Founder Stories: Matt Cayton, WorkSavi
June 26th, 2023
Matt Cayton is an award-winning project manager with a 30-year track record spanning various industries, from established giants to audacious start-ups. Having navigated the treacherous waters of large contractors and major consultancies, he now proudly wears the hat of founder and CEO of WorkSavi— the most agile tool in the market when it comes to true project management.
With a wealth of experience leading projects for FTSE 100 businesses, Matt has spearheaded £billion+ roll-out programs for esteemed retailers, residential developments, mixed-use schemes, infrastructure projects, banks, and a major new hospital for the NHS.
Beyond his professional endeavours, Matt finds solace in his loving family—a wife and three kids who reside in vibrant North London and enjoys spending time with his friends and wider family in his hometown of Northampton. He is a keen cyclist and has attacked several of the most challenging rides across Europe.
Through WorkSavi, Matt is always pushing to make a profound impact within the SaaS project management space. He empowers others to revolutionise the way businesses prioritise and realise the untapped benefits their projects have to offer, changing the game, one project at a time.
What progress has been made at WorkSavi?
WorkSavi is a bootstrap SaaS PPM solution that was launched in October 2020 gaining their first customer in 2021.
As this venture has been self-financed, the last two-and-a-half years and have not passed without challenges. But the forecast for 2023 is showing a profit and so far, are on track to achieve that, making all the hard work worthwhile.
Now is the time to bring greater experience into the small team, prepare an enticing proposition and seek investment.
The highlights can be summarised as follows:
- A profitable business without any funding to date or any Sales or Marketing input.
- 100% customer retention since launch in October 2020!
- All achieved with Matt and two developers. The team is now being developed to scale.
- The most aligned software for our target audience, with each demo converting to a purchase, highlighting its appeal & VP.
- Developed specifically for property, project & programme managers, multi-functional teams, and contractors, all delivering a high volume of projects across multiple customers, portfolios and frameworks needing powerful insight led reporting.
- Global brands use WorkSavi, such as WHSmith, Marks & Spencer, Rank & Royal Papworth hospital.
How are WorkSavi exploiting the market gap in SaaS PPM?
Matt has over 30 years of experience working within WorkSavi’s target audience, as a contractor, consultant and on the client side for some of the UK’s leading companies. It was here that Matt identified a clear need to address.
With the technology and tools that are typically adopted across these sectors he found the common theme of ‘square tech pegs in round project management holes’. Typically adopted solutions fail to deliver.
Businesses rely on limited tools like MS Office & other unfit tools to support their teams, hindering their ability to deliver projects efficiently. They cannot keep track on all activity in all locations or prioritise projects and resources.
In some examples, he found major solutions provided by IBM, Oracle and others take too long to mobilise and £millions to onboard. These products are too rigid and fail to offer true flexibility or provide visibility of all activity across multiple workflows.
With both extremes, managing multiple projects at scale, across various locations is tough. It's challenging to prioritise, coordinate resources, and deliver value. Budgets and timelines suffer, affecting the bottom line.
What inspired Matt to start WorkSavi? Was there a specific moment or event that ignited his entrepreneurial drive?
As a project manager, running his own consultancy, Matt witnessed the challenges faced by property, project, and program managers, along with multi-functional teams and contractors. He recognised the immense potential that adopting a truly aligned software solution could deliver particularly with governance & compliance, with the management of change, priorities, budgets, resources, and risk.
The realisation that existing tools were falling short in meeting the specific requirements of these professionals became a driving force behind the creation of WorkSavi. The desire to empower businesses to streamline operations and leverage data-driven decision-making, became the bedrock of the venture.
It was a combination of industry insights, first-hand experiences, and a relentless pursuit of innovation that inspired Matt and his team to conceive and launch WorkSavi, with the goal of revolutionising project portfolio management and delivering exceptional value to their clients.
What was the biggest challenge encountered when building WorkSavi?
Building WorkSavi has been an incredible journey, but it has not come without its fair share of challenges. One of the biggest hurdles faced was due to self-financing the venture. Matt had to meticulously manage limited resources while striving to develop a high-quality product that would truly make a difference.
