StartUs Presents: rais

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rais is a consumer intelligence & CRM software, founded by Will & Agata Young. Check out how the London based startup will help your business grow!

Describe rais in 50 words or less.

rais (retain, acquire, interpret, sell) is a customer intelligence and CRM software for SME retailers, who want to be more relevant in their marketing.

Why did you decide to pursue your own dreams rather than someone else’s?

I founded the business with my wife, Agata. We met in 2006 and have worked together since then, aside from an 18 month period when she worked at John Lewis. We thought it was about time we worked super hard for ourselves rather than someone else! Owning something, growing it and having all the responsibility that goes with that is something we relish. We care deeply about the work we do, so it feels great to be progressing something we’ve started from nothing.

7 years from now: How did your startup change the world?

7 years! That’s a long time! Well our aim is to make data sing; to make it easy for people who aren’t good with numbers or who aren’t analytical to harness their data regardless. This will help smaller retailers to be more competitive so we’ll give them a leg up and in turn create a relevance in the way SMEs retail that makes buying from them more appealing to us as consumers. So more SME retailers will be in business. That’s the goal anyway.

In what ways do you measure your success and how do you make sure you don’t lose track?

Success is measured by retention. Retention of clients, because they’re happy with what we do for them. Retention of employees because they love working in our team. We’re all about helping clients harness data so we make sure we don’t lose track by tracking performance and identifying and addressing concerns early so they don’t turn into issues. We also measure success based on investment. We’ve received private investment and a government grant. To me that validates that other people think what we’re doing has legs.

Describe your typical working day from coming to the office to leaving it.

We’re up early. Retailers start their days early, so do we. So we start around 7:45 reviewing emails and planning the day. We have 10 minute stand-ups to ensure we’re all aligned and not blocking each other’s work. Then it’s head down into our various workstreams: client support, development, marketing. We work in a shared workspace in central London, so it’s quite buzzy with lots of other start-ups around us. Either myself or Agata will leave at 4:30 to get home to let our elderly dog out! Whoever does that will work a few more hours in the evening at home, while the other might leave work around 6:30 and go to a meetup for some networking.

Already pivoted? Did customers use the service like you imagined it in the beginning?

Our big pivot created rais itself. We used to run a consulting business, but saw an opportunity to create technology that did what we did ‘manually’ for clients. Since then clients have been using rais as we’ve imagined. We make small pivots the whole time because we develop in an agile manner.

Bootstrapped or financed: What fuels your startup now and what will in the future?

Both. We’ve self-funded until we received private investment from a fantastic Angel Investor. As I mentioned before we also won a government grant to further develop our proof of concept. We hope this will lead to further government funding in the future for further prototype development and commercialisation. Our investor is very supportive and pending positive progress, will put more money in as well. We’re not really thinking about VC money at this point.

With ferocious competition and a booming trend to build new companies: How do you make sure you don’t get lost in the shuffle?

We try and stay laser-focussed on what we do and listen to our target clients. Sure there is a lot of competition out there but our biggest competitor is resistance to change; getting a client to adopt a new more targeted way of marketing which might seem out of reach to them today. We’re confident we’ve addressing a genuine need, so it’s about building a reputation for solving that within our target market and then telling that story in a very targeted fashion to a wider market of target clients abroad.

What do you look for in team members?

Could I spend hours in an airport with them if a flight was delayed. That’s the airport test. It was something a previous company I worked at talked about and it resonates with me. Can they hold a conversation with me, ask questions, listen carefully and respond intelligently. Curiosity is a big trait I look for in our people as well as strong communication skills. Everyone happens to have first class honours degrees apart from me! That’s just a coincidence and not something we actively hire on. But if I look at everyone in our team they are industrious, self-starting, smart people. But they’re good-natured, well-balanced, kind people too. There isn’t any room for big self-centred egos at rais.

Why would a talent join your team?

We’re in an exciting field of work. We’re developing some really neat Intellectual Property using AI techniques to improve the way customer insight is surfaced and actions are recommended. It’s a very collaborative flat structure. Everyone has a voice and we want everyone to learn and share their knowledge. For that reason we give each employee a personal training budget which they manage to buy books, attend courses etc. We also have some great employee perks and do team lunches and after work drinks regularly. London’s a fantastic place to start a business and attracts talent from across the world. Our team is a mix of British, Polish, Italian and Hungarian. I love that. I think it creates a really open, tolerant place to work.

Are you currently looking for talents?

We’re always keen to hear from talented people. We are looking for an intern to join us in January to work closely with me on sales and marketing. We’d also love to hear from any Python/Django developers who like the sound of what we do and want to find out a bit more as there might be a role for someone with the right experience (at least 2 years dev experience in Python/Django). Sounds good? Then get in touch!

What was your most memorable moment so far?

For me it was when we won the government grant. I knew we had a chance but it was an outside chance. To get that kind of endorsement was fantastic. It’s allowed us to expand our team and that is what this is all about. Creating jobs, creating value, doing something exciting.

What advice would you give fellow founders for their startup?

Advice? Hmmm…. that’s hard. I don’t feel massively qualified to dish out advice, but there’s one thing that is important to me. It is how to set the right culture for your business. Every business takes on the traits of its founders in my view. People look to the founders to understand how to act, consciously or sub-consciously. It can be a subtle thing. So as founders Agata and I have to really think about the example we’re setting and the culture we’re creating. I look at other founders and how they act and think, I wouldn’t want to work for him/her. We want people to want to work for us, so we try and create a culture that is conducive to that.



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