Interview with Simon Hill (Wazoku)
Wazoku provides idea management tools for businesses.
I interviewed Simon Hill, Wazoku co-founder to find out more. This is the hundred and eighty seventh in a series of DW startup interviews. Big thank you to Simon!
How would you describe Wazoku in under 50 words?
Wazoku is a leading innovation management software company. We produce awesome, user friendly software that businesses buy to manage the collection, development, evaluation and decision making process around ideas. If you value new ideas but lack the tools to collect and manage them, you should be talking to us!
The name Wazoku means great idea in Swahili, this is a really unique name, what gave you the inspiration for it?
We wanted a name that meant something but also made you think. My girlfriend works for a startup and was based in Tanzania at the time, so the idea for a Swahili name is not as random as it may first seem!
What gap in the market did you discover that persuaded you to launch Wazoku?
Innovation is critical for all businesses but all too often people are involved in the innovation process way too late in the overall process to input or impact any real innovative change. We wanted to make the front end of innovation, the gateway, where ideas happen, as social and collaborative as possible. By doing this companies will get a wider, more balanced set of ideas (and opinions) and make more inclusive and effective decisions. Everything else was going social and collaborative, this just seemed to be being left behind!
What do you find most interesting and rewarding in terms of running your own business?
We started out with something that we thought was a great idea but didn’t know for sure it was. We now work with some of the best companies in the world and help them to engage huge work forces in the business critical process of new product development or other similar processes. We have helped bring to market new products, services, more efficient ways of doing things etc….it’s easy to be proud of this!
What technologies have you used to develop Wazoku and which were the most technically challenging development problems?
What we do sounds fairly easy – capture ideas, review ideas etc. However, innovation is complex and means different things to everyone. We have to have a very flexible and dynamic platform that can flex to meet the needs of a large corporate such as HSBC, through our university clients and all the way to our smaller, even start up customers.
We built the tool in Python/Django with a CouchDB database. We are constantly challenging ourselves and reviewing our key tech decisions, it’s a living, breathing entity!
Who do you see as your target audience? How are you reaching them?
Global companies from small to large who value ideas and innovation. Pretty much anyone therefore! It’s a huge opportunity and a huge challenge.
We reach them by being great at what we do, by having others share their successes through our platform, by getting out there and talking and sharing our ideas. There is no one single approach, it’s a mix of online, events, paying for some stuff, getting other stuff for free, being smart and using our network and contacts.
You seem to have a lot of large organisations that use Wazoku, which sector would you say is the one where you’re most successful?
There really is no one single sector, we work with some awesome clients from media, tech, financial services, education, retail, government etc….ideas permeate all sectors and what we do is so intuitive and effective that it spans sectors.
You provide training, workshops, and adoption advice as well as the required tools, do you feel this is the main point which sets you apart from competition?
Not at all, we help our clients to get going, to make informed decisions when getting set up, so that they get the most they can from the application. However, many do not require such support, the application is extremely easy to pick up and use, I would say that is what differentiates us from our competitors.
Which platforms is Wazoku available on?
We are pure cloud and work across all main browser types, unless you are stuck in the IE dark ages you can use our tech!
How else do you differentiate yourselves from your competitors?
We have a great product that is highly flexible, easy to use and available off the shelf at a very low cost. We are also UK based so for our local customers we are the only company in our space here on shore for support and account purposes.
Has Wazoku got the feedback and growth you expected since its launch?
We are doing amazingly well and have a huge year ahead of us. I couldn’t be happier, but the best is yet to come and we have some amazing stuff in the pipeline.
With the knowledge you have today, would you do anything different if you were to start-up Wazoku again?
Yes of course, there is a lot I would do differently, but none of it is material to the core business. I think that you have to be bold, make big decisions and be prepared to get it wrong but learn fast. There is no one big thing, but lots of smaller things I would do differently if we were to start-up again.
What advice would you offer to any soon to be startup founders out there?
It is hard work but worth every second. If you think you have the legs for it then you will never look back.
What are you most excited about at the moment?
The next 12 months are huge for the business, I am excited about what they hold for us, right now we are moving hand in hand as a sales and product organisation, there is a lot of great stuff coming through on both sides and we will be a very different business in a years time. Watch this space.
Can you convince the reader to start using Wazoku in under 50 words?
How do you currently capture ideas from within your business or from your customers? Do you have a culture of innovation and are you seen as an innovative firm? We have the best product on the market for internal and external innovation, let us show you why!
Finished reading? Check out Wazoku!