Editor’s note: Launched in Australia in February 2013, Hexigo opened its U.S. office in June 2013. Hexigo’s enterprise software drives teams to make decisions quickly and efficiently and also determines the quality of the decisions. James Cattermole, founder and CEO, describes how the system works and shares his advice for other startups.
SandHill.com: Please describe your product and your market.
James Cattermole: Hexigo is an enterprise decision-management system. It is specifically designed to help teams make decisions quickly and efficiently. Teams actually commit to a final decision. Our system ensures the decision-making process is transparent and inclusive so no one can say “nobody told me.”
SandHill.com: How does your product differ from other decision solutions?
James Cattermole: Ever been in a meeting to discuss a topic, then two weeks after the meeting you’ve got no recollection of what was decided? Decision making is the life blood of any company and yet it’s the one area within most companies that is done on a totally ad hoc basis — decisions are usually made by whoever happens to be in the room at the time. As a result, decisions are rarely understood six months later and therefore are impossible to accurately assess.
Hexigo records the entire decision-making process so, even when everyone involved has left the company, there is still an accurate understanding of how, why and whom was involved in the decision … no more “why did we do that?” Additionally, it allows decisions to be accurately and objectively assessed to determine whether the company makes good decisions or bad decisions.
SandHill.com: What inspired you to launch the company and what was the original vision/hope?
James Cattermole: Having worked with big companies for years, one of the major frustrations is the pace at which they make decisions. Big organizations, even those with the most agile mentality, still take half a dozen meetings and 25 email chains to make a decision. We wanted to accelerate and improve the decision-making process, and in the process address another major issue, which is knowledge retention. Typically whenever someone leaves, they take the knowledge with them.
Through Hexigo we saw the ability to address enterprise decision making — which is usually fractured, ad hoc and rarely recorded — to make faster, more accurate, traceable and accountable decisions.
SandHill.com: Is there a story behind your company name?
James Cattermole: In Latin, “exigo” means to complete, conclude or resolve. Adding the “H” gives Hex, which adds a six-degrees-of-separation element. Hence Hexigo, which brings people together to collaborate and, importantly, resolve business issues.
SandHill.com: Who are the people behind your company (advisors, investors)?
James Cattermole: Besides myself, there is Lyndsey Cattermole, who built the largest Australian-owned software services company and sold it to a stock exchange-listed company for $220 million and Hugh Cattermole, who recently exited a health services business for more than $40 million.
SandHill.com: What is the best business advice you ever received?
James Cattermole: It’s critically important to determine whether something is truly an opportunity or just a distraction. There will always be the next “big thing,” but is it relevant to your end goal?
SandHill.com: Who is your personal software company or software executive role model?
James Cattermole: Despite what people say about them nowadays, it’s hard to go past Microsoft. Their sales, positioning and marketing methodology is brilliant. They have been able to own the entire enterprise market for 20 years despite never having the best products or service. They were able to embed themselves inside every company in the world and own the end user’s daily software experience … brilliant.
SandHill.com: What book have you read during the past three years that most influenced you, and how did it influence your actions or decisions?
James Cattermole: “Winning,” by Jack Welch is a classic but still very good. There is no one major theme to the book; it’s just full of insightful ways to improve the performance of your business.
SandHill.com: What challenges have you encountered in hiring or retaining the right talent?
James Cattermole: When recruiting, the biggest challenge is sorting the wheat from the chaff. There will always be candidates wanting the job, but identifying whether they are a good fit or not is the true challenge. I’m not aware of any company that has mastered this. You can do all the tests and interviews you want, but you don’t really know what employees are like until they have worked at the company for a while.
The only effective way to address this is to have a long trial / probation period so you can move them on quickly and efficiently if they don’t fit.
SandHill.com: How do your scale your sales and marketing operations?
James Cattermole: Partnering is a dark art; but if you can find the right partners, you can dramatically increase your market penetration without having to scale up you own operations at the same rate (which is difficult).
Most partnerships fail because partnering does not get the attention it deserves. You need to have a very clear strategy and mission for the partnership and then work very hard to find the right partner(s), not just the first big name that comes along. And once the partnership is established, it takes a lot of attention and TLC to generate the desired results.
SandHill.com: What is your favorite sport?
James Cattermole: Rugby union. You haven’t lived until you’ve had a 300-pound Tongan straight running at you with no pads on.
SandHill.com: What will be your company’s focus over the next 12 months?
James Cattermole: Substantial growth through customer acquisition and strategic partnering.
SandHill.com: What is your top advice for first-time entrepreneurs or startup CEOs?
James Cattermole: Actually do it. So many people have great ideas but aren’t willing to take the chance. The only thing that truly differentiates entrepreneurs (especially “professional entrepreneurs”) from others is the willingness to take risks.
James Cattermole is the founder and CEO of Hexigo. He is a serial entrepreneur, and Hexigo is his third business. He is passionate about enterprise software and making big, cumbersome organizations slicker and more efficient.
Kathleen Goolsby is managing editor of SandHill.com.