RECENTLY, there’s been a bit of controversy surrounding SpinVox, the UK-based voice to text messaging company led by Christina Domecq. Certain bloggers and journalists have accused the firm of not paying suppliers, and of not possessing the intellectual property that can convert spoken voice mails into text, instead relying on an army of call centre workers.
Ariadne Capital, my firm, is a shareholder and an advisor to SpinVox, and I know the allegations to be untrue. This firm is a leader in its sector, is profitable, and secured new financing last week. Those behind the slurs are jealous of its success.
Some businesses fail, and some have middling success. But SpinVox is a turbo-charged success story of which the UK should be enormously proud. Many venture capitalist-backed mobile data companies go nowhere, while SpinVox has sold its product to some of the world’s most demanding customers, including Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica.
These firms wouldn’t have bought from SpinVox if its technology or its business plan didn’t pass their extensive due diligence.
Rapid growth isn’t always pretty, however. Sometimes, employees are let go for failing to keep up with the pace. And sometimes those employees make untrue allegations to soothe themselves when the firm they left goes from strength-to-strength, which is what is happening to SpinVox.
Suppliers aren’t always up to the job either. Sometimes clients don’t pay up on time and, yes, employees are asked to make sacrifices, which is why some SpinVox staff have accepted shares in the firm in lieu of salary. It’s part of living in what I call “Entrepreneur Country”. No one ever said that building a billion pound, game-changing global leader would be easy and fun all of the time.
SpinVox is a breakthrough with strong intellectual property. No one else has sold voice technology as a managed service to carriers. No other woman has created a business of this size or importance out of the UK.
We should be routing for British entrepreneurs that have gone global – not sniping from the sidelines. If commentators want to indulge their cynical streak, I can provide them with a list of failures. But when confronted with excellent entrepreneurship that has been built out of the UK, we need to get behind it – or go home.
Building a valuable firm from scratch is not an insignificant thing to do, as one entrepreneur – a household name – recently told Domecq in a message: “The better you are, the more passionate and driven, the more giving and caring, the more unique it makes you. That scares others. Those that matter know.”
We should be proud of this home team in Marlow, and cut the sniping. It is helping to make Great Britain great.
Julie Meyer is chief executive of Ariadne Capital. Spinvox is a portfolio company of Ariadne Capital.