Here our chat with Sara West, Chief Commercial Officer at W2 Global Data.
Disrupt SW: As an intro, what does W2 Global Data do, what stage are you at currently and what makes the business and your offering unique?
Sara West: W2 provides a wide range of screening tools to help organisations conduct regulatory Know Your Customer (KYC), Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Fraud prevention due diligence. Services include ID and Age verification, PEP & Sanctions screening and device location or reputation management. Our service is not limited to a specific country, we operate on a global scale.
What differentiates us from our competitors is that we have partnered with some of the world’s largest data providers to ensure our customers get a selection of data providers with simple access to reliable information all from one contract with W2. We own our products and offer flexibility and configuration for access to different data sources. We can add new data sources as and when required and checks are carried out in an agreed logical sequence that makes the most commercial sense for each client. W2 solutions require minimal implementation and simplify how organisations conduct screening automatically at the frequency the business requires. There is resilience and a back-up process to allow for alternative data sources if others are unavailable. We also offer ongoing monitoring through our innovative BSMART™ product putting us in the enviable position of being able to offer a truly end to end solution.
We are currently going through significant growth following funding we received back in April. We have expanded our team in recent months and are currently redeveloping our offering, managing the onboarding of new key clients, establishing the business and brand and, to top it all, planning a move to new offices by the end of December. A challenging agenda!
Disrupt SW: Speaking of People, can you share some challenges you have faced, are facing or are anticipating around up-scaling and growing your team? And are there any top tips you could share with those faced with the same issues?
Sara West: One of the biggest challenges through a period of rapid change is keeping employees informed and building a close-knit team. As the team is growing, you need to keep internal communication channels open and finding ways of doing it as effectively with a team of 30 as you did with a team of 5. Our move to new offices in Newport Gwent in December is designed to coincide with addressing this concern, moving two smaller offices to one Head office. We feel that bringing the sales and technical teams together is key to building a strong business and making W2 a fun and exciting place to work.
Disrupt SW: Moving to Product, what is your approach to understanding and addressing implications of change around you?
Sara West: The FinTech sector is an area of constant change. New regulations now encompass businesses having to comply that were previously outside of regulation. For example, the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive, which became law in June this year, for the first time includes online gambling activities within its remit.
We are constantly looking to update our products to provide the most straightforward and cost-effective solutions for our clients. We listen to our customers and what the market is asking for to help us evolve and stay ahead of the competition. We are currently going through a big transformation project, planning to launch a new platform in 2018 simplifying further our existing proposition.
Disrupt SW: Do you have any tips to ensure focus of planning and strategies on opportunities, options and possibilities when faced with change?
Sara West: The most important thing about change is to embrace it and not be paralysed by it. Change in regulation, for example, creates opportunities for W2. Our team is growing as we plan for future changes that we already know are coming down the line. Onboarding key people to help you manage any change ahead of time is crucial. W2 prides itself on customer management and have invested in hiring more Key Account Managers, Technical support as well as bolstering the already strong project team. More recruitment to follow in 2018 so watch this space!
Disrupt SW: And then Potential, can you share some challenges or barriers you had to overcome to create a Product / Offering with potential?
Sara West: When Warren, our CEO, met his co-founder back in 2008, they came together through a common goal in recognising a gap in the market for automated eKYC, online Anti-Money Laundering and Sanction & PEP background checks, all from one supplier with an easy to use customer interface. So, identifying an opportunity or gap in the market and finding a way to fulfil it was the first challenge. The challenge continues today. W2 strive to be one step ahead and understand the market that we serve and what clients will be required to check against in the future. W2 looks to bring new services to market and make them available to our existing client base ahead of time so our clients can be comforted that they remain compliant all from one existing integration into W2.
Disrupt SW: And finally, is there one piece of wisdom you could pass on and share with those that are part of a Disrupter Business...
Sara West: As our CEO and founder Warren will tell you, the most important thing a person should know before starting a business is that it will cost 3 times as much and take 3 times longer than you think, and you possibly know this already!
If the product you offer is needed and it is filling a gap in the market that currently does not exist, then it is sure to be worth the effort and patience. In my experience, Customer Service is the key to building a business that employees are proud to work for and that is successful.
Nothing better than being able to share a client’s glowing reference.