Andy McLoughlin’s job is spot the potential tech genius within the hundreds of ideas that companies bring to him every year. After co-founding Huddle, one of Europe’s most awarded tech startups, McLoughlin now sits as a VC at SoftTech, having mad the stellar decision to invest in the soon to be business/household name Mainframe, he shares his top five tips for the creation of tech worthy of investment. Pay close attention:
You must always remember to solve the issue of the time or of the future.
One of the biggest problems with the proliferations of tools is that we now have a corporate IM, personal IM, SMS, email, collaboration tools, file sharing, to the point where no one knows which one to use and there’s no guidance to say ‘hey this is the best for you.’ What issue are you trying to solve? For example: in this age of productivity and collaboration, ask yourself: what’s the fundamental problem that teams have when they’re trying to collaborate.
Ask yourself: can anyone, literally anyone use it?
What was always on our minds with Huddle was that we weren’t just designing tools for the computer literate person aged between 25-35 in London or Silicon Valley, we were designing tools that anyone in any office or corporation around the world could access and use.
This is the biggest challenge with a collaboration tool – getting everyone fully, 100% on board with it. If one person in the loop can’t use it, then they’ll revert back to bad behavioural patterns and end up sending via email, text message, or even printing a document off and walking across the office with it. This screws up the entire process of collaboration within the team, so therefore the tools have to be simple enough for everyone to understand.
I always ask myself, could I get my dad to use it? Would they be comfortable with a surge of activity streams and information versus something which looks simpler but is actually just a nicer-looking version of what they’re used to. And I think the opportunity of how you marry those two specifics together is everything – create technology that works intuitively to push the business forwards, yet is simple enough for everyone to understand.
Bring solutions into the regular workplace.
Given that we have iphones and ipads everywhere, what are the processes that can be transferred onto mobile that can help us do our jobs? How can you help those people to make better decisions and perhaps even be safer at work through data?
It’s not about being better, it’s about being ten times better.
In the productivity space – file sharing, team collaborations or online meetings, there’s already so much noise that unless you have something that is at least ten times better than what already exists, you’re simply going to get lost. If you have the desire to build a tool in this space, my advice would be to focus on solving a real-world problem in a specific industry. For example: take this collaboration tool that you’re building and think about how it can be applied to farmers, dentists or construction, or any industry that’s huge and underserved. Prove that what you are going to bring to them is at least ten times better than what they can already have. In essence: don’t bring me a layer to put on top of another tool – I want to see a x10 amazing, rethinking of what exists.
Make your work invisible but invincible
The best work/tech tools are the ones which are almost invisible to you, they’re seamless in helping you to get your job done better. For example, if you could have an AI inside of your existing Outlook or Google that automatically showed you what you needed to focus on to do your job better – you would think less and do more, your day would naturally be prioritised and all because of the integration of a fantastic app that in time you won’t even notice but will have changed your daily life for the better.