David Rasche has been in IT for fifty years with over forty leading and growing application software businesses. He oversaw phenomenal growth at several companies during his career, including the transformation of SSP (a global insurance and financial services software provider) from a £20m to £200m company. As chair of GBG Group plc until recently, he helped the team grow the business from £24m revenue to over £250m. David also chaired Onyx, a growing hosting business, returning three times multiple for the PE backer and management.
In this interview with Percayso Inform’s Managing Director Rich Tomlinson, David shares his top takeaways on taking businesses past their early stages; what it means to be a great entrepreneur; his investment opportunity to back one of the new data intelligence providers in the UK insurance market; what they hope to achieve together and more.
Percayso: What are your top takeaways from working with scaling businesses and helping them grow?
Rasche: Growing application software businesses, like most others, is about understanding your market sector and bringing innovative products and services that help customers get ahead of their competitors. It’s also about providing excellent customer service, which means having a team that understands their market and what customers both need and want.
You’ve said the “key is great leadership and a great team around you” if you want to take a business past its early stages.
Promising entrepreneurs realise they need a team with complementary skills and experience to take products past the development stage.
How would you characterise the best entrepreneurs you’ve worked with across the insurance and tech industry?
Promising entrepreneurs are only sometimes good leaders, but the best are and they recognise that they need to surround themselves with really good people with different skill sets. Leaders are only as good as their “followers” and the best leaders understand that getting people better than you on the top team means ‘the cream rises to the top’.
Good leaders also learn from others; they seek good mentors and best practices. They create a culture where everyone feels valued and can freely give their opinion.
What challenges do businesses experience at the different stages of growth when scaling?
It varies from business to business. It can be that sales teams are selling, not advising. It can be that marketing is using the wrong channels or not asking customers for referrals and case studies. Sometimes, an acquisition with a great product or a solid customer base ideal for your great product is the springboard. But fundamentally, it comes back to the same few things. If customers aren’t loved enough after they take an exciting product, they don’t stay or buy more. If the team needs to be valued more and engagement needs to be solid, good people move on.
How do businesses overcome these challenges?
It’s essential to create a culture where customers want to join. They hear great things and industry specialists wish to participate because they believe it’s a great business.
So what do you look for when you invest in a tech scale-up?
A few things really – market appetite i.e. does the market really need the solution the business has built? Obviously, I can check on this by speaking to experts or drawing on my own experience. The management team – what is their pedigree, how are they thought of in the market, their experience and their drive are all important. The solution – how good is it, how does it differentiate against its competitors, is it easy to buy, use and gain value from? If a business can tick all of these boxes then they are in a very good position.
Is that what you’ve recognised in Percayso?
Yes, it’s an exciting time for their team and the business. There is always room for a new entrant with sharper technology or better data to take a good market share with only one established player.
Would you say that’s our competitive advantage?
We all know the competitive advantage that data makes and Percayso is in a unique position to shake things up in the market.
Is that why you decided to invest in Percayso?
I’ve invested in Percayso because I understand both sides of the market opportunity from my days at SSP and GBG. The best data for decision-making is vital in underwriting and claims. Those with the best data will make decisions to gain the most profitable clients and mitigate risks at the underwriting and claims stage. Data from different sources is critical to cross-matching.
It’s an exhilarating time for us to have you onboard! Any parting advice?
Stick at it, keep the products ahead of the game and make sure all the team “are on the bus”.
Want to learn more about Percayso? Get in touch with the team today.