Channel Q&A: Mark Evans, co-founder, Imerja

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What has been your journey to co-founder and commercial director of Imerja?

I worked in the NHS for two years after university before moving to Hong Kong in 1993 where I had a number of jobs, including running an Italian restaurant. I was working for an environmental engineering company, Montgomery Watson, by the time I left, enjoying a two year sabbatical on the way home via Pacific islands and South East Asia. When I got back I had a brief spell with SAS in 1998 as a technical editor, before re-joining MW in its UK International Division managing bids across EMEA. My move into the IT arena came in 2000 with a project management role at Cable and Wireless hosting centre in Swindon, before joining Satelcom in 2001. I was a founder member of Imerja and have been with the company ever since we formed in 2004.

What has been your best moment in business?

It’s hard to choose one – all too easy to run off a list of key dates and milestone achievements we have made at Imerja, all of which I am proud of, but if I were to pick my personal best moments it would include the times I see everyone enjoying themselves when we have company events away from the office, being privileged to visit the medical centre we support in The Gambia, and meeting an inspirational 10 year old girl called Madi Brooks for the first time when we were able to respond to her family’s appeal to help achieve her wish list.

What was your biggest regret?

Two weeks after I got back from my sabbatical I bumped into an Australian chap I knew from my time overseas – he invited me to travel to Tasmania and work as crew on his yacht whilst he did a six month cruise around the south pacific islands. Having only just got home after five years out of the country, I declined!

What is the best business advice you have ever been given?

“Don’t give up on what you believe in”. Can’t remember who might have said it, or I may have read it, but it is important to have strength in your own belief and vision, especially in business when there are a multitude of things that might disrupt or distract from what you are trying to achieve – remaining focused and dealing with the ‘noise’ that life inevitably throws at you (which can come from both inside and outside the tent) is essential to achieving your goals.

Which company, other than yours, do you admire the most and why?

Any small start-up business that has ‘given it a go’ and succeeded. Whilst immensely enjoyable and rewarding, running and growing a business is hard work, and I think anyone that makes their venture a success should be rightly proud.

Which other CEO do you believe has done an outstanding job? Why?

To pick one is difficult. There are many inspirational individuals in the IT industry that have become household names, like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, who have been instrumental in both the pace and direction that technology has advanced over the last 20 years. Personally, I like the attitude and approach to business that Richard Branson evokes – from a small start-up enterprise to creating global brand across diverse industries, he always comes across as having a strong focus and belief in what he is trying to achieve, appears to highly value his staff (I am old enough to remember the ‘BA Bonus’ payments) and importantly having fun. He also has an island and a spaceship, which my kids think is pretty cool.

What is the single biggest issue facing the channel in 2015?

Technology has evolved rapidly over the past decade and there’s no doubt that it will play a major role in the way all businesses function in the future. I think we’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg in regards to mobile technology and its potential to change our lives – it’s hard to imagine what it will be like in twenty years from now. One of the biggest challenges I see in the short term is companies struggling to differentiate themselves in what is an increasingly competitive market. Resellers that look for opportunities in vertical markets are likely to gain a competitive advantage, which will enable them to calve a niche for themselves in their chosen vertical sector.

What is next for Imerja?

Over the last couple of years we have really started to see the benefits of the long term inward investment we have made in Imerja; not only in terms of attracting new customers, securing more multi-year annuity contracts and increasing both revenue and profit, but through gaining wider industry recognition for our innovative approach, technical capability and business culture.

For example, over the last 18 months we have received a number of UK and EMEA awards for our telemedicine services, which utilise Imerja’s own cloud-based Video as a Service (VaaS) solution. This year, we aim to stretch the boundaries of healthcare technology even further by pushing out VaaS to more telemedicine applications and on a national scale – existing trials have been very positive and given the wide range of applications where it can be deployed we think it could go a long way to reliving the pressure on the healthcare system and improving the patient experience. Underpinning this we have continued our focus on compliance, further strengthening our credentials as a preferred provider into the public sector.


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