Tell us about Flow Software Solutions
We are a North East software company run by two brothers, Paul and David King. David has been developing software for many years, and Paul for the last three years, although Flow was formed just over a year ago. We develop a software product for surveying companies, called Flow Mobile Surveying. The software can be used to capture on-site data and create high-quality reports for asbestos, legionella, and fire risk assessments. Our goal is to be the fastest surveying software on the market, without compromising on quality.
What is the most rewarding aspect of running an independent business in the region?
Working together, as brothers, is the most rewarding aspect from a personal perspective. We’re North East “born and bred”, so working in the North East was always a given. But we’re always impressed by the startup and technology community here, with events like Newcastle Startup Week and tech clusters like Dynamo giving the region a boost. We have offices in Hoults Yard in Byker, which provides a natural way to networking and stay connected with like-minded companies.
And the most challenging?
Six months ago, we made the decision to pivot our company, away from another product we were developing. Pivot is just a fancy term for change direction. It was a tough decision to make at the time, but it was absolutely the right thing to do.
In hindsight, we had tried to build a product in a sector where we had limited credibility. After switching to an industry where we had credibility our product gained traction immediately, so we knew we had made the right decision.
Other than the big shift in our product, working from home with young families has proved quite a challenge too.
What are the short and long-term plans for the business?
Short term, our plans are to keep getting new clients in the industries we’re familiar with. David has a lot of experience and credibility in the asbestos surveying industry, so that felt like a natural place to start. Long term, we want to adapt our product to serve other surveying industries, we just need to earn our chops in those sectors!
What advice would you give to anyone with a business idea?
Starting has to be number one. Don’t get paralysed by indecision, or fear of failure, just get started.
It doesn’t matter if your product or service isn’t perfect, to begin with, you need to speak to customers to improve it. Once you get started, there are two things you should be doing every day; speaking to customers, and building your product or service. Most other things are just a distraction.
How has your business been affected by the coronavirus pandemic?
We’ve been lucky in that the coronavirus pandemic has given us some good opportunities, so it’s been a mixed blessing really. We can still work from home, so we haven’t had to stop working or become furloughed. At this stage in our business that’s quite a relief, as we didn’t want to lose our traction. One noticeable difference is that directors of companies are easier to contact. Many are looking at ways to improve their business processes, so there are opportunities if you’re prepared to seize them. We’ve had more demo calls and software trials in the last week than any other week since we started.
Have you adapted your service in light of these challenges?
The first thing is that we’ve refocused all of our marketing activities to LinkedIn. We’ve been able to contact a lot of business owners this way, as they have more free time for online networking. Since our product has a very clearly-defined target market, this means we can reach the right people easily. Secondly, we’ve noticed a high volume of people starting their own businesses as a result of the pandemic. To help onboard these young companies and freelancers, we’ve developed a trial version of our software, so surveying companies can try the software before they buy it. This has been a good way to start meaningful conversations with potential clients, who have more free time to explore software products. This has really helped us to engage with our audience.