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East Anglia Future 50

'Try new things and discover what fits - time is on your side' - Ipswich tech entrepreneur advises young people

PUBLISHED: 13:14 20 June 2019 | UPDATED: 13:21 20 June 2019

Richard Jennis (right) with colleagues from SimpleClick   Pictures: Ross Dean Photography

Richard Jennis (right) with colleagues from SimpleClick Pictures: Ross Dean Photography

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Richard Jennis, founder of technical agency SimpleClick, offers some advice to his younger self.

Richard Jennis,Richard Jennis,

How would you describe yourself at 18?

At 18 I began to figure out who I was and what I needed. When I decided to leave school behind and focus on starting a career, I was finally beginning to find my feet. School just wasn't for me and I felt a lot more comfortable in the working environment, even if my early jobs were just part-time. I probably felt more at ease in these jobs due to a lack of direction at the time, and not having a chosen career or goal in mind. They helped to build my confidence and I then found my 'calling' in the world of software development. I haven't looked back since.

What three tips would you give to your younger self?

I would tell myself that it's okay not to want to go to university. It can feel like we're conditioned to go through each step of the education system, from primary school through to higher education with university being the ultimate goal, but it's okay to do what's right for you. Don't feel pressurised to head straight to university or college to further your ambitions.

I would also tell myself not to be afraid of making mistakes. Even when you believe you're on the right path, mistakes can 
happen and although you should take ownership of them, try to see them as lessons to learn from.

Finally, I would say take some time out, try new things and discover what fits. Time is on your side so you don't need to rush things yet.

Is there anything you would do differently?

I have made plenty of mistakes over the years. I try to recognise, understand and learn from each one, and time has proved that these experiences can end up benefitting me in the long term. Even so, in the past I have found myself procrastinating over decisions, worried that my next step could be my next mistake.

Are there any projects you are particularly proud of?

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In 2012 we worked in conjunction with a London agency for 107 separate Canadian radio stations. SimpleClick provided all of the Apple iOS and Google Android development required for the station's radio player apps. It was a massive achievement for the team, and it was great to have been part of such an innovative project.

Another project that never fails to put a smile on my face is a programme we developed in-house called Doddle. It's a powerful software solution that can be used to manage website, apps, portals, and a whole lot more. It gives us the platform needed to bring clients' visions to life.

Can you point to a turning point, a landmark which told you that your business would be a success?

When I started the business I didn't have a salary, my second child was on her way and the 2008 financial crisis was in full swing. Pressure was on! Just as my second daughter was born, I secured SimpleClick's first client, a freight company based in Thurrock, Essex. It was a massive relief, and it gave me a huge confidence boost to push forward with SimpleClick.

Why is Suffolk a good place to do business?

Sometimes Suffolk is seen as bit of a no-man's land between Cambridge and London, both areas that attract talent - certainly in the 
IT sector. To make things even more challenging for a small business, Ipswich has some big employers like BT, Willis and AXA. That said, I love it here! Suffolk is a fantastic place to bring up my two daughters, and it's also a fantastic base to set up a business.

If you could relive one day, what would it be?

I'm fortunate to have many days I would like to relive. The arrival of both my daughters top that list for sure. However, from a business perspective it has got be the day I landed Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines as a client. I'd had dealings with Fred. Olsen when working with a former employer, and it was a real seal of approval when they found me and asked SimpleClick to work with them on rebuilding and relaunching their website.

If you were to choose one motto what would it be?

Work to live, don't live to work. It's something that we have instilled in our team at SimpleClick, ensuring that everyone takes all of their allotted holiday, doesn't work long hours and takes advantage of our flexible working policies. Life is all about balance.

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