Automation is an increasingly prevalent feature of the modern economy, and its importance is only set to grow over the coming months and years.
Businesses at the front and centre of the automation revolution will be key to Wales’ future prosperity. One of those companies is Nightingale HQ. The firm is using its expertise to help others adapt to the brave new world of automation, which, as founder Steph Locke explains, needn’t be feared.
Tell us about Nightingale HQ.
Well, my background is in consultancy. I was already running a business when I realised there was scope to integrate my knowledge of data science into automation and artificial intelligence (AI) software which could be accessed by and support businesses and organisations anywhere. So I founded Nightingale HQ – with the ultimate goal of helping businesses prepare for the growing world of automation, and to teach them how AI and affordable and accessible tech can help them grow and scale – essentially doing more with less.
We help firms use data science and AI to future-proof their businesses, making them more able to adapt to the disruption that automation will bring to industries across the world. It’s fascinating work, and I feel as though we’re on the cutting edge of where business, and society, is moving right now.
What are your proudest moments in business so far?
Apart from the initial launch, my proudest moment is the business being awarded a £50,000 grant from the UK Government to build a series of smart tools to support UK businesses.
The funding has helped us grow and secure more work. It’s given us a huge boost and a sound footing as we move forward and look at our growth options.
If you were starting again, what would you do differently?
I’d aim to be less conservative next time and look to grow the business even faster. I initially approached smaller companies, as I thought they could get the most value from adopting AI and smart tech. I quickly learned that it was the larger enterprises that were already looking for support with transitioning to automation.
If I’d aimed bigger sooner the growth of Nightingale HQ would, I think, have been much more rapid at an earlier stage.
How has support from Business Wales AGP helped your business?
I think it’s vital for a business in its early life to be supported. Outside expertise is crucial to help good ideas flower and bloom. I don’t think you can ever be too proud as an entrepreneur when it comes to accepting the support of someone from beyond your own personal and business sphere.
We realised we needed and wanted that help and accessed Business Wales AGP through Town Square’s Accelerator Programme. The programme gave us a broader understanding of how to create a strategy for high-growth, and we found that access to experienced coaches and advisors who are all working at the top of their field was critical to our success.
What advice and guidance would you give other businesses starting out?
● Don’t be too conservative – be sensible but don’t shackle yourself when there is an opportunity to grow quickly.
● Sell, sell, sell – make sure you put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to reach out to those you feel could find value in your services or products.
● Surround yourself with good people – finding talents that you don’t possess and utilising them in your team is the best way to grow.