On the up · 4 May 2017

Playground entrepreneurs go from selling penny sweets to securing 1m investment

Charlie & Owen
Hunnam and de Rusett grew frustrated with innovation in management software
Owen Hunnam and Charlie de Rusett first went into business together aged 11, selling sweets to fellow pupils in their school playground in Kent.

With the money they made, the budding playground entrepreneursfounded a mobile disco business. Dinamic Discos generated 2, 000 per month before all their equipment was stolen and the pair were forced to close the business aged 16.

Now both 30 years-old, the two friends have co-founded Idea Drop, which uses smart software to capture ideaswithin organisations, giving everyoneat a companythe opportunityto have their voice heard.

Their new venture recently secured a 1m investment, and Idea Drop is now used by SMEs across 61 countries and 318 cities, and the platform lists Fortune 500 engineering companies and UK police forces amongst its clients.

(1) Who are you and what’s your business??

Were Owen and Charlie, co-founders of Idea Drop, a London-based technology company that helps organisations everywhere capture, curate and implement the best ideas from their people.

Idea Drop was born from our frustrations with the current innovation management software market, when we attempted to deploy an out-of-the-box solution into our tech stack at Yellowball. We found that the existing solutions lacked focus, have long deployment times and complex pricing structures, which mean that they are not widely accessible.

For most businesses and organisations, the process of gathering, organising and executing new ideas is generally costly and time consuming. Regardless of size or sector, ideation processes typically happen from the top down, with those highest paid and most senior usually sharing, validating and carrying out the most ideas.

Where there are existing ideation initiatives in place, such as intranets, suggestion boxes or annual staff surveys, these tend to be siloed and prevent collaborative, transparent and bottom-up innovation unfolding.

Idea Drop delivers a simple but powerful cloud-based solution for organisations to capture, curate and action the best ideas from their people. Via an intelligent ranking algorithm, the platform also automates the curation process, by scoring every idea in real-time based on social signals and interactions.

This enables the most promising and exciting ideas to organically bubble to the surface for the attention of managers and decision-makers faster. Out-of-the-box social tools also make it easy for colleagues to collaborate, enrich and validate ideas. Other key features include individual innovation scores, challenges, reports, search, analytics and idea cloaking.

(2) How long have you been around for?

Idea Drop was founded and received initial seed investment in March 2014. After a period in stealth, during which we completed beta testing, product development and extensive market discovery and insight, we officially launched in September 2015.

We previously founded Vine, a regional publishing group which was acquired by Local World, a division of Trinity Mirror, in December 2013. We also co-founded Yellowball, a full service creative consultancy, of which a majority stake was acquired in February 2015.

(3) How do you make money?

For organisations with up to 250 users, we offer a self-service 7 user/month pricing model. This is most popular with small teams and startups.

Beyond 250 users, we switch to an enterprise licence model, where the price is dependent on the size of the user group and the licence term. Enterprise clients also gain access to bespoke customisation packages, SSO, integration with other third-party tools in their tech stack and priority support.

We also offer a range of consultancy, implementation and internal launch services, which is an additional revenue stream. These are delivered with our global consultancy partners and also in-house.

(4) What makes you different and why should people take notice?

We believe the global idea management space is significantly underserved and, remarkably, this tech sector along with the key leading vendors, have failed to innovate in recent years. Were building a beautiful experience that is not only a joy to use but has meaningful and measureable ROI for every organisation.

The highlights of areas in which we are different from the key competition include our strong focus on UI/UX, native mobile apps (most competitors are web or mobile-optimised only), ongoing investment into R&D and the release of new features, our algorithmic idea curation and the speed of deployment (Idea Drop can be self-served out-of-the box within 90 seconds, unlike most of our competitors).

(5) What was key in terms of getting started?

In the early days of founding a business, everything seems virtually impossible and a stream of continued setbacks and disappointments can take its toll on morale.

In our experience, we have found that remaining laser focussed on the vision and having an unrelenting drive to succeed are very powerful. We have also always tended to launch businesses that have synergies with our existing skill sets, experience, customers or market knowledge as this mitigates risk and makes it easier to launch something quickly.

(6) What’s your biggest achievement to date

Winning a contract with our first major client, Kent Police was a key milestone. They are one of the largest and well regarded police forces in the UK, and the reaction and results they saw from the platform in the first few weeks after launch exceeded all our hopes and expectations.

The success in Kent also enabled us to focus on showcasing Idea Drop to the other 42 police forces in the UK, including winning the Metropolitan Police as a client earlier this year.



Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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