A word from… Zoe Peden of Insane Logic
They say communication is key. For Zoe Peden, the co-founder and chief executive of Insane Logic, a social enterprise that helps people learn to communicate, it is more than just an inspirational statement. Having participated in SVC2UK’s CEO summit last year, Zoe shares her insights on how to get the best of SVC2UK initiatives and take a company to a new level.
Having worked for The Makaton Charity, responsible for the development and growth of its unique language programme before, Zoe soon recognised that technology was changing communication and the way it was taught. It was when the first iPad was revealed to the world in April 2010 when Zoe realised that this is where her own business venture starts. Digitising the existing sign language books and creating a new interactive educational experience, Zoe made her first step towards creating products that are now making an important difference to people with learning difficulties, educational establishments, disability organisations, carers and parents.
Did Zoe hesitate for a second about setting up the business?
Zoe: Not at all. When Steve Jobs revealed iPad, everyone was questioning it and saying that it’s just a big iPhone. I however realised the opportunity it was created for people with learning difficulties to improve their educational experience. We work with small children or people with severe disabilities, and for them learning how to communicate on iPad creates an absolutely fantastic experience.
Having identified this opportunity, Zoe and her co-founder jumped on a plane to New York, got an iPad and started working on the products (it also helped that the co-founder was a developer, too!) that digitalised traditional sign books and brought the learning experience to a totally new level.
Zoe: The timing for my idea to set up Insane Logic could not be any more perfect. It had been around six months that I was thinking of setting up my own venture leveraging all the educational industry contacts and connections I developed. I was ready for the change, was prepared to take the risk, go out there and see if kit would work.
Sounds like Zoe was one of those lucky entrepreneurs that that hit the ground running and it worked! There were however challenges that the new company had to go through.
Zoe: Me and my co-founder bootstrapped our company and were running it without any external help and no external funding. And while we pretty soon just started reaching out to the people we knew and doing early sales pitches, it was never fast enough. Healthcare and educational industries tend to be risk-averse, they have a tough budget and educating them about the new opportunities naturally takes time. (Going out there to people with a bag full of iPads to do the product demonstration was quite tiring, too!)
It’s was not until the 18th month of Insane Logic’s existence when Zoe got into Wayra and started learning about investor relationships, funding opportunities and other startup essentials and eventually closed her first angel round. Shortly after she was head over the moon when Insane Logic was nominated by SVC2UK as a high growth company to join its series of events where prominent companies received time and dedicated attention of Silicon Valley mentors.
Zoe: I was very excited and nervous to be selected for SVC2UK programme, I had a fantastic time at SVC2UK events having interacted with Silicon Valley mentors and peer CEOs with many of whom I am still in touch with. I did my homework well and had questions ready meaning that I was asking a lot of questions and was learning a lot about business scaling, HR, business priorities, marketing and many more areas of scaling up a company. They say that preparation is key – and I can totally sign up to this. I am usually pretty shy in a group and knowing what questions I wanted to ask in advance and what people I wanted to meet helped me a lot to take the best of SVC2UK experience.
While SVC2UK’s ‘seal of approval’ added the credibility to Insane Logic and signaled to potential investors that they have a reduced risk to invest into the company, Zoe obtained the so much needed focus and direction towards scaling up her company. Since taking part in SVC2UK events a year ago, Insane Logic expanded its team from 5 to 12 people, developed its sales strategy and built a new business proposition switching from B2C focus to B2B strategy and closed a VC funding round in August this year.
With 2.2 million people in need of speech, language or communication support in the UK only, the UK government spending more than £5 billion on special education needs and helping people with learning difficulties, 1 in 10 children in the UK* start their education with a speech, language and communication need. Here at SVC2UK we are proud of Insane Logic’s progress and are looking forward to meeting more high growth companies to change the world this year.
If it sounds like you – apply to be a part of SVC2UK’s CEO summit. Details here.