My Week: Martin Port, Big Change

Serial entrepreneur Martin Port launched his new business on New Year's Day. He talks us through a week running his new tech start-up, Big Change, and reveals why he always keeps the Sabbath.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

As the founder of a new start-up, I'm working six days a week at the moment. It would be seven but I always keep the Sabbath. That means I switch off my phone and my laptop on Friday night and won't be back online till Saturday evening. That's a full 25 hours to devote to my family.

I started observing the Sabbath three years ago. It tends to be the only time I really get away from my business and it often gives me the chance to get a new perspective on any challenges I'm facing.

Big Change isn't my first venture. I've manufactured business cards, I've been a professional baker in the UK and New York, but my most successful business to date is the vehicle tracking firm I launched back in 2002, Masternaut.

Masternaut grew to become the European market leader. By the time I exited the business in 2009, it had service revenues in excess of $100m. But I wasn't ready to retire at 50. I spotted a gap in the market for a full-service telematics firm that went way beyond Masternaut's capabiltities, that was scalable and could completely change the way that mobile workforces are managed and tracked forever.

I've invested £1m of my own cash into this venture and have been developing the tech over the last 18 months. Now, we have our own patented device which is used by an organisation's delivery drivers or couriers - anyone mobile - that links directly to a back office system that can be run and managed from anywhere.

I shan't bore you with the details, but Big Change is designed to make people more productive, save money (by cutting their speed, for example) and do away with paperwork altogether so that everything is digital and can be measured, quantified and crunched.

Since we went live on January 1, we have signed up 20 customers across Europe, with another coming on board every week, and we have a further 12 sites running trials too.

I wake up most mornings at 5am (I'm used to four hours sleep a night after working in the bakery industry) and I'm at work by 7am. I get all the management stuff done before 9am or after 6pm, and hold the team meeting on Sunday (none of my staff have lives - joke!), and that means I get to spend all day out visiting prospects and selling.

By the end of year one, we're projecting a £2m turnover and 100 customers. It's a fairly conservative estimate as we're already ready to go global. The technology runs in ten languages so far: only last week we equipped 300 Hungarian buses!

I've set myself some pretty tough targets for this business, and not just in terms of revenue. At Masternaut, we never lost a customer and I want to keep that record with Big Change. This isn't a business I want to build and sell, either. I want to stay with it until it becomes the number one in the industry - not so difficult right now when we have no competitors to speak of. But then, we are only a month old...

Find out more about Big Change.

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