UCL Entrepreneurship Guest Lecture 2011/12: Scott Allison, CEO, Teamly.com
By Wendy J Tester, on 27 October 2011
UCL Classics Student Carolina Mostert summarises the talk below.
Scott Allison is a busy man. He has just launched Teamly.com, his latest business, he sits on the board of The Entrepreneurial Exchange and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. This guest lecture series started fifteen minutes earlier than usual because straight after UCL Scott Allison was expected at Buckingham Palace for a meeting with the Queen.
About Scott Allison
Scott studied Electrical Engineering at university and went on to an elective course in Marketing Management. This, he recalled, was his “first switch to business”. As he was studying he set up Freedom Phones, his first business, which consisted in an online market for mobile phones. A few years later, Freedom Phones developed into the extremely successful Abica, a telecommunications provider which had as core principles quality and service. Abica won the Glasgow Business Award for excellence in customer service.
Teamly.com – The Background
“I had one foot in traditional entrepreneurship, but my real passion was internet”. After seeing Abica’s success, Scott took six months off during which he travelled and visited Silicon Valley, a place that was and still is inspiring to him. Teamly.com followed, a business that provides online tools to improve the way companies manage their staff and to work in the most effective of ways.
Teamly.com brings together what Scott is most passionate about: people and the internet. Working on his previous businesses, he says, made him realise “how lonely entrepreneurship is”. With Teamly, Scott had a chance to see his own personality link with his life. For instance, one of the core purposes Scott sets – both for himself and for his company – is to find good employees. This, in his opinion, is the most challenging task: everyone invests in brands emotionally and as a premise to one’s work one should aim to “deliver happiness”.
Something Scott feels entrepreneurship has left him, however, as a valuable lesson is what he defines as the transition curve. At the beginning, when setting up a company, one is extremely optimistic: such is the state of “uninformed optimism”. Then follows the crisis of meaning, in which obstacles are encountered and hardships look overwhelming, a period which ends in “uninformed pessimism”. The last stage, that of the grown up businessman who understands the advantages and disadvantages of his job, Scott defines as “informed optimism”; this is the attitude, mentality, and state of mind that one should aim to maintain in business in the long-run.
Teamly.com – One Year On
Teamly is now about one year old. It is odd in the way it began: the research for it was carried out after the company had been set up, or rather, in the meanwhile. The underlying idea was that the employees would email Scott with ideas regarding the company; these emails were then reviewed by groups of other people and in many occasions put in practice. The secret behind the business of Teamly.com is, truly, its team. It is the team that makes the product “viral”, in Scott’s words – today’s market is a difficult one to access as well as expensive, and people must be drawn to your business by something contagiously charming.
In the next few years, Teamly will aim to support companies with about 500 employees. Whereas initially it raised money mainly through PR, its long term goal is to get as many people as possible involved for free and then convert a percentage of these into actual customers, charging them £8 per hour. “If you believe in what you are doing, that’s quite a competitive advantage”, Scott concluded. In order to get your product, get to know your users first – this was Scott’s piece of advice, belief and ultimately great advantage.
Written by Carolina Mostert, UCL Second year student studying Classics.