Fishrod Interactive is a software company that has been developing web applications since early 2008. In 2010 they branched out into the mobile platform, and their remit has since expanded into a variety of interactive software products.
The first has to be graduating from university and within the first week getting our biggest client, which was Sky. We didn’t even have an office at the time so that was pretty weird. Things like getting our first office down in Bournemouth and taking on my first employee (my best friend) were all key milestones for me.
By far my biggest achievement was writing and publishing my first book. It was geared towards trying to teach people how to write mobile web applications and I didn’t necessarily want it to sell massively; I just wanted to impart my knowledge onto others. After I wrote that we managed to get our next biggest client which was WWE, and that was really exciting. We got the chance to really experiment and work closely with the client to figure out what their wants and needs were, and really put what we believed in into the work that we produced.
In terms of celebrating I’m a bit of a weird one. I’ve still got that student in me. I mean when you have a business and you do well we buy champagne and all that stuff and make sure everyone’s having a good time. But as I’m getting slightly older we have been doing things like going to Thorpe Park and paintballing and stuff like that.
I think a lot of the setbacks have come from not really knowing how to run a business from the very start and not having any training. The first thing we did was hire a marketing person to try and get more work in but with a team of only two people we weren’t able to fulfil everything. So for me resource was quite a major setback from the beginning.
Moving to London in itself was a big change for us. We went from paying cheap rent to something that was ten times the amount we were paying in Bournemouth. So we had to take all these things into consideration, but we managed to get over it and our heads are still above water.
That’s a hard one. A lot of people do risk assessments and risk analysis and stuff like that; personally I think it’s a waste of time. If you really believe in something and there is a risk to that decision, you’ll take it anyway regardless of what your analysis will say to you. And if it doesn’t work out, you pick yourself back up, you dust yourself off and you try again and do something else. There’s nothing wrong with failing.
When we first started up we had an ethos where we would service clients for the first year and then move towards becoming a product based company; so we would produce our own apps and sell them to consumers. We’re slowly getting there, but we haven’t got there yet. To compensate, the biggest risk at the moment has been to invest in a company, both time and money, to produce an application in exchange for equity. This means we get to produce something which is client based, we invest inside the company we are doing it for and they in turn do the marketing and sell the product for us. In return for that we also get our investment back. That should then allow us to drive those products and services that we want to start doing.
Not having a work/life balance is something you just have to deal with [laughs]. I guess you could say I’ve moved closer to the office so I can get more time to myself, but saying that I’ve been doing this since I was about 13 or 14, so coding and making apps and stuff like that is something I was born with. I can’t take a day off and not be near a computer or code. I have a need to do something, to make something, and I think you need that kind of passion to build a business. If you’re working long hours and you don’t love what you do, in my opinion it’s time to find something else.
This sounds really weird but there used to be this advert on TV when I was little and it was about inventors. It was basically a light bulb with a question mark on it and it said “if you are an inventor and you have an idea call 0800 INVENT” or something like that. I had always wanted to be an inventor since I was a kid; taking apart computers and microwaves and making random things out of them. I knew that I wanted to make things.
My first business when I was a child was taking apart mobile phones and repairing them, reprogramming them and stuff like that. I made my first ever website when I was about 14. It took me a year to build it and I remember my dad turned around to me and said “Gavin you can’t spend your life making no money and building websites, you need to get a job”. So I did my A levels and applied for loads of jobs. Immediately I got loads of calls back and I started contracting at about the age of 14-15. I started to work with some big agencies whilst I was at university and I figured, you know what? I’ve seen the industry, I’ve seen advertising and I’ve seen the broadcasting side of things and I wanted to make my own mark and put my own stamp on it all. I knew that there were these little pockets, these little bubbles of opportunity, that were just waiting to burst.