Getting To Know You: Matt Adam, chief executive, We Are Digital

Matt Adam

Matt Adam tells us about We Are Digital, which is a social impact business working with housing associations, local and central government, and corporates to deliver positive and practical solutions to break down the barriers of exclusion across the UK.

What do you currently do?

I am the CEO founder of We Are Digital, a social impact business delivering outsourced solutions in community investment. We provide end-to-end management of digital and financial inclusion programmes for social housing landlords councils corporate and central government.

What was the inspiration for your business?

When I first started it looked quite different. I wanted to provide a national trainer service for older people who were digitally excluded by sending out trainers to their home, delivering one to one training to help get them online. We found this B2C model difficult to scale though, as it was driven by very traditional and expensive marketing. So we pivoted to utilise the trainer network for housing association residents on a B2B2C model instead and haven’t looked back!

What defines your way of doing business?

We’re a social impact business which is very important to us. This means we are a mission-led business with a purpose, with social impact investors, and 100% of our revenue helps people in need. We are looking for a return in impact as well as profit. It is seen as the more modern version of a social enterprise and is not often talked about, but is hugely growing in focus and interest around the world now as investors, staff and clients look to work more with companies that have a true mission and impact on the world, solving problems that are actually important to solve – not just helping to get sashimi delivered to your day 20 seconds more quickly.

Who/what do you admire?

I admire entrepreneurs who have grown their businesses to an enormously sizeable scale, or in the face of ridiculous odds, and have done it more than once – Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Richard Branson. This ‘portfolio’ skill takes a lot of grit, tenacity, luck and many other things besides, I’m sure. I’m always amazed by how they can do that, across many countries, without the bottom falling out of their businesses as they grow. But normally you find it’s because they have hired a very good team around them to do the things they are not very good at doing.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

I would have raised more money more quickly, implemented technology earlier and hired better talent more quickly, rather than waiting until the painful growth years started to hit!

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Start as young as possible when you have limited personal overheads. Be ruthless with early talent selection. Always raise more money than you need. Have “options” in so much as multiple markets and product fit. Embody a mindset of ultra focus on sales as a method that solves most issues, including cashflow. Be much more ambitious than society will let you be – and don’t give up until you are literally dragged out of the office.


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