Northern Stars: Tom New and Al Mackin, Formisimo

Northern Stars: Tom New and Al Mackin, Formisimo

Sometimes, you go looking for a tool to help you do something in your business, and realise it doesn't exist. After a little head-scratching, Tom and Al decided that the best solution to this problem was the obvious one, and they built it themselves. Meet Tech North's Northern Star, Formisimo.

Tell us all about your business, in 100 words or less...
Al: Formisimo is an analytics platform for online forms and checkouts, so we measure user behaviour in this critical point in the buying process. We then show our clients, companies like Very.co.uk, Secret Escapes and Travelex, how they can improve their forms to increase sales.

Tom: What’s more, we’re helping to ‘make online forms suck less’ for everyone.

And, especially if your business is particularly technical, how would you explain it to your Grandma?
Tom: “Remember that time you wanted to book a holiday online and the form didn’t accept your phone number, and then crashed, and you gave up? Yeah, we’re helping stop that…”

Where did the idea come from? What motivated you to start your own business?
Tom: It came from a feeling of slight disbelief at how bad so many online forms were!

Al: I own a digital  agency and I spent some time analysing the weak points on our clients sites; my analysis led me to online forms, and how painful they were to fill in, but how vital they are in the sales or interest process.

Tom: There was no tool to show why this was happening, so we built one to find out.

Have you raised finance so far? If so, how?
Tom: We’ve raised two rounds of funding so far, totalling £800k investment. There may well be more to come in the future. We found this through our Seedcamp network, and attending various pitching events and gradually expanding our network of potential investors.

What are your most and least favourite parts of your job?
Tom: Working with a very talented team who are all incredibly excited to be on our journey with us. That, and building a globally used and respected product, harnessed by huge brands as well as SMEs.

The least favourite part is not having enough hours in the day to get everything done!

Al: I love the variety. A friend of mine said that a good CEO should be a world class generalist, and I get involved in a lot of different tasks. I get to sell our product, raise money, motivate the team and create the strategy for the business.

The least favourite part? Working with VAT. When you’re spending time working out how to calculate and report on tax it’s not a good use of energy.

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

Al: I got my first computer at the age of six and from that point I wanted to do “something” with tech. I may have flirted briefly with becoming a policeman or a pilot, but the lure of the keyboard and the LEDs got the better of me.

Tom: A dinosaur. Or an astronaut.

How did it feel to be crowned one of TechNorth’s Northern Stars?
Tom: Hugely exciting and humbling. The standard of the pitches and the other start ups was extremely high and we were delighted to be named at one of the ten Northern Stars. The judges were also of a very high standard so for them to see value in what we’re doing is a huge validation for the hard work we put in!

Al: They ran a great process, and Tom enjoyed all the pitching.

Which of the prizes do you think will be of most value to you and your business?
Tom: TechCrunch Disrupt has already been hugely valuable (we’ve brought on two big brands to trial the product), but Bloomberg event and SXSW should both also be incredible experiences and a chance for us to showcase our product, and indeed the North!

What’s next for you, and where do you see your business in a year?
Al: So we’re growing fast and we’ve just taken on another four members of staff to support the build and growth in our new predictive product. That’s going to be the focus for the business over the next year.

Tom: We will continue to develop our fantastic client base and build a team of talented and ambitious people. For me, my primary focus is going to be the ongoing development of both the existing a new product.

FORMISIMO