Episode 47: How to be a Non-Disruptive But Game Changing Company with Ian Lucey

Who is Ian Lucey and the key takeaways in this episode?

Childhood training may sometimes be neglected or taken for granted, but Ian Lucey’s story tells us that whether good or bad habits, when nurtured at a young age can have a huge impact on what future a boy or a girl can have. From filling the bedroom carpet with rows of coins laid neatly under the floorboards, Ian’s built the love for being organized and money oriented. He started working at age 12 as a salesperson (which many would probably shun) and have grown to love giving value to his customers.

In this interview, you will learn:

  • Why Ian thinks that selling is probably the most difficult part to outsource
  • Ian’s analogy of driving and raising a business with raising a child
  • Why he thinks ideas are worthless
  • His philosophy on why you shouldn’t build a business that change people’s behaviors
  • The importance of building a team that can take responsibility

The Questions

[4:21] What shaped your entrepreneurial spirit and your discovery spirit?
Answer: I’m not really sure. It was always in me. I get teased a lot when I go home for family vacations. My aunts have a couple of embarrassing stories of me. I think I might have been, I don’t know whether I was money-oriented, but I was quite the organizer as a child. I think they picked up the carpet to change, the carpet in my bedroom when I was about eight or nine, and the coins were laid out perfectly under the floorboards that I had been secretly saving – rows upon rows of coins.

So I’m not too sure if I was money-oriented, but I do remember at the time I used to love a good spreadsheet. I think I was the only nine-year old who used to map his pocket money versus how I would be spending that on Christmas presents. I felt I always had a funny interest in earning money but normally it was never really spent on me. It was always spent on something else, you know.

I worked from a very early age. I worked from about 12 years of age. I’ve always enjoyed it and I think I enjoyed it more than anything else. I love deals and I’m a salesperson, but a lot of people shy away from being salespeople or admitting they’re salespeople. But I like deals and I like closing deals. There’s nothing more interesting than giving your customer great value for money and then going off and getting more customers because you’re good at what you do.

[7:55] Is there a book that has changed your life or meant something significant to you?
Answer: Yes. I’d have a few that… I mentioned “The 4-Hour Week” earlier. I really like that. I really like “The Snowball” by Warren Buffett. I think if you are going to be in business, you’ve really got to understand finance and I think it’s a really intelligent book about how you can build up your own snowball, a bigger pile of money to an enable you to earn best. I love that book and I’m a big book fan. I can go on for hours. I won’t put you through too many books for you. I really enjoyed “Zero to One” which is Peter Thiel’s list book. A lot of people didn’t like it but I felt for the industry so I have to say that it really, really spoke to me.

[16:06] What company do you admire as it relates to culture other than own and why?
Answer: My favorite company of all – it was sold recently – was a company called Drummohr Software and Drummohr Software were based in St Andrew’s in Scotland.

There were two brothers. One guy was an accountant and the other guy was a programmer. At around 1996, ’97, they sat down, they built a piece of software to calculate tax, personal tax. And over the course of the next year or two, they managed to sell it to 10% of UK accountants. For the next ten years, between the two brothers and they had one guy’s wife working, and the son who I believe was deaf and dumb – four people in the company, they had a revenue of 1 million sterling, which at the time would probably mean 2 million dollars a year. Between the four of them, they worked at everything and they shared. They had about £15,000 a year in postage and packaging costs to send up the CDs before the cloud selling of software or anything like that.

I always thought it was amazing that their office – they were hilarious, they were notoriously grumpy. If you were hanging after support, they’d go – they’d answer the things like “That’s actually in the manual, we wrote that in the manual,” and then hang up the phone on you. But they were loved by their customers because what they built worked. The customers kept coming back every year. They sold the business the day the first brother hit 60 which is what they agreed they would do. And they got over, well, over 10 million dollars for their company

Go To Quote for Inspiration

Book Recommendations:

  • The Snowball by Warren Buffett
  • Zero to One by Peter Thiel

What Ian Lucey Wants His Company to BE:

  • BE Passionate
  • BE Successful
  • BE Interested

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Interview:

Where to Find Ian Lucey:

Connect with John on

FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

John: Welcome to Be Culture Radio and my guest today – Ian Lucey. Ian, how are you my man?

Ian: I’m not too bad at all. Thanks for having me.

John: We’re so pleased that you’re with us. You know, Ian, you have a tremendous background but before we dive into that, I’d like our listeners to have a little sighting of your personal side of Ian, where you came from, what made you the person you are today, and how you arrived where you’re at.

