Ask 100 business owners why they decided to start their own company, and it’s guaranteed that at least 90 will say it’s because they wanted to be their own boss or do their own thing.
Such was the case for James Ingram, founder of Queensland-based digital solutions provider Prendi. The business works with clients to create interactive tech concepts for physical environments, such as interactive displays in shopping centres, taking them through everything from concept design through to coding, ongoing content creation, and bespoke hardware solutions.
Ingram said the idea came through the identifying of a gap in the Australian market left by electricians and hardware installers, who were great at installing technology but left clients “with a fancy new toy and no skills to use it”.
“As a result, we built our approach around understanding our client’s objectives, which focused on the content to be displayed on their screens or solutions. This allowed us to tailor the hardware around their needs, as opposed to fitting their needs into the hardware they were sold,” he said.
“Ultimately, my inspiration for starting Prendi was in doing something real as a job. Something that rested on my own dedication and ambition.”
As the business has grown, Ingram said the biggest learning experience has been in understanding and adapting to the varying levels of knowledge Prendi’s clients may have; while it’s easy for those ensconced in the tech world to tap into the newest gadgets and platforms, the average consumer can be somewhat slower to adapt.
“I learned after our first job to ask the question, ‘Does your site have power?’ It is often hard when you work in a technical industry to take what you know or assume to be general knowledge down a few notches to ask every question possible,” Ingram said.
With this dedication to educating more people about technology, Prendi won the APAC Regional Talent Unleashed Award for the Best Digital SME – Tech Innovation category last year after having been encouraged to enter by a friend.
After checking out the Awards, Ingram said entering was a no-brainer.
“The fact that the awards are all about recognising those who are disrupting and innovating in their industries really hit home for us. Plus, a focus of the awards is to recognise small-to-medium businesses, putting them in the limelight and providing them with contacts and opportunities for growth – priceless,” he said.
Furthermore, Ingram added, the Talent Unleashed team has streamlined the application process to ensure “it takes as little time out of your busy days as possible”.
“I also learned a lot, as I pushed myself to present in front of the audience of more than 200 people, and nailed it, according to my team, my number one fans,” he added.
For Ingram, coming together with the other finalists and taking stock of the new products and solutions the various companies were working on was also a special moment.
“Not only were we ecstatic to be a global finalist, but we were just as excited to see the work that other finalists were doing. It’s not just about doing cool things with digital just because; it’s about using digital – for us physical digital solutions via various technologies and engaging content – to educate, entertain, and inform,” he said.
Actually taking out the Award for Best Digital SME – Tech Innovation was then icing on the cake.
“The chance to present in front of an esteemed line up of judges including Steve Wozniak, was an amazing experience,” he said.
“For me personally, it was a proud moment to look back at everything myself and my team has achieved with Prendi to date. As a business owner, it’s not often you sit back and actually realise how far you’ve come.”
The business has come even further since its Awards win, with Ingram saying the team is constantly looking to push the boundaries of interactive application development and innovate in new ways with technological advancements.
If he had his time again, Ingram said he would follow the lead of other finalists in the Awards and pitch a distinct product or service rather than Prendi as a business in general, and it’s this advice that he wants to pass on to this year’s entrants.
He said, “Focus on pitching just one of your products that you think is innovative and can help the community.”
Is entering the 2017 Talent Unleashed Awards part of your journey? Check out the categories and enter here – hurry, entries close August 31!