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Leading a customer-led transformation at a PE-backed #SMEtech. Previously CSO at Albion, a business innovation consultancy.
The Roli Lumi — “The fun, instant, rewarding way to learn to play the piano”

This year some people noticed that, for the last few Decembers, I’ve published a round up of the most interesting new business ideas I came across that year, so now I’m feeling pressure to keep it up. Here then is my list for 2020.

Also this year the nice people at Idean invited me to talk at their event about propositions, which forced me to think more about what I mean when I use that word:

Propositions are classically a statement of ‘the reason why someone should try or buy your product or service’. But in the real world propositions…


About Bionic

Bionic is a PE-backed growth company that I joined as Chief Customer Officer, after 20 years in brand, creative and innovation agencies. We’re transforming the business from a white-label call centre for energy switching, to a tech-enabled service that makes it radically easier to run an SME.

At the end of 2019 we rebranded the business (which was previously known as Make It Cheaper) to Bionic to reflect our ‘hybrid’ customer experience that combines digital with world class human service.

Our business is built on amazingly strong relationships with the suppliers that we distribute, and with the partners (like Compare…


The Arrival ‘green white van’

For the last couple of Decembers I’ve published a list of the most interesting business ideas I discovered that year, so it’s nearly a tradition. Here then is my list for 2019.

As always it’s in no way exhaustive or complete (or in any kind of sensible order), it’s just some ideas that I’ve subjectively found interesting or inspiring. Last year Tom pointed out that it’s very UK/US focussed, and it still is, sorry. It’s also possibly even less complete this year as I left the agency world, so I’ve had less time to spend on social media(!)

This year…


Long story short, we shut Albion in April 2019 and I immediately went to work at our last new client, Make It Cheaper.

You’ve never heard of Make It Cheaper, because we had an awful, forgettable name and got the vast majority of our customers from white label partnerships. But MIC is a great fast-growth company with a genuinely amazing culture. In a decade it grew to become the largest energy broker for SMEs.

The old Make It Cheaper website

Oh…

People are surprised when I tell them where I am. I think they expected me to turn up at a hot new VC-backed startup, take a…


A year ago I published a list of the interesting propositions I discovered in 2017, and a few people seemed to like it, so I thought I’d do it again for 2018.

I’ll repeat the same caveat: It’s in no way exhaustive or complete (or in any kind of sensible order); it’s just those new ideas that I’ve subjectively found most interesting, or have found most useful as inspiration or analogy in our work at Albion.

Yet again there’s no VR/AR, barely any AI, and only the choicest crypto/blockchain. I’ve also avoided just listing tens of new d2c brands. …


After 13 years Albion is moving out of the Tea Building in Shoreditch. So I thought I’d take a quick look back at our time there, what the building has meant to us, and what’s next.

2006–2010

Albion had started a couple of years before, in a shop unit on Great Eastern Street, but had already outgrown it. (Also the landlord threw threw us out for playing music too loud.)

We were one of the first tenants in The Tea Building, and for a long time were one of the few ‘real’ businesses. Next door was a model agency with no…


The high street is alive and well in Marple. New openings in my local town — vape spots, cupcake classes, yoga studios — show that shops are becoming places to do stuff as well as buy stuff.

Stockport’s high street is a 10-minute drive from Marple but couldn’t be more different. Here, the corporate high street struggles to keep the lights on. National chain stores lie empty. Cost-cutting measures have whittled customer service to the bone. Cut-price stock is piled high in huge stores. The contrast between this and Marple is stark, and it’s obvious why.

The big retail locations…


Despite a decade of hype and billions in funding, fintech is still only used by early adopters. But one startup has finally got the right strategy to crossover to the mainstream — by not trying to be for everyone.

Fintech funding moves into the growth stage

CB Insights recently reported that total fintech funding has hit $77.6bn with 26 ‘unicorn’ companies each valued at over a billion.

As the Fintech Insider podcast discussed the funding is moving from early stage (funding new startups) and into growth stage ‘megarounds’, with Atom Bank having raised £340m in total, and Revolut’s latest round of $250m (after just 3 years!)

But…


This a version of a talk I gave at Google Firestarters — a forum for agency strategists — one of four provocations on ‘how the innovation landscape is changing, and how agencies and consultancies are adapting’.

I’ll argue that innovation practice is maturing, moving from the edge to the core of businesses. But that legacy agencies and consultancies aren’t adapting to this; in fact this evolution is exposing that they have the wrong structure, business model and culture for the modern era. …


I recently did a thing on Twitter…

Retail experiences on the precinct in my small northern town

A few people asked where I was talking about, and if I could document it. So here we are. The town, incidentally, is Marple in Cheshire, east of Manchester, just before the Peak District starts.

A place to get special cakes made (and to learn how to make special cakes).

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