Ian: Okay, very good. [00:24 Inaudible]. It sounds more like a therapy session.

John: A little bit, but maybe it is for me.

Ian: Well, from a professional point of view anyway, I spent many years selling software to account on some practice. So, pretty much outside of North America, the rest of the English-speaking world, the British Empire’s of [00:45 Inaudible] at one stage. We used to sell the software that would produce a set of accounts. So [00:50 Inaudible] and kind of bookkeeping software, this was the financial statements that people produce every year. So actually most of my early career was spent doing that.

Around 2008, I had my, as I’d like to call it my “Alexander the Great” moment where I sat down and wept because we felt there was no one else left to sell the software to. I was looking around and I remember I had a meeting in Southern Ireland, so about three hours away from where I was living at the time. I went down to sell them some software, kind of an all-in-one big CRM, ERP package, you know, something to run the entire practice. When I got down to meet the practitioner, I couldn’t get my laptop within a foot and a half of his desk because of the amount of paper he had. I remember thinking, “What an absolute waste of a journey.” I got up at five in the morning to go meet this guy.

I drove back and I had a meeting not too far from my house in the afternoon. I went in to sell some software to somebody else and they had fifteen staff but they were all queuing up to send email on one computer because the internet was bad. Now you would think this was a long time ago but this is actually 2007, 2008. I was dumbfounded by how bad these two businesses were.

But what really upset me was how was it the guys I had sold software to for years hadn’t put them out of business? When I looked at it I realized, well, a lot of it is because in the case of that industry, customers don’t really know how that set of accounts were produced. They just get this. They sign this. They give it over to their bank manager for a loan or whatever it is.

As I looked around, I really felt cloud computing was the way of the future. I looked at the likes of internet banking and I said surely there’s a future where it’s going to be so much easier to interact with our business – our supplier, our customer in the exact same way internet banking does. So internet banking was a great idea in that it allowed the banks to push the work onto the customer but the customer feels the business seraph is given to them. The banks could reduce the number of staff and branches they had, kind of actually the service level to customers increased.

And I felt that we could build technology that would help small businesses do the exact same thing. That’s really what cloud computing is enabling businesses to do. You see that now with the likes of Airbnb and Uber, where they’re giving technology to the smallest businesses but it’s more leading technology. I guess that’s what we wanted to get into back in 2008, 2009.

John: Well, Ian, let me ask you this because I know my listeners want to know this. Like a lot of entrepreneurs, you find a point of pain in the marketplace and then you ask why. For us, we try to kind of open the hood on our guest so to speak and say, “What formed, what shaped you as a young man growing up?” You know, I like to say on our show – we call it the tribe, where everybody has a tribe. We all come from some place that shapes us. What shaped your entrepreneurial spirit and your discovery spirit?

Ian: I’m not really sure. It was always in me. I get teased a lot when I go home for family vacations. My aunts have a couple of embarrassing stories of me. I think I might have been, I don’t know whether I was money-oriented but I was quite the organizer as a child. I think they picked up the carpet to change, the carpet in my bedroom when I was about eight or nine, and the coins were laid out perfectly under the floorboards that I had been secretly saving – rows upon rows of coins.

So I’m not too sure if I was money-oriented, but I do remember at the time I used to love a good spreadsheet. I think I was the only nine-year old who used to map his pocket money versus how I would be spending that on Christmas presents. I felt I always had a funny interest in earning money but normally it was never really spent on me. It was always spent on something else, you know.

I worked from a very early age. I worked from about 12 years of age. I’ve always enjoyed it and I think I enjoyed it more than anything else. I love deals and I’m a salesperson, but a lot of people shy away from being salespeople or admitting they’re salespeople. But I like deals and I like closing deals. There’s nothing more interesting than giving your customer great value for money and then going off and getting more customers because you’re good at what you do.

John: You make a great point. For all my listeners, if you truly want to start a business, if you want to be an entrepreneur, you’re going to have to sell. Sell your idea. Create value. Solve problems. All the metrics follow that. Wouldn’t you agree, Ian?

Ian: Yes, it’s funny. I think every other aspect of a business can be outsourced but it’s very difficult to outsource selling. I think you can get somebody in from an accountancy practice to run your finances. I think you can get somebody to manage your customers in a customer support department, that can be outsourced. I very much believe you don’t need to build software, for example yourself or a lot of people who have hardware will outsource the manufacture of their products since it’s the same for software. But I think it’s not your business if you outsource the selling of it.

