This week, we bring you a new feature: The Entrepreneur Spotlight.


Entrepreneurs are passionate, innovative people and their stories inspire us every day. As discussed in our first post, we wouldn’t be here if they didn’t exist! Thankfully, they do, and we are fortunate enough to have worked with some incredible people. From how to build the perfect team, to coping with failure, there is a wealth of experience out there which we thought we’d share with you through this Entrepreneur Spotlight series.

As Benjamin Franklin said: ‘Any investment in knowledge always pays the best interest’.


This week, we turn the lens inward and sit down with our founder David to find out more about his own journey into entrepreneurship. When we speak to David, he is in his London office, inspirational quotes are pinned to the walls around him and Pink Floyd is playing in the background. As a self-confessed right-brained accountant, we ask him why he decided to start Add then Multiply: 


‘I started Add then Multiply in 2002 after I’d been made redundant from the PR firm I was working for at the time, which had been taken over by a much larger agency group. At that stage, to be honest, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I just knew I wanted something different. I thought, hey I’ll become a consultant! And so I launched the company. Quite frankly I had no idea how to go out and get customers but I ended up getting lucky. In the first six months, I was introduced to a few clients from people in my network, as well as being approached by some former colleagues. I was introduced to a man named John van Kuffeler, and that really changed everything. I moved from having a small consultancy practice to working full time for his company Huveaux PLC. I spent 3½ years as CFO of this very fast growing, acquisitive group. It was an incredible time and I learnt a lot. I then joined another group, which was also listed on the stock exchange and was their CFO for 4½ years.


Feeling the itch of entrepreneurship, I decided to launch my wine business. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, but it allowed me to clarify my vision for Add then Multiply. I decided to consolidate everything I had learnt over the past 30 years of working in business and put it together in a way that made sense for entrepreneurs. I wanted to help them grow their businesses, as I had done with the larger companies I’d worked for. Consultancy firms tend to take on big projects for well-established businesses, but I’ve found that some of the most inspirational people I’ve worked with, who have the most incredible ideas, are often still in the early stages. I’ve raised money for bigger firms to help them grow, and I wanted to do this for entrepreneurial companies too. As well as this, my corporate experience has meant I’m familiar with the structures and processes that work, and applying these to small companies and seeing them fly really fills me with joy.’


30 years of business experience has helped David in the work he does with entrepreneurs and has also allowed him to meet many great people. Their experience and advice have really helped to shape his vision. When asked about the best advice he’s ever been given, it was no surprise that the first came from one of his mentors:


‘I’d have to say two pieces of advice really stand out to me, and continue to guide me to this day. The first was given to me by John van Kuffeler who said: ‘Stick with what you’re good at. Do what you know and what you’re known for.’ That was a very useful piece of advice that I did not follow when I launched the wine business! But I really used it when developing Add then Multiply to be the company it is today. The second is very much along the same lines, and that was to be totally clear on my unique offering to the market. This advice came from Daniel Priestley, who helped me put my F.A.C.E model together (Fund, Acquire, Consolidate, Exit). I can get very excited by different projects and possibilities, but having that clarity on exactly what I was offering has really helped to hone the business into what it is today.’


There is no doubt that David loves his job, from working with great people to helping companies grow, we ask him what his favourite aspect is: 


‘With no doubt, my favourite part is the variety. Having spent 20 years of my career in corporate environments and 8 years in AIM-listed companies, the thing I like best about having my own business is the fact that there is constant change. I really thrive on the different people I get to meet and how no two days are the same.’


With such varied experience, David’s familiarity with success and failure has helped him to identify the key to building a successful business. We ask him what he thinks the secret is: 


‘Firstly, you need to have a product or service that your target market wants. And secondly, you need to be able to deliver that product or service to a high standard, in a way you can make profit from. It sounds generic, but if I look at the businesses I’m involved with today, such as Dent, they have a very clear niche market. Often the most successful businesses have very focused markets, as it allows them to spend their time and energy serving a customer they know a lot about. Understand your market, dominate it and provide your goods or services in a better way than anyone else. This fits in with Daniel Priestley’s Key Person of Influence methodology. If I look at Welcome Gate, the electronic security company I work with, despite operating in a saturated industry, we know what our target market is, and we really focus on finding the companies who are interested in what we do. We tailor security solutions to meet their business requirements, and we look beyond just the security aspect, to helping companies use these systems to grow their business. For instance, we’ve done a lot of work with Camden Market to see how we can integrate the CCTV and the access control to show the movement of people around the market. Additionally, we’ve just won a major contract with a global business to redo the security in five of their locations in the UK. It was a very competitive tender we pitched for, and we were the smallest company pitching, but were very focused and ended up winning the job, which was amazing.’


Helping entrepreneurs achieve their dreams is one thing, but we wanted to know where David dreams of taking Add then Multiply: 


‘That’s a very interesting question. I’ve been running the business in its current form for about 5 years now. I’ve built it up to a point where I have a portfolio of clients, and I have an equity stake in several of them. I have a form of on-going role in each of the companies, but I’m finding as the business grows it’s getting harder to serve those companies on my own. One of the things that I’m grappling with right now is how to balance my business growth with the commitments I have to individual clients. I often advise my clients to invest in people to help them grow their businesses, and I have pulled in freelancers from time to time, but I’m now on the verge of that kind of decision myself. Over the course of the next few months it’s something I have to come to grips with: investing in staff to help grow my business. Now I’m clear on my niche, I’m fortunate enough to have more opportunities coming my way and it’s time to grow the business. It’s varied, and I love my job. I have to say after 30 years of working in business it’s incredibly refreshing to have such clarity on what I want to do, and I am so grateful I get to do it.’