Shaper: Emma Sinclair

Show aired on 4th February 2017

Transcript

Elliot Moss
That was Aretha Franklin with Respect. Good morning this is me, Elliot Moss here on Jazz FM with Jazz Shapers; thank you very much for joining me. Jazz Shapers is the place where you can hear the very best of the people shaping the world of jazz, blues and soul and right alongside them we bring someone who is shaping the world of business and we call them a Business Shaper. My super-duper uber special Business Shaper today is Emma Sinclair and you may not have heard of Emma Sinclair right now but by the end of this you will have done. Emma is the co-founder of Enterprise Jungle. She describes that company as an enterprise software company. We will explain – she will explain what that means very shortly. She has also done many other things from working in McDonalds to floating, being the youngest person ever to float a company, it was a property company. Lots coming up from her. In addition to hearing from Emma you will be hearing from our programme partners at Mishcon de Reya some words of advice for your business and then we have got the music of course and it is brilliant today; Otis Redding is coming up, new music from Cuban vocalist Daymé Arocena and this from Cyrille Aimée.

Let’s Get Lost by Cyrille Aimée and I hope I don’t get lost today because I am with a full, beautiful, amazing Business Shaper today, a founder called Emma Sinclair, co-founder in fact of Enterprise Jungle but a founder of other businesses as well. I am going to say hello first – hello because…

Emma Sinclair
Hi.

Elliot Moss
…I feel I need to bring you in very quickly.

Emma Sinclair
Well thank you for having me.

Elliot Moss
Emma, tell me a little bit about Enterprise Jungle and explain to the uninitiated what Enterprise software does when it is at home?

Emma Sinclair
Well at its most basic with tech which is a sector that everyone is very excited about, we are actually in HR software and we built the world’s first alumni platform which to the layman is essentially some God damn clever software that very large companies use to manage their alumni pool. Of course the largest pool of labour who know your company but don’t work for you.

Elliot Moss
Now you set this up about three, almost four years ago. Why? And this wasn’t the first venture you set up but why this particular one? This was with your brother as well is that right?

Emma Sinclair
My brother who is my co-founder and about three years ago we started looking into the markets and without boring everyone tremendously we saw a very clear niche and it became increasingly clear that there was a large pool of labour ilumni who simply weren’t being intelligently harnessed, captured and engaged with and these days as we all know you find your employee pool from anywhere. You don’t necessarily have a job for life, you might do a part-time job, you might do one day a week for this company, two days a week for that company and so we built a platform that effectively made it possible to harness that workforce.

Elliot Moss
Now that’s a kind of an ‘ah ha’ moment. Was it yours on your own? Did it happen in conversation with people? I meet lots of people and sometimes they go ‘it was just annoying me and I had to fix it’; other people go ‘they were doing it over there but I improve it’. This particular idea, was it a frustration of you in business or was it an observed frustration?

Emma Sinclair
No the thing about Enterprise software, so software for very large companies is it is not that thing where you are just sitting at home, you are just fiddling with your computer, your television and you suddenly think of that widget that would be essential because it is quite a lot more complex than that but it was the product of effectively a year or so of R&D with my brother who is the head of product and conceived the product. We were working very closely building software solutions for very large companies trying to understand what their pain points were and we would be talking to CHROs, heads of HR, we were talking to CEOs, CIOs trying to understand some of the challenges they had and contemplating, number one, software that would help solve that and number two, software that would help solve that for hundreds of thousands of companies. We weren’t looking to build something that one company would buy or a hundred companies would buy or even a thousand companies would buy – we were looking to build something that would create a new market and had real size and scale.

Elliot Moss
Size and scale are always good aren’t they?

Emma Sinclair
They are.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for more from my Business Shaper who likes size and scale, it is Emma Sinclair and she is co-founder of Enterprise Jungle and I hope you have got an insight into how her brain works. It is pretty impressive already. Time for some more music, this is Otis Redding with Hard To Handle.

Otis Redding with the classic Hard To Handle. Emma Sinclair is my Business Shaper today, definitely not hard to handle right? Right Emma, easy going?

Emma Sinclair
Piece of cake.

