First of all, how are you and your Family doing in these COVID19 Times?
Matthew Cleevely: We’re fine, extremely lucky; our kids are too young to be at school, and my wife is full time at home. We were planning to move house just before COVID hit. Now we’re between places and staying with my parents, which is a little strange, but we’re all coping well, and we’ve got access to a garden.
Tell us about you, your career, how you Founded or Joined 10to8
Matthew Cleevely: I’ve been working in startups since I was old enough to work. Growing up in Cambridge, there were so many opportunities; every summer, I would write to companies I thought were interesting in the Science Park to ask if they’d have me as an intern. I did anything and everything, from taking computers apart, building accounting databases, designing mouse mats, to doing statistical analysis on medical data.
In between summer jobs, I got an MEng, then an MPhil (Economics), and finally started doing a Ph.D. looking at the intersection of government policy, economic growth, and entrepreneurship. I left the Ph.D. to work on 10to8 with a couple of friends, and that’s where I am now. Somewhere in the middle, I’ve ended up with quite a lot of exposure to different businesses, and I also have an active advisory role in a few of them.
How does 10to8 Innovate?
Matthew Cleevely: By keeping our heads down and focusing on execution. That might seem a little contradictory, but there’s usually no shortage of exciting things for any business. It’s picking the right ones and executing well; that’s the problem.
The other thing we try really hard is to spread responsibility and decision-making out. There’s a lot of push from Richard Hills, Co-Founder and Managing Director, and I, for everyone in the company, to make real decision-making take responsibility for things and hand power away. When you have good decision making at the edges, it means that everyone is empowered to innovate and take calculated risks.
How the Coronavirus Pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Matthew Cleevely: Some of our customers have really suffered, and we’ve been doing our best to help them. For example, since the high street has been really struggling with safely reopening, we offered our retail booking system to small shops for free so that they can get back on their feet faster. We are also about to release a vast resource library for service-based businesses to deal with the increased number of appointment no-shows. No-shows are extremely harmful to companies, and we noticed the missed appointment rates have been increasing lately; Uncertainty results in more no-shows and last-minute cancellations.
Others, like those doing remote tutoring or medical bookings, are doing exceptionally well. We had to shift our focus towards how we enable virtual and remote appointments to cater to the quickly changing demand.
Overall for 10to8, a lot has changed; the amount of change we might expect in a month happens in a week or a day, so we’ve been trying to move quickly to keep up.
Did you have to make Difficult Choices, and what are the Lessons Learned?
Matthew Cleevely: The first choice we made was to go into lockdown 3 weeks before the UK did. We did some analysis and decided we wouldn’t accept the risk that 10to8 would be the reason any employee or their families would become ill. In retrospect, it looked like the right decision – analysis and action.
By far and away, the hardest decision I had to make was a few years ago when we had a funding round fall through. I decided to reduce the team size by over 80% to keep the business alive. It worked, and the company has survived to thrive. My failure was not to appropriately judge the level of risk we were facing as a business and not keep employees adequately informed. I don’t want to have to do that ever again, so business risks are something we plan for and mitigate against.
How do you deal with Stress and Anxiety? How do you Project yourself and 10to8 in the Future?
Matthew Cleevely: Lego and water rockets. Basically, activities that are away from the screen and use my brain. The water rocket stuff has really ‘taken off.’ I’ve built a few now with the kids – mostly they just watch, but they love it. The next aim is to get a GoPro 100m in the air (attached to a water rocket) and the rocket to land softly enough to be relaunched.
As for the company, we don’t know what the future holds, and we’re looking for answers. We do lots of calls between team members and try to foster communication. There’s a monthly virtual get together, and we arrange gifts to arrive at the same time. But really there’s a sense there’s more we can do, and we’re trying new things to see what works and what else we should be doing to support our team.
Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the Game?
Matthew Cleevely: There are quite a few different solutions out there. We pride ourselves on the product’s capability, and it’s the breadth of applications. Also, our team is amazing.
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