Tiny DevOps episode #23 Ashleigh Cornelius — On a Mission To Connect With Local Businesses
December 14, 2021
Ashleigh Cornelius on Instagram
Presenter: Ladies and gentlemen, The Tiny DevOps Guy.
Jonathan Hall: Hello, everybody, welcome to another episode of Tiny DevOps where we talk about dev and ops and business on small teams and small companies. I'm really excited today to have my first former client or possibly future client as well on as a guest. Mr. Ashleigh Cornelius is the founder, or a founder, I guess, of a company called Localise, and I'll have him introduce the company and himself here in just a minute.
I've been working with Localise for several months to help them with some backend infrastructure and some coding, but here today, I want to talk with Ashleigh about his experience and hear his story about the startup he's working on. Welcome, Ashleigh, thank you for coming on the show. I'm really excited to have you here and your guests in the background, if you're watching the video, we have a Stormtrooper standing here too. Would you just briefly tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into Localise?
Ashleigh Cornelius: Absolutely, yes. Thank you for having me, Jonathan. It's a privilege and honor to be here, even though you do prefer Star Trek over Star Wars, we'll ignore that fact.
Jonathan: We can't all be perfect. [laughs]
Ashleigh: My name's Ashleigh Cornelius. I'm the founder of a startup called Localise. Localise is really a mobile platform. It's a mobile platform for promoting and supporting independent high street businesses, so small local businesses, no corporates, no chains, no [unintelligible 00:01:41] and franchises, et cetera. This is purely for supporting independent, real independent businesses of the UK initially.
This isn't something that was a knee-jerk reaction because of events of the last 18 months and the pandemic kicking in. It wasn't opportunistic like that. It's something I've been working on for a few years. Just coincidentally over the last kind of year to 18 months, it's been something that's supporting the high street and supporting small businesses, been thrust into the limelight a bit more because of the terrible journey that some of them or most small business owners had to go through for the last year.
Localise is a platform to support those small businesses. It's built within a social media framework as you know very well, Jonathan, because you've built most of it. It's built within a social media framework whereby we kind of leverage the audience and local people to help promote and support independent businesses. We launched recently with our MVP and are just focused on a couple of key geographies in Kent in England to start with. We have lots and lots of plans, you've mentioned being maybe in the future plan, we have lots and lots of plans for extra functionality. There's so much you can do with this platform once we get the initial traction and take up that we need to secure our future journey. We're really at the start of our journey. We're a startup, we're very early on, but we're really excited about what we built and what you helped us to build, and where we can take it.
Jonathan: That's great. Tell me a little bit about your history because I know that this is your first startup if I'm not mistaken, is that correct?
Ashleigh: This is my first startup, yes. My history is actually in the investment banking world. I was never an investment banker directly, but I worked in a number of different functions within the banking industry, and then immediately before we raised the funds for Localise, I was working for Santander. Yes, this is my first journey into the startup world, and it's been a really interesting journey so far. I've learned a lot, I think. I've learned a lot, every day something new.
Jonathan: I can imagine.
Ashleigh: It's very different from the corporate background I've come from. Although that was a very different world, I do think I picked up a lot of stuff in that corporate world that's helped me on this journey, but yes, I'd see where it goes as well. That's my background.
Jonathan: Nice. How does somebody come from the financial world and decide to do a startup? I mean, that's a pretty big leap. Draw the lines for us. How did you connect those dots and why are you interested in this?
Ashleigh: You know what? I think if you speak to people, just talking really informal, if you speak to a lot of people, a lot of people have ideas about stuff they'd like to do and those leaps they'd like to take. "I'd love to run my own coffee shop. I'd love to do something," or even if it's something like a new hobby or something, lots of people have dreams or things they'd like to get into, but for me, I don't want to get too deep into my personal side, but I went through a bit of an awakening.
