Every month, we interview one of our members to find out about their journey as a business owner and how Bizpedia has helped them.
This month, we interviewed the amazing Joe Lambert. Joe is the Founder and Director of Rareloop. Rareloop is a digital product studio that helps organisations all over the UK to design and build websites, mobile apps and web apps. These can include: brochure websites, client portals, custom databases, work flow systems and brand new SaaS products.
Joe loves creating products that solve problems. He also has a great company ethos which is leading him to get B-Corps accredited. He talks about the importance of hiring staff who are compatible with company values and the many benefits Bizpedia has provided him. Read on to find out more.
1. What is an ideal customer for Rareloop?
An ideal customer for Rareloop is any business or charity looking to use good design and technology to help reach their aims. This could mean creating a new high performing website that enables them to better communicate who they are. It might also mean designing a web or mobile app that directly solves a business problem, uses automation to make process more efficient or help them to enter a new market. We often work with organisations who are on a digital transformation journey; providing design and development expertise to compliment and support the larger changes being undertaken throughout the business.
2. Tell us a bit about your journey as a business owner – how did you get to where you are today?
My background is engineering and design, I’ve always been interested in how technology works and fascinated by using it to solve problems. I began making software at a young age, initially to solve problems that I personally experienced. I then found that I was able to sell these online to others who also experienced the same issues. Prior to setting up Rareloop, I was in a job in which I had the opportunity to work on cutting-edge web technology. This was a fantastic springboard for when I decided to make the leap into being a business owner. I’d always planned to set something up but the exact timing really just came down to a momentary entrepreneurial spark.
I set up Rareloop in 2011 by providing web expertise to established companies, which quickly grew into delivering entire projects with more of a public facing presence. From the start, I had a vision that Rareloop should be a business that was about more than just maximising financial gain. It was to be a group of super talented people, solving real problems through quality design and engineering. I also wanted us to focus on our community, to have a voice among our peers, to provide well for our team and their families and to use our privilege to support those that are less fortunate.
Over the years the business has grown and the team has increased in size too. Hiring the right people has been absolutely critical and I’ve learned that hiring for value fit is just as, if not more, important than skills. We now hire individuals who align with our company values and have seen much better productivity and retention as a result. You can hire the best technical person or best designer, but if they don’t fit the ethos and values of the business there will always be friction. The community aspect ended up taking centre stage.
3. Tell us about B-Corps
B-Corps is an accreditation given to organisations who have been independently verified to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. To gain accreditation, you must complete an assessment and need to accumulate enough points to meet the threshold criteria. Your application is then sent off to an audit team to be verified.
We are currently in the process of gathering evidence to show that we meet B-Corp’s standard. It’s not a simple exercise but it’s really worth while as the assessment covers all aspects of business and helps identify areas that could be improved. However, it isn’t just a one off task. Once you are verified, you get reassessed every 3 years and the aim is that every B-Corp should be seeking to improve between each assessment.
I first heard about B-Corps a couple of years ago and it was the first time I’d seen anyone succinctly articulate the sort of organisation we were building; we were already there in spirit, but just didn’t have the accreditation. B-Corps is about businesses that stand for more than just financial profit; they also want to do good in the community, be a great employer and look after, encourage, build, develop and grow their team, and be environmentally responsible. This is the journey we have been on: balancing people, purpose, profit and planet. The reason we want to join B-Corps is to align ourselves with a bigger movement of organisations using business for good.
I read a book recently called Corporate Rebels. It has a great quote:
“Profit for a company is like oxygen for a human: necessary to stay alive, but not the reason for living.”
For me, that really resonates, you can’t survive without making a profit, but that isn’t the sole reason we do what we do. We are trying to make amazing technology for people that has a positive impact on them; that is why we exist, but in order to do that consistently we need to make a profit.
4. Tell us more about your take on team, community and the environment
We really do care greatly about being a good employer. We grow our staff, train them and give them opportunities.
We also offset our staff’s personal carbon usage using Ecoligi to plant trees and buy carbon-offsets. This is a great perk for the team, it’s a really visual reminder to see our forest grow. We’re also working on encouraging everyone to reduce their own personal footprint.
For our own company environmental impact, we are currently putting a process in place to measure our baseline emissions. Once we better understand what our emissions are and where they come from we’ll work on a plan to reduce.
Another benefit for our staff which also has a positive impact on the environment is hybrid working. By offering flexible working, we reduce the amount of commuting required. This is great for team wellbeing and productivity but also helps to reduce our carbon footprint.
In terms of community, we made a decision from the very start to put money aside for a charitable fund so that we can give when there was a need. Over the last ten years we’ve had the privilege to support a number of causes including social enterprise projects in India to provide sustainable income, the building of a school in Malawi and, more recently, the Red Cross for their Ukraine appeal. We’ve found that regularly giving to a fund allows us to separate the decision to give from the current circumstances of the business. This makes it easier to live up to our vision even if things are a little tough internally.
5. What is the biggest thing you have learnt?
It has got to be to hire staff based on their fit to company values. You can train people on skills, but you cannot as easily change the values an individual holds.
6. Where do you see yourself in the future?
We plan to continue to grow and build the business to be the best it can be both in terms of the products we develop and the working environment and culture for the team. With the recent shift to hybrid working, this means that the business will look a little different in the future, taking advantage of the best talent across the country instead of just those based around Hampshire.
7. How has Bizpedia benefitted you and your business?
There have been several benefits. I first joined Bizpedia for business development and sales. But what I have found to have been most valuable is the peer support. The group is filled with really diverse businesses but everyone is open and willing to share. Josh has done a great job of curating the right mix of people and skills. Being around others facing similar challenges as you and sharing advice and success stories is invaluable.
The businesses in the group also range in sizes; this presents a great opportunity to get advice from those that have already experienced where you’re at. Equally it’s great to be able to share my experience with others looking to grow in similar ways as us.
The events have also been fantastic; they’re an opportunity for me to invite clients and get to know them better outside of a work context. They’ve always had an amazing time and it has given me the opportunity to engage with my clients on a more personal level rather than just purely for business.
The other major benefit has been the broader Bizpedia network. If I’m ever in need of a supplier, I can also go to Josh and ask him to recommend someone. He has a good handle on what I need but also on the type of businesses that would be a good fit culturally; everyone I have been passed onto has been absolutely perfect.
We would like to thank Joe for taking the time to let us interview him. If you would like to find out more about Joe, connect with him on LinkedIn.