You might have resellers. You might have affiliates. But that’s not outsourcing your selling, that’s setting up your sales model and your sales strategy. But it’s amazing how many people I see, they just want to build software or they just want to build a product. They want to create something new and then they want somebody else to look after it for them. I think you can’t do that. At the end of the day, we’re in business to make money, or we’re in business to create a lifestyle that we’re happy with. But lifestyles have to be paid first so that goes right back to you’re in business to make money, so the way you do this, create there and sell something.

John: As I like to say, “Driving and raising a business up and raising a child, it’s very similar. If you don’t pay very close attention to both, you probably won’t like the results.”

Ian: Yes, me and one of the guys that started, when we started our first company, my wife was pregnant with our first child. One of the guys we employed, his wife was pregnant at the same time. They were both about three months pregnant. So the tease we used to have at the time was “Who’s going to deliver the products first. I’ll start with the wives.” It was a very good way to keep us focused and make sure we didn’t spend too long building the software products.

John: Well, let me change gears a little bit because I want to talk about your fund. I want to know what inspired you to start your fund. Why did the idea come to you from the early stages?

Ian: Yes, well, it’s a funny story. It was part generosity and part looking for something to do. We had started our company Lucey Technology. We’re a couple of years old and we were selling directly to accountants. So I built this cloud-based product for accountants. We realized it was only ever going to be a five or ten-person company if we stuck to doing it this way. We didn’t want to do that. We wanted to build a big business. I didn’t leave that kind of a large multinational to have a small business. I wanted to build up a bigger company.

We were doing a deal with an Australian PLC, a very big company, and they wanted to put our software into 700 pounds of businesses. This was a complete game changer for our business and would have made us millions. Very comfortably it would have made us millions. We worked a way on it for about nine or ten months. In the end they said, “Look, it’s great. We’re delighted for you. It’s a shame you’re not in Australia because we’d love to bring you out for a beer to celebrate tonight.”

We go in on Tuesday morning, the contracts to be signed with by the managing director. One of the two people got sick, got some tropical disease in Australia, and they were out sick for 3 weeks. When they came back, the PLC had been bought by Bain Capital. I managed to lose my deal over this so I’ll never vote Mitt Romney any day. That’s all I’m saying after that deal.

John: Ouch!

Ian: Yes. So we lost it all but the funny thing was, while we were sitting and waiting for this deal, we didn’t need to build a lot of software, but I needed to keep the developers who knew how my software worked. Sometimes the sale cycle is longer than the development cycle. We had the product up and running.

A friend of mine ran a charity in Ireland that’s called [09:12 Inaudible], The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. So it’s the British Duke of Edinburgh, so he started it after the Second World War and it’s in about 150 countries. My friend runs the Irish one. He was looking for a website so I sent him off to some people and he came back with a quote like 90,000€, so like $150,000 it was at the time. I was like. “What are you building? That’s not a website.”

He explained he wanted to bring the charity into the cloud because 20,000 kids a year do this in Ireland. It’s all kind of self-development community involvement and they fill out a book every week as to what they did. He wanted to move the whole thing onto apps and online so the kids would track their performance against getting this award.

I said, “Look, I’ll tell you what, I’ll donate it to you because I really like your charity.” And this guy had been a very good mentor to me over the years. But I said I’m going to set two rules for you. I said: “The first rule is you’re going to have pay me something. If I give it to you for free, you won’t respect this. Because,” I said, “This is going to change your business. This is a fundamental change on how you run your organization. It’s not going to be easy for you and if you get it for free, you’ll run away when times get hard.”

So I said “Look, it’s actually… they underquoted this. This is going to cost about $150,000 or $250,000.” And I said, “Tell you what. If you pay me 20%, I’ll donate the rest of it to you because you’ve been very good to me.” So the guy was delighted and I said, “There’s one other rule.” He said, “What’s that?” I said, “Normally, when these charitable organizations buy your software, you’ll become experts for a couple of months on how to build this stuff.” I said “Look, we know better than you how to do this. So we’re going to come in. We’re going to watch your business and we’re going to build it for you.”

So we did that and at the end of it all, I came in and I said, “I have one nice surprise for you.” He said “What’s that?” I said “We’ve actually built this thing to be scalable and allow you to go to the other 150 countries in the world that have this similar award and you can license it to them now if you want. So now, it’s no longer going to cost you any. It’s now going to be a revenue-generating tool for your business, all right?” They were delighted. The charity was delighted. It all went well and sure enough, they had their challenges because the workforce wasn’t very computer-literate. There were a lot of volunteers. But over the years, they picked it up.