As a bootstrapped company, WorkSavi did not have the luxury of initial funding that many start-ups enjoy. The business relied on organic growth and had to find a delicate balance between product development, acquiring customers, and managing operational expenses—all within the confines of available capital.
And without sales & marketing support he had to get creative in generating awareness, reaching the target audience, and effectively communicating the value proposition of WorkSavi. It required him to think outside the box and come up with innovative approaches to spread the word about the solution.
Matt listened closely to industry insights and valued every bit of feedback from his customers. It allowed him to fine-tune the product, optimise their processes, and discover inventive ways to attract and retain customers.
Were there any unexpected turning points or breakthrough moments that had a profound impact on WorkSavi’s trajectory? How were those opportunities leveraged?
The initial build of WorkSavi faced significant challenges and did not achieve the desired level of success. The product exhibited rigidity, inflexibility, and lacked the sleek and appealing qualities necessary for market acceptance. However, a pivotal turning point occurred with the introduction of the lead developer, who has also served as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) throughout the development process.
The contribution of the lead developer proved to be transformational for WorkSavi. Their expertise brought forth new technologies and frameworks that were crucial in improving the product&aspos;s functionality and user experience. The technical skills they possessed perfectly complemented Matt’s subject matter expertise in project management, resulting in the development of the robust and refined version of WorkSavi that exists today.
This experience has underscored the realisation that being a subject matter expert (SME) in project management alone does not suffice when it comes to building a disruptive product in the project management space. The inclusion of complementary technical skills is essential for the success of such a venture. By recognising the importance of combining subject matter expertise with technical prowess, WorkSavi has been able to overcome previous shortcomings and position itself for future success.
What valuable lessons have the WorkSavi team learned that can be passed onto MTP’s readers?
Embracing the potential of early investment can be a game-changer. While bootstrapping has its merits, seeking early investment opens doors to vital resources and support, propelling your growth. It empowers you to scale operations, expand your team, and fuel your marketing and sales efforts. Early investors bring more than just capital; they bring expertise and connections that can catapult your business to new heights.
Build a powerful network
Surround yourself with a circle of mentors, advisors, and fellow entrepreneurs who inspire and guide you. Networking unlocks a world of possibilities, connecting you with potential investors, strategic partnerships, and collaborative ventures. Engage in industry events, join vibrant communities, and actively seek opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals. Your network becomes a catalyst, propelling your SaaS business towards success.
Ensure your SaaS product addresses a significant problem and fulfils a critical need in the market. Listen attentively to your customers, speak to your potential customers even before you have a product, this is so important. Empathise with their pain points and continue to relentlessly iterate your product to deliver exceptional value. Invest in market research, gather user feedback, and analyse data to refine and stay ahead of the competition. Let the pursuit of product-market fit be the driving force behind your success.
Customer success as the heartbeat
The happiness and satisfaction of your customers is vital. Place their success at the forefront by providing exceptional experiences, delivering outstanding support, and consistently improving your product based on their feedback. Do this better than your competitors, be present and get to know them. Seize every opportunity to expand their value through upselling and cross-selling. Your customers fuel your growth and reputation.
Focus and resilience
Be prepared and know what you are getting in to. I have heard being a founder is likened to ‘playing an everlasting game of chess, where the pieces keep moving, the board is on fire, and no one knows the rules.’ Building a SaaS business requires unwavering focus and resilience. Stay committed to your vision, even when challenges arise. Celebrate each milestone along the way, no matter how small. Embrace adaptability, ensure failures are captured as valuable lessons. Continuously refine your strategies based on market feedback. Remember, this journey is an enduring marathon that demands perseverance and passion.
Work-life balance is often a challenge for early entrepreneurs. How did Matt navigate this and maintain his wellbeing while building WorkSavi?
It is tricky. Maintaining work-life balance as an early entrepreneur is undoubtedly challenging. The level of effort and commitment required to build a business can be overwhelming. To add to the complexity, Matt’s wife has similar demands as she serves on the Board of a major global corporation.