I don't know if you and I have had this conversation before, Jonathan, but I had a bit of an awakening about a few years back. I just realized that I didn't want to go through-- I mean, listen, I had a good wage in the banking world. I had a good lifestyle. It afforded me a nice lifestyle, et cetera, but this isn't a diss to the banking industry; maybe it is, I don't know, but I just found myself wanting more from life than earning some nice money and really making all of the clients and shareholders of the banks that I worked for even richer than they already were. I felt like I really needed to do something that- leave a little bit of a legacy.
I've got two young children now. You've got a young child yourself. I didn't want my legacy just to be about earning a good wage of an investment bank as my thing. I wanted to do something that gave back, something more community-based, and something that just was more about giving and more altruistic. I started a homeless charity a few years ago, and that was one of those things I needed to do and that still runs now. We did shoebox collections at Christmas and people donate a shoebox full of various items for homeless people. I think we didn't do it last year because of the pandemic, but I think the year before, I think we got 380-something shoeboxes full of items for homeless people which we then distributed to refugees and stuff. I just felt like I needed to be doing more things based around giving and giving back and community and helping others.
I worked towards that fundraiser and trying to make Localise a reality because I saw that as a good- something that could benefit business owners and other people and something that would be really interesting to work on, something I'm very passionate about, supporting independent businesses, et cetera. You say it's a leap, didn't feel like a leap because it took me a long time to make that leap. It was more like a gradual kind of shuffle towards the edge and look over and, "No, I'm not going to do that just yet."
When we went through the fundraise, I actually put off the fundraise, but looking back, I can now identify that I put that fundraise off for a long time because of fear of rejection and fear of- "Is this the right thing to do? I'm comfortable in my job, should I take that leap?" et cetera.
Many startups start up, many startups don't make it. We'll see where it takes us, but yes, I needed to do something that was more than just making money at a bank which I felt like a bit of a-- It was turning into a toxic environment for me. It felt like a walking hypocrite. I didn't really like the industry or the setup, but I was part of it and earning money, so that's what led me to create Localise.
Jonathan: I like that Localise is focused on independent businesses. How do you do that vetting? How do you ensure that the businesses are independent, and what if they grow later on? What if the first McDonald's signed up on Localise, and then 10 years later, franchised, what would you do?
Ashleigh: Yes, that's a really interesting question. The first part of that question, what vetting do we do, I think you probably wrote some of that validation logic, so you're probably better placed to answer that than me, to be honest, but as a startup and it's something that I've found and something that we will continue to have to work on, you have to do lots of manual interventions and manual things at the start when you haven't got the resource and the technology to make everything systematic and automatic.
Just to expand on this a little bit, I self-funded a pilot version of Localise some years ago, and what we found was the small businesses that were registered, we had loads of home-based businesses registered which is-- That's fine, but it's not what Localise is built for. Localise was for supporting the high street. We found we had lots of people registering who were selling Herbalife or Arbonne, or some might say they're kind of network selling initiatives, et cetera. That's not what Localise is about.
At the start, it was very much a manual kind of- every time a business signs up, we check them out. Is that an independent business? Are they home-based? Et cetera. We've got a few systematic pieces of validation there. We do a Google lookup on them when they're registered to make sure they're registered in Google, et cetera. We've got a nice little set of instructions that pops up to say, "This is Localise. We're all about supporting the high street. If you're a home-based business, we're not ready for you yet," et cetera. People have to physically go through the steps and say, "I am not a home-based business. I am an independent business." If they get into the platform and all those things, we can't really have any issues in just whipping them out because they've not followed the proper protocol to actually get there in the end, but we've had some home-based businesses register, and we ping them and tell them, "Listen, we're not ready for home-based businesses yet," and they've just removed themselves.
It hasn't been too much of a challenge yet because we're still at a very small scale. I appreciate that as we grow, that problem will become more wholesale and we'd have to address that in automatic, automated, systematic ways. Yes, like I mentioned, I'm very much going to be flipping that back on you to say, how do we achieve this, Jonathan? How do we stop the people? The [unintelligible 00:10:16] are being here, coming in here. The question about McDonald's, that's a really interesting one, and I'm going to defer the answer to that because it's not an answer to a question that I have to answer just yet in our journey.