Elliot Moss
Piece of cake, yeah. And she is co-founder of Enterprise Jungle and you heard that that is a pretty complicated thing although it does clever, clever things but complicated to put together and sometimes to explain. Many of the things you have done and I am just going to talk about a couple; you’ve been in the parking world, you have been… you set up a business consultancy, you’ve obviously been in the property world. Tell me a little bit about how you’ve rather than go into the specifics of each of these businesses, how did you end up being interested in the things that you ended up doing?

Emma Sinclair
Well I think I have always had an appetite for business, you know since the age of four my father took me to school every day and the thing that we did after we did the times table or how many red cars have you spotted this morning is I used to read him a couple of share prices from the back page, or the penultimate page of the FT every morning so from the age of four to the age of eighteen, business was just this normal thing that I chatted about with my dad in the car and it carried on through University. You know, I took my student loans out, obviously I don’t recommend this to anyone but I traded them on the Stock Exchange because working in McDonald’s wasn’t enough money so all the way through my life I have had this sort of vein of business just being a very normal thing. I have had a vein of the Stock Exchange not being an Ivory Tower, it is just a very normal thing because I read my dad the share prices in the morning and so essentially I think what I am probably hard wired to do is to think about business and to look for opportunities so I don’t as you say, it is not necessarily sector specific it is about spotting an opportunity and not necessarily a new opportunity just something that perhaps you can do better than other people or approach from a different angle which is definitely what I did in parking.

Elliot Moss
Now lots of children of entrepreneurs and your father is an entrepreneur as well and you have alluded to the business thing. Lots of them aren’t interested, lots of them are quite successful, lots of them aren’t very hard working. You strike me as someone and just looking when I do the research I always think ‘wow that’s impressive’ but you have done many things and it isn’t just for profit, it’s not for profit as well. Why is your work ethic so strong do you think?

Emma Sinclair
You know I don’t know the answer to these questions but I get asked them a lot and the only conclusion that I can come to is from parental impact. My father always imposed on us a very serious work ethic. I have had a job since the age of sixteen. A lot of my friends didn’t work but I remember going to McDonald’s and begging for a job at sixteen because it was the only place that were hiring. I remember taking my CV, I just got my sort of GCSE results and I to this day remember the manager of McDonald’s who I kept in touch with for years, saying ‘I think you might be over qualified’ and me begging him to give me a job and you know that’s the kind of thing that made my dad proud and so if I wanted a Top Shop top when I was you know, seventeen and it was something that I didn’t really need, I needed to save up and buy it for myself so it has taught me a lesson and I think that is really, really important because times do get hard and when they do you need to dig deep and I think it is those experiences and it is that grit that gets you through some of the hardship of entrepreneurial life because it doesn’t matter what your background is or what your, you know, what your experience is, there are a lot of times, days, weeks, months that are really hard and I think a bit of grit helps prop you up.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for more from my gritty Business Shaper today, that’s Emma Sinclair, co-founder of Enterprise Jungle but also lots of other things as well including by the way an MBE she was given a few months, I should have mentioned at the beginning.

Emma Sinclair
Thank you, well I was expecting rose petals to be scattered as I walked in…

Elliot Moss
That will be after the traffic and travel so don’t worry. That is coming up in a couple of minutes, that’s the traffic and travel and not the rose petals but before that some words of wisdom from our programme partners at Mishcon de Reya for your business.

You are listening to Jazz Shapers with me, Elliot Moss every Saturday morning I am very lucky I get to meet someone who is shaping the world of business. If you have missed the last two hundred and fifty, yes at least two hundred and fifty of them over the last five years, go to iTunes, put in the words ‘jazz’ and ‘shapers’ you can find us there. British Airways Highlife is a destination as is CityAM.com and there are many more places – we are everywhere or rather my guests are everywhere. My guest today is Emma Sinclair and she is co-founder of Enterprise Jungle and a bit of a serial entrepreneur. She likes rose petals, we didn’t have any, I have let her down already. You were talking about grit Emma and the ability for you to keep on going. I imagine you’ve had lots of bumps?

Emma Sinclair
Yes.

Elliot Moss
A hell of a lot of bumps and beyond the grit and stuff, where do you go for advice when you are feeling stressed?

