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Build a strong business where you have customers who are evangelists for your product. Build the right partnerships, focus on a growth plan and the M&A will come to you at the right time.

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Ian Gotts
Founder and CEO

Tell us about yourself

I am an engineer by training, I then spent 12 years at Accenture where I led major transformation programs. I was the IT Director of the DSS with a team of 500 before leaving to found Nimbus Partners, a technology company serving highly regulated Fortune500 customers, including Nestle, SAP, Novartis, HMRC, Bank of Montreal, and Toyota. We grew it from a start up in a bedroom in a fishing village on the South Coast, to a multinational until it was acquired by TIBCO.

I then got the ‘band back together’ and founded Elements.cloud. But now I am living in San Francisco.

I sat on Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Advisory Board for four years during their transition to the cloud which was fascinating and spoke at events, including the keynote at the World Partner Conference. We were customers of Salesforce from the start in the UK, 2002, I was a speaker at the first UK ‘Dreamforce’ which was Marc Benioff, Founder and CEO of Salesforce, three customers and 120 delegates. Since then I've spoken at Dreamforce and World Tour multiple times.

I have also written 11 books on Salesforce, business analysis, change management and compliance.

You have worked in both the UK and USA technology sectors, what are the key differences between the two?

Having founded and led global technology companies headquartered in the UK and US there are differences. After living in the UK for 50 years I moved to the US (twice - long story). We've written a book to help executives/entrepreneurs make the move because, while there are obvious differences, it is deluge of little things that get you - and having lived here seven years there are still things that catch you out. https://movetosv.wordpress.com/

What was the motivation for starting Elements.cloud?

I was not ready for retirement. I wanted to work with the Nimbus founders again - the same reason old bands keep going on tour - it is fun. Having seen Salesforce grow and work with Fortune500 customers, combined with our experiences with Nimbus Partners, we saw a huge gap. Salesforce is an amazing customer platform and easily configured. But Salesforce does not provide the tooling to help customers drive business and technical changes to Salesforce at an enterprise scale, at pace, with manageable risk. Elements.cloud is that tooling and our rapid growth is proving the point.

You founded Elements.cloud in 2014, how has your business evolved during this time, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic?

We called it early and moved to 100% remote working. We standardised on a collaboration platform and principles to make team communication seamless. Marketing pivoted quickly from in person conferences to webinars. Lead generation is up and the elimination of the financial and physical cost of travel and sponsorship is fantastic. We were growing 200% per year and revenue growth has slowed as larger customers have delayed projects, but our pipeline and ACV has increased massively. We will not remain a 100% remote company, but will not simply revert to post-pandemic. We've learnt and grown.

You went through an acquisition at Nimbus Partners, how did you find this process?

Painful, but the right thing to do. When you have grown something for 14 years it's hard to let go. It is rather like watching your kids grow up and leave home. But it was the right time for Nimbus Partners. TIBCO had a $1 billion revenue and had 3,000 staff, our Fortune500 customers wanted the security that the technology was owned by a far larger software company. The staff got greater opportunities to move into different roles and the founders and investors made a great return on the risk that they took.

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs considering M&A?

Build a strong business where you have customers who are evangelists for your product. Build the right partnerships, focus on a growth plan and the M&A will come to you at the right time. If you chase it M&A you will short change yourself, your customers and your investors.

How are you future proofing your businesses and mitigating the challenges posed by the pandemic?

We have a strong value proposition solving a huge pain. We launched OrgConfessions.com, which shares anonymous horror stories around Salesforce implementations, and underlines the issues we are solving at Elements.Cloud. Customers need our technology, but we are important, not necessarily urgent. So we need to make sure we are front of mind when they are ready to purchase. That means thought leadership marketing syndicated to increase reach. We also raised funding at the beginning of the pandemic to ensure that we have the cash to make good business decisions and strategic investments.

Looking ahead where do you see your sector evolving?

The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in customers. That means changing business models and operations, the hearts and minds of employees, contractors and partners, and finally the underlying business applications: people, process, technology.

Whilst we are focused on Salesforce implementations, we can support transformational change for any customer on any enterprise platform; ServiceNow, WorkDay, Google, SAP, Oracle.

So we are very excited. We can look back on Nimbus Partners, which was a great company with a fantastic team. With Elements.cloud we are taking everything we learnt and taking it to the next level. So it is hard to feel nostalgic, when we feel the best is yet to come.

Coffee with Ian Gotts

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Leo Malkin
Leo Malkin
Head of Technology and Media