Connections are crucial for a small business
POD Point, the market-leader in electric vehicle charge points, is in the process of crowdfunding to support its aim of putting a POD Point everywhere that it’s possible to park for an hour or longer.
The company was founded by serial entrepreneur Erik Fairbairn in 2009, with a view to getting the UK’s 40,000-plus electrical vehicles (EVs) using its charging pods.
POD Point, which has 56 employees and a £6.5m turnover, was founded on good connections. “I have a real old-school black book of contacts,” says Erik, whose previous business, a supercar share club, was turning over £1.5m before he sold it in 2008. However, he says: “When you think about going from a single-person business to a larger company, you just have to accept that there is no way you've got the skills to do everything alone.”
That initial fairly random connection flourished into a 10-year working partnership
Erik met POD Point chairman Peter Hiscocks at a University of Cambridge Judge Business School summer school and immediately they hit it off.
“That initial fairly random connection flourished into a 10-year working partnership,” says Mr Erik. “Peter was in charge of the summer school, and towards the end of the school said something along the lines of: ‘Of all the people who have done the programme – I’m going to back you.’ He obviously saw something in me that he liked.”
Erik says: “Peter is an extremely rare thing – not many entrepreneurs maintain a partnership like that over 10 years, across multiple businesses, and across multiple sectors, but Peter and I make it work”.
We really value the freedom the cloud gives us.
“We’ve developed the perfect chairman-to-CEO relationship,” he explains. “Peter gives me the space to develop the business without getting involved in the detail, but consistently provides his view, guidance, and experience whenever I need it.”
If human connections are important, digital connections are almost as crucial. POD Point’s workforce is cloud-based: a necessity for a business that embraces collaboration with partners, developers and offshore teams. “Just look at our Open Charge app, or our ongoing crowdfunding campaign,” says Mr Erik.
“We really value the freedom the cloud gives us. It means our team members can work remotely whenever they need to,” he says.
“It’s another thing that stops us being tied to our desks and means we can go out and get more done.”