Meet the MD: Guy Mucklow of PCA Predict

You may not know the name of the company off the top of your head - but if you've bought something online, the chances are you've used their technology. Guy Mucklow, CEO of PCA Predict, gives BQ an insight into the day-to-day running of a market leading technology firm.

Give us an overview of your role:

As CEO it is essential to have small amount of knowledge about all aspects of the business so that you can ask the appropriate questions at the right time.

Beyond that, the CEO trusts the skills of the key people that have been employed to fit in specialist positions and more importantly knows their own limitations.

When not providing a “light hand on the tiller” for my executive team, I spend a lot of time networking to develop relationships and ideas for the business and am also currently involved in a new start up that we’re working on called Triggar.  

 

What is it the company does?

If you’ve ever looked up your postcode to find your address when you’ve bought something online, then the chances are that you’ve used PCA Predict’s (formerly Postcode Anywhere) technology.

PCA Predict is the UK market leader for online address autofill which is used to improve customer experience and maintain data quality online and in CRM systems.

We are also incubating a new start up, called Triggar.com, which uses machine learning to identify and support changes in customer behaviour.

 

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

My career began with a ten-year stint as a fund manager at Invesco Plc, which is where I first developed a passion for software through responsibility for US technology investments.

I also worked as the finance director for my family’s property business A&J Mucklow Group Plc, before leaving to realise a lifelong ambition to establish and manage my own company.

 

What do you believe makes a great leader?

There are many definitions of what great leadership is all about, however, a simple but extreme example that I would use is of the officer taking his troops into battle where lives may be at risk. 

As a follower, in this example, you need to have absolute faith and trust that your leader is not going to risk your life and that of your fellow soldiers.

Whilst the impact of getting it wrong in business is usually not so extreme, the analogy is still very appropriate in that great leaders inspire their followers to do great things.    

 

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Scaling up the business without losing the company’s identity as a unique commercial enterprise has also been a challenge.

As we grow into the next phase of growth with have tried hard to retain our cultural values. Employees need to feel the business retains elements of the culture that made them apply for the job in the first place.

We’ve introduced weekly lunches and new benefits such as a company barge boat and kayaks to encourage employees to interact away from their desk. We’ve also moved to an employee owned business model to give all our employees a share in the business.

As well as seeding an entrepreneurial passion for success across the wider employee base, it also creates a driver for employees to stick with the business during the scaling process.

 

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

My whole life revolves around work, so having an understanding partner is really important.  My wife has seen the business grow from a time when we didn’t know where the next penny was going to come from through to the established business that we have become.  She is incredibly tolerant of the time that I spend on the business and provides great counsel whenever there are the inevitable HR issues to discuss.

I am conscious of becoming too narrowly focussed so have made more of an effort in the last few years to broaden my horizons and to also make the business work more for me.  I have recently taken up Italian, which I am really enjoying, and love travelling with my wife mixing business with pleasure.

 

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Lots of things, however, the one that stands out most is a racing yacht designer.  I loved the shape of boats that had been designed by Ron Holland, a New Zealander, and wrote to a leading UK company to ask for their advice on getting into the profession, receiving a very nice reply back informing me that Southampton University provided the best courses.

One of the things that I have learned from this and am passionate about now, is fuelling interest in the younger generation.  The key is to show children opportunities to spark their interest and, where they do show interest to nurture and support it.

 

Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?

I can’t stand it when people don’t live our values at work, because left unchecked, it can quickly undermining what you are trying to achieve. 

To give you a recent example, we have had a lot of untidiness recently in the office where rubbish hasn’t been cleared away, dirty plates have been left out and so on. 

It’s a fairly small point but to me it is consistent with selfish and lazy behaviour as there’s an expectation that someone else will do it for you.

Translated into the workplace where team effort and collaboration are key to success, this type of attitude undermines what we are looking to achieve.

 

Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

We have a very significant financial target that we’re looking to achieve in the next five years – 50% annual growth in revenue to reach a £50m turnover. To do this, we need everyone in the business pulling their weight. It’s for this reason we have decided to become employee owned.

We’ve done the hard part and are really looking forward to the challenge of scaling PCA Predict by increasing the marketplace for our existing services and we’re also launching a new business; Triggar which looks at statistical patterns from online behaviour and predicts the likelihood of a website visitor successfully completing a journey or not.

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

To succeed, never take no for an answer. In business, there are lots of people who might doubt your ability whether through a lack of trust, jealousy or just pure ignorance.  The key is that these people can help to fuel your motivation as they need to be proved wrong.

A good example of this is an email that I received from a VC when we started the business 15 years ago and were losing lots of money, that basically said I’m not going to invest in you because you don’t stand a “cat in hells” chance against a competitor like QAS. That stuck with me and was (and probably still is) a very powerful driver even though we’ve largely proved our point.