Getting to Know You: Simon Horton

What do you currently do?
I’m the founder of ShopIntegrator, supplying cloud-based ecommerce software for small businesses and web designers. ShopIntegrator is an ecommerce plugin that enables a fully-featured online store to be added into any website, blog or Facebook page without requiring any coding skills (so you don’t need to hire a web developer, but can DIY).

What is your inspiration in the business?
I love the freedom of being able to decide my own future, making my own decisions about what I think is best for the company. It’s exciting being an entrepreneur (it also has its lows), when others start to use what you’ve created to run their own successful business; I get a real thrill out of thinking, “I played a part in that!”

Who do you admire?
The co-founders of Stripe, brothers Patrick Collison and John Collison are a real inspiration to me. They’ve achieved amazing growth in such a short space of time; it’s only been a few years since they started their business in 2010 and they are continuing to grow at such a rapid pace, expanding their reach globally. They’ve really disrupted the online payments sector despite being up against so many major established players already in that space. For me, they’re a shining example of what every start-up can aspire to.

Looking back are there things you would have done differently?
I should have stuck more to my own plan instead of trying to win every potential client without concern for the cost in time and effort needed to win their business.

In the early days, I was desperately trying to say yes to everything that came my way. Inevitably, what I had to offer was never quite right and always needed some tweaks to seal the deal. It detracted me from my own product development strategy. My roadmap was designed to attract a wider audience of customers, so by putting so much effort into winning a single client with a more bespoke feature enhancement I missed out on attracting a wider audience sooner.

What defines your way of doing business?
For me, it’s both outstanding customer service and the ability to rapidly improve what you have to offer. Larger companies take more time to change and are often much slower to respond to enquiries and support requests. My clients like the fact that they are dealing with knowledgeable people who are passionate about what they do, rather than being bounced from person to person and not really getting an answer. By being hands on with customers I hear some great ideas straight from the people using the software which helps me shape the development roadmap for the better.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
I’d recommend you commission a professionally designed website straight away and allocate money for professional PR, as you won’t have the media connections (or time) to get your start-up’s story heard if you try and do it yourself.