In this episode, Legislate meets John Readman, founder and CEO of BOSCO. BOSCO is an online retail index which helps retailers make better spending decisions, benchmark their performance and predict where to invest their budgets for maximum efficiency and return on investment. John share's the company's vision of becoming the Tripadvisor of digital analytics and why contracts need to be easy for people to sign.
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Charles Brecque: Welcome to the Legislate podcast, a place to learn about the latest insights and trends in property technology, business building, and contract drafting. Today, I'm excited to welcome John, Founder and Product Owner of BOSCO. BOSCO is an online retail index which helps retailers make better digital marketing decisions, benchmark their performance, and predict where to invest their budgets for maximum efficiency and return on investment. John, thank you for making the time, would you like to please share a bit of background about yourself and BOSCO?
John Readman: Yes, well, thanks for having me, Charles. John Readman, Founder and CEO of BOSCO, we are a digital marketing intelligence platform. My background, I've been involved in marketing technology and marketing agency services for the past 25 years which makes me sound very old. Yes, I suppose, even has marketing technology even been around that long? But no, and I've always had a view of how can we help people make better decisions. Someone always said to me, years ago, the people that made the money in the gold rush were not the people looking for the gold they were the people selling the shovels. I'm trying to work out in this whole e-commerce gold rush who's making the shovels and 1 of the things we identified over working in several different agencies over the last few years was people, certainly brands and retailers, really struggled to work out where to invest their money. If you go ask Google, Charles, where should I spend my money they normally say Google, if you go ask Facebook, they'll say Facebook. If you're a brand you might have an agency but the agency might also be biased because they'll sell you what they're good at or what they've got capacity of with. We wanted to build a tool that was completely independent, almost like the Tripadvisor for buying media, to give you this independent trust mark of here is what you should do based on your website, based on your data, this is what you should do next. That's what we do. We've had some government grant funding which was wondering for innovation, nearly £200,000 over the last 2 years. We've had a couple of million pounds worth of seed investment from several well-known entrepreneurs including 1 of the founders of Skyscanner. We're well-funded, we've got a very big vision and ambition and yes, we're 2 and a bit years into our story. We're now 35 people and 45 clients and based in 5 different countries. We're on a bit of an adventure, yes, hopefully, that answered the question for the intro.
Charles Brecque: In these 2 years what's been your favourite moment?
John Readman: Favourite moment, I suppose some of them are a bit, it was probably getting everybody back together after the pandemic really. Not that the pandemic's over but it was when we decided we're going to have a get together within the rules and not like a Tory party that's not a party. We're going to have a company meeting and encourage everybody to come and then have a drinks do afterwards, I think that was the big one for me which we managed to do in September time. For me, it's all about the team and it's all about the people and I think we've got a very talented team of young people. Some of them it's their first or second job out of university and I think, in my opinion, we are a fully flexible work from home business but I also think it's important when it's 1 of your first or second jobs out of uni learning with colleagues in an office is really important. Getting people back together has probably been my most favourite thing which I never thought would be a favourite thing, I just thought that would be normal.
Charles Brecque: What do you wish you'd known before starting BOSCO?
John Readman: Obviously, I wish I'd known things like Legislate existed and contract world could be made more simple. I wish I'd understood how awkward and difficult banks could be for startups. Somebody needs to fix banking for startups. We were well-funded, we had significant investment, yet we just struggled to get the banking thing moving and going which actually slowed it down probably 6, 8, 10 weeks because the banks are just useless, in my opinion. We were too big in terms of investment for the startup challenger banks but the big old goliath banks like the HSBCs and the Barclays it was just so slow and you couldn't go see anyone and this was even pre-pandemic. It was just poor customer service and yes, the sooner we can move to a Monzo or a Starling or somebody, yes, I'll be straight out of the door. Banking, understanding banking would have been how much pain it was going to be.
Charles Brecque: It definitely does take a long time to open up a bank account.
John Readman: Yes, but it's things like even when you've got the money, I had the money. I've got some money, I want to give it to you so we can start paying people's wages, let's get on with it and it was just painful.
Charles Brecque: Now you've been at it for 2 years what's the big vision for the next 5, 10 years?
John Readman: That's a very timely question. We've had a management off-site last week where we set our vivid vision. There is a book called Vivid Vision and it's about getting everybody to go through that visualisation process. We've had all the different teams break out into different groups and prepare their vivid visions of where we're going to be in 5 years. Some of them think we're going to have a company private jet, I don't think we're going to be signing that off but we're definitely going to grow our global footprint, we'll definitely have multiple teams in the States. There is a big opportunity for our business and our software in America and, hopefully, we're recognised as that Tripadvisor of digital analytics, that trust mark. I think there is almost a buyer review platform called G2, where you can get awards from your customers. That's almost like our own staff Tripadvisor and, hopefully, we've won some recognition from our clients and our partners for being a useful piece and reliable piece of software by G2. Hopefully, we've retained our team and we're growing still. I've got some financials and some numbers but I don't think it's really appropriate to share that but, for me, it's about the people and the team and then the client recognition and retention, really. We're a company of 35-ish people, we'll probably be, I don't know, 100 people. I don't want to get much bigger than that because then it gets complicated with all the HR stuff and, yes, we'll still be in 5 countries but probably different hubs of teams but still offering people to work remotely. I don't think we'll have the private jet. The 1 big vision that came back across the whole team is everybody wants a company ski trip. I want to be able to afford, profitably afford, a company ski trip and not be frowned upon by the investors for doing it.