In their experience, investing in some home assistance has been beneficial, if budget permits. Having support with day-to-day household activities can alleviate some of the pressures as they often are required to work into the evenings. Again, if budget allows, consider outsourcing administrative tasks at work to free up more time for focusing on driving the business forward.
Prioritising personal wellbeing has been a game-changer for Matt. He has found that exercise serves as a powerful remedy, both for his physical health and maintaining a positive mindset. Cycling and visiting the local gym in Muswell Hill are his preferred activities. However, finding time during the day became increasingly challenging as he took on the role of a founder, so exercise did not happen, negatively impacting his mental and physical health.
A simple shift made a significant difference. He now dedicates the early morning hours, from 5:30 am to 6:30 am, to exercise. This change does not interfere with his working day, and it has transformed his overall health. Starting the day with exercise provides him with more energy, enthusiasm, and mental clarity for the tasks ahead.
What advice can Matt give aspiring entrepreneurs? Are there key principles or strategies that are essential for success?
“To aspiring entrepreneurs” who are considering starting their own companies, I would like to share some personal advice that I have gathered from my own entrepreneurial journey:
Pursue a business idea that aligns with your passions and interests. Building a company requires immense dedication and perseverance. Being genuinely enthusiastic about what you are doing will fuel your motivation and help you overcome challenges along the way.
Instead of focusing solely on your product or service, concentrate on understanding and solving a real problem that customers are facing. By immersing yourself in their pain points, you will create a solution that truly resonates with them and addresses their needs.
Do not strive for perfection right from the start. Embrace the concept of Minimum Viable Product (MVP), which means delivering the core value of your offering with minimal features. This allows you to validate your idea early, gather feedback, and iterate based on customer input, ensuring that you are building something that truly adds value.
Seek out mentors, advisors, and fellow entrepreneurs who can provide guidance and support. Connect with individuals who have experience in your industry and can offer insights and advice when you need it most. Surround yourself with those that have a positive mindset and will push you to do better and be better. Remove from your circle any negativity and drama, they drain your energy and productivity. Building a strong support network can make all the difference in your entrepreneurial journey.
Building a company can be all-consuming, but it is crucial to prioritise your well-being and find time for activities that recharge you mentally and physically, whether it's exercising, spending time with loved ones, or pursuing hobbies. Taking care of yourself will not only improve your overall happiness but also enhance your productivity and decision-making abilities.
Failure is a natural part of the entrepreneurial journey. Instead of being discouraged by setbacks, view them as valuable learning experiences. Reflect on what went wrong, adapt your strategies, and use those lessons to grow stronger and more resilient. Trust in your abilities and have confidence in your vision. Surround yourself with positivity remind yourself that you have “what it takes to succeed”.
Are there any exciting initiatives or projects in WorkSavi’s pipeline?
The short-term plans for WorkSavi involve securing investment to focus on team expansion and product improvement, enabling the company to be ready to scale.
Subsequently, the aim is to extend WorkSavi&aspos;s market presence beyond local boundaries to serve a global customer base. To accommodate the growing user demands associated with an expanding customer base, WorkSavi intends to invest in robust infrastructure and scalability measures, ensuring a dependable, secure, and seamless user experience regardless of scale or location.
Additionally, WorkSavi is actively exploring possibilities to integrate with established project management and collaboration tools and platforms. This strategic integration would enhance the value proposition of WorkSavi, allowing users to streamline their workflows by leveraging familiar and widely used tools.
The team at WorkSavi is highly enthusiastic about the future and the opportunities that lie ahead. Recognising the potential to innovate and disrupt existing industries, WorkSavi intends to leverage technology, data analytics, automation, and artificial intelligence. By understanding pain points, market gaps, and emerging trends, the company aims to revolutionise traditional processes, enhance operational efficiency, and develop new business models that deliver exceptional value to customers.
Through these initiatives, WorkSavi aspires to establish itself as a leader in the industry, catering to global customers with innovative solutions and addressing evolving market needs. The company remains committed to agility, continuously evaluating, and adapting its plans to effectively navigate the entrepreneurial journey.