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    Chris Sheldrick of What3words: lessons from scaling a start-up

    For businesses built on the creation of new geopositional standards, finding a What3words West London office is difficult.

    Google Search does not lead you to the office, but to an elevated driveway that arcs over the previous factory that currently houses What3words and other business clutches. “It’s ironic,” said Chris Sheldrick, co-founder and CEO of What3words, about the turmoil.

    What3words was born out of Sheldrick’s frustration in his previous job as a musician’s tour manager. Incorrect GPS coordinate transcription could cause road crews to arrive miles away from the venue.

    In collaboration with mathematician friend and co-founder Mohangane Salingham, Sheldrick devised the What3words system that divides the world into 57tn 3x3m squares. Each square is identified by a combination of three words from 40,000 dictionaries.

    Sheldrick set a major leadership challenge when trying to build commercially feasible ideas with the goal of making great ideas a world-class navigation tool.

    Building the system was a challenge, but it doesn’t make sense unless the team convinces so many people to adopt What3words as the standard location finder.

    Sheldrick, 40, has introduced potential early adopters (those he call “ambitious innovators”) with the goal of incorporating products into an important group of key users as “must-haves.” We addressed this challenge by persuading them.

    “We literally traveled around the world, from market traders on Portobello Road to the governments we sit with. The governments shared all the issues that needed to be addressed., Just with our mobile app, “says Sheldrick.

    One of the early customers was the Mongolian post office, whose management, Sheldrick, met at an event at the World Economic Forum in China. As a result of the transaction, What3words opened an office in Ulaanbaatar and now operates many of its global services.

    “It was basically always the same pitch,” says Sheldrick. “We have always focused on the human benefits of What3words and the fact that it can make the world less frustrating, more efficient and safer.”

    In the UK, What3words was aimed at local people. “It’s a farmer, a tree surgeon, a veterinarian, someone who goes somewhere new every day, even someone like a movie crew, who was very important to our daily lives.” Says Sheldrick.

    “For these people, being ready to use it and preach about it was very important to their daily lives. Next, it was said that it would be really convenient to integrate it into the X app, X. Talk to the app and say, “Can you natively integrate What3words into your platform?”

    Key leadership lessons

    * Clearly and focus on your initial corporate strategy. In this case, it’s intended for people who rely on accurate location information.

    * Have breakfast with another employee every day to hear what they are doing and get knowledge and feedback.

    * As leaders, foster raw enthusiasm among customers — they will be product evangelists.

    * Empower other members of the management team to help design the company’s strategy.

    These early adopters acted as an extension of What3words staff and attracted other users, Sheldrick said. “This experience has taught me how important it is to support and nurture raw enthusiasm, and it also teaches me that all users are important because I don’t know where to connect. rice field.”

    In 2018, Mercedes-Benz adopted What3words for its in-vehicle speech recognition system. Other car brands followed, including Mitsubishi, Tata, Lotus, Ford and Triumph.

    “I don’t think stepping into an organization with one statistic or fact will give you a single integration. Whether this will be the future of your industry and who we work with. And it’s always important how many consumers we have in the country you care about, “says Sheldrick.

    The company has offices in the United States and Germany, but many of its 130 staff are in the United Kingdom. Sheldrick has breakfast with different What3words employees every day. “As a really huge idea-making process, we only spend at least an hour listening to what we’re doing in that part of the company.”

    The meeting gave him a “stimulus” in the morning. “It’s about not making the same mistakes. [repeatedly]”He says. This is also part of what Sheldrick describes as a process of “empowering others” to design a company’s strategy.

    What3words salaries include entrepreneurs, former senior managers of large global organizations, scholars, creatives and graduates. “It’s a good balance of incredibly smart people,” says Sheldrick.

    It is important to leave people out and visit potential users in other countries. That means allowing people to self-manage their schedule, says Sheldrick.

    Over 85% of UK emergency services teams use What3words, including the Metropolitan Police and the London Fire Brigade.

    The business model licenses technology to organizations and makes services available to consumers for free. However, the company still needs a lot of money, far from the scale that Sheldrick recognizes as necessary.

    In the latest account for the year ending December 31, 2019, the company reported a pre-tax loss of £ 14.5 million with sales of £ 393,000. According to Sheldrick, revenue will increase in 2020 and will be able to generate revenue “soon” due to growing demand. “It’s important for us to scale up very quickly.”

    The business raised just under £ 30m in 15 rounds of funding. Most recently, in March, £ 12m was invested by Ingka Investments, the investment arm of Ingka Group, the owner of Ikea.

    Three Questions to Chris Sheldrick

    Who is your leadership hero?

    Naval Ravikant is the co-founder, chairman and former CEO of AngelList, a funding platform for start-ups. I agree with much of what he writes. It’s all about thinking in the long run. Much of what he is talking about is the power of thought and the value of the mind.

    What was the first leadership lesson you learned?

    At the age of 22, I was the boss of the first company. We were trying to build all these pop orchestras, but I thought it was great because we were able to decide what they would play. I told everyone what to do and I felt this created a backlash from them. They did a great job, but I couldn’t understand the internal organs. From that young age, it taught me an important lesson. If you want real approval, let someone else steer the project yourself.

    What would you do if you hadn’t started What3words?

    I played the bassoon, but I had to quit after the injury, which led to my first business.There is this great company Patreon that makes the music business like SaaS [software as a service] model. I love music, but I want to start such a business.

    During the first three months of the 2020 pandemic, people stopped going out, halving What3words usage. At the same time, the number of revenue-generating corporate customers has skyrocketed. The use of What3words by UK retailers increased by 1,000% between March and November 2020 due to the surge in online shopping.

    “We’re thinking in the long run. We were confident that the pandemic would subside someday, so we stuck to a long-term strategy focused on developing new product features for when things went back to normal.”

    What3words has critics. NS BBC survey A problem was found at a similar sounding address for use by mountain rescue teams in England and Wales. One address given to the team was Vietnam.

    Sheldrick states that such problems are “rare” and that safeguards are built into the system to avoid confusion. “One of our key principles is to place three-word addresses that sound the same as far apart as possible, which is important to minimize the possibility of human error,” he said. Says.

    “It’s very important to understand how What3words are created, how they work, and why they are created. If we all pass latitude and longitude to each other, What3words doesn’t have to exist.”

    He adds that machines are very good at transmitting latitude and longitude to each other. “What3words is really made for situations where it’s impossible and we humans are involved. Basically, we tried to do it as elegantly as possible.”

    Chris Sheldrick of What3words: lessons from scaling a start-up Source link Chris Sheldrick of What3words: lessons from scaling a start-up

    The post Chris Sheldrick of What3words: lessons from scaling a start-up appeared first on California News Times.

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