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Secret Diary of An Entrepreneur: Insight101 welcomes Andy Farmer of MyOxygen

February 28, 2019

For those who haven't seen me banging on about this event on Linkedin, now is the time to hear what it's all about and to benefit from some wise words from Andy Farmer of MyOxygen.

This series of events were designed to give an opportunity to network and meet new business professionals in the area, but also to hear the secrets and stories behind the successes. And over the next 6 months we will hear from a variety of businesses with different stories to tell.

We all experience obstacles and hurdles as we go along. This series gives a unique and honest insight into a business from the business owner’s perspective. No gloss, just insights into the business realities that you can hopefully learn from and apply to your business.

I’m passionate about unlocking the unique in each and every business. And this means being different and relevant in an ever changing and challenging market. It means pivoting and being as fit for purpose as possible. I believe that real talk that gets to the heart of the solution so that any business can be in great shape for the future.

Great shape. With a great and unique position and offer. With a powerful and relevant message for the market and your customers.

The first evening was dedicated to Andy Farmer of MyOxygen and here is his story:

Andy is a quiet, unassuming kind of guy. A joy to be associated with in fact. But don’t be fooled, behind that calm exterior is a whirring brain that refuses to be still.  A brain that is plotting his next move. A move that will take him to the next stage in what has been an impressive and varied career.

As the founder of MyOxygen, an enterprise mobile app development company in central Bristol he has been involved in technology for most of his life. His fascination with technology, he thinks, is based on his nomadic lifestyle early on– as a child he would just be settling down at school when he was told that he would have to up sticks and start again.

“It’s taken me to a point where after a few years I think, okay what next? Where do we go now? Things need to change” states Andy matter of factly.

It’s quite clear that Andy, as he himself admits is an early adopter. With a microchip in his hand, he prides himself on being first and pushing perception. “To be honest, I like to see people’s reactions to the microchip”. It’s not actually about what it can do now but what it represents. That can lead to a very interesting conversation and, of course, it proves that I live what I speak”

What is clear with Andy is that he pushes boundaries. He never stands still. It’s time in motion for him. If you aren’t keeping up, then you’ve missed the wave in his eyes.

“You’ve got to get it just right like riding that wave. If you’re too early then your ideas will fall on deaf ears, if you’re too late then you’ve missed out. The art is to read the direction of the wave and hop on at just the right time”

During Andy’s talk, one of the themes that comes out is about being agile in business. Not analysing the market to death but spotting opportunities and taking them before anyone else does. A great example is when he went to a trade show in the US and came back with a box load of new technology (the Palm Pilot as we know it today). He was excited by the opportunity. He wasn’t sure what that opportunity was, but he was quick enough to understand that something needed to happen. So, he spent the next 6 months in his room trying to work out how to use it and harness the potential. And by chance he met someone who had experience in flying helicopters so naturally he decided to develop an app to aid helicopter navigation.  Only someone like Andy could do this. From zero to 100 miles per hour in one foul swoop.

And so the pattern continued. He embraced the iphone which he saw as technology coming together for the first time to produce real change. This was his next venture. Pretty soon he was immersed in projects with the NHS, Ministry of Defense developing life defining apps that would change “how we work and live” (MyOxygen’s vision).

Andy always jumps in and finds a way to achieve his next dream. Who can help him? Who is around? In the main, there is no plan but within a small period of time the structure has been set up almost by osmosis and he’s up and at it again. A revealing comment says it all

"I used to come across all these companies that just didn’t get technology. They would still be asking. Why do we need a website? Why do we need to sell online? We're doing amazingly well with what we're doing now. Nobody's going to be buying stuff online."

These businesses just weren’t looking broadly enough. They weren’t catching the wave late, they hadn’t even seen the wave.

“One of the differences when I started was there was two types of business” he continues, “One was a technology business and one was a traditional business. And I think now there is not a business that's not a technology business. So it's integrated. I get alarm bells because I'm thinking: what can I change? What do I need to do to sort of keep moving on that cycle?”

Andy is unique in this. As he says many people just aren’t looking to the future. A future where digital will revolutionize the workplace. A future where expectations of what makes a good life will be different from ours – mortgages, big cars etc are not for Millennials who value experiences over things.

“The bigger and more established companies don’t get it. They say they do but they don’t. They talk the nimble game, but they are years behind the wave.”

“The problem with business and with humans in general is that they can’t get their heads around change and what it’s going to be like. We aren’t really equipped to think like that. But we’ll need to, because technology will accelerate exponentially whereas our brains and our rate of evolution has flat lined. There’s a real disconnect”affirms Andy.

The same can be said for his clients too. Another theme coming out of the talk was the need to deliver what the client NEEDS rather than what they think they WANT. There’s a powerful difference. Andy has come across many large organizations that require some simply awesome work to be done. But they’re often not aware of the implications of what they’re asking for – financially or in terms of time – and when they hear the proposal they are often taken aback.

“Sometimes they would say, "We're going to tell you what all that's going to cost, and we're going to tell you when we want it by."

So, Andy has decided to take the next bold step and to re-invent his business model from a service business that responds to the brief and bends over backwards to deliver, to a business which puts in place a process to open the client’s eyes. This enables them to understand what they’re really asking for – the scale and the amount of work required. The conversation then moves to if it’s too expensive then what is the core need?

“We can tailor the budget and remove aspects of the solution. The beauty is that this can be added with no implication at a later date. So the client is managed and the project is managed too” he says.

Progress, paid progress. Moving forward in a synergistic way.

One of the questions asked to Andy was about how he predicted that wave in the future. For him it’s about reading the signals globally. Understanding what other countries and cultures are doing because very often the future is buried deep in a culture where they have done something smart to adapt and indeed to survive.

Andy’s parting words sum it up really. As with everything it’s about moving forward with technology and in general:

“Take AI” he says “which everyone is talking about. That's going to be a big change. And that's probably now like a one-year old child. It will be like a five-year old child next year. Then it'll go to 10, but then it'll be a big jump and it'll be like 20.”

Life is moving at a hectic pace. The waves keep coming at an alarming rate and Andy is positioning as best he can to time it just right.

At next month's session on 26th March we will be joined by David Holmes of Hurd's Hill. David has had an illustrious and deeply varied career from CEO at IMP (publishers) to the business coach for Anita Roddick of The Body Shop. He will be talking about re-invention to stay relevant over the years. Please look out for the link.

See you next month!


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