Emma Sinclair
Well one of the incredible things that happens when you start a business is you start to have a network of other founders you meet who understand the journey you have trod and really I think the important thing in life in general, whatever it is you do, whether you are working for a living, not working, in charity, if you are at home as a mother or as a father, I think it is important to find your tribe – so people who understand what your daily life consists of and can empathise with what you are going through and give you the sort of advice that you need based on real life experience. So I have an incredible pool of people I go to and depending on what the issue or the challenge is you know, I know who to call. The other thing is that there is also an EQ element to building a business so it is not always practical business advice but you need people who can say to you ‘I know you had like a crazy hard day but keep at it because you will get there’.

Elliot Moss
Are you the kind of person that prefers people that aren’t like you? I mean, just recently Theresa May talked about opposites being attractive, in other words, her relationship with the new President of the United States. Do you like people that are different to you or do you prefer people just like you? Driven. Gritty.

Emma Sinclair
Well if I think about my friends I’d say that they are divided into people that I have known in my entire life and have been friends with for twenty or thirty or more years. My best friend I have known since the playground. But equally I have an enormous basket of extremely driven, extremely interesting, extremely dynamic, extremely kind and thoughtful entrepreneurs who are some of my closest friends. I took a trip last year to Silicon Valley that was organised by a great… by Sheri Kutto and Reid Hoffman and London and Partners that look after the London Mayor and sent twelve female entrepreneurs, high growth female entrepreneurs in tech to Silicon Valley and all of the other eleven women on that trip are now some of my closest friends. Our WhatsApp group is one of the best sources of daily wisdom, business advice, life advice – we all keep each other going so I have got pockets of tribes and of course my father who is a real rock as far as I am concerned.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for more from my Business Shaper, Emma Sinclair. Time for some more music right now this is Mambo Na’Má from Daymé Arocena, that’s the new Cuban music I was talking about earlier.

Mambo Na’Má, I hope I said that properly, Daymé Arocena, I hope I said that properly as well because I am with Emma Sinclair and she is a Spanish speaker. Did a fine Degree at a fine University, it happened to be the same University as me and a very similar course as well.

Emma Sinclair
Yeah although I don’t get to use it very much. What typically happens is I have friends with outsourcing in Peru or something that have a problem with a factory and they get me on the phone, either that or someone is on holiday in a restaurant and wants to order an ice cream, otherwise I don’t get to use it that much.

Elliot Moss
I mean joking aside, apart from the Peruvian ventures you describe, why did you do a Degree? I mean you strike me as someone who just didn’t need to? You very clearly are going to want to create stuff, make stuff, sell it, move on. You get bored quickly I imagine. Why did you bother studying?

Emma Sinclair
A few things. First of all these days I am quite a refined version of myself and my personality. I know myself very well but when you are a teenager or you are you know, seventeen or eighteen applying for University you don’t necessarily know what you are going to become or what you can become. It was my, you know, my families ambition that I go to University and I was the first person in my family to do so. My parents didn’t go to University and I am glad that I did because it taught me a lot of life lessons. I spent a year and a half abroad because I studied, I did French, Spanish and Italian and that taught me independence, also you know everybody in my course that spent a year in France was a teacher in a sort of small town in France. I remember telling the Department ‘I am getting a job in Paris, I want a job, I want experience’. I will never forget being told that there was eleven percent unemployment in France and I was very arrogant to think I would find a job. But I did. And so I earnt my own money, I lived in the capital city overseas, it taught me to meet new people in a new city and those were all really great skills because it meant also that when I was offered jobs to travel for business later on in life in investment banking, I took them. Real life experience that I am really grateful for.

Elliot Moss
It strikes me that there is a kind of contradiction in you though. On the one hand you really like the group, the WhatsApp group you describe and that inter-dependence with other people and yet you also strike me as super independent and super, kind of, you know your own mind now and maybe it has taken years. How do you reconcile the desire to kind of have your own space but also be interconnecting with all these other people you describe?

