Article

Leonie Mercedes
Leonie Mercedes 18 October 2017

More than you bargained for: Interview with Andrew Nicholson, Kulea.ma

Andrew Nicholson is CMO and co-founder of Kulea.ma, a marketing automation platform built with the needs of SMEs in mind. He attended the last Digital Leaders Banquet hoping to get some feedback about the then-nascent business. As CMO.com finds, he left with an investor.

Marketing automation can help smaller businesses streamline some of the most time-consuming tasks, including email marketing, customer relationship management and data reporting.

According to a 2017 report by Salesforce, more than 67% of marketing leaders are using a marketing automation platform, and 21% plan to in the next two years. Research by VB Insight has found that 80% of marketing automation users saw their number of leads increase, and 77% saw the number of conversions increase.

When Andrew Nicholson went to the Digital Leaders Banquet for the first time last year, he was looking for insights from marketing leaders that would help develop the business he had co-founded – marketing automation platform Kulea.ma.

The business was in a very different place then, compared with where it is now. “We were in a unique position last year, in that we didn’t have a product,” Nicholson says.

But, at the time of the event in 2016, it wasn’t his intention to offer the product to anyone. “We were just about at the MVP stage,” he says. “It was about getting people’s opinions. It was about speaking to people about their needs and understanding those, and how we could use those needs to develop the product.”

And, if all went well, he’d pick up some of those conversations further down the line, when the product was ready to go to market. Instead, Nicholson met an investor.

Meet your investor

That investor was Simon Martin, a former managing director of Experian’s martech business, who has spent the last 20 years working in startups and public companies. It was a great match for Kulea.

“His experience in the marketing [area] where we operate, and where we’ve been building products, is invaluable,” as are his contacts, Nicholson says. Martin now helps Kulea with product design and open standards, so that they can deliver easy-to-use platforms that easily integrate with other tools and client systems.

It’s the informal setting of events such as the Digital Leaders Banquet that makes these meetings possible, and facilitates sharing of opinions. “People are more honest. They are more open,” Nicholson says. “They are out of work mode, more conversational, and you get a lot more honest feedback as a result of that.”

Sparking ideas

The Digital Leaders Banquet is designed specially to nurture conversation, and bring different people together, asking that attendees move seats between courses to ensure they meet as many of their fellow marketers as possible.

“It makes having conversations a lot easier,” Nicholson says. “If you’re standing, and you have people buzzing around all the time, you start to talk to someone and, second later, you’re talking to someone else.”

He concludes: “I think that we all know that it’s about business, but business is about relationships. And the Digital Leaders Banquet is about building relationships. Off the back of those relationships comes new business.”

The Digital Leaders Banquet will take place on November 30, at Ironmongers’ Hall in the City of London. Previous attendees have included IBM, Unilever, and Oracle. Request an invitation now.

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