Jonathan: Of course.
Ashleigh: I'm sure it'll be a problem in the future. I look forward to that problem, getting to those stages, but it's something that I haven't had to think about just yet. There's so much to think about now for anything that I don't have to think about yet, I'll just pass, I'll push forward until I have to actually deal with it, if that makes sense.
Jonathan: That's a great answer. I'll have you back on when that becomes a problem. Then we'll talk about it. [crosstalk]
Ashleigh: Please do, yes. Absolutely.
Jonathan: I'd like to explore a little bit the story of Localise, how did it start, how did you build a product? We can go into as little or as much detail as you like, but do you want to just walk us through that story briefly?
Ashleigh: Yes, of course. It seems actually bonkers to say, but the concept of Localise, it came up in 2013, so a long time ago now, like eight years. It just seems so crazy to think it has been part of my makeup since then and how long it's taken. Initially, like I mentioned, we had a pilot that I self-funded, I spent some time trying to find a dev agency. I didn't really know where to turn. I just knew I wanted to build an app. What's the best way to do it? You go to a dev agency. That was my first-- That's what you do. That's what you do if you want an app.
[unintelligible 00:11:46] 2013, there weren't as many apps around us as there are now. I had to do this piece of work, where I looked for agencies that wouldn't cost me a squillion bucks but would do a decent enough job. You know what it's like out there. There are a broad variety of agencies, all different levels of talent and honesty and ability and cost, et cetera. I had to find one that was cheap enough that I could afford, that I thought would still do a decent job.
I found one, and the chairman was a lovely guy, and I really got on well with him. We started working together. Unfortunately, he left, a little way into the journey. I think they had some staff changes internally. There was a new MD, the chairman left, and a lot of the staff left. I don't know what went on, but the company I chose, essentially, there was like two or three people left.
What happened was that they outsourced the code and it ended up getting coded by a squillion different people. You know what that's like. You've analyzed enough code in your time to see code that's just hacked together by lots of people, the continuity and the seamlessness of it, and the cleanliness of it just wasn't great. The app, we launched it, it worked for a bit. We actually won an award for it, which was a really nice milestone.
It was me on my own at that point, but then that relationship had eroded with that developer. It wasn't going well. We took it out of the App Store. I was still working full-time in the banking world. Me and my wife were trying for a young family, and I don't mind saying we were going through an IVF journey, which was quite draining emotionally, and personally, and financially. It costs a lot.
Something had to give, so I put Localise to the side for a few years while I just carried on doing my job, did the IVF thing. Fortunately, we had my daughter, Emily, who was born in 2017, which was just the biggest blessing in my life ever. Then very naturally after, quite soon after, we had Luna, my second baby. She came along naturally, which was the most amazing surprise to us. We'd been told that we couldn't have children naturally. Then she popped along, which was just amazing. Then once Luna was born and stuff, or when my wife's pregnant with Luna, I thought to myself, "This Localise is a good idea. I can't just shelf it and never go back to it."
I started working on it again, self-funded a prototype, which we then used to go out to some industry bodies and people in the industry and say, "Look, this is what we're trying to build. If we build this, would you partner with us? Is it something you'd like to work with us on, et cetera?" We got some really good responses. Then we used that prototype, those semi-warm confirmations of partnerships to put a pitch deck together.
I went out for funding. The funding process happened quite quickly for us, I feel very, very blessed and fortunate to say. We met with some VCs, we met some angels. We had a couple of offers funded. We chose our funders. Fast forward to April 2020, all the due diligence was done. They were about to give us the money and put it in the bank, and we went into lockdown. There was an interesting conversation. I don't want to say it was a [unintelligible 00:15:07] conversation, but it was like, "Right, Ashleigh, we're about to put half a million quid into the bank account to save the high street," and there's no high street, there's no bugger open. Everything was shut. "What do you think about this?" I was like, "Well, really, there's been a small wave of support for the high street over the last few years," but the way I saw it was when this pandemic's over, that wave of support is going to be a tsunami.