So at the same time the Aussie deal had fallen through on us and what we decided we needed to do was we figured we were really helpful to that organization, let’s do this with startups. And we launched the fund and what we decided with the fund is we said “What we’re going to do is if we can find sales directors who understand their industry but don’t know how to bring their product to market, we’re going to help them build their products and in return for that, we’ll take a share of their business.” And we did the same model as before which is you’ll pay us a little bit of cash, just so that you’re focused, but you primarily pay us in shares.

That was about three and a half years ago and we’ve now done 40 of those. In 2015, we’ll do 30 investments. The model is getting more and more sophisticated every year. So now we don’t just help people build the product, we actually help them with their finance – how to raise money and everything else. We also help them a lot with their marketing. We’ve recently actually – we’ve just taken…

It was a bad idea… John, apologies.

John: That’s okay, go ahead.

Ian: This is what my phone is like all the time. And hmm, sorry, where was I?

And I said so we’ve done 30 of them so far. The model has gotten more and more sophisticated as we’ve gone along. So we’re now doing their finance. We’re doing their marketing. We’ve recently – we’ve just taken over a company that a VC came to us and the VC said “Look, this company is kind of flatlining and we really need a wider range of expertise. Can you guys come in and run the company for us?” So we’re now running the company and we’ve taken a shareholding in the business. We work with the VC’s to rescale back up that business. So that’s kind of what we’re doing at the moment. I would say at the moment – in 2015, we’ll probably bring to market approximately 20 plus companies that will be launched for the first time.

John: Let me ask you this. From an investor prospective, you invest in people more than ideas, it sounds like.

Ian: We invest. We love sales directors. That’s what we always say to people. We love sales directors and we love people who go, “Hey, I know an industry. I see a pain point. If I have a product, I could sell that product.”

A lot of people invest in teams whereas we’re happy to back an individual entrepreneur lots of the time. We’re happy to run half a team around that entrepreneur to get them started.

When it comes to ideas, I believe ideas are worthless. I believe a lot of people find pain points in their industry. I think when you look at that pain point – if you understand the other marketplaces, you can completely change how you’d go about financing, building, and selling a product into that particular market.

So, I’d give you an example of one we’re in the middle of building at the moment. A lady came to us and she was a programmer. She was a self-taught programmer and a farmer. A very interesting lady, she’d actually been in the US Navy at one stage. A master diver, plus she had to leave because she was a lesbian. Remember they had – what is it? The don’t…

John: “Don’t ask and don’t tell.”

Ian: “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” So a very successful woman there; left, retrained as a programmer, built a bit of software but it was terrible software. She wanted to sell software to run the mart and the marts are where they sell the cows, pigs, sheep and horses. It’s kind of a global product. Most marts are run on paper arch boards at the moment. She had 15 of the A and C finest marts in Ireland signed up to buy her software. Then what she wanted to do was sell a license fee to the farmer, a subscription so that the farmer could see how much cattle has been sold for whatever.

We went in. We looked at numbers. We were helping her rebuild the product. We’re going to launch now in about two months’ time. But not only that, we completely changed the pricing. So we went to Surrey. We said, “Go back to the marts and tell the marts they can have it for free.” The farmers, we’re not going to sell them subscriptions, they can have it for free as well. But what we’re going to do is now every time an animal is sold, we’re going to take a cost of the transaction. The reason we did that is we’re fundamentally in the belief we’re now in the edge of the transaction.

If you look at a lot of the companies that are popping up at the moment, they’re building businesses but they’re not building the infrastructure. Uber is a good example. It’s a travel business or transportation business that doesn’t own any cars or products or anything at all. Airbnb, the other example I gave you earlier. People are able to rent their rooms but Airbnb doesn’t own anything.

What we’re doing now is we’re in the business of buying and selling animals yet we don’t own any of those. But what we’re doing is we’re using big data to say to a farmer, “Here’s the price of feed. Here’s the price of pig you’re selling for. And here’s the optimum day and the optimum mart where you should go to sell that animal. Well that’s really powerful data to give that farmer. The farmer is happy to pay us a little percentage to sell.

John: I bet they’re more than a little happy, Ian.

Ian: Of course they are, but that’s where our model is useful. We’re looking at that. We actually looked at the takeaway marketers for just the East in the UK and Ireland is very popular. We’ve got to do it like that. We’ve got to get into the transaction. I think that’s where we’re useful. There’ll come a time in the next couple of years that being in the transaction is just standard and there’ll be a newer method. But we saw one method in one industry and we’re able to help this lady. Not just build her product but price her product because we understood the larger changes and behavioral patterns across many industries.