Emma Sinclair
I think that’s an ideal state within reason. I think, you know, we should all aspire to know ourselves and be comfortable with ourselves and be clear about what we want and what we need from life and I think it is also a wonderful thing to have incredible people around you from who you can either join inspiration or just do nothing with. So I consider it to be a great state of affairs. I mean ultimately you probably have to be fairly independent if you are building a business. You need to know where to pick up the phone fast if something is happening. You need to, if you are ambitious, you want to grow your business fast, sales whatever element it is, hiring, you know your network is your net worth as they say but I consider, I would say in the last year or two I really consider myself very lucky because I have just met the most incredible people who almost make me feel like I am very complete and that’s, you know, that’s one of the up sides of the stressful life that is entrepreneurialism, is meeting incredible and dynamic people because those are my favourite people. I would rather go and listen to an amazing founder speak than you know, than go to theatre.

Elliot Moss
Final chat coming up with Emma Sinclair, my Business Shaper today plus we will be playing a track from Bobby Womack, that’s after the latest traffic and travel.

That was the brilliant Bobby Womack with his take on California Dreaming. Emma Sinclair is my Business Shaper just for a few more minutes. The ambition at the heart of you Emma, interesting just listening to you because I kind of don’t know what it is. Is it, I don’t know if it is about the money though the money is a by-product. I don’t know if it is about creating new stuff and I don’t know if it is about just being stimulated by the fantastic people that you meet. If it was one thing that you had to put above the others, what would you say drives you every day?

Emma Sinclair
I think I have learnt over time that as you build things, as you become whether it is a bit more financially independent or whether you have a voice, that voice is absolutely incredible because you can use it for change. So I think that cumulatively all of those things will allow me to make changes in places where I would like to make changes and that is exciting and intoxicating and something worth working hard for I think.

Elliot Moss
And your eyes say to me that you are always working hard but when do you ever switch off? When do you sort of go ‘do you know what I need a little break from being the change agent, from being the person that is going to bring the light to the room, who is going to have the idea, who is going to go at a million miles an hour’. Is there a time when you say enough I need to have a little break here?

Emma Sinclair
Always. I guard my private and quiet time religiously. I meditate to give myself a little bit of mental space. It was a hard habit to get into but some of the most interesting people advocated it and the science behind it is really very interesting and I make sure that I do, you know, I am very family orientated so it doesn’t matter how busy I am, you know my grandma is increasingly spending time in London so I will make time whatever is happening in my day if she needs to go somewhere, I will take her. So I try and balance and that is a great thing about effectively being your own boss is that whilst you have constant responsibility and may have to go home and do something at 2.00 o’clock in the morning, it does also mean for example, last night I could go to the cinema at 10.00pm because I wanted to.

Elliot Moss
And your style of leadership I imagine it encompasses all the things you have touched on which is I am guessing you are probably straight forward, I am guessing…

Emma Sinclair
Very black and white.

Elliot Moss
…you don’t suffer fools gladly and you probably don’t like shirker’s either. It is just a hunch Emma, just a hunch. Are all those things true?

Emma Sinclair
I feel like you have asked my friends about me. I think, you know, I value honesty. I sometimes say that if I was less tired maybe I would be less to the point but actually I hope that’s not true. I think that life is very crowded, there’s a lot of noise and you know one of the great things about either knowing who you are or being quite direct is when you meet that in somebody else you really get to interesting stuff pretty quickly. So I end up having, I feel, amazing chats with people that maybe five or ten or twenty years ago I might not have had because I might not have been as forthcoming or you know, twenty years ago I wouldn’t have said a word to somebody I didn’t know, I wouldn’t have put my hand up in a room, I was always very, very quiet so I feel like a lot of the tools of entrepreneurialism have just made life more interesting.

Elliot Moss
And that confidence to talk, to speak in public, to also write – you like writing, you like observing…

Emma Sinclair
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
…and there aren’t many entrepreneurs that actually enjoy that discipline. Why do you? What does it feel like when you are actually capturing what’s going on?

Emma Sinclair
So when the Telegraph launched Wonder Woman that was started by Emma Barnet I was asked would I be the launch columnist and I really didn’t want to. I didn’t like the idea of writing in the first person. I didn’t really like the idea of sharing anything about my life, it seemed a little bit weird. How could I write, how could I balance it with work but what I have learnt because that was five years ago now, is that having a voice is an incredible thing so if there is something I feel strongly about I am able to write about it whether it is whichever paper or whether it’s on television or on the radio like this, I get the chance to say things that count and perhaps in some small way, influence and so that is really gratifying and you know, you learn, you learn when you have a business because you are the one that needs to sell, to speak up and to articulate what you want to say so you can’t really, you can’t really hide and you can’t really be shy when you start a business anyway.