There were already murmurings about people wanting to support the high street more and shop local and these kinds of things. That's what we've seen at the back of lockdowns. We've seen a lot more people shopping locally, a lot more people wanting to support their independence. Although we saw a number of independents go by the wayside through lockdown, which is a terrible, terrible thing, I think the ones that have come out of it have stronger support and more chance of succeeding.
I speak to business owners all the time now who are just starting up new independent businesses. I feel like the high street has got a resurgence, and I feel like it's coming back in a big way. Hopefully, Localise can be a platform that can be there to help support those independent business owners. Absolutely not in an opportunistic way because that's not how I work at all. Like I said, this wasn't a thing that we created because of the pandemic. There's an authentic and genuine desire to provide some value out here. It's just coincidental that we're coming out around at the same time that we're just coming out of a massive lockdown. Sometimes things align like that and that's what it's done here.
Jonathan: Do you feel like the pandemic-- I'm sure it's having an effect, but what effect do you think the pandemic is having now? Is it making it harder to get traction or easier, or do you have any sense?
Ashleigh: For us or for small business owners?
Jonathan: Either one or both since you're so closely related, I guess.
Ashleigh: You know what? I think the pandemic is still having an impact on the high street in a way that when you're out on the street, everyone has their own views on the pandemic, COVID, mask-wearing, vaccinations, and that is what it is, but you still see a lot of-- I still think there's a lot of people, I speak to a lot of people who are still scared to go out and still wear masks all the time, and will only go into London if they absolutely have to because of the fear and the concern around catching COVID. I don't think that we've got the population back out into the high streets properly yet. I think that will take some time still. In that way, I think that's obviously affecting the high street because it's probably not the full amount of footfall that there should be.
Like I said, that this pandemic has really galvanized a lot of people to support their independent-- Even my mum, she said to me, during the lockdown, she said, "I want to buy a bike, Ashleigh, I want to go cycling on my bike." I was like, "Brilliant. Okay. I'll help you find one." She said, "Has to be British made, and I want to buy it from an independent shop in England." My mum is a 64-year-old. Oh, sorry, mum, if you're younger than that, I think you're about 64. That was just really nice to hear because I'd never heard her proactively talk about supporting an independent business before or buying British-made, et cetera.
Again, I'm nothing against exports and imports. We have got wonderful products in this country from other places, and that's how the global markets work, but supporting homegrown and supporting your local business people, there's something for me that's just wonderful about that. It's magical in fact, and part of the Localise thing that we try and push, it's about breaking down that faceless digital transaction and getting to know that isn't just a coffee shop, that's John's coffee shop. John wants that coffee shop and he's got three kids. When you buy coffee from that coffee shop, you're buying shoes for his family, or you're buying the school dinners for his children.
It's real-world stuff. They're real people. You're not putting a few more pennies in Mr. Starbucks' pocket, so he can dodge tax on it or whatever. Do you know what I mean? This is real stuff. This is a real people. These are people who make up our community, and the passion for trying to support those people is a big part of what keeps us moving forwards. Even through these early challenges that we're having, that passion will always keep us going.
Jonathan: Let's talk some more about how you built the app. You were telling the story of- up through you got some funding, and you hired an agency, then the pandemic hit. What happened after that? What was the next chapter in the Localise story?
Ashleigh: I'll tell you my story, honestly. I haven't had a great experience with agencies. That's just the fact. It is what it is. I'm not going to name any agencies, et cetera. I'm not about finger-pointing or anything like that, but our journey specifically, that initial agency we worked it, they had a big change in staff, and it didn't work out for us. Then when we raised our funds, we spent a lot of time choosing an agency to spend our money with to build Localise, but for one reason or the other one, a very expensive mistake, but they weren't the agency that was for us. I won't go into detail. Sometimes things don't work out. Like I said, everything's a learning curve. If I could go back and do it again, would I do it differently? 100% yes, but you have to learn these mistakes for yourself before you know what to do the next time around.