John: Let me dive in a little bit deeper and ask you what your definition of company culture is and how that affects and ties into investment decisions for investors?

Ian: Okay so the company culture of the companies we’re looking to invest?

John: Yes.

Ian: For us the key thing is to be passionate. The entrepreneur must be passionate about the industry that they’re going into and they must be knowledgeable. You’ve got to understand the marketplace. I see too many people trying to start businesses and they don’t actually understand the industry they’re going into. They see a pain point and they want to sell this but they’ve never worked with it.

We have a good friend of mine that we’ve invested in. We’re building a courier app and there’s lot of courier apps around at the moment. One of the things that we did and the challenges we put to him is we said, “Go be a bicycle courier for two weeks because you’ll see the world differently.

This guy had been a sales director for a very large taxi firm but he wanted into a marketplace that was very similar, that he kind of understood. But we said you kind of understand this. You’ve pretty much got it nailed. Go off and cycle and go deliver some stuff. Because it’s only when you’re called on the bike, or you’re half knocked down or you understand how the customer treats you at the other end that you’ll really begin to understand what an industry is all about. And off he went and did it. It did change how he built the product.

John: I’ve got to tell you, I believe wholeheartedly what you’re saying in my business. I’ve been in the interiors business for over 30 years. I started at the front door as a receptionist and worked all the way up until I was the head of a manufacturing company. Then I went over to the distribution. Then 12 years ago my wife and I built our own distribution and interiors company taking all that knowledge and saying, “You know what? You can actually give someone the information and give them the product development and product application to help them build a culture and not push your commodity down their throat.”

Ian: Yes.

John: It doesn’t solve the problem. They still have a crappy culture with cheap furniture. You didn’t do a whole lot of good but you made money. So to your point, we understood the business because both of us spent years in the business. Understanding that to your point, the nuance of the business equals successfully coming to the table with value.

Ian: Yes, it does and it’s amazing how many people go into an industry and say I’m going to change everything. Then later on we’ll move back to doing what the rest of the industry was doing anyway.

It’s funny. The word disruption is used a lot in the tech world. People talk about, “I’m going to disrupt this market. I’m going to do that.” The best example of all is Sean Parker and Napster, Justin Timberlake and the Facebook movie as we like to call it. He talks about how they disrupted the music industry and how it nearly brought the music industry to its needs. We looked at it and we go, “He didn’t disrupt anything. They didn’t disrupt the music industry.” Back in the 80s, I had a ghetto blaster. You probably had one too.

John: I did. I did.

Ian: At the front of the ghetto blaster, you had two cassette racks. You took out some Blu-tack or some Sellotape and you taped over the legitimate album so that the buttons wouldn’t go in the top of the cassette. In the other one, you put the blank cassette and you rob the music. We’ve been robbing music since the 70s or 80s. All that Napster did – because Napster turned around and Napster allowed people to do that digitally.

Now I believe disruption means you got people to change their behavioral patterns. I disrupted the flow of water. I disrupted, I changed the path. I always say to people, “Don’t build businesses that make people change their behaviors because it’s very expensive to do that.”

What you should actually do is do what Napster did which isn’t disruption at all. It’s – provide people the opportunity to do what they were doing before either in a more efficient or a cheaper way of doing it. To do that, the water will continue to flow downhill. The consumer will continue to behave in the same way and be a happier consumer for us.

John: Ian, you talked about Napster. Can you share a story with our listeners about a company that you’ve been involved with and you’ve seen and invested in that fostered a great product and had a great culture, and it helped them accelerate their business and really help them bring that idea and product to the clients?

Ian: Yes, I’ll give you a very good one. There’s a company in England, one of our more successful investments had a very simple investment from us. There was a guy. He was the sales director of Barclays Bank which is a large retail bank in England. He was in charge of the credit card division, the machines. You know the machines you put into a restaurant – he’s in charge of selling them.

He looked at that market and he said, “We’re selling it wrong.” He said, “We should be selling this product so much better and, more importantly, there should be financial services products to help the shop owner or the restaurant owner.” He was out raising money and I said, “What do you want money for?” He said, “I need a website. I need my marketing done. I need to build up a brand there. And then I need a CRM system so we can track who’s looking at or buying our product.” Because he said, “I want to put self-employed sales reps all over the United Kingdom knocking on doors selling this product.” We said, “Tell you what. We’ll look after all the tech. We’ll build you exactly what you want. That’s pretty good. It’s simple. It’s easy. We can do it for you.”

We did it for him very quick and his business is now about 25, 26 months old. He’s got a 160 staff. They’ve just passed 1% of all UK businesses are now using his credit card machines which is a phenomenal start. There are a lot of transactions.

