Andrew Needham is the CEO of HeadBox. Andrew is a thought leader, influencer, visionary, and successful entrepreneur. Andrew provides the leadership and energy that has inspired the creation of HeadBox. Andrew Needham joins other leading CEOs and Founders taking part in our Leader Roundtable Interview Series. The DotCom Magazine editorial team has recently awarded HeadBox with our Impact Company of 2019 award. We are delighted to have Andrew join us for our Leader Roundtable Interview and our popular “speed round” as well.
Andrew, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day for this interview about your company, leadership, and entrepreneurship.
1. What is the “elevator pitch” for HeadBox?
HeadBox is the fastest growing event tech company in the UK. Our mission is to reinvent the global events industry through technology. Whether you are a booker, a business or a venue, you can unlock brilliant events via our human-kind event tech.
2. What is the key to your company’s success?
Building brilliant products that our customers love. This means that we are very focused on understanding their pain points so that we can turn our users into super heroes. Understanding our customers is key to our growth.
3. Many of our readers are just starting to build a company. What advice can you give entrepreneurs just starting out with a new venture?
Understand the opportunity you are going after – is there a gap in the market but also a market in the gap
Understand who your customer is. Do everything to listen to and understand your customers and what’s important to them. Never lose sight of who your customer is and the problem(s) you’re solving for them.
Ensure your solution is solving a genuine problem for your customer. Is your solution better than anything else on the market
Think about your commercial model and what your customer would be prepared to pay for your product/service.
Apply the 10 X rule to your thinking. Be bold.
4. For other entrepreneurs seeking to build a business as successful as yours, what advice can you give them when times get a little challenging?
I think entrepreneurs hear this a great deal but it is true. Never give up. Be relentless in everything you do. Keep going over the key points I have shared above. If something is not working then change it quickly, be prepared to adapt based on what you are learning from your customers. If you really listen to their problems then you will find a way to fix them and this creates value that you can monetise. Always keep your focus on what is ahead and don’t let your mistakes hold you back.
5. How important is the commitment to client satisfaction at HeadBox, and how do you make sure your customers will become raving fans of your company?
Our customers are the lifeblood of HeadBox and are at the centre of everything we do. We treat every client as if they were our first client and our team works very hard to deliver every time, on time for them. Reinventing an industry is no small task so it’s incredibly important that we understand our clients inside out and listen to the feedback they provide to us so we can build brilliant products that they love.
6. In today’s fast changing business environment, how do you stay abreast of things?
One of our values at HeadBox is “Brilliance”. To be brilliant at what you do you need to keep learning, developing and pushing yourself to be more than you thought you could be. So as part of this we regularly share content, be that podcasts, articles or books, that are relevant to building our business, products and our people. We’ve recently launched HeadBooks, our internal library where our team can share and borrow books, which has proved incredibly popular. I think it’s important to consume as much content and information as you can as there is so much to learn. So one of the goals I set myself at the beginning of 2018 was to read a book a month and I am now 17 books the wiser! We’re part of the Sharing Economy trade body, which is an excellent opportunity to share learnings with like-minded platform based businesses at different stages of their journey. I’m also constantly on LinkedIn, which is an excellent source of news and content related to our industry and the startup world.
7. What is your “Why”? Why do you get up in the morning, and how do you keep yourself at peak performance to lead HeadBox?
My “why’ is motivated by a number of things. Being an entrepreneur is a big part of who I am and why I do things. It is about following your own path in life; always taking your life in the direction that you want it to go in, stepping towards who you want to be and where you want to go rather than it being controlled or dictated to you by somebody else. It’s by doing that, that I am being true to myself and that’s when I am at my happiest. Getting up in the morning is also about ambition. I think you have to be ambitious in your life and go out there to try and do big things and make big things happen that can have a meaningful impact on people’s lives and the world around you. It’s also about solving problems; that’s how you make the world a better place. I’m a curious person by nature and I always look at different things and I think HeadBox was a good example of where I questioned the status quo and asked “why”. Finally a big part of my why is as an entrepreneur you never stop learning, that you’re constantly stimulating yourself with new things and new ways of doing things, and that means putting yourself out of your comfort zone. It means sometimes taking that step into the unknown, but I think you learn a lot from doing that.
8. Can you recommend a book that has had an influence in your career? How did it influence you?
Start with why by Simon Sinek? This book taught me that understanding and articulating why you do something as a company rather than what you do and how you do it is a fundamental differentiator and can inspire everyone in your business to achieve great things.
9. When communicating with your staff, can you tell us the most important thing you do so that they are able to carry out the objectives that you set forth at HeadBox?
At the beginning of every financial year, I set out the three key results we want to achieve as a company, so everyone in the business is aware of our common goals and can then understand how their individual team OKRs (Objective Key Results) feed into making that happen. You could ask any member of our team what our three key results are in 2019 and they would be able to relay them, which is an excellent discipline. As part of ensuring we don’t lose sight of them we have a whole company kick-off on a Monday morning and then a Friday wins close meeting, where we reflect on the commitments made and successes achieved by the individual teams each week. As the CEO these meetings and what you say in them are important because it sets the tone, the pace, the energy and the ambition of the company. It’s the chance to inspire everyone at HeadBox that what we are doing and learning matters and is making a difference. I see one of my jobs as the CEO to inspire HeadBoxers not only to do great things here but also to ensure that they have the confidence, belief and skills to go on and do great things when they leave.
10. Can you explain what leadership means to you?
My core values as a leader are very simple. Excellence, integrity, empathy and curiosity. Excellence for me is the constant pursuit to be better, to be a better version of yourself, trying to optimise who you are by always learning, developing and pushing yourself. Integrity is about delivering what you say you are going to do when you say you’re going to do it. This builds trust with your team and your clients and is something that we put a lot of emphasis on at HeadBox. Empathy, is about listening to your clients and your team and understanding the world through someone else’s eyes. Being a strong leader means that it is not about you and much more about everyone around you and helping them to achieve, grow and develop. Kindness is also a part of this. I always want my team to know that they can speak to me about anything and I will always do my best to respond and support them in a kind, fair and considerate way. Finally curiosity is key as it is impossible to change the world and make it a better place if you’re not curious. The people we have hired at HeadBox dedicate a lot of their time and energy to the HeadBox cause so it’s very important that I deliver for them as the leader of this business by building the best culture we can based on these values and setting an example in all of them.
We would like to have some fun and do a “speed round” with you! We will ask you ten more questions that we want you to answer in just one to three words only. Here you go!
1. In three words or less, what makes a successful CEO?
Integrity. Empathy. Curiosity
2. Describe your business in one word?
3. Describe your customers in one word?
4. What one attribute do you look for when hiring an employee?
5. What is the one word you want your customers to say about your company?
6. In three words or less, describe your passion?
Loving my family
7. In three words or less, describe what it takes to be successful?
Discipline, drive, relentlessness
8. In three words or less, describe your first year in business at HeadBox?
Exciting, challenging, scary
9. In three words or less, describe how running a successful company has changed you?
“Made me better” or “Helped me grow”
10. What is the one word that you believe has the most power in the English language?
My one word is “yes” – say “yes” to as much as you possibly can in your life.
Andrew Needham, thank you so much for sitting down with us for our DotCom Magazine Leader Roundtable Interview Series. We very much appreciate the time you spent helping our readers learn more about what it takes to be a leader. We wish you, your family, and of course HeadBox, nothing but the best. Thanks again!
Andrew Needham, CEO of HeadBox, The Leader Roundtable Interview Series