We spent a hell of a lot of money with an agency, and the product just wasn't what it needed to be at the end of that journey, and we had to make the decision to go, "Right, we've got money in the pot now that we can use to get this product-- We can still bring the product to market with the money we've got left. Whether we keep throwing it at this agency who haven't delivered or do we sever that relationship and start again? Money aside, just emotionally and personally, that's a big decision to make, to say, "Right, I've spent £10 with this agency, I'm now just going to throw that £10 away and spend another £10 with another party or agency or developer to essentially rebuild what I spent six months working on. Seven months, eight months."
We made that decision, and the decision was we're not going to keep throwing money at an agency that weren't delivering what we expected. That takes us up to the start of the year of 2021, where essentially I had a codebase that wasn't great, and I needed to hire some people to help me either just redo it all or salvage what could be done out of the codebase.
I already had a product manager working with Localise on a freelance basis. Very talented product manager, Dan. I asked Dan to help me, "What do we do here, Dan? Can you help me put this bit together?" He helped. We brought on board an interim CTO, but then there's Andrew that you've obviously met, that helped me to hire you guys. Andrew and Dan really helped me identify some talent. We decided not to go down the agency route, just because I felt like we've been burned twice there already, and to get a bit more control over the process, and a bit more ownership over what was going on, daily stand-ups, and these kinds of things, which was a new concept to me. We just hadn't done any of that first time around, which just seems bonkers looking back.
We hired a front-end engineer, we hired a back-end engineer, and we had an interim support back-end engineer for a while as well. [unintelligible 00:22:49] was on board for a while, and obviously, Micah on the front side. You guys really brought Localise to life and you've done a great job, by the way. I get lots of compliments on it. It's working, it hasn't fallen over. You said to me at the start of this, "Oh, I haven't spoken to you for a while." That's why I haven't spoken to you for a while because it's working. It hasn't fallen over, it's been great.
We chose to bring the development in-house. We had more ownership and control over what was going on and much more- I could communicate very freely with you. "J, man, we need to get this bit done. Can you tell me the timeframe that's going to take?" I could then work out what that's going to cost and I can then go, "Yes, I can allocate this amount of money to get this piece of functionality done." rather than using an agency where it's a big mystery. I didn't know what was going on, but this gave us control. I got to meet yourself and Mike. It's just been a really, really pleasant experience from March onwards when you guys came on board. Yes, that's how we got to where we are on the tech front.
Jonathan: Good. Now, just to bring the story up to date, we haven't been working directly together for what? A month or two, as we finalized the MVP version, and now you're out there selling the app to local businesses. Is that correct?
Jonathan: How's that going? What kind of progress are you seeing? What kind of traction are you getting?
Ashleigh: Again, this is a learning curve for me. It's one of those things where, to start with, there's a massive anticlimax because you're working towards this big milestone of dropping an app into the App Store. We're all there, and we drop it in. The email says, "It's been approved, you're in the App Store," and you go, "Yes. Well, what now? Where are my 10 million users?"
On the run-up to put it into the App Store, I was talking with ASO agencies and talking about App Store Optimization and now we're going to spend this money and that money. You learn with running a startup that you don't need to overexert yourself on certain things before as a company and a product, you're ready. There's no way I should have and I didn't spend tens of thousands of pounds on marketing products and wasting the users that we'd get from those exercises. We could have got 10 million downloads on Day 1. That would've been 10 million downloads wasted because the product wasn't full of vibrant content. It takes a while for that to build up. We've got almost 100 businesses on there now. We've got a few 100 users on there now, but what's interesting is that the businesses and the user on there, it's an active community. There are businesses posting every day, which is lovely to see.
We've had some little bugs you've helped fix over the past couple of months. What's been really promising for me is if you download an app and it doesn't work, you delete it, you turn it off, you never look at it again, but what I've had is business owners email me and say, "Ash, this thing wasn't working for me, can you fix it, or can you show me how I can get it working?" They're wanting to engage. They're wanting to feedback, and it's just been a really nice connected experience, rather than people just going, "Oh, this isn't working. I'm just going to leave it."
