Member in the Spotlight
An interview with Nick Jones, Founder and CEO of Ligentia
Tell us about your company.
Ligentia is the UK’s largest and fastest growing international freight technology business. Myself and 500 colleagues around the world manage the international freight and supply chains for some of the worlds leading retailers, consumer brands, and manufacturers. We work with a cross section of multi-nationals, SME’s and home office start-ups, and develop long lasting partnerships with most customers, many of whom we have grown internationally with over a long period of time.
We combine clever but easy to use technology, deep sector and regional expertise, with 365/24/7 customer service (delivered by long serving Ligentia industry experts not call centres) to ensure our customers can focus on design, manufacture, marketing and sales, and leave us to deal with factories, suppliers, making sure products and material are in the right place, at the right time and in the right quantity.
We also support customers in reducing carbon footprint with simple and cost effective initiatives that benefit them, their customers and the planet.
What has been your biggest success so far?
We grew our international business from scratch in 2010 to a position where, this year, over 50% of our profits now come from our offices in China, Asia, Australia, Africa and Poland. We did this all from cash flow and with no long term debt. It was a massive challenge, a major investment of time and cash, and a big risk to do this during the Global Financial Crisis. We pulled it off, and are now a much more balanced and multi-cultural organisation, and in some very fast growing international markets.
What projects excite you right now?
There are 2 major projects we are really excited about!
The first is our investment in a new technology centre of excellence in Leeds. We are investing around £8m over the next 3 years in next generation technologies such as automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, dynamic pricing and data analytics, all housed in a brand new low carbon tech centre in Leeds called Nexus (a part of Leeds University) We have an official launch in September, but are already open and recruiting some of the finest tech talent to support the project.
Our second is what we are calling ‘Ligentia Remastered’ This a complete internal and external realignment of the business with what is a radically different environment than 10 years ago. This is very much not a skin deep rebrand, but a radical remastering of how we work, communicate with customers, internal values, and ways of working. A lot of focus is on simplifying language, creating self-help tools, knowledge hubs and tools to make our services and knowledge cheaper and easier to access. We are driving more open pricing, improving communication with live chat via WhatsApp and WeChat, and focussing on creating an international community that makes it easy for local and international customers to collaborate by sharing transport, freight space and costs. Equally, people who devote their lives to public service are pretty inspirational.
How has being a member of The Clubhouse contributed to the success of your business?
Collaboration and innovation are really important cultural enablers for us, and work space is critical to creating the right environment. The Clubhouse was our first experience with co-working spaces, and is fast becoming a centre of gravity for us in the UK, as it combines great locations, flexible costs and a sophisticated energy which would not be affordable to us in a traditional lease arrangement. We are freed from all the lease, IT, furniture, and facility management stuff, and it leaves us to focus on customers and technology.
We are now big believers in the use of co-working work spaces, and I think we will see many of our smaller offices gradually move this way over the next 3-5 years.
Where can members find you?
We base ourselves mainly at St James, and I’m normally close to a coffee machine.
Quick Fire Round:
Favourite place to go in London?
We love Thali on the Old Brompton Road, South Ken. It’s the best Indian restaurant in London, and Vic and his team are super friendly.
Who inspires you and why?
People who devote their lives to public service are pretty inspirational, as are entrepreneurs who create fast growing business based on innovative ideas and products that care for the planet, and employee people in a happy and rewarding environment. Creating wealth from doing the right thing in the right way is becoming more common, thankfully.
Best bit of advice you’ve been given?
My wife always says ‘Go with your gut’ and I think intuition is under-rated. Our sub-conscious starts absorbing experiences, images, sounds, smells, expressions, thoughts and outcomes, from when we are born. We all have this truly multi-dimensional database in our heads, and we should learn to have the confidence to use it more.
Which super power would you like to have?
Superman type flight (without the tights) would be pretty handy and be good for the planet.
What is the worst business ‘faux-pas’ you’ve committed?
I went pretty hard-sell in a meeting in China in the 90’s before I understood how things worked, and clearly got no-where. Making mistakes is a part of life, but developing an understanding of how business is done, a respect for the culture and values in the place you do business is critical if you want to succeed internationally.