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Interview with Andy Stephenson, Founder of ServiceMatrix

 

Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!

Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.

Can you tell everyone your name, please?

Andy Stephenson

Tell me about your education.

I enjoyed a well-rounded education at school, followed by a bachelor’s degree in the Business School at the University of Southampton, England. While having something of an entrepreneurial spirit in my youngest days, running a mobile disco and being involved in my father’s and brother’s two businesses, I took a cautious approach and went on to secure professional qualifications with one of the world’s foremost professional services firms. Responsible for managing the firm’s relationship with 30+ clients at a very young age, and accountable for every tenth of an hour spent for their benefit, this was fabulous background training — instilling tenacity, determination, and a business ethos, while helping work my lateral thinking brain to look at new ways of doing things. I then went on to head a product group for a leading trust bank, based out of London and reporting into New York, while dealing with folks ranging from those on the shop floor to the most senior individuals at the bank and senior public officials. Both roles, despite being for major businesses, were very entrepreneurial in nature.

Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?

I think the earliest example that had a profound effect on my entrepreneurial self is a role I took on during employment with the professional services firm. In overseeing the absorption of another firm into the worldwide practice, I probably learned the most in terms of dealing with all parties involved, while applying my managerial skills in motivating and developing staff from multiple jurisdictions to adopt best practice and work with colleagues around the globe.

We all have entrepreneurs whom we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.

Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?

Oh, there are too many to mention. Family members, for their respective entrepreneurial strengths and weaknesses. Members of teams I’ve worked with across employers and the businesses I’ve created, who have shown me new ways of thinking. I won’t name any of these folks, having not had a chance to reach out to them. As for someone from a distance, that would be Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, for his sheer drive, energy, and belief.

Thank you for providing background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.

What is the name of your company?

The latest business is an app, ServiceMatrix.

Where is your company located?

London, England, but it operates globally.

What services or products does your organization provide?

ServiceMatrix allows business to evaluate their vendors, contrasting strengths and weaknesses against competing vendors. Currently focused on the investment and securities trading worlds, thanks to my professional network, the platform can readily be adapted to support B2B vendor evaluation across many sectors.

What problem is your business trying to solve?

The primary objective is to get firms and vendors to engage, identifying areas for improvement and seeing through changes to drive up service levels across the board.

How is your business unique against your competitors?

Our closest competitors are surveys conducted by magazine publishers and consulting houses. The key distinguishing feature is that these operate via vendors who reach out to (almost invariably, selected) clients, thus introducing ‘vendor bias’ into the results. By contrast, ServiceMatrix serves the vendors’ clients directly — with the clients determining what is to be measured and making evaluations to their choice of scope and timeframe.

How did the idea for your business come to fruition?

Many prestigious financial institutions, across meetings and roundtable discussions, asked myself and colleagues within my existing publishing business to formulate the application of objective measures of how vendors are serving them.

Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?

www.servicematrix.net

Final question. We want to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.

What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?

Take care to protect your idea. Test your idea thoroughly and be prepared to move onto the next if the signs aren’t right. Manage your time well: give each aspect the time it deserves, while being sure to keep balance and spend time on your favourite activities and with family and friends.

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Written by Ricky Singh, MBA

Founder & Editor of The Startup Growth

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