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Broadening My Horizons As A CEO – Amplify Best Practice Study Trip

By 31st October 2018 No Comments

What is Amplify and what does it mean for Dreamr?

My role as a CEO reached new heights this month when I was lucky enough to travel abroad to Copenhagen – Denmark as part of Amplify, a new nine-month growth programme implemented by The Business Growth Hub & FORM.

The Amplify team is made up of 14 different business leaders throughout Greater Manchester, who are involved in the digital, creative and technology sectors and have the potential to generate high growth and sustain it. Being part of Amplify is hugely beneficial for Dreamr. The programme offers support designed to assist in the growth of each company and offers an elevated, tailored, do-able strategy to enhance Manchester businesses. They will receive facilitated planning, input from industry leaders and support to assist them in implementing changes within their business.

The European best practice study trip to Denmark was the first phase of the nine-month programme. It aimed to provide fresh input and inspiration from dynamic and creative tech companies, whilst spending time in one of the most creative cities in Europe. With the hope that we could evolve, learn and grow as a business from the practices we witnessed and the memorable experiences we shared.

Amplify European Study trip 

What were my expectations of the Study Trip?

Living and working in the city centre of Manchester means that it can sometimes be hard to switch off and escape for some much-needed down time. I hoped that the Copenhagen trip would offer the opportunity to learn from other business leaders in a relaxed environment, in a vibrant and exciting country. I wanted to hear about the challenges other leaders faced. Are they the same challenges I face as a CEO? I was also intrigued to find out how a small country like Denmark has worked on bridging the current skills gap (I imagined this would be an even greater challenge for a country with such a small population). With all this in mind, and with Denmark’s reputation as being ‘the happiest nation in the world’, I was keen and eager to board the plane and meet the other leaders and businesses welcoming us into their daily lives.

Learning about culture with ustwo

When it came to my expectations of what the companies of Scandinavia had to offer, I thought that culture would be at the forefront every company, and I hoped this would be the case. At Dreamr, we are very focused on our culture, striving to giving back to our community and our team. On the second day, we hopped on the train to Malmö – Sweden to visit ustwo. I was really looking forward to visiting this company, as they are very similar to Dreamr. They specialise in mobile app development and even have a ventures arm of their business!

At Dreamr, I like to make sure my team experiences a happy and comfortable environment in which to work. ustwo provided a fantastic workplace for their team and was a prime example of what I wanted to achieve within Dreamr. They had a very cool and modern space, with areas to work collaboratively, and quiet areas where the team can go to focus solely. Sophie the ‘Team Coach’ at ustwo was really inspiring in how she works with her team to support them in their roles and helping them communicate with each other. It enforced to me how important supporting your team is and reminded me of how we support our team at Dreamr, with options such as flexible working and 121 meetings with Lynne, our Director of People & Culture.

ustwo also spoke about something they call ‘Succailure’, which means ‘it takes a lot of unsuccessful attempts to create something perfect’. They mentioned that for 9 years previously, they created lots of unsuccessful internal venture projects, and often found themselves back at square one. It made me realise that it’s ok to fail, because if you keep trying, you will create the best product. After all their unsuccessful attempts, ustwo were the creators of Monument Valley, a game that is now one of the most successful on the App Store.

Despite being like Dreamr in lots of ways, ustwo are different in the sense that they are a much larger company. They have 400 team members spread out all over the world and it was interesting to learn about how they retain their culture and values and approached the skills gap with so many team members.

ustwo

ustwo gave off a vibe that felt ‘homely’. We spend more time at work than we do at home, and we should create a workplace environment we all feel comfortable in and make the best of our work lives. I valued my visit to ustwo a lot as it gave me a lot of great ideas for Dreamr that we’re looking to implement over the next 3-6 months.

A new approach to business expenses with Pleo

I’ve always wondered what the best approach is when it comes to business expenses. Sometimes team members need to expense things such as taxi fares, food, and laptops and I think it can all get more complicated than it needs to be. We visited Pleo, a company that says goodbye to expense reports, paperwork and reimbursements. Replacing traditional methods with smart company cards that automate expenses and simplify the whole approach to business expenses. This was something I wanted to introduce to Dreamr. As soon as I got back to England I placed an order for a set of Pleo cards for our management team, and I can’t wait to get using them.

As well as finding a new way to do business expenses, it was great to hear the story behind Pleo.

Founders Niccolo and Jeppe spoke to us about their journey into Fintech. They discussed the challenges they faced getting investment and how they made their start up a success. Out of all the tech trends happening currently, fintech is one of the sectors that is most promising. It was great to hear more about their journey and learn how they overcame obstacles to make Pleo what it is today.

Emotion in design with Spring/Summer

Another company that really made an impact on me was Spring/Summer, a design/branding and development agency. Both design and user experience are key aspects to Dreamr, so I was keen to listen and learn from this established and creative company in the heart of Copenhagen. They put a lot of emphasis on functionality meeting aesthetics and talked to us about how important it is to use emotion when it comes to design. Creating ‘magic moments’ for users that really engage and interact with them on a personal level.

What have I taken away from the businesses we visited?

There are so many important factors that I have taken away from the trip on a business level. I am excited to implement some great changes I witnessed from the other companies, that I believe will help Dreamr evolve and grow.

I am keen to personalise our office space even more. While our office is quirky and fun, visiting ustwo made me realise it’s good to bring personality to the workplace, the more personalised the better! I’ve also realised that when creating amazing work at Dreamr, we should think about the sense and sensibility of the project, and most importantly, focus on creating those ‘magic moments’ for users that Spring Summer spoke so highly about. Ultimately, it’s the users who are using the platforms we create and it’s their happiness that means the most.

How did the trip impact me on an individual level?

Something I haven’t touched on as much is the other Manchester business leaders I spent 3 days with. It was these people who made the trip what it was and inspired me to open up about the challenges I’ve faced as a CEO. The group shared their experiences with me and I realised we shared a lot of the same challenges as business owners, which really set me at ease. I felt comfortable asking for advice and being able to offer advice. I also enjoyed gaining insight into other people’s businesses from a granular level. As an individual I’ve learnt how important it is to take time out of work to relax and balance my lifestyle, so the stresses of business don’t become overwhelming.

Jack with the Amplify team 

In between visiting the inspiring businesses of Scandinavia, we also got to try out the local delicacies of Denmark. From giant meatballs to danish hotdogs (which I finally got to try at the airport on the way home) it was great to bond with the team in more ways than I expected. Discussing how we can evolve our businesses together whilst enjoying great food and learning from some of the world’s most creative companies. I have a lot of great ideas to implement within Dreamr now I’ve returned, and I can’t wait to get started. Thanks for a great trip Team Amplify, and I can’t wait for the next one!

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Jack

CEO