I think as an organization, we've tried to approach small businesses with a very personable approach. It's never like a sales approach to them. I tell them what we're trying to build and what we're trying to achieve. "Can you be part of it and help us to grow this thing?" No one says no, really, because it's a no-brainer. We're not charging businesses at this stage. I don't want to charge businesses until we feel justified that we can.
It's a challenge onboarding businesses to an app that no one's heard of before, it's a new thing. Lots of people will not want to be the first and they'll go, "I'll wait until everyone else will do it, and then I'll just jump on board." What we found is that a lot of independent businesses we've chosen do want to be the first and they are coming on board. It's been really nice.
I've got a little marketing team around us, and at the moment, we're just out trying to sell the products and get businesses on board. It's slowly happening, but it's surely happening. Slowly but surely coming on. The idea is that we work out what works for us, what doesn't work for us, we take the opportunities that we can. Ideally, after a certain amount of time, we'll get to a critical mass where it will tip and we'll start to get businesses on board. We've seen that already. Some businesses have just onboarded themselves. I don't know who they are, or where they come from, but they're on board and they're posted.
There's a car detailing workshop place just down the road to me that I never knew existed. I saw a lovely picture of an Aston Martin Vantage posted the other day, and I was like, "Who's this?" They do detailing on cars. I don't know how they heard about us, but they're on there now. They're posted and that's brilliant. I know a couple of our users that are petrolheads, now they're following them, and they're liking their posts and stuff. We're starting to see those little connections. That's what we need, a million times bigger, and that's when we'll have our thriving community. I say this to small business owners, everyone has to start somewhere, and this is where we're starting. I'm excited about it. It's going well. I just have to adjust my expectations to understand it doesn't happen overnight, and keep that pushing going.
Jonathan: Right. You said you have about 100 businesses, how many users do you have? Because you essentially have a two-sided marketplace, you have businesses and you have users, and they interact with each other. You have nearly 100 businesses, but how many just regular users are interacting with these businesses?
Ashleigh: I think we've got between 300 and 400 users, which is a decent ratio. What's really nice to me is when-- I'm a complete geek when it comes to Localise, so every 10 minutes, I refresh the screen. Literally, I could just ping you and say, "John, what's the count in the database?" I look through all the images and profiles, "Oh, I've never seen that person before, who's that guy? I'm going to follow him," et cetera. I'm forever refreshing to see who's onboarding and who's coming on.
We've got a decent ratio of users to businesses, and you're right. With a marketplace like this, that's a challenge in itself. Essentially, they're buyers and sellers, aren't they? You can't have one without the other, which is what led to our strategy of launching in a set geographic location because then we have control of where they are. We can onboard some businesses and we can onboard some users. We can slowly build it up, which is what we've been doing and it's what we're doing now.
If we launched nationwide, we might get a business in Scotland and a user in Cornwall, complete disconnect, no point in them being on the app, which is why we chose to go and set locations where we've got support from the local councils. They're charging their social media accounts with Localise stuff. They're putting out there on their Facebook and Instagram and various channels. We're featured in the Ashford Borough Council magazine in a few weeks, which goes out to 57,000 households with a nice big QR code to say, "This is how you can support independent in the area."
I'm hoping that I'll have some take-up, but it's one of those things where it's so hard to get people to do something in the early days. Once other people- once you get to a point where a number of people are doing it, others will follow the trend. It's getting that first bit which is the real challenge for us at the moment. That's all good fun.
Jonathan: Great. How many people are working with Localise right now? I know it's you, and you mentioned you have a marketing team. How many people are in the company?
Ashleigh: Involved in the day-to-day?
Ashleigh: There's myself. We've got Dan, Eddie, Kira, and Ruth who have all come through the government Kickstart initiative, which has been a fantastic way for us to hire some young talent and not really cost us-- It's so expensive to hire people. The national insurance, POA, et cetera, but that government initiative, the Kickstarter thing has been really useful for us.