But what’s really interesting about the culture and about what he’s built is they put the customer right at the front. They’re looking at the customer and they say, “What are the products we can sell them around this machine?” The most successful product they’re actually selling and the most profitable thing from their own point of view is not the machine. They have a finance product they sell where they go into a shop and they’ll look at the credit card turnover and they’ll say “Hey, I see you’re turning over, let’s say, £10,000 a month.

They said “Tell you what, if you let us control your credit card machine we’ll give you £10,000 tomorrow morning to upgrade your shop or do whatever it is you want to do. Because we now know your credit card machine is central to your business, we’re going to take control of the machine and build 20% of anywhere near that comes through the machine until you’ve paid us off plus the interest.

What they’re doing is they’re looking at the business and going, “That machine is central to the company.” If the company pends off the credit card machine, they might as well turn off the business. As long as we know that we’re going to keep that machine going, we know we’re going to get paid back. But the customer in this case, the shop owner is going to get access to credit so much faster than they would have at traditional banks.

John: And get in there a hell of a cash flow.

Ian: Helping them with the cash flow very quick, very simple and it’s just a win-win all around. I look at it and they’re rolling out more and more of those types of products. It was all because he sat in the bank and he said they’re just selling them the machine but the machine is just the starting point. Their whole business is based around how much more can we do to help that shop owner.

John: Wow! Now Ian, let me run this by you and I’m sure you have seen this and I’ve seen this over the years.

I talked to a lot of different companies like you do. You see people with first rate, beautiful websites. Their people are very articulate. They know the point of pain and you go to visit them. You walk into their facilities and it’s like there is a complete brand disconnect. You want to say yourself, “Do you get the fact that your culture is dictated by your environment? That if you have a great website and great people and you don’t give them a great environment, what message are you sending them?”

I was just wondering if you could share with our listeners what your thoughts are on that subject would be.

Ian: It would probably be better if this had been a video interview and I could have shown you around where we’re sitting. Our office, our Dublin office – we have four offices across Europe.

But in each case – there’s a very popular book called “The 4-Hour Week. We live and breathe a lot of that. In terms of… my belief is that you should be able to maximize the resources available to you.

Our office is based at the bottom of the garden of the house I live in which is a 260 year old big house and we look out over Dublin Bay. Normally I’d never want my office in my garden. I’d like the connection or disconnect but our board room is called – our garden is called the board room here. We work over a beautiful, little cottage that looks out over Dublin Bay. We have squirrels that run across the roof of our building every day. We’ve foxes that live in the woods next to us. In short we have a beautiful working environment.

But actually it fits everything we do because it’s actually cost effective because of where it is. It’s very friendly for staff because most of our staff walk to work. Because instead of putting our office into the city center that everyone would commute into, we find we attract a lot of staff who want to work in the suburb that we’re in and they walk to work. The work-life balance is better for our staff. They leave work earlier because of it and they get home much faster. It takes me about twenty seconds to walk across the garden. So I get the biggest benefit of it. Of course not that I ever stop working, it seems.

But I think when you look and you plan ahead, what you can realize is that there are a lot of things we do to build up what we perceived to be a successful company. There’s a really interesting thing that people should take a look at. The Duke of Edinburgh who I mentioned earlier – there’s a thing called cargo cult. Have you ever heard of the Cargo Cult?

John: I have not.

Ian:  So the Cargo Cult is really interesting. There’s a couple of islands in the South Pacific who during the Second World War, the American Army placed some of their people there. They placed their people there because they were at war with Japan and they needed bases further along.

But some of the people who lived and some of the tribes that lived in the jungles started getting these shipments dropped out of the sky. Now the shipments were for a cause. They were placed in the wrong place but they were for the American soldiers.

John: Wow.

Ian: This is really an interesting story.

What happened was the people of the Cargo Cult as they called them, they started to make fake planes out of wood. They started to behave like the American soldiers after the Second World War because they hoped that the supplies would keep dropping out of the sky.

It’s really interesting. I’d recommend that you Google this.

And it actually got to the stage where The Duke of Edinburgh who I mentioned earlier, the other charity, he is now revered because they believed that some successful man who was married to a powerful woman and they get out in the end that it was The Duke of Edinburgh would be the one to come and rescue them.

John: All right.

Ian: But the Cargo Cult is a great analogy for what happens in a lot of businesses, which is you start a business and people look and they go, “Well, I’ve got to have that big office or I’ve got to have the bean bags because that’s what the cool kids are doing.”

