My Week: Dan McGuire of cube19

Serial entrepreneur Dan McGuire is a recruitment industry veteran at the tender age of 31. He tells MT about his new baby, visual analytics firm cube19.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

I’m in the business of business intelligence. Traditionally, that meant boring Excel spreadsheets and numbers that were out of date by the time you got around to reading them. I wanted to create new kind of application that showed you – at a glance – exactly what was happening in your business in real time, and specifically what action needed to be taken. I'd never seen anything that took immediately to the right piece of information that quickly.

Starting a business from the ground up has been a new experience for me. With Broadbean, the job posting site I sold in 2008, I was almost like an adopted father – I had it from a newborn. With cube19, I’m having to learn all about the bits that come before. And it’s just me: I have no partners, I own 95%, and I’ve invested £0.5m, so there’s a lot at stake. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not waking up in cold sweats at night, but it’s all pretty exciting. Getting to sleep at all is the hard part.

I started work on the project in March 2011, and we started development in September. With tech start-ups, you should always launch the minimum product onto the market as soon as possible to check that it’s a viable concept. Once you’ve launched, though, you need to grow pretty fast. Hiring people when you’re really small is tough. A start-up can’t carry any passengers, so every decision has to be the right one. And the kind of people I need aren’t just sitting there waiting for a job. They are happy in their jobs, doing amazing things. I have to tempt them away. I want to disrupt someone’s life in a positive way. I want them to take a personal risk, and have a big decision to make.

A current challenge I have is raising capital. I’ve met lots of potential investors. It’s difficult, though. Of course you want to bring the cash in but it's so important in an early stage business to work with the right people. They have to trust you and buy into your vision, you have to feel that they'll be easy to work with and support you. You're entering into a long term relationship and it's quite possible that, other than due diligence, you don't really know the people. So you have to treat it like you would recruiting the first members of your team. Making a mistake with staff or investors can be very costly.

Last time I was talking to investors, it was with Broadbean. I had six years of sales data on which to base projections. This time, I have three clients. I’m having to sell the idea of cube19 as a journey. I’m having to sell myself, my team and the vision.

It's pretty good, doing this column, by the way. Rather like free therapy or an AA meeting. 

Hi. My name is Dan McGuire and I’m an entrepreneur. 


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