Future50: To run a business successfully you have to do it your own way

Purple Tuesday directors, left, Seb Butcher and Carl Wright with their new app.

Purple Tuesday directors, left, Seb Butcher and Carl Wright with their new app. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Running your own company is very much an experience unique to you.

That was the position which Seb Butcher and Carl Wright found themselves in when they founded their business Purple Tuesday five years ago.

Both had been working together at a Norwich-based affiliate marketing company when they decided to strike out on their own.

'Our background was software development,' said Mr Butcher. 'We decided we had reached a certain point in our careers. I am a development manager and couldn't go much further, so we thought 'why don't we do this ourselves?''.

It is a train of thought typical of many Future50 companies and as the business grows Mr Butcher says his role is evolving again as he learns to step back from the day-to-day project management to a more strategic role.

'We had no idea what we were doing at the start,' he said. 'We had no clients, I had never done networking, and had never been to events.

'Over the past five years we have grown organically, and we feel we are an established business now. We have got a good team, good demand, and good clients.'

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The firm, which now has a team of around eight developers, specialises in building bespoke business software solutions with a growing focus on apps.

Its clients include EDP/EADT Top 100 companies Adnams and Suffolk-based tool and equipment suppliers Sealey, while it also worked with a client to design a room booking system for the hotel chain Premier Inn.

'We have got a creative name and people often think we do web design, but we are more interested in business processes,' Mr Butcher added. 'We have got our business through referrals. Most of our customers have been with us for years rather than months.'

But now, the firm which recently moved from St Mary Works in Colegate to larger offices in the Union Building in Norwich's Rose Lane, is looking to expand the team, while it is predicting turnover for 2017 will reach £750,000.

'We made a decision last year to try and grow the business,' he said. 'Being software developers we are very risk averse, but we thought there were opportunities out there and so now is the time.

'When we started, it was mostly web-based, but there is an increasing demand in the workplace for mobile – companies want their workforce to be mobile and we are building apps to help them with that.'

Typically for a tech firm, finding skilled developers is always a challenge and the company works closely with the UEA to source new talent.

But after spotting that some staff wanted a more vocational route into the industry instead of going to university, it is also looking at setting up its own business training developers – both to meet its own needs but also to help increase the supply of talent.

'We have had a couple of 18 year olds working for us,' he said. 'If someone doesn't have to go to university because they don't want to pay the fees and there is a way they acquire the skills they need in the workplace then we would like to be able to do that.'

But while the business is keen to equip developers with the skills they need to succeed, Mr Butcher admitted that his own skillsets have had to evolve as the business grows.

'It has been a challenge and it's an ongoing challenge,' he said. 'I used to be very hands on and get involved in day-to-day project delivery, whereas now I can spend my day talking to people making sure they are okay.

'In a way it changes the job, and brings a new dimension to the job, but it's something I am embracing.'