John: All right, all right.

Ian:  “I’ve got to have x, y, z because that’s a sign of success.” But actually what you really wanted to is come in, do a good day’s work in a positive and encouraging environment and you want to get back home to your family.

We look at it and we go well actually our [28:30 Inaudible], offices we have. I’m sure we can share a picture of this with your business. It’s just so much more efficient with such a nicer place to work. We have a CFO here with our Chief Fire Officer because he lights the fire every day during winter. We’re one of the few places where you want a nice, warm fire.

John: Right.

Ian:  It’s the same thing with the Cargo Cult. Don’t build something because that’s what success is perceived to be. That’s what the tribes were doing. They were building fake planes because they thought if you had one, the cargo would fall out of the sky to them. And I think a lot of businesses try to start their companies in that same way. “Let’s follow this. Let’s do that.”

John: They absolutely do it. It’s one of the things. We have a showroom in New Jersey and people will come in here and they’ll say “Well, what is everybody doing?” I look at them and I smile and I say, “It doesn’t really matter what everybody is doing. What is it that you want to do?”

And Ian, some of the looks I get are priceless. Like the commercial, well, priceless. Some of the faces when I say “What is it you’re trying to achieve?” “Well, we wanted to be cool.” “Okay, what does cool mean to you?” “Well, we wanted to be cutting edge.” “Okay, what does that mean?”

Ian: Very good.

John: And people would say to me “Why are being so difficult, John? I said “I’m not being difficult. I’m trying to help you. If you don’t tell me, I can’t help you.”

Ian: Exactly. I think at the end of the day, a lot of people – when they come to work, people want to be fulfilled. They want to make sure they’re paid first and they want to know of their security but then they want to push on and feel more successful. And I think one of the key bits that we try to foster here is that people – that they take responsibility. The reason we want them to take responsibility is because if they can take responsibility they can be given more responsibility.

John: Exactly.

Ian: And people want more responsibility and they want to grab it more. I think it’s when you do that, it’ll affect your office space. Like I – for example, I’m not a huge fan of open-plan offices. The reason I don’t like them is because I’m a salesperson. When you’re a salesperson, the last thing you want to do is be having sales conversations while the developer’s sitting in the back room going, “Hang on a minute. I haven’t built that yet.”

John: We like to say “Yes, we can do that. Let’s move forward.”

Ian: Yes, let’s do that and then the developers just sit and go, “Hang on, how long is that going to take me?” And it creates a negative environment that actually isn’t the negative thing because that’s in the developer. If you come in to them afterwards and says, “Look guys, we’ve got a contract to be able to do x, y, z. Are we going to do this?” And it’s like “Yes, perfect.” Whereas, listening to the contract coming as a negative thing sucks.

Sometimes you have to look at your work environment to decide “How am I going to structure this so that everybody benefits?” The other funny thing in the world of software is development offices are incredibly quiet because people are concentrating. In fact, I would say half of our company have earphones in during the day and they’re listening to music.

And to a salesperson that can come across quite antisocial. In fact you’d often get it where new sales or marketing staff would come in to our company and they’d whisper. We’d have to tell them afterwards, “Don’t whisper, you’re not allowed to whisper. Don’t feel like you have to be quiet because other people are being quiet. That’s how they’re doing their work.” Sometimes you just have to separate that kind of stuff out but a lot of the time the separation at business takes place but the developer just puts the headphones off.

John: And you see the headphones a lot. I mean the millennials come in into the work force and they have their shirt, their slacks, their shoes and their headphones.

Ian: Yes.

John: It’s part of their gear and for those of us that are not millennials, it’s an adjustment. There were like “Okay, I’m talking to you,” and they’ll have their headphones on. I hear you, John. I hear everything that’s going on. I’m like, okay, just checking.

Hey Ian, let me take you to the lightning round if I could. You’ve been really great with your time and I don’t want to overstay my welcome.

Is there a book that has changed your life or meant something significant to you?

Ian: Yes. I’d have a few that… I mentioned “The 4-Hour Week” earlier. I really like that. I really like “The Snowball” by Warren Buffett. I think if you are going to be in business, you’ve really got to understand finance and I think it’s a really intelligent book about how you can build up your own snowball, a bigger pile of money to an enable you to earn best. I love that book and I’m a big book fan. I can go on for hours. I won’t put you through too many books for you. I really enjoyed “Zero to One” which is Peter Thiel’s list book. A lot of people didn’t like it but I felt for the industry so I have to say that it really, really spoke to me.

John: And you have a quote you go to for inspiration?

