Jon Air, Managing Director of video software company Sparkol

Jon Air.jpg

What was your inspiration for Sparkol and VideoScribe?

I wanted to do something I was passionate about, which was focusing on the digital world. I started Sparkol in 2008 after the successful sale of a previous software business. My passion is SMEs and helping them produce materials to speak to their audiences. I felt there had to be an alternative to traditional presentations and video tools – something that would shift thinking and allow businesses to engage with their audiences. Something to help tell the story with quality visuals. So I spent 18 months creating an application I thought was the answer to this problem. I learnt that the simple problem was much more complicated than I expected!

After multiple failures, I launched VideoScribe pretty much as a last ditch attempt. VideoScribe was very well received and has been the foundation of Sparkol’s growth. Today we’re a team of more than 40 working on a variety of products that empower users to engage their audience.

What is your future vision for Sparkol?

We want to empower 100 million people to engage with their audience. VideoScribe is just one of a range of tools designed to make it as easy as possible for companies to tell their story their way. We’re working on lots of exciting and varied ideas and have big plans for 2015.

What are some of the key challenges you are facing?

Our office location. We’re lucky to be based in beautiful North Somerset but this does make recruiting world class talent into the business our biggest single problem. I wanted to provide a working environment where every member of the team can be the absolute best they can be. This includes free lunch every day as well as an unlimited supply of chocolate!

How has the economic climate impacted on your activities?

Since the launch of VideoScribe, there’s been a recession somewhere in the world! We work with over 130 countries, which limits the impact that economic problems in one particular country might have.  I think it focuses the mind on delivering real value and making sure what you offer continues to have an impact for users.

Is there enough support for tech start ups?

I don’t believe there should be any great barriers for technology start-ups. It wasn’t that long ago that you needed capital to buy web servers and other technology. But those days are largely over. Now you can usually get started very quickly with very low costs. This has helped create a very competitive and exciting worldwide marketplace. For me personally, I needed to learn by going through the journey and failing. If I’d had financial investment early on I would have really got myself in trouble.

How has Moon Consulting supported you and your business?

I first met Vanessa and her company when we were neighbours in her business park. Moon have worked with me and supported my businesses for over 10 years. I feel Moon Consulting’s key strengths are very much focused on senior market – they’ve successfully sourced our Operations Director and Marketing Manager.

What do you think makes a good business leader?

It’s a great question. Authenticity and having a real passion for what you are doing. You have to be clear about why you’re leading and put forward a really strong vision. The hardest part is probably establishing the right team to make it happen.

What advice would you give to a newly appointed Company Director?

You have the opportunity of being able to think big picture, step out from the day-to-day and see things on a conceptual level. Take advantage of that opportunity regularly.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Family life is very important to me. I have three children who I love to spend time with. I also enjoy watching a wide variety of films.

Who is your hero/inspiration?

Jesus is my one true hero. I consider him to be the perfect role model. I also have to admire both Walt Disney and Thomas Edison who both are known for never giving up in the face of great adversity. It’s amazing that the lightbulb is still the world’s most recognised symbol for ideas.

What are you Reading?

I’m currently reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. It’s a big read and although I don’t agree with the author on many levels it’s definitely an interesting mix of fiction and philosophy. 

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