and friends were there every step of the way.
5. Where did you go for help or advice when you started to scale up?
I have a small number of very good, close knit friends that I turn to when needed. They have a mixed skillset across varying industries that proves very useful!
6. If you could do one thing differently, what would it be?
I’d do it quicker and focus sooner. I spent a lot of time without any real focus. We have recently produced a five year strategy which clearly focuses the direction for the business – In hindsight I wish we had this a lot earlier.
7. From your experience, how has your role as Founder of the business changed since scaling up and taking on staff, compared to when you were starting out?
I’ve gone from a hands on developer to building the team around me. My focus now is to steer the business from a strategic point of view and the key to helping with that is to employ the right people at a senior level.
8. How do you motivate staff?
Having a passion for the industry, the business and all that we stand for. Providing them with an environment to enjoy and thrive in as well as flexible working and a work-life balance.
9. Talent attraction is a significant challenge in the North East. What is your experience with this as a tech company and what do you think the North East can do to retain talent?
There is undeniably a huge skills gap in the tech sector within the North East. I am working closely with Teesside University as a Governor to help ensure that the region’s talent meets the ever growing requirements of the sector.
10. How do you think the e-commerce sector will be affected by new technologies and what plans does Visualsoft have in place to adapt to this change?
The landscape is forever changing. Technologies are advancing at the speed of light, but we are constantly investing in Research & Development. We have our own team purely focused on the development of our technology and platform to ensure we’re able to adapt.
Interested in finding out more about Visualsoft and Dean’s journey? He will be speaking on Day 4 at Newcastle Startup Week.