ESL Group have adapted the services they provide for the Internet of Things arena, having previously specialised in investment banking. We caught up with them to find out more ahead of this week's Venturefest South event.
Describe your business in no more than 100 words
ESL Group is a leading provider of IT solutions and services, operating out of the UK and Singapore.
ESL has a wide range of core competencies under one roof, drawing from an experience of well over two decades. Our expertise covers secure hardware, software and connectivity solutions.
We have over twenty years of banking-grade systems integration experience. Over the past five years we have brought our investment banking products and services to the Internet of Things (IoT) arena and, with key partners, are now preparing to deploy asset tracking, cold chain, security and assisted living services across Europe and SE Asia.
What prompted you to enter the Innovation Zone? Describe the innovation that you’ve entered with.
Having adapted the business and our platform for IoT and established the necessary global partnerships to execute our business plan, the time is right to enter the Innovation Zone.
ESL has adapted its core cloud solution from the investment banking world (France’s second largest bank, Societe Generale, has been using it for key processes since 2005) to IoT where security has been an issue and regulatory pressures will soon be arriving.
How would you describe that to a novice?
Consider what a global investment bank needs to run its operation in an efficient, secure, adaptable and scalable way in a highly regulated environment. Add devices and device management to that and you have the ESL IoT ecosystem.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
IoT in EMEA has been very slow to deliver real business. Many customers and integration partners are either confused by the plethora of options already out there, or believe they can build their own solution. The reality in the latter is that they cannot; they need to engage with a trusted adviser like ESL.
Our office in Singapore has been open just two months and is already generating far more true prospects that need to be delivered quickly. Innovation in that region is lacking and customers are quite content to import from Europe and the US so long as the price is right.
What are your biggest professional achievements to date?
Building a business on a self-funded basis through two turbulent decades is not easy. It has been exceptionally challenging but also personally very rewarding to bring ESL Group to the point now where we can execute the business plan on a global basis and, perhaps achieve true success.
How do you feel about showcasing to potentially hundreds of people at Venturefest South?
This is not something that I am used to, as our engagements tend to be via discrete (and highly discreet) partner referrals or at major trade shows such as Embedded World (Nuremberg 14-16 March) or IoT Asia (Singapore 29-30 March), but I am looking forward to the opportunity of exposing ESL to the investor community at a very exciting time in our development.
What are you hoping to get out of attending Venturefest South?
I would hope that the investor community can see the potential in the business and the proximity of substantial financial returns. This should lead to some follow-up conversations that ultimately bring a level of investment that enables us to accelerate our execution.
Where do you see your company in five years time?
By 2022 ESL should have been long ago acquired by a global partner - probably a major electronics or semi-conductor distributor that has needed to move up the value chain and move away from shrinking margins on their current portfolio. I actually anticipate that the acquisition would have happened by the end of 2018 and key personnel will be completing their earn-outs within five years.
What advice would you give to aspiring innovators?
I would strongly encourage any aspiring innovators, but the single most important factor is that they have to be honest with themselves.
One analogy to starting and building your own business might be an aspiring Olympian; it is a very long, painful, wonderful journey and you have to be prepared to make very tough decisions and sacrifices to stand a chance of success (which is not guaranteed). Unless you have determination to succeed (and that doesn’t mean at the expense of others) then it's probably not for you, but if you do and are prepared to keep going when most would give up, then go for it.
ESL Group will be part of the Innovation Zone at the inaugural Venturefest South event taking place at Winchester Guildhall on 9th March – for more information and to book your tickets, visit https://venturefestsouth.co.uk/