We chatted to John Roche, director of Haybrooke and asked him a little about his business and why he chose Harborough Innovation Centre as their new location.
What is it about the HIC that has motivated you to base your business here?
I live locally, within 8 minutes of the centre. I have driven past it often and always considered it a fine-looking building from the outside. When our company changed its working practices during the pandemic to allow people to work from home, we decided to look for premises that better reflected our new agile way of working. I got in contact with HIC and was shown around the complex. It blew me away and I knew we had found our new home.
How has your experience been throughout your move to the centre, from your initial enquiry to your physical move in day?
Tim, the centre manager, got back to me the same day I made the enquiry, and the viewing was arranged just a few days later. I was shown everything I wanted to know about the centre, and it helped us make a quick decision to move in. The excellent working conditions and professionalism of everyone we met was evident from the outset. The administration process, overseen by Carly, centre operations manager, was straightforward and painless. On moving day, we used a local logistics firm, MDK, to help us, as recommended by Tim. They were fantastic. All in all, from the moment I made the initial enquiry at HIC to the day we moved in, the process was seamless.
How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
I worked as an estimator for a printing company and thought how cool it would be if a print quoting system could be made clever enough to provide an instant price back to customers. So, over the next few years, I set up a company and developed it! We call it ‘PDQ’ – which stands for Predictive Dynamic Quoting.
What was your mission at the outset?
To help printers deliver instant prices back to their customers. Later, when we developed the online platform, it made it just as easy for customers to get prices themselves without even having to ask the printer! In essence, we created a price comparison site for printed products.
What service(s) or product(s) do you offer/manufacture?
Our online portal is called ‘PDQ Print Hub’. It is fundamentally a print buying platform that allows customers to buy printed products from a nationwide roster of high-quality printers. We technically buy the print on the customers behalf, but they get to choose the fulfiller, meaning they can build relationships and still make use of all the tools the platform offers, such as instant chat with printers and historical performance reviews.
To what do you attribute your success?
Everyone says hard work, and that is certainly part of the answer. But there is also an element of luck and good fortune when it comes to navigating one’s way through the challenges of building a successful business. We’ve had our fair share of disappointments, too, like all small companies do. But when it really mattered, we have somehow found ourselves in the right place at the right time. I think it was Plato who originally said, the harder you work, the luckier you get. Well, maybe we have proven this to be true?
Can you improve something tomorrow based on today’s experience?
Absolutely. Our online print buying platform is improving all the time. Every day a customer or supplier will highlight an area for potential improvement if we haven’t spotted it ourselves already. It means we focus quite a lot of energy on making the process of buying print as idiot proof as possible. Business-wise, we have the same philosophy. We are currently working on becoming an EOS company. Put simply, the EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) is a set of business tools that help business owners run a more successful business. Its principles support the idea of the constant improvement; and that is at the core of what we do.
What are your company’s biggest achievements?
It’s tempting to say that the development of our print calculation engine is our biggest achievement, and from a technological perspective it probably is. But I have the biggest sense of pride from the customers we have won. In 2020 we won a contract with Crown Commercial Services, for example, which is the government procurement division. More recently we have won household names to our services like Specsavers and Ricoh. Winning these accounts was so important to the business and is a big part of our success story. It certainly helps that we also have the most powerful production-based print calculation engine in the market. This has given us a solid technical foundation and USP upon which we have effectively built the company.
What is unique about your business?
We have developed a pricing algorithm for the printing industry that can work out the best way to manufacture a job. Unlike price lists or matrices, this allows PDQ to calculate practically all variations of a print specification without the need for the printer to input specific prices. All the printer needs to do is tell the system what manufacturing kit they own, how it performs and the hourly cost rates. PDQ then does the rest. It makes our system unique, and it can be easily scaled without creating any bottlenecks. There is no doubt this has been one of the most significant parts of our success story.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Be prepared for a bumpy ride!
Or speak to Harborough Innovation Centre about flexible office space