When the two friends tried to solve a tech issue, they came up with a new business that was turning over £380,000 within a year and has clients including Mercedes-Benz. Now Liverpool-based Ruler Analytics has its sights set on rapid global growth
Daniel Reilly The original idea for our product came from us trying to solve our own problem. We started off with a digital marketing company, but found that when people came to our website and filled in an enquiry form, there were no tools available to pinpoint exactly what had pointed them towards our site. We knew from a digital marketing perspective, the ability to track where each individual customer was coming from was invaluable. So initially, we developed a product to meet our own needs.
Ian Leadbetter We identified some other businesses who could take their marketing to another level with our product, and before we knew it, momentum started to grow. It quickly became popular with businesses dependent on generating leads from their online customer base, particularly in the law and finance fields, and it just grew from there.
Daniel Reilly We invested around £250,000 of our own cash to start Ruler Analytics off. We tried to use the resources we already had, in the form of our marketing company, but only had a certain amount of profit to use. We did a round of investment in December 2015, and AXM Venture Capital invested £450,000 for a 20 per cent equity stake. We needed the extra investment to get the best developers on board.
Ian Leadbetter We now have a product that can pinpoint in detail the journey of an incoming phone call. Leading a new company which is growing so quickly can be a rollercoaster, but we work together well as a team. I remember when I was growing up, hearing people say ‘don’t ever go into a partnership, it always ends badly’, but our business partnership was based on friendship first. We are both very different, so bring different skills. I’m more introvert, and organised, whereas Dan is an extrovert and a great talker.
Daniel Reilly I do love talking to people! We’re best mates. We went to school together, we grew up playing golf together – he is a great golfer. Of course we disagree sometimes, but that’s a good thing. If you don’t disagree, you aren’t challenging your perspective. Sometimes I bring an idea that I’m confident with, but Ian will put his perspective on it and I realise his idea is better. Both of us are happy to concede. You have to learn from other people’s mistakes as well as your own.
Ian Leadbetter Definitely. So far, the biggest challenge we face as a growing company is recruiting the best people who fit in with the existing team. It isn’t just about skills, it’s also about finding people with empathy. It can be hard to find people to work beyond the nine-to-five hours, but right now we have great people who see beyond that. Being an entrepreneur can involve a series of little failures, but through those failures you are learning every day. For us, it’s all about getting your hands dirty, turning up every day and working hard to get results. You pick things up and learn along the way.
Daniel Reilly Growth wise, we’re happy to be expanding business across the UK and creating jobs. We would love to expand more, possibly to the American market. The USA is special to me because I attended university there. There are great markets for technology, content and distribution platforms. It’s the heartbeat of the world for many things.
Ian Leadbetter To have 10,000 businesses globally using our product is our goal. We want to be the product that every digital marketing company uses and to be priced at the right level. We are still evolving each day, and still working with our original developer, Mark Higham, who helped us with the initial development in 2013.
Daniel Reilly The investment from AXM allowed us to bring Mark onboard fully as our CTO, which was great. But even when you have the capacity to grow your business globally, there is always a lurking insecurity and doubt. Sir Martin Sorrell says, ‘it pays to be paranoid’, and it made me feel better to hear someone who I admire saying that. I think it’s the trait of a working-class background, you always want to improve yourself.
To find out more about the fast-growing company, visit ruleranalytics.com