Ian:  No, we’re Irish. We have a constant stream of them.

John: That’s okay.

Ian: I will give you my one favorite quote though, if that’s okay.

John: Sure.

Ian: Lawrence of Arabia, the book for the seven pillars of wisdom. The first paragraph of the book is: “All men dream but not equally. Those that dream at night wake to find that they were just reveries but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men for they may act upon their dreams and change the world forever.”

John: I like that.

Ian:  Yes, it’s a good one. I’m probably misquoting it slightly but I think it’s quite a good book.

John: I liked it a lot. Now, what company do you admire as it relates to culture other than your own and why?

Ian: My favorite company of all – it was sold recently – was a company called Drummohr Software and Drummohr Software were based in St Andrew’s in Scotland.

There were two brothers. One guy was an accountant and the other guy was a programmer. At around 1996, ’97, they sat down, they built a piece of software to calculate tax, personal tax. And over the course of the next year or two, they managed to sell it to 10% of UK accountants. For the next ten years, between the two brothers and they had one guy’s wife working, and the son who I believe was deaf and dumb – four people in the company, they had a revenue of 1 million sterling, which at the time would probably mean 2 million dollars a year. Between the four of them, they worked at everything and they shared. They had about £15,000 a year in postage and packaging costs to send up the CDs before the cloud selling of software or anything like that.

I always thought it was amazing that their office – they were hilarious, they were notoriously grumpy. If you were hanging after support, they’d go – they’d answer the things like “That’s actually in the manual, we wrote that in the manual,” and then hang up the phone on you. But they were loved by their customers because what they built worked. The customers kept coming back every year. They sold the business the day the first brother hit 60 which is what they agreed they would do. And they got over, well, over 10 million dollars for their company.

John: Wow!

Ian: When you think about it, every bit of cash that came in to them, stayed with them. I went to meet them a couple of times. We offered them about 6, 7 million dollars and they just laughed and said, “Yes, come on, we’ll bring you a game of golf.” This is a company where they’d go golfing at four o’clock in the afternoon and they could just shut the place down and keep going.

They left a lovely business but it wasn’t a small lifestyle business. This was a profitable business but they were smart enough to know I don’t need to put 30 people around us to show that we’re being successful. Actually, I might put 30 people around me and I might get up to see 17 or 18 % of the market. But actually, with the four of us we can control 10% of the market.

John: Control 10% of the market?

Ian: They controlled 10% of the market and they lived a happy existence and sold out their product at a time that suited them.

John: Smart guys.

Ian: I sat and looked at it and I was going, “That’s good.” They did all of that up in Scotland.

John: Smart guys.

Ian: And it was just a very profitable thing to do. It’s a clever business. I’ve always sat and looked and I said, “You know something? I might build a 5,000 or 10,000 person company at one stage. I’m might do x, y, z but first and foremost, I’d like to make sure I’ve maximized the return on the ideas that I bring to the market.

John: Ian, big finish, here we go. If you had to describe your culture of the Lucey Fund in three words, what would you want it to be?

Ian: Be passionate, be successful, be interested.

John: Perfect. Now Ian, how can my listeners connect with you?

Ian: The best way to get in touch is www.lucey.fund. That’s L-U-C-E-Y.

John: Perfect. Any roll out you want to talk about before we go?

Ian:  With so many products we’ll be launching now. Our latest one there that’s going really well, it’s a company called Medxnote. It’s the last one I’m telling you about. Medxnote is like What’sApp for hospitals. It turns out a lot of the doctors and nurses all over the world are sharing patient date using WhatsApp and it’s completely non-compliant. We’ve actually gone and built it and before we finished building it, we had the largest private and the largest public hospital in Ireland buy it off us. We’re currently in the middle of rolling out to a lot of hospitals in Ireland. We’ve just recently had a bunch of doctors come in and only doctors have invested to bring the thing around you. It’s going really, really well. Come to Medxnote and I recommend people take a look at this. It’s very interesting.

John: Now Ian, I always share with my guest my favorite quote from Maya Angelou which is “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” And we hope we made you feel like you’re part of our tribe today. We hope we made you feel welcome.

Ian: You did indeed. It’s been great fun and I really enjoyed this.

John: Thank you so much and hopefully in six months, you’ll come back and visit us again. If you run into some of your investors that you think this would be a great platform for them to speak and tell their story, would you send them my way, Ian?

Ian: I will indeed. No problem at all. It will be a pleasure.

John: Be well my friend. Thank you so much.

Ian: Thank you very much. Have a nice day there.

John: You too. Bye-bye.

Ian: Bye-bye.