Interview with Gary Bury (Mediaburst)
Mediaburst is a leading provider of SMS, MMS and mobile marketing services.
I interviewed Gary Bury, Mediaburst Managing Director to find out more. This interview is the hundred and tenth in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to Gary for the interview!
How would you describe Mediaburst in under 50 words?
A great place to work, my job and my hobby all rolled into one. We’re a text message provider, we sell text messages and web applications to businesses.
Describe yourself in one sentence.
I’m a nice guy and pretty easy going.
What brought you to Mediaburst?
I was taken on as Finance Director in 2006. There had been a stack of regulation changes through which the company lost a huge chunk of revenue and profit. It was a tough time because we had to restructure the company to the changing circumstances pretty quick. Although most than half the employees were made redundant those that remained were really committed, without them it might have been a different story.
Tell us about some of Mediaburst’s products.
Textburst is a simple app for sending text messages. It’s a bit like a Gmail account but sends text messages. Ideal for SMS marketing and sending out customer service updates.
We also have a text message API. If you are not techy it won’t mean much, it’s a mechanism for software developers to link their own apps to Mediaburst so they can send text messages.
We also have a new product launching now, it’s called Timetastic. It’s an online staff leave planner. It replaces all your paper holiday forms and wall charts, it puts your company holiday system into a web and smartphone app. We’re very excited about this, it’s a very small simple application but very useful to small businesses.
You were shortlisted as a finalist for the Fast Growth Business Financial Director of the Year Award in 2008. What sort of growth did Mediaburst experience under your tenure?
If I recall the awards were based on a wide range of criteria; items such as profit and revenue growth, cash and debtor management, raising funds, and my overall impact on the strategy. Text message volumes increased by over 150% and revenue growth was over 100%. The cash management was a significant factor, we had to restructure the company and it’s tax position, this freed up a significant amount of cash which made the company viable.
You were part of the management team that bought the business in 2006, and you were promoted to Managing Director in 2008. What challenges did you face in this new role, and how did you overcome them?
Yes and Yes. The biggest challenge (and most enjoyable) has been getting to grips with marketing the company. As an accountant I’m naturally conservative with our marketing spend and yet we’ve re-branded entirely and spend an increasing amount online, both in advertising and design work. Getting a good understanding of digital marketing and which channels are right for your business takes time. I hardly spend any time doing accountancy now, it’s all about marketing.
Congratulations for winning a Big Chip Award for Best Public Sector Project and a Dadi Award for Best Use of Mobile with your healthcare application, Florence, in 2011. Where did the idea originate for this application?
The idea originated from within the NHS. They were using very expensive equipment to monitor people with heart disease at home. The equipment took their blood pressure, heart rate and blood oxygen levels 3 or 4 times per day and automatically sent it to their doctor over their landlines. Although effective the cost of the communications hardware meant they couldn’t roll it out. What they do now is give them normal blood pressure and heart rate kit and get the patients to text their results in. It’s a fraction of the cost and the patients love it because they’re no longer tied to their home.
Who are some of your other customers?
Effectively the NHS. It’s still early days but we have over 20 different NHS trusts using the system.
Do you have any new applications in the pipeline?
Timetastic is our current project, we’re in public beta phase now, it’s goes fully live on 1st July.
After that we have a huge branding exercise going on with our Text Message API. It’s going to be called Clockwork and will introduce some improvements to our systems and allow a free signup mechanism. We also have a number of plugins and extensions in the pipeline for content management systems like WordPress.
What do you wish you’d have known 5 years ago that you know now?
I’d love to have understood digital marketing earlier, I think the company would have started to grow better from an earlier age.
Who would you say is your biggest competitor?
We don’t care, not that I mean that as any disrespect to any of our competitors. I’ve met with and friendly with many of them. But we don’t analyse them or worry about what they are doing. I like to think we plough our own path and our strategy and decisions are unaffected by what they are up to. You can get bogged down watching your competitors.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
My kids wake me up too early, I can’t function until I’ve had a shower and a cup of tea. I spend most days in the office and I’m in by 8:30. Because we’re a small company I get involved in anything and everything, you’ll find me responding to customer service emails and sales leads, I’ll be speaking to web designers and writing web copy. Although I’m not a developer I’m a sounding board for many of the decisions made in our technical department. My day can be very varied. I’m generally away by 17:30. We don’t work late. We don’t have that kind of culture, and I don’t think it’s necessary if you get your priorities and strategy set right. That said I do a lot of web research and reading at home in the evenings.
What’s currently your favourite app?
Who did you last send a text message to?
It was to my Dad, it said, “How’s your sting?”
He got stung by a bee yesterday, (fathers day).
Before that I texted “Go” to 84433. It’s a short demo of Florence our healthcare app and we’d done some tweaks to it today.
What are you most excited about at the moment?
Timetastic. We’ve built it completely separate of all our other systems so it gives us greater flexibility to try different styles of marketing and technical provision. We’ll use it to try different things, learn new things, then take what we learn and put them into our text message products.
I’m also excited about the designs for Clockwork, we’re working with an agency called MarbleMedia, they guys there are great and the designs very cool.
Can you convince the reader to start using Mediaburst in under 50 words?
Probably not! I’m no sales man and don’t do much face to face. Everything we do is on the web. Potential customers find us, we just try to show them how easy texting your customers is and how simple our applications are to use.
Finished reading? Check out Mediaburst!