Getting to know you: James Critchley, CEO & founder of cloud.IQ

James Critchley, CEO and founder of integrated marketing company cloud.IQ

What do you currently do?
I am CEO of cloud.IQ, an integrated marketing company. We recently launched a suite of apps that give SMEs access to the ‘big boys’ marketing toys’ for a fraction of the cost of traditional solutions.

My job mainly involves meeting new businesses and getting as many of them as possible to try our service for free on a trial basis, taking their feedback and making sure that the apps offer SMEs what they need from a self-service marketing solution.

What is your inspiration in business?
I’ve always been inspired by the power of the web and the way it acts as a great leveller: in theory letting a two-person online retailer compete with a high street giant and sell all over the world.

I was inspired to set up cloud.IQ because I couldn’t understand why what is called ‘multi-channel marketing’ – engaging with customers across things like SMS, email, the web, and social media – was only available to the biggest companies with the deepest pockets.

Part of our mission at cloud.IQ is to level the playing field again.

Who do you admire?
I’ve always admired Isambard Brunel – he took on engineering feats almost unfathomable in the nineteenth century. He may not have been 100% successful (an ill-fated line of railways powered by vacuum traction springs to mind) but nearly everything he did contained innovative solutions to long-standing engineering problems and included many ‘firsts’ such as the SS Great Britain – the first propeller-driven ocean-going iron ship. For making brave but simple decisions which changed the British landscape forever, Brunel I salute you.

Looking back, are there things you would have done differently?
I’m not far enough in to my latest venture to have regrets yet but I’m sure if you asked me again in a couple of years there will be things I wish I’d done differently. However, making mistakes and learning from them are all par for the course and in some cases they’re necessary to understand what’s really important and prioritise. You can’t feel badly about previous decisions or mishaps – you can only hope you don’t repeat them.

What defines your way of doing business?
I always want to find the simplest solution which will benefit the largest number of people. I have always worked within the technology sector but sometimes I have wondered whether the constant innovations actually make life simpler. In my opinion, part of the problem is that many organisations are told they have unique challenges and require bespoke solutions to be built just for them.

But is this really true? Certainly, every organisation is different – selling different products and services in different ways. But most marketing directors I talk to usually face almost the same root issues – how do I acquire more customers? How do I convert more customers? Essentially; how do I sell more? Honing in on one root problem and aiming for a comprehensive solution has always helped me focus in business.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Don’t feel you always need to invent something new from scratch. Often, tweaking something that already exists and making it simpler or better is a fast route to success.

Until around 1800, shoes were made without differentiation for the left or right foot, it took a bright spark to realise that there could be a better design than the one that had lasted centuries.