Cardiff-based SimplyDo is at the vanguard of innovation. Committed to solving big transformational challenges, it brings together people and cutting-edge digital platforms to pioneer new problem-solving approaches. The firm recently turned its expertise to helping solve one of the social housing sector's biggest challenges.
Here, Lee Sharma, CEO of SimplyDo, explains the transformative influence of the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme (AGP) and shares how the company is helping housing associations achieve ambitious sustainability goals.
Tell us about the SimplyDo mission?
At SimplyDo, we're committed to driving change through innovation. Initially, we started as a platform for aspiring entrepreneurs, helping them cultivate and shape their ideas. As we evolved, we realised the transformative impact we could have on significant social challenges, such as health and housing. Now we call what we do "purpose-driven innovation" – we help organisations solve complex challenges that, once solved, deliver positive social impact. That gets us out of bed in the morning – the knowledge that our work is pivotal in helping unlock new ways of tackling wicked problems.
Tell us about your work helping the housing sector deliver the decarbonisation agenda?
Recently, we've worked with the housing association Caredig and the Welsh Government to help address the sector's challenge in retrofitting homes to be more energy-efficient and sustainable.
Decarbonising existing housing stock is a monumental task but of utmost importance for our environment and future generations. When we approached this challenge, Caredig told us they wanted a better way to engage with local suppliers. Despite having the funding to commission the retrofitting work, the pool of qualified contractors who can do the work is small. The bigger housing associations can potentially swallow up the available supply chain by offering substantial contracts, which makes it difficult for smaller housing associations to compete and find local suppliers. We could see that traditional procurement methods weren't cutting it straight away. So we adopted a 'challenge-led approach', focusing on uncovering hard-to-find and hard-to-engage suppliers. This involved posing specific challenges and allowing suppliers to propose solutions, ensuring a match based on capability rather than just availability.
We also deployed our 'Innovation Intelligence' digital platform, which facilitates smarter supplier matching. By understanding what the client needed and what suppliers offered, we created meaningful matches that drove results.
Our challenge-led approach and our solution’s simplicity made it appealing, even to suppliers with full order books. This showed us that it’s possible to transform supplier engagement with the right process.
Our approach has resulted in our clients seeing an 87% reduction in time spent filtering suppliers, a 77% increase in quality, and a 75% increase in diversity since implementing our solutions. Perhaps unsurprisingly, feedback from suppliers has been overwhelmingly positive. 94% found the format easy to use, 93% found it more interesting than traditional tender applications, and 90% reported a positive experience with the organisation.
In Caredig’s case, they told us our process saved them us so much time and effort particularly as they were working to a tight deadline. They – like us - are absolutely delighted with the outcome.
How have housing associations and suppliers responded to your solutions?
Our work with Caredig showcases the transformative potential of our solutions. Housing associations using our process now have a clearer path to finding suppliers and achieving their decarbonisation goals. As for suppliers, our engagement and procurement process provides clarity, ensuring they're working on projects aligned with their expertise and values. It means they don't waste time on complex and costly tender processes and benefit from the transparency and fairness of a completely different approach to procurement.
Looking ahead, how do you see SimplyDo Ideas evolving?
Our successful collaboration with Caredig is just the tip of the iceberg. We envisage playing a central role in the future phases of the Optimised Retrofit Programme. Moreover, our platform's potential isn't just limited to housing. We're already deploying our processes and products for similar challenges across different sectors and regions.
For you, as a CEO, what's been the most rewarding facet of this journey?
The most gratifying aspect is witnessing tangible, positive change. Knowing that our solutions are aiding housing associations in making homes more sustainable and, in turn, making a difference in the world is genuinely fulfilling.
How has support from Business Wales AGP helped SimplyDo Ideas?
The AGP has been a linchpin in our journey. It hasn’t just been our support; it’s been our compass as we’ve navigated the rocky waters of growth. We have received valuable mentorship, resources, and strategic insights through the programme. Every interaction, especially with our relationship manager, Howard Jones, has been tailored to our unique challenges and needs. Howard's depth of understanding and the resources he has provided have been pivotal in shaping our trajectory. I sometimes joke that AGP is like the Netflix of business support – quality support tailored to your needs and always on demand when you need it most. I can't recommend the programme highly enough, and I'm so glad we've been a part of it.
Learn more about SimplyDo
Further information on the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme
The Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme is a pan-Wales programme part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.