Elliot Moss
Just before we go to your song choice, it occurs to me obviously you, you know, there aren’t as many women in business, women running their own businesses as there are men and that we are seeing more and more come through. What would you say to a mother listening in terms of advice they might give their daughter, or to a young woman listening who want to start their own businesses. What would be the one thing that they need to focus on to make it happen?

Emma Sinclair
Well before I answer that, two things. Firstly more women are starting businesses than men these days in the United Kingdom secondly I think my advice would probably be agnostic in terms of mother’s speaking to their boys or their girls. I think understanding technology and coding because really that is going to open every single door and it is also, it teaches you logic, meticulous thinking and there are so many incredible kids toys that allow you to play and code, anything from the age of two up. So definitely that should be on their birthday or Christmas present list I think.

Elliot Moss
Excellent advice. Emma thank you, you’ve earnt your call and I am sorry about the rose petals but you have given great advice to everyone listening. Just tell me, one last thing. What’s your song choice and why have you chosen it?

Emma Sinclair
My song choice is Fever by Peggy Lee. Throughout my teens I couldn’t understand why I loved Blondie, Deborah Harry and why I loved this song and then many years later my grandpa gave me some VHS videos of the Muppet Show which I grew up watching religiously over and over again and on it and on some of the first series were these songs and one of the first songs in the first episodes I ever watched had Fever on it and so obviously it stayed with me forever because it has been one of my favourite songs.

Elliot Moss
Here it is just for you.

That was Fever from Peggy Lee, the song choice of my Business Shaper today, Emma Sinclair. Someone full of grit, a really hard working ethic which was fantastic. Someone who understood the power of network and of being really connected to people that can understand what you are going through and someone for the future who said, if you are going to tell your children one thing, it’s about getting close to technology and understanding coding. I think she is absolutely right. Do join me again, same time, same place, that’s next Saturday, 9.00am for another edition of Jazz Shapers here on Jazz FM. But meanwhile stay with us because coming up next its Nigel Williams.

Emma Sinclair

Having formerly worked in M&A, Emma is the youngest person to have floated a company on the London Stock Exchange, having done so at 29. A serial entrepreneur, she was awarded an MBE for services to entrepreneurship in 2016. She now co-leads global software company EnterpriseJungle. Recently voted the most innovative new enterprise software company, it builds major problem solving applications in the Human Capital Management space that use the power of big data and the cloud to give companies competitive advantage. The company’s hero product, EnterpriseAlumni, is helping large enterprises manage Alumni and Retirees to increase talent pools and reduce internal costs. Emma regularly contributes to media stories, having been the launch business columnist for The Telegraph’s Wonder Woman section and in her spare time, she is also an advisor on business and innovation to UNICEF.

Listen live at 9am Saturday.

Follow Emma on Twitter @ES_Entrepreneur.

…we built the world’s first alumni platform, which to the layman is essentially some goddamn clever software that very large companies use to manage their alumni pool.

I have always had an appetite for business, you know since the age of four my father took me to school every day… I used to read him a couple of share prices from the FT every morning.

I took my student loans out, obviously I don’t recommend this to anyone, but I traded them on the Stock Exchange because working in McDonald’s wasn’t enough money

…it is about spotting an opportunity and not necessarily a new opportunity just something that perhaps you can do better than other people or approach from a different angle.

It doesn’t matter what your background is or what your experience is, there are a lot of times, days, weeks, months that are really hard and I think a bit of grit helps prop you up.

I think it is important to find your tribe – so people who understand what your daily life consists of and can empathise with what you are going through.

We should all aspire to know ourselves and be comfortable with ourselves and be clear about what we want and what we need from life.

One of the up sides of the stressful life that is entrepreneurialism, is meeting incredible and dynamic people because those are my favourite people.

You can’t really hide and you can’t really be shy when you start a business.