Part 4 of 4 series…
Vision meets expertise:
If you are a fast-growing UK SME, on the look-out for mentorship to shape your vision and a launchpad to expand internationally, look no further because the Mayor’s International Business Programme is an exclusive, on-the-ground mentoring scheme for such SMEs. Expert advice is delivered by leading entrepreneurs and business leaders along with access to targeted trade missions, live leads and opportunities.
Celebrating some of the fastest-growing, innovative companies in London, 2017 was a stellar year with cohort members expanding into new markets, creating jobs, closing deals and opening new offices overseas including Century Tech, McLEAR & Takumi.
Making the cut:
To be eligible to apply, you must have a thriving business in London in sectors spanning technology, life sciences, creative or urban infrastructure sector.
From May this year, the programme has further expanded to include London’s Creative Industries (Advertising,Marketing, Design, Fashion, Film, Music, TV, Radio, Gaming), with Amrit Kang joining the team as creative specialist. To find out more about the programme, please visit gotogrow.london.
Spotlight case study:
For this part of the series, we throw a spotlight on Julie Dawson, Director of Regulatory & Policy at Yoti, who shared her experiences from the programme,
how it helped her connect with fellow venture builders, and more about her digital identity app.
Tell us about your technology platform Yoti?
In a nutshell, Yoti is an identity checking system that allows organisations and individuals to verify who people are, online and in person. Our mission is to become the world’s trusted identity platform. We are a team of 200 based in London, with offices in Mumbai and later in 2018 opening in the US and Canada. We count over 750,000 installs of the Yoti app, following our launch last November.
For consumers, it’s an app that helps them prove who they are and confirm the identities of others. We distinguish ourselves with our approach to privacy and security, so the system has been architected so that it’s impossible for us to monetise users’ personal data.
Our business model is that whilst it is free for a consumer to set up and use their digital identity, and to share their details peer to peer, and for non profits; businesses across a range of sectors pay for age or identity checks. In each instance the consumer agrees upfront with what they are being asked to share and both parties have a receipt of the data asked for and received. The business can minimise the data asked for to just what they require and can justify. So our business model embraces encryption and minimal data collection, plus user autonomy!
How was your experience of Mayor’s International Business Programme?
The programme’s workshops and missions facilitated introductions across a wide range of sectors. We are now working with a range of commercial companies (NCR, national retailers, online dating and e-commerce players in India), we have been announced as the eID provider for the States of Jersey and are working with a number of national charities such as the Scouts and NSPCC.
We are a key partner of London Digital Security Centre, set up by City of London Police, Met Police and the London Mayor’s Office to help businesses innovate, grow and prosper through operating in a secure digital environment and accredited by Met Police Secure by Design.
How can fast-growing companies in London make the most of the programme?
The Mayor’s International Business Programme opens lots of doors. We have also opened up our doors to the wider tech for good community – hosting non profit hackathons, blockchain meetups, responsible tech innovation kickoffs and ethical business networking events at Yoti with BCorps and CoderDojo coding workshops for young people to learn coding.
How does the programme gear you for challenges from digital technology?
We’re a digital business through and through; the Mayor’s International Business Programme also provided great face to face meetings which is vital too for growing a business.
How important is mentorship for growing your business globally?
We really appreciate the introductions that we have received via the Mayor’s Office, such as liaison with the Nighttime Csar Amy Lame and the London Digital Security Centre and invitations via partners such as KPMG to meet with relevant businesses.
Yoti has a clear set of principles including making Yoti available to anyone and making our community safe – so we’re very focussed on international growth. We have participated in delegations to Scandinavia, France and Spain as well as many workshops in the UK and networking with US counterparts via the Go to Grow initiative. Already in India we’re helping people know who they are dating and in Jersey citizens will be accessing their government eID portal via Jersey.
As a woman entrepreneur in Britain, how do you maintain work-life balance?
Whilst I try, I cannot say that I always get this right!
Yoti is a BCorps and so we encourage all staff to explore their wider interests with five additional selfie days a year to the already given 25 days annual leave, as well as offering flexible and relaxed working conditions. We also have a wide range of affinity groups across the company so people come together to practise yoga, run, play games, cook and get to know each other.
How to expand overseas in 2018:
Having already helped over 400 companies realise their ambitions for international growth, the programme is now searching for its next cohort of companies to take overseas. Open to fast-growing companies in London operating in four broad sectors: technology, life sciences, urban and creative, if you want to follow in the footsteps of Yoti, make sure you apply to the exclusive programme via gotogrow.london.