We've got Jess as well who's an intern. We've just hired a part-time business development guy [unintelligible 00:31:05] Jesse who's out on the street, going to businesses and selling Localise to businesses. He's just done two days for us, he just does a bit of part-time work at the moment. He's onboarded a handful of businesses as well which has been really good.
Then I have the edge peoples sort of just on the edge, I still consider them part of the team, but just aren't involved in the day-to-day at the moment, and that's yourself, there's Mike, there's Angie, there's Andrew, there's Dan, there's Dino, our designer. Yes, it's like as soon as we've got the resource, I want to get the band back together and then pick up where we left off because there's so much we can do with this platform, and with the whole e-commerce thing that we talked about, that's a beast.
That's a big big piece of tech, but it could be so awesome for independence. That's where we need to demonstrate our growth and attraction, et cetera so that we can be comfortable in going for our next fundraise to say, "This is what we want to feel, this is what we've done," and then kick on from that.
Jonathan: A few minutes ago you said that if you could go back and redo some things, you would not have made some mistakes. What would you have done differently? Knowing what you know now, what would you do differently if you were to do it again?
Ashleigh: It's a really difficult question. If I knew exactly what I know now, what would I do differently then? I'll take the tech, the development in-house straight away. That's probably the main thing I would do differently. Also, I would understand- if I had to go back, I'd understand that there are certain things that you don't need-- You think you need to do these things and you start panicking. "We're going to be ready soon, we need to hire someone to do some PR for us," et cetera. Those things can come later on. They don't need to be done at the start, so it'd just be more- get the tech team in-house, keep that communication with them open daily, like we did when our daily stand-ups, et cetera. Just keep absolute- not micro-control, but just be aware of everything that's going on, what we're building, what we're trying to build, and try and work to the deadlines that you set.
Deadlines always move. It's really difficult to hit deadlines because challenges arise that you never expected, but I feel like the first time around with the agency we used, we let it drag on. We had our doubts and we've let it drag on and we had some more doubts and we let it drag on, we called an emergency meeting and then we let it drag on a bit. I think having the confidence to pull the plug and say, "No, that's not right." That would be something I would have changed. I would have to change it because I wouldn't have chosen a developer agency. If I'd gone back and chose an agency again, I would have had more confidence to pull the plug rather than let it go on longer than it did, but yes, tech in-house definitely is the main thing I would have done differently.
Jonathan: I just have one last question really and you've already touched on the answer, and that is what advice would you offer to other founders who are in a similar state, or maybe they're a year behind you, they're still pre-launch, what advice could you offer to people in that situation?
Ashleigh: This is a tough question as well. There's so much, but can I bring it all into my head right now? One, learn from everything, learn from everything. Everything is a learning curve, and if something doesn't go your way, take that opportunity to learn from that incident. Don't think that the world is falling apart when something didn't go your way. As a founder, let me tell you, it's such an emotional journey. J-man, I might get anybody into my inbox one day, and it's from someone who says, "Oh, thanks for reaching out, but I don't want to talk to you," and literally you're on the floor. You're like, "Oh my God, it's all falling apart, it's awful." Then you get an email to say, "Hey, I've just made my first post in Localise." "Oh, this is great." Then you're on top of the world again, and it's really like peaks and troughs in your emotional state.
One, just don't panic if things go wrong and learn from your mistakes. Try and stay calm because you get this- and I've done this a number of times, you get panicky. Something doesn't go your way and you think, "Oh my God, everything's going to fall apart. I'm panicking," et cetera, and realistically, that's only happening in your own head. Externally, that's not happening in the real world. It's in your head, so it's about trying to get a bit of balance and understanding that things might seem bigger than they are. Yes, try and keep calm, don't panic too much. Learn from your mistakes.
