Business Journey: James Clarkson of Adventoris
James Clarkson is Founder and CEO of Adventoris, a Huddersfield-based Software as a Service (SaaS) provider. With a career that spans over 20 years, he saw a gap in the market for a B2B sales ordering platform that would improve efficiency and save both time and money for businesses. And so SwiftCloud was born. Following its 2020 growth, Adventoris recently welcomed eight new recruits. As the business looks set to double its turnover in 2021, James tells us more about his business journey.
Tell us about your business, what does it do?
Adventoris is a Software as a Service (SaaS) business that has developed a mobile app sales platform called SwiftCloud. SwiftCloud allows businesses to offer a fully branded mobile app to their customers, so they can place orders, receive promotions, use shopping lists, add favourite items, create repeat orders, scan barcodes and receive push notifications. The sales orders are then imported automatically into the client’s back office Enterprise Resource Planning (EPR) system.
The app is customisable to our clients' own branding and makes the overall sales and ordering process more efficient. We also offer a tablet version of the app for sales representatives and a desktop web ordering platform. Our clients have experienced customer sales increasing by 100% when utilising this technology with customers. We now have over 160 clients across numerous sectors in the UK and overseas, with a combined total of £5bn in turnover. We now have hundreds of thousands of orders being processed each year through the app.
What did you do before you started this business?
I was previously Group Finance Director of a building materials business, following a career of senior finance appointments in a range of PLC and private equity backed businesses across manufacturing, distribution, FMCG, healthcare and financial service sectors.
What inspired you to start up?
In my previous role we acquired a business that dealt with lots of small customers, and I saw first-hand that a sales ordering app could save a business so much time, not only for customer service teams, but also for the customers themselves. I had a lightbulb moment in the shower one day in 2011, and the idea for SwiftCloud was born. I saw a gap in the market to develop and offer this software, but it was only later that we successfully confirmed that there was actually a market in that gap!
Where do you get advice, support or help?
Our Chief Technology Officer, Aman Shergill, who originally joined the business as System Architect, has made a huge contribution in turning the SwiftCloud concept into a reality. He has been a constant source of advice and encouragement throughout the SwiftCloud journey, I am grateful to have him onboard. We are also lucky to have a number of non-executive directors with a breadth of experience in software and other sectors.
How did you access any finance you needed?
Initially, we pulled together a syndicate of private angel investors from my personal contacts, and the Angel Co Fund invested alongside them. Later, as the business developed, other investors have come onboard such as British Business Bank, Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) and Mercia Fund Management.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
My biggest achievement to date is building a profitable business that has been growing at 100% on average for the last four years.
How do you differentiate your business from others?
SwiftCloud is the UK market-leading application for B2B mobile apps, which will integrate with virtually all Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, and addresses any complex customer pricing algorithm.
What’s it like to be your own boss?
Being my own boss was never something that I was driven to become; I’d always enjoyed being number two to the CEO. However, I do enjoy the creative freedom of the role in a startup and early-stage business to develop new ideas from scratch and execute them. It is a really rewarding process.
Where do you see your business in five years’ time?
In five years’ time, I see Adventoris as a substantial software business, with an international customer base, based in Yorkshire.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
It will take longer and cost more than you originally planned, and everything in your plan is exactly the thing that won’t actually happen!