After a sensational tour of startup competitions in each of the 7 major Northern cities, the last event to decide the Northern Stars finalists was set to take place at Barclays Rise based in Manchester. Self-evident was the momentum of the previous competitions that had attracted an expectant crowd for networking, sharing ideas and a stellar cast of startups ready give their all to a discerning audience of tech entrepreneurs and investors.
With talks and introductions by Emma Cheshire from Dotforge, Matt Jeffs-Watts from Tech North and James Chalk from Crowdcube, the stage was set for a blitz of 3 minute pitches from 12 startups eager to share their digital business models, primed to be monetised by investors and to be recognised by the Northern Stars expert panel and audience voters.
At the end of the last pitch a break was called for the audience to discuss amongst each other the merits of what they had seen and a public vote was cast in search of a winner, leaving the panel judges to agree on the best of Manchester’s Northern Stars. With usually only one overall winner decided on at each event, this proved to be an impossible task with such a high bar set by all the contestants. A draw was announced that included joint winner Tom New, co-founder of Formisimo who won the Judging Panel vote.
Can you give me some background on you and your company?
Formisimo is an easy to install analytics product that provides unparrelled insight into where users struggle to complete online forms and checkouts. Formisimo was founded in January 2014, and has since grown to have over 2000 users in 100 countries worldwide. We’re were part of Seedcamp in February 2014, and have since won Retail Week’s startup of the year alongside a number of other awards including Venturefest’s Most Innovative Company of the Year in September. We’re currently a team of 12 based in Media City UK.
My (Tom’s) background is in Sales and Marketing, and I am now our Head of Product. I won the IoD North West’s Start Up Director of the year in 2015.
What are you working on right now?
We’ve recently closed a £450k funding round, so now we’re getting our heads down, building our international client base, and bringing a new product to our offering, which we’re incredibly excited about.
Where did your idea come from?
A combination of two things – a client at Al’s wanted to know exactly why their registration form was losing potential customers, and there was no product in the market that could provide enough insight to make improvements based on real data. That, combined which an almost immeasurable level of frustration at how unusable online forms were! We’ve all tried to buy or book something online and given up (many many times) and it’s almost unbelievable that online businesses don’t try harder to make forms easy to complete! Turns out that they simply don’t know the size of the problem or where to start. So we built something to show them.
Explain your business model
Formisimo model is a monthly subscription service. Formisimo charges based on the monthly traffic to a sites’ forms and visits, and the number of forms that a user would like to track. We also approach enterprise level business with bespoke packages based around levels of support and advice.
What’s been the single biggest highlight for your business?
This is an impossible question! The last two years have been an incredible journey full of challenges and incredible highs so it would be impossible to pick out a single moment. Perhaps a highlight is our current state as a company with an incredible team being part of the journey, and the unknown but exciting future we have ahead of us.
What was it that about Northern Stars that encouraged you to engage with them?
Despite much advice to the contrary (mainly from those London based), we’ve chosen to keep our business in Manchester and want to build a global tech business from the North West. We see all of the key ingredients to build a thriving ecosystem here, so any organisation with such talented individuals behind it such as Northern Stars and the Tech North programme is one we like to see and we’re more than happy to engage with them.
Has there been any businesses or entrepreneurs that have inspired you?
Any business that builds an innovative, lovable and highly useful product. Slack, Intercom and Trello spring to mind as companies recently whose offering is brilliant and only getting better. In terms of individuals, I would say myself and Al tend not to look at individuals; rather at the network of people that have helped and guided us along the way. This includes the team at Seedcamp, Keith Wallington (a recent addition to our board) and all of our fellow start up founders who share their wins and failures with us.
Why should investors be excited about Manchester’s tech industry?
Manchester has all of the ingredients to become a competitive ecosystem on a national and European scale. We’ve an ambulance of talented would-be entrepreneurs, a great talent pool, affordable office space and great national and international transport links. We might not be ‘there’ yet, but if we keep up what we’re doing it’s only a matter of time before Manchester is mentioned in the same breath as Barcelona (where I’m currently writing this), Berlin, Tel Aviv and London.
What does success look like for your company?
To be a globally renowned tech business competing at the highest level. To be loved by our ever expanding user base, and to be looked up to by the North West’s tech community as one of the most innovative and cutting edge fast growth tech companies in recent memory.
Want to learn more about Formisimo?
Written & edited by Noel Peatfield, copywriter specialising in tech. Based in Manchester (UK)
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