Nicholas Smith & Toby Mander-Jones is the Co-CEOs & Founders of Brydge. Nicholas Smith & Toby Mander-Jones is a thought leader, influencer, and risk taker, and provides the vision and energy that has inspired the creation of Brydge. Nicholas Smith & Toby Mander-Jones joins other leading CEOs and Founders taking part in our Leader Roundtable Interview Series. The DotCom Magazine editorial team has awarded Brydge as an Impact Company of 2019, and we are delighted to have Nick & Toby join us for our Leader Round Table Interview. The Brydge story is very interesting, and we are very excited to not only interview Nick & Toby about his very successful business and entrepreneurial spirit, but also put Nick & Toby through our popular speed round as well.
Nick & Toby, thank so much for taking the time out of your busy day for this interview, and answering some questions about leadership, your vision, and your passion.
1. Can you describe what the “elevator pitch” for Brydge is?
“Brydge is fast growing consumer electronics brand – our vision is to be the market leader in high-quality, design focused peripherals that create a seamless experience across the mobile and connected desktop. The spearhead for our business has been our award-winning wireless tablet keyboards – that’s what we built our business around – and we have big plans beyond these products.”
2. Many of our readers are just starting to build a company. What advice can you give CEO’s just starting out regarding keeping a company moving forward, and please tell us the key to your company’s success?
“Resilience and thick skin. It’s critical to underpromise and overdeliver from day one. Building a company takes time and it’s hard work. When it comes down to really understanding what your business can do, it’s important to remain positive and get ready for a rocky road.
We took a very gated approach to building Brydge. We had full-time jobs, so when we started working on this we ran it as a part-time business for months and had certain gates that were validation points. We never really had a plan that was “start at A and get to Z”, it was literally just one step at a time. The important thing is to build a foundation first, don’t try to grow before you have a foundation. “
3. For other entrepreneurs seeking to build a business as successful as Brydge, what advice can you give them when times get a little challenging?
“Alcohol, long walks in the park… But no, it’s really about not giving up. Honestly, don’t take no for an answer. We still hear more “no’s” than “yes’s” – we just got one the other day. But it’s fine. I’m not expecting it to turn into a yes today, but I want to make sure that in 12 months we will know how to make it a yes.”
“Focus on the bigger picture and recognize the path to building a successful business is not easy. There are going to be tough times and you need to be confident in your products and strategy, and just push through those hard times. In the end, it’s about dogged persistence and just finding a way through.”
4. How important is the commitment to client satisfaction at Brydge, and how do you make sure your customers will become raving fans of your company?
“It’s critical. You can have the best product in the world but if you’re an ass about it and you treat your customers poorly you’re not going to have success.
“Customer satisfaction is absolutely key and it’s at the core of our business. You have no business without the customer! We’re building a premium brand and the key to that is having a loyal following of customers who become advocates for your brand and products.
It comes down to giving your customers the best experience possible in every interaction with your brand and products – whether that’s the packaging, the product itself, your website or the way you deal with customer enquiries”.
5. What is the one overriding belief that Brydge has about what it is doing?
“Never give up.”
“Absolute determination to be the market leader in our space.”
6. In today’s fast changing business environment, what do you do to keep up with the changes? What do you read to stay abreast of things?
“Of course, the news including relevant to our products and the sector in general. From a market perspective, it’s constantly looking at market data and research to see the trends in products, the market, your competitors. It’s also important to talk to customers, such as retailers and distributors, and partners to see what they’re seeing at the coal face. So it’s really having a finger on the pulse across a spectrum of information sources.”
7. What is your “Why”? Why do you get up in the morning, and how do you keep yourself at peak performance to lead Brydge?
“Why? The challenge to build Brydge into a successful company and a market leader. In terms of what drives me to peak performance, it’s that motivation. Everyone has their own drivers but that motivation is key.”
8. Can you recommend a book that has had an influence in your career? How did it influence you?
“I don’t have a particular book that has influenced my career but I have recently read Phil Knight’s book – Shoe Dog – his memoir on Nike. The key takeaway for me was that Nike’s history was anything but easy and certain – it is an amazing story of determination, tenacity and persistence. The path to building a multinational business like Nike is never straightforward, and many challenges had to be overcome.
We’ve had our challenges and every business does. It’s a matter of seeing the big picture and finding a way through, no matter how big the challenge.”
9. In one sentence, can you tell us what the most important thing about being a leader is?
“The ability to take criticism, manage people and problems, and leave emotions aside.”
“Make the tough decisions, inspire staff and build an engaging environment where your team feel valued and empowered to do their best work.”
10. In one sentence, can you give some advice to fellow entrepreneurs wishing to build a company as exciting as Brydge?
“There’s no time like the present and don’t be afraid to take the first step. A lot of people have ideas but it’s the execution and the implementation of the idea that is key. So just jump in, there is never an easy way to start, you just need to get rolling and go from there.”
Nick & Toby, we would like to have some fun and do our famous “First Reaction” 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?
Nick Smith: “Resilience and open mindedness.”
Toby Mander-Jones: “Humility, drive, and engagement”
2. Describe Brydge in one word?
Nick Smith: “Humble”
Toby Mander-Jones: “Determined”
3. Describe Brydge customers in one word?
Nick Smith: “Awesome”
Toby Mander-Jones: “Amazing”
4. What one attribute do you look for when hiring an employee for Brydge?
Nick Smith: “Commitment”
Toby Mander-Jones: “Drive”
5. What is the one word you want your customers to say about Brydge?
Nick Smith: “Leaders”
Toby Mander-Jones: “Best”
6. In three words or less, describe your passion?
Nick Smith: “Making a difference”
Toby Mander-Jones: “Conquer the challenge”
7. In three words or less, describe what it takes to be successful?
Toby Mander-Jones: “Hard work, humility, optimism”
8. In three words or less, describe your first year in business at Brydge?
Nick Smith: “Calm before the storm”
Toby Mander-Jones: “No sleep”
9. In three words or less, describe how running a successful company has changed you?
Nick Smith: “Lost 25% of my hair, slightly larger than I used to be, let’s be real – I’m exhausted.”
Toby Mander-Jones: “It hasn’t changed me. I’m now a firm believer that anything is possible when you bring together a committed team behind a common goal”.
10. What is the one word that you believe has the most power in the English Language?
Toby Mander-Jones: “Belief. The belief you can do it, whatever it is.”
Nicholas Smith & Toby Mander-Jones, thank you so much for sitting down with us at our DotCom Magazine Impact Player Round Table. We very much appreciate the time you spent helping others to learn more about your company and what it takes to be a leader. We we wish you, your family, and of course Brydge, nothing but the best.