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Getting to know you: David Farquhar

I’m a transaction-oriented serial entrepreneur with a track record of delivering shareholder value, mostly recently in the turnaround, transformation, growth and exit of global enterprise SaaS vendor Workplace. In the past 25 years I have completed 28 transactions as a founder/CEO, angel investor and business mentor, including risk capital investments (PE, VC and angel), acquisitions and trade sales in Europe, North America and Asia.

I have started, built or invested in 20 companies, sold 13 and have the hard-won experience of having lost three. Those are often the best lessons. I’ve built sales & distribution channels across Europe, North America, the Middle East, India, China and Southeast Asia.

Where did your passion for digital come from?

Our sector has the ability to solve important, real-world problems and add considerable value to customers and communities. I have zero technical skills, have never been to University (they were Polys when I attended) and couldn’t design my way out of a paper bag. I love witnessing the process of problem analysis, creating a solution, designing a product, telling people you have an answer and getting the feedback that it works! Turning customers from strangers into advocates.

What’s your favourite thing about the industry?

Getting to work with people every day who are much cleverer than I am and have skills I could never aspire to. This is a genuine privilege and inspires me every day. Sometimes I wake in a sweat thinking “it’ll never work” then we bring in a new customer and watch with pride as their jaw drops and they ask “how the hell did you do that?” Or “That’s brilliant – it’s exactly what our industry needs”.

What’s your role and what does a typical day involve?

I am the lucky guy who gets to enthuse people, help set the tone, offer coaching and counsel, observe patterns and gently tap the tiller. There are eleventy-billion things going on, as with any ambitious, high-growth start-up. Loads of calls, meetings, travel, pitches, new faces, learning…oh, yes…and bloody email.

Where do you see yourself/your company in five years?

I’d like to be back in happy retirement (again!) having built and sold one last company and made an amazingly exciting journey with a great set of people. I hope I will have met some brilliant new colleagues and made some of them new friends.

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