Interview with Tim Martin, CEO of SpeakInConfidence.

SpeakInConfidence.com (www.speakinconfidence.com) is a unique web based Anonymous Dialogue System that enables an organisation’s staff to discuss matters with management without the worry of being identified. The system is simple to implement and empowers staff to raise issues, giving you better dialogue, a clearer understanding of your organisation and better governance.

The results – more engaged staff in lower risk organisations.

SpeakInConfidence.com, we are delighted to announce, has also become the first investment completed by the Jenson Seed EIS Fund as it has reached and exceeded its initial investment mark of £1 million.

So we thought that for our first in a series of interviews with entrepreneurs we would take a closer look at the company and get to know its ambitious founder Tim Martin…

What time do you wake up and how do you spend the first hour of your working day?
A. In mornings I am very light driven – so in Summer I am up by 6 and winter it’s more of a struggle. I check the news and mails before I leave the house and like to use the 30 min walk to work to catch up with the team (if anyone is awake).

When you left school, what did you think you would end up doing? What were your aspirations?
A. I intended to be a Barrister but after a summer as intern at a City legal firm changed by focus to becoming a Corporate Solicitor – which led me to 5 years with Baker & McKenzie in London and Bangkok.

How did it all start?
A. I left law via a Finance Masters at LBS and a brief spell in the City at Dresdner Bank. I saw an add to head business development in Flextech – an upstart in the Cable and Satellite TV sectors – which had me working for Roger Luard (an amazing entrepreneur who could get to the heart of opportunity, risk and challenges in a flash – sadly he died young) looking at lots of the companies coming through in .com1. I still remember the stream of – “You don’t understand, it’s not about the revenue it’s about the users, stupid!”. If you mean SpeakInConfidence – just seeing so many businesses stumble when the answers were available within.

What’s the best part of your job?
A. Don’t get me started, it’s a blast. Working with people I like and admire; trying to balance innovation and delivery; developing a service I totally believe in (and believe virtually every business would benefit from adopting).

What have you enjoyed most about your career to date?
A. I have had variety without randomness – law to banking to business to my own business. I have been lucky enough to remain true to myself (and I hope those closest to me). I have been able to follow my dream without dreaming life away.

What is your top tip to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
A. Play to your strengths, recognise and fill your weaknesses, work with great people and empower them, never lose your humanity and humility and don’t yield an ounce of your integrity.

Are there any specific skills or qualities you believe are vital to make it in in the current economic climate?
A. You can do far worse than focus, agility and determination – with a healthy dose of reality sprinkled in.

Where do you hope to be in 5 years’ time?
A. Workwise – running a successful business which has a global reputation for delivering innovative valuable services which harness new technologies to help get the best from people and organisations and which attracts and develops top talent. Enough time to spare to mentor a couple of emerging business leaders.
Socially – still married to my wonderful wife and healthy enough to be training for another Ironman.

What motivates you and keeps you going throughout the week?
A. Seeing SpeakInConfidence evolving every day and building something I passionately believe in.

What has been your biggest challenge?
A. Personally – finishing Ironman. Professionally – I have worked in a couple of organisations where the leaders have been less than candid, shall we say. It’s a painful experience – my advice is just avoid them.

Are there any blogs/websites/influential people you recommend that people follow?
A. TED – Well worth catching a talk or two of theirs every day to make you think and keep giving a new and interesting perspective.

Who do you admire?
A. My brother Andy who is COO Europe and Japan for Compass, and an NED of EasyJet. He has drive, energy, decency and humility in equal proportions.

What are you currently reading?
A. I am trying to learn Spanish so crawling through a book of short stories in a Spanish / English parallel text book

What technology could you not live without?
A. My Condor bike (the iplayer would be a close second).

To find out more, please follow updates from @speaksecurely or visit speakinconfidence.com