(l-r) Quentin & Alex Bargate of Ajuve
As part of BQ's Meet the MD series we caught up with Alex Bargate, CEO and co-founder of the UK’s first fully online arbitration platform, Ajuve.
What does your role include?
I’m the CEO of Ajuve, the UK’s first fully online arbitration platform. I oversee the day-to-day running of the business and creation of the platform.
What is it the company does?
Ajuve is the fast-track, online alternative for individuals and small businesses to resolve contract disputes quickly and effectively. Our aim is to cut through the legal jargon and the mystery to make the process simple for all.
My father, Quentin Bargate, and I co-founded the platform to take a contract party through every stage of a dispute, from making a complaint right through to resolution and award via an independent arbitrator, all in around 6 weeks – far quicker than court.
Ajuve also provides users with free advice around claims and an arbitration clause for businesses to use in their contracts, to help them get things right from the start and make it easier to resolve any disputes down the line.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
Previously I worked as a web developer and my father is senior partner at city law firm Bargate Murray. It was our combination of technical expertise and legal acumen that helped bring Ajuve to life and helped us develop the platform into a valid business.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
It’s important to have a strong vision for your company and to communicate that well, getting others to buy into your vision – from customers and investors to your own team.
The best leaders inspire, motivate and lead by example. I like the saying: “Leadership cannot be given, it must be earned. It cannot be taken away, you lose it by lack of performance.”
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Going into an industry I don’t know that much about, I’ve had to learn very quickly. It’s definitely about finding the right people for your team, bringing in the expertise where you need it and learning from your team too.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I always listen to music when I’m working, especially when programming – it helps me concentrate.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I genuinely always wanted to start my own business, I couldn’t imagine having a 9 to 5 job. There’s definitely a family element to it– my father left his job at a big London law firm in 2004 to start out on his own, and my grandfather also ran his own business. I suppose it’s in my genes!
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
I really hate office politics. As our team grows, I think it’s really important to encourage a culture of openness and transparency.
I’ve started this business with my dad, so we have that honest relationship, and we want our growing team to just be a bigger Ajuve family.
Where do you see the company in five years time?
We want to build Ajuve into the largest provider of online dispute resolution services in the UK, providing businesses and consumers alike with an accessible and affordable way to deal with contract disputes.
We will also be looking for adoption and rapid growth in other commercial centres around the world.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Validate your idea early. You might think you’re on to the next big thing, but make sure your market agrees with you – before you spend thousands building an amazing product!
If they like it, you still might learn a thing or two about their reasons, which is invaluable knowledge to have when you go on to market your business.
If they don’t, that knowledge can help you adapt, or, sometimes, to know when it’s time to move on, before you’ve sunk a lot of time and effort into the project.