When starting a business, it's often said that if you can at least scratch your…
Small Business Spotlight: Jamie Wilson, CEO of Your Digital File
When I think of a start-up I picture the stereotype of a couple of twenty something males who have dropped out of university to pursue their dream. Or a new mother who wants to create her own business to give her more flexibility to work around her young family. I wouldn’t normally associate the start-up world with an accountant rocked by loss who feels compelled to begin an IT business. It was this deviation from the norm that made Jamie Wilson a great candidate for the first spotlight article.
How does an accountant go from running his own successful accounting practice that looked after large portfolios dealing in multi-million dollar projects to launching a startup?
Jamie: Back in 2010, my father was suddenly diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. Unfortunately, I was overseas, and that reality of Dad’s only got a maximum of six weeks to live was overwhelming. So I flew back from the States, and, being the oldest son, with an accounting background, I started trying to pull all the important documents together. Where’s a copy of the will? Where’s the life insurance? Where’s the superannuation? And shares?
I thought there’s got to be a solution to organise all these sorts of documents. I spoke to lawyers and they did a global search for me. After Dad passed away I went and worked with Security Experts over in the States and decided to create the service with a focus on organisation and security, even though I have no IT background.
How did you begin?
Jamie: I had no idea, but I knew I had to find developers. It took a bit of trial and error to find the right ones. It’s grown from one person in 2011 to what it is today, which is close to twenty.
How did you get customers when you started?
Jamie:In March 2014, I did a soft launch. And the soft launch was to work with different verticals, such as the legal profession, accounting, any banking platforms. But also builders, painters, trades as well, people who are sending out quotes, getting agreements signed. Listening to the market has been important, and then with that we adopt, and make sure that the systems cater for it.
Is a key challenge keeping ahead of the different security hacks and threats?
Jamie: One of the advantages of our encryption is that every file is uniquely encrypted, so no two files are the same. Our weakest link is the user themselves and how they manage access.
We have no knowledge of our user’s information. We do not run algorithms over the top of your data to work out new products or services, nor do we sell to a third party to analyse your information, to send out marketing material.
What excites you most about your industry?
Jamie: From a security point, knowing that all our users are identified under the Anti-Money Laundering Act. So that gives our users confidence. They know that if they receive information from Your Digital File, those users have been verified and are a legitimate person.
What mistake have you made twice in business?
Jamie: Trusting too easily, which will probably never change. When you’re entering a new area you need to have trust. You don’t know anyone until they start working, and you’ve got to have that faith. Its probably why I’ve got such a strong team where I am today. They’re definitely family.
What do you think it takes to be a genuine pioneer in business?
- Never lose momentum – I believe you’ve just got to put your boots on and keep moving through the mud.
- Learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable – Make sure you don’t fall in love with your own concept. Always go out and check what’s happening. I’m always looking to see where are we on the global stage and what’s happening out in the market.
- Have great people around – One of my greatest assets is having a strong Advisory Board, each of the board members comes from a different industry and with different expertise. And that there has created a very strong bonding team, that gives a whole lot of clarity around our strategic planning. It’s that intelligence that you don’t think of in the early days, because you’re a start-up.
- Know your role – It’s not a matter of thinking I have to do everything. I’m comfortable with giving responsibility or delegating.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received when it comes to business?
Jamie: If you’ve made an error, if you made a mistake, you know what? You’re better off falling on your sword. People will forgive you and you’ll build trust, versus trying to sweep it under the mat. Because it will come out.
Where to from here?
Jamie: We’re already in New Zealand and next we’ll roll out to the Philippines USA in March and perhaps Hong Kong.
How can people connect with you?
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