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Abdul Mann, founder and CEO of Morgan Goodwin and EdgeCTP formerly worked in IT in the investment banking, stock market and derivative trading platform sectors before specialising in helping businesses grow and develop, especially internationally.
What does your company do?
Morgan Goodwin is a consultancy that specialises in helping businesses grow and develop, especially internationally. We’ve been doing this since 2012 and it was here that our new product and major innovation was brought to life – a single technology platform capable of managing every aspect of national and international trading, which we’ve called EdgeCTP.
What do you do there / what is your role?
I am the founder and CEO of Morgan Goodwin and EdgeCTP
What is your background?
Before starting the company I worked in IT, specifically in the investment banking, stock market and derivative trading platform sectors. A lot of my experience comes from analysing and designing financial, regulatory, compliance, derivatives trading and stock exchange systems, which are all geared towards making business efficient and leveraging competitive advantages from new technologies.
What was the aha moment that led to the company founding?
The idea was first discussed in 2010, with Mark Sheahan (then Chairman of Ambosco) to develop an export support solution for Scottish Chambers International (SCI), however, SCI when into administration so we decided an export support product should be independently created and marketed. We believed then, as we do now, that there is a need to evolve outdated and paper-based business practices when it comes to international trading.
Why did you launch the company?
We want to make UK companies as competitive as possible. Today, there are huge inefficiencies in business systems that have been patched together over time and were not designed for global trading, let alone internet-based marketplaces like Amazon, eBay and Alibaba. EdgeCTP has been created to address this. To empower UK businesses and make exporting simple and international commerce less complex and less time consuming.
Where did you get assistance when you started?
When building a technology platform designed to support companies in a new way, you need subject matter expertise, and we have the world best in Murdo Beaton, former international trade advisor at Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, who has been invaluable in making EdgeCTP compliant with international trading regulations and best practices. As has the expertise and networking of our Chairman, Mark Sheahan. Couple with Geoff Runcie, himself a former Chief Exec from Aberdeen and Glasgow Chambers and international director a the British Chambers of Commerce, we have a formidable team in the international trade and technology arenas.
Give us a brief history of the growth of the company
Morgan Goodwin was created in 2012 to empower SMEs to more effectively trade internationally and be the vessel through which we would develop our Edge platform. Four years later, in 2016, the EdgeCerts part of the platform – a free online tool for both SMEs and Chambers of Commerce to process international trading certificates – was award British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) recognition. The wider aspects of the Edge platform are available in beta form for free (for now) for companies to try out. As at today, there are 52 UK firms trailing these parts and over 100 overseas.
Have you taken any external funding? If so from who and when?
We bootstrapped the company using the classic personal; friends, family and angel investment. To-date we have received a £1.4m and with ongoing commitment.
So what does it look like now with regard to staff and turnover?
The business is now five strong and we’ve recently moved our offices into Glasgow – a traditional centre of trading in Scotland. It also allows us room for growth, which we expect in 2019.
What’s the difference between when you started and now in your marketplace?
The obvious and major change is Brexit, which has put international commercial relationships to the forefront of everyone’s mind in business. As we all know, we’re still at a stage that is full of ambiguity in terms of what this will look like in the long-term but it has absolutely underlined the importance and value of exports and imports.
What is your target market – Who is buying your product / service?
Our target market is all SMEs. There is the clear and obvious one of those currently trading internationally and who need to find a way to do it more cost and time effectively. Our own research has found that moving from analogue and paper-based processes to EdgeCTP can save businesses over £200 per month in employee time. Then there are those not selling overseas and our message to those businesses is clear – ‘why not?’. No business is too small to export and if a product is selling in a home market, it will likely sell in a foreign one too.
What are your goals for your business?
Our main objective is to establish the business and build trust in our platform. As with all legacy processes, there is a traditional mindset and way of doing things so it is incumbent on us to show that, in this case, change is good. Longer-term, with the advent of technologies such as blockchain, we’re going to reach a stage soon where we are completely paperless so nothing but the goods are shipped or sent. We want EdgeCTP to be the technology platform at the centre of this.
What are your biggest current challenges?
As alluded to above – we need to build trust in the platform. To do this properly, we need to work closely with Chambers of Commerce who are the traditional trusted parties in international trade to local businesses. We believe that our platform (beyond just EdgeCerts) will positively impact Chambers by not only protecting their certification revenue streams (i.e. reducing their running costs) and with the wider aspects of EdgeCTP, provide Chambers with a tool to truly engage with businesses in the trade facilitation process. We’re encouraging Chambers to think bigger (and beyond certificates) and establish a deeper value-adding roll with SME in the international trade processing needs. We understand that building trust in new technology takes time, and we believe EdgeCTP instigate a positive change and adds to, rather than detracts, from the current/traditional Chambers offerings to SMEs.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
We were building EdgeCTP at the same time as our day jobs for five to six years. It essentially meant doing a days work, then coming home and doing it again. When others are winding down on an evening and getting ready for the next day, we had to find the energy to ‘go again’ and that takes its toll over time. It was 18 hour days, seven days a week for years, which is not for everyone because of the tremendous pressure it puts on one’s life, health and those around you.
What do you do outside work?
My wife will tell you I do nothing but work! When time allows, taking my motorbike to a local racing track and sampling an adrenaline rush is always a fun distraction from the stresses of running a business.
What do you know now that you wished you had known earlier?
How insanely difficult it would be to design a new category; a new system; a new way of working and then to educate your profiled customers to buy it. In the case of EdgeCerts, we initially had trouble giving it away for free, the pushback being the traditional objections – what’s the catch? Is it too good to be true? Free never lasts. etc. Yet the same folks use Google, YouTube, email and FaceBook for free and they’d miss those if they went. Lesson learnt: it’s far easier if you build something that meets a customer’s need, rather than try and educate them of the need your product fulfils.
What’s the secret to good leadership?
Bags of patience, an ability to communicate your vision to others, and inspire them to join you on a voyage of discovery and have life-changing fun along the way.
Where do you see the company in five years?
Global reach or bust!
How can the Scottish startup/entrepreneur landscape be improved to help more businesses start up and grow?
Beyond in-person advice and financial support, which are critical services, start-up businesses need 21st century tools to allow them to conduct their business more efficiently. You wouldn’t expect a business today to not have a means of communication and so we shouldn’t expect them not to have business processing and trading systems to trade nationally and internationally 24/7.
Can you give us some numbers? Turnover, growth rate, etc.
Here’s the planning projections in GBP:
2019 = 100k (market is UK focus and platform readiness + launch)
2020 = 1m+ (US/Canada + ANZ + EU/RoI)
2021 = 5m+ (BRICS + RoW)
Abdul Mann is founder and CEO of Morgan Goodwin and EdgeCTP
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