Keep trucking, just keep trucking. If you're not going to build- if you're not going to do it, no one else is going to do it, so just keep doing it. Also, conviction, when you talk about your products and when you're talking to people about your product, don't go in all meek or half-arsed-- Sorry, can I swear? Don't go in half-hearted. You have to be passionate in your delivery of what you're saying, and people buy people, they don't buy products, they buy people. If you go in there with that passion, it's clear, and what you're trying to achieve is clear, and you can connect with people. That's going to give you so much of a better opportunity and chance of succeeding, and to motivate your staff as well because if you don't believe in your product and you're going, "Oh, is this going to work? Is this going to work?" you're going to fill everyone around you without. Even if you don't believe it's going to work, pretend you believe it's going to work. I 100% believe this is going to work, no doubt, but even if you have your doubts on the days where you are doubting yourself, keep it going. Just keep it going. Keep it going.
Jonathan: Well, your passion shows through in your conversation, and I know that about you, just speaking to you over the last several months. You're a very passionate person and you clearly believe in this. If listeners are interested in joining you on this journey, especially if they live in the UK, how can they sign up? If they're a small business owner or they just want to be a user of the app, where do they go to learn more?
Ashleigh: Absolutely, yes. Obviously, the website's www.localiseapp.com. We're on Instagram at Localise, we're on Facebook. The marketing girls got us on TikTok last week, so we're on TikTok now. Essentially, just go to the App Store. We're an iOS at the moment. When we can afford to finish Android, we'll be on Android. We are on iOS at the moment. Just go to the App Store, search Localise. We're about the 10th one in the list of apps called Localise when we launched, which I was a bit gutted about, but now we're number one in that pile when you search for us. We're there, number one.
If you're a business owner, just download the app, register yourself, and it's very simple. You can very simply add your business by clicking the Add Your Business button, very simple onboard, and we'd love to have you on board. Yes, we need all the help we can get, so please download, and come and check us out.
Jonathan: You're focused right now, if I'm not mistaken, on the Kent area, but anybody in the UK can use the app, is that correct?
Ashleigh: Yes, absolutely. We are putting out a concerted effort into the Kent area where we're working with the councils and local organizations, et cetera, but anyone in the UK can open the app. I feel that once we've scaled somewhat-- Put it this way. I can't control where people download it. A business downloads and registers in Scotland or Manchester or Liverpool, welcome. Please, please do that. Just know that we're probably not going to be fully active in those areas for a while yet, but that's how we start to get active in those areas is by the first downloads, et cetera. Sometimes that will steer where we're going to go next. If we found that we're getting a lot of downloads in a certain area, maybe that's where we need to focus on as the next area of focus.
Jonathan: Yes, indeed. For those of us who are not in the UK, but we're interested in following this story, can we follow you somehow and learn more about what's happening at Localise in the future?
Ashleigh: I think Instagram is probably the best one. @Localise on Instagram, you can follow me personally on my Instagram as well. I do post on there every now and then about Localise and the journey we're on, and really my journey of supporting small businesses is documented well on there. It's @MasterCornelius on Instagram.
Ashleigh: That's master as in the Jedi. Master Cornelius.
Jonathan: Of course, yes. [laughs] Well, Master Cornelius, is there anything else you'd like to add before we sign off today?
Ashleigh: No, I just thank you for having me on. It's been a pleasure and I look forward to be able to get you fully engaged in helping us to create more functionality with Localise. Hopefully, that will be sooner rather than later.
Jonathan: I hope so too. Working with Localise has been a lot of fun, it's a fun team, it's a fun project, so I look forward to having the opportunity to work together again soon.
Ashleigh: Thank you very much.
Jonathan: All right. Well, thanks for coming on.
Ashleigh: No problem.
Jonathan: Thanks for listening, everybody, we'll see you next time. Is your company struggling with software delivery? Would it be helpful to bounce some ideas around with somebody who's been there and done that before? You can borrow my brain for a one-on-one consultation call. Go to jhall.io/call for all the details.
Presenter: This episode is copyright 2021 by Jonathan Hall. All rights reserved. Find me online at jhall.io. Theme music is performed by Riley Day.
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