Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Nicholas Bernhardt, CEO and co-founder of corporate social responsibility (CSR) tech start-up, Informed 365.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea
Informed 365 has one simple mission: we want to help users see and understand their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) data. We help any organisation (from non-profits to global enterprises to governments) to visualise critical data in a meaningful way that allows them to effectively use their data to make more informed decisions and improve efficiency in the business.
We do this through providing real-time web-based applications covering Supply Chains / Ethical Sourcing (including Modern Slavery Act), Business Intelligence (e.g. Greenhouse Gas tracking and calculating, automated reporting, etc.) and Climate Change resilience. Our applications use ultra-fast analytics, big real-time data and connectivity via Application Programming Interfaces (API) coupled with customised dashboards to convert any data into actionable insights.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
Initially, Informed 365 grew via organic growth and word-of-mouth. We nurtured a database of executives in the sustainability and procurement space and made sure that we regularly contacted them to stay front-of-mind. In line with our overriding social and environmental ambitions we also took a very pro-active and vocal activist stand on pressing issues such as Modern Slavery and Climate Change.
Once we were ready to take Informed 365 to the next level, we reached out to Andrew Banks (Morgan & Banks, Talent 2, Shark Tank) as a potential equity partner. We specifically targeted Andrew as he’d had extensive B2B experience, has unrivalled knowledge and expertise of growing companies and a network of connections. He has since become a pivotal partner to guide us to the next growth stages.
What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?
Australia has a shortage of top-quality software engineers and developers. According to a 2018 UTS / Microsoft report “nine of the top 15 most advertised positions were for developers, software engineers and user experience/user interface design roles.” Thanks to communication technology, we are not only competing for talent with other Australian tech firms, but also with companies around the world.
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
We set out to develop a highly agile platform from which we can run scalable unlimited related applications that can evolve with a client’s requirements. We are unique in that we have partnered up with leading third-party subject matter experts to provide clients with seamless end-to-end solutions. By aggregating such services we can deliver best-practice solutions that cover compliance, risk, sustainability, audits and assurance in one seamless web-based platform.
It may sound corny, but we are also genuinely passionate about what we do – we operate in the sustainability space as we believe in doing business more efficiently and reducing our impact on the environment and creating a stronger, fairer and more resilient society. We live and breathe sustainability.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
The one application we couldn’t work without is Slack. Slack allows us to have conversations in channels which can be organised by any metric such as project, team or subject. The platform ensures that the right people are in the conversation and information doesn’t get lost. It integrates with the apps and services we use every day and there’s visibility for everyone in the conversation.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
“Surround yourself with smart people.” The right circle of influence raises the bar and forces you to do better and be smarter. It's also crucial in business to have a knowledgeable team and network to draw-on for feedback, insight, collaboration and guidance. Being proactive in finding these people early-on is the best way to set yourself up for success.
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