The Business Owner: Douglas Lloyd, Azoomee

A serial entrepreneur, Douglas Lloyd talks to is4profit about Azoomee - an online platform where children can discover the internet safely

The Business Owner: Douglas Lloyd, Azoomee

Name: Douglas Lloyd
: Azoomee
Founders: Douglas and Estelle Lloyd
Location: Old Street, London
Proposition: Azoomee is a new platform for kids that allows them to safely explore and do everything they love online.
Size: 20

How is your business different from what’s already out there?

There is no other kids’ product out there that integrates videos, games, audiobooks, tutorials, art tools and messaging into one safe app that works on any iOS or Android mobile device. Some of the tutorials include arts and craft series that Azoomee has produced itself because we believe that developing kids’ creativity is important.

We have also produced our own animated series about internet safety called Search It Up, which explains the do’s and don’ts of being online: what a password is, why it’s important to think twice before putting a photo or video of yourself online, how not everything you read or watch online is true, etc.

How did you finance your business?

To date Azoomee has been funded by high-net-worth individuals and the Low Carbon Innovation Fund. Since its inception the company has raised over £2.3m. Recently, Azoome also successfully raised £800,000 via Crowdcube – over funding by 77% (the original target was £450,000).

What is the most important thing to keep track of in business and why?

There isn’t one single KPI or aspect of the business that is most important. The most important thing is being able to keep an eye on every facet of a business at the same time and to decide which one needs the most attention at a particular moment. It could be people, it could be finance, it could be a corporate partner but significantly it’s always changing.

What is the biggest day-to-day challenge you face?

Azoomee is operating in a multibillion-dollar industry, surrounded by companies with marketing budgets that it can’t possibly match. The challenge is to find ways to engage customers without having to spend money that we don’t have. That’s why strategic corporate partnerships are so important in terms of building the business’ visibility.

What marketing techniques do you use to attract new customers?

Being a tech company we put a strong emphasis on digital marketing, such as social media and search advertising, as it allows users to download the Azoomee app. We also work hard on building relationships with industry partners such as the NSPCC (who share our vision of keeping children safe online by regularly informing their supporters about Azoomee), and O2 (Azoomee is the sole entertainment provider on their new children’s tablet available from their website and 473 retail outlets in the UK).

We also maximise our PR opportunities, exhibit at conferences and apply for industry awards. We want to be a household name so the ultimate goal is to increase word-of-mouth marketing and get everyone talking about Azoomee!

Do you think it’s important for small businesses to export, any tips?

That depends on the opportunity that exporting represents. For Azoomee, our intention is to expand internationally within the next 12 months. However, exporting for small businesses also represents a large risk so our view is to crack the home market first!

What’s the business app you couldn’t do without?

There isn’t one.

Describe your company’s culture in three words:

Ethical, family-orientated and dynamic.

What would you like the government to do for small business?

The government needs to focus on three things immediately:

1. Office rents – how can small businesses find suitable locations to grow at affordable rates.

2. National insurance – young companies should not have to pay NI during their first year if they employ less than 15 employees.

3. The high street banks need to be forced to implement the Enterprise Finance Guarantee fairly to release funds to companies like Azoomee, which currently isn’t the case!

Who’s your biggest small and medium enterprise hero?

I find it hard to admire business people, even if they are genuinely outstanding at what they do. Business pales into insignificance compared against the achievements of totemic figures like Mandela and Gandhi. They are two magnificent men who suffered for their beliefs and in doing so changed the course of history.

Where do you want the business to be in three years?

Within three years I want to see the business quoted as a publicly traded stock on the London Stock Exchange, having launched the app throughout Europe and possibly even the USA.

What’s your top tip for keeping it lean and making profit?

Find the best people, incentivise them fairly and get them to buy into your vision.

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