Charles Brecque: That's a great vision and hopefully, also, there won't be any ski accidents.
John Readman: Well, yes, we don't want that. We might need a waiver form from you guys to get everybody to sign.
Charles Brecque: Exactly, and as a CEO of a grain business what are the key contracts that you interact with the most.
John Readman: Non-disclosure agreements all the time and then, I suppose, partner agreements are a big thing and I think trying to get a mutually beneficial partner agreement is really tricky. Especially, then between the UK and the US and with all the different terminologies, different stuff. Then, I suppose, when I buy things, well, when we sign up to things I sign a lot of other people's, we ask people to, obviously, when they buy our services and our licenses sign up to our contracts. They're probably the main ones and yes, I'm still amazed at the lack of standardisation and the variety of different formats and everything that is flying around.
Charles Brecque: Yes, I think we're definitely trying to standardise agreements so that they're easier to process and easier to read and then easier to manage post-signature because if you have 10 different NDAs and they're all different then it's much harder to do any form of analysis.
John Readman: There is a thing that annoyed me the other day and my legal firm can remain anonymous but I got an email from their system, it must be from their system, going that we're not going to hold these documents anymore, they're now your responsibility, where are you going to put them? And, then I'm suddenly paranoid going have we already downloaded them, am I going to duplicate them and it just created this whole doubt in my mind. We had already downloaded them, we'd archived them, we'd stored them somewhere sensible but it was just an unnecessary worry I think because they were like we're going to delete them, they're now your responsibility to keep the signed copies. Yes, things like that as well. That post-signature thing is I think people massively undervalue.
Charles Brecque: Yes, absolutely, and with your contracts what are the common issues or areas of friction that you encounter and what do you do to overcome them? What would you recommend doing to overcome them?
John Readman: I think you've got to make it easier for people to sign stuff. I had someone send me, genuinely, a form, a PDF form that they wanted me to print out and fill out and sign, take a photo or scan it back in and email it back to them. It got to the point where the process was so cumbersome I literally nearly didn't do what I wanted to do because I was just like, 'I don't even have a printer.' We do at home, but then we're trying to have a paperless environment and yes, the service office we're in has a printer but the cost of using them to print the 3 pieces of paper we need a month vs actually buying a printer and buying the ink it was just like, 'No.' I think the most frustrating thing is people who just haven't modified their processes or thought about the user signing. I want it to be as easy to sign a contract as it is to download a song from iTunes, it's got to be that easy. Yes, and also, I suppose, the other bit is highlighting the important points and putting it in a language, because I still get frustrated with the language of all of this. I'm a simple Yorkshire man, can you put it in some simple Yorkshire for me so I don't need to pay another lawyer. That's a big frustration. 1 is the process of signing things and 1 is the actual terminology and the language but yes, they're probably my 2 biggest things really. It needs to work on a phone, right, I just need to be able to press some buttons on a phone or, I suppose, have the ability to forward it easily to somebody and go 'Look could you just check this?' But sometimes you can't forward these online-y things because it's been sent to me only. So, then, 'That's a hassle.'
Charles Brecque: I definitely understand and I think signing something easily is important but understanding what you're signing is essential and you need both hand in hand which at Legislate is definitely something that we try to do. We try to simplify the language and also highlight areas of the contract with explanations and really also, extract the key terms which are important for the contract so that if you don't read the contract at least you know what the key terms are. Obviously, we encourage everyone to read their contracts.
John Readman: It does amaze me how many people and I know they haven't read it because we've got tracking stuff, how many people sign stuff without reading it. It's phenomenal and scary.
Charles Brecque: Yes, absolutely. Especially when things go wrong in a contract. Yes, great answer. I'm conscious, John, that I've taken a lot of your time already so I'm going to ask you the closing question we ask all our guests if you were being sent a contract to sign today what would impress you?
John Readman: That's a good question. I think the biggest thing is it'd have to be super easy, already populated with all of the information. There is nothing more annoying where someone sends me a contract and I've got to fill it all out myself. You knew who you were sending it to, you knew what it was about, I don't expect to fill out an order form or a thing. It's already filled out and it's basically almost 1 or 2 buttons. All I was actually saying is it's easy but simple and it highlights exactly what we're doing and yes, then maybe, also, afterwards there is some follow up where it not only emails it to me it gives me the option to save it somewhere else and there is a nice thank you message or forward to a colleague. But, yes, just smooth and easy that's what would impress me. Yes. Just joined up. That's the thing for me, it's just all joined up but yes, now with mobile technology you can do a huge amount of stuff and you can pull into the services of the phone. You can really do some cool stuff but, yes, just make it easy for me. That's what I'd say.
Charles Brecque: Perfect, that's a great answer and I think a common answer across a lot of other guests is easy and easy to understand and easy to sign. Yes, thank you very much John for taking the time. Best of luck at conquering the world and working towards that ski trip.
John Readman: Yes. No, and thank you and yes, thank you for taking the time to chat to me and I wish you the best of luck with your business. You're certainly on to something very useful for busy people who want to get contracts done.
Charles Brecque: Thank you, we're trying. Perfect. Bye bye.