Ian Jackson – CEO, Enshored

Ian Jackson is the CEO of Enshored, an outsourcing firm purpose-built to solve the challenges related to scaling disruptive, high growth businesses. Enshored delivers proven results by employing a unique agile operating framework and the most highly skilled associates in the industry. Ian’s role at Enshored sees him drive client acquisition efforts as well as providing direction and oversight to Enshored’s operational leadership. Enshored currently helps over 70 startups, scale-ups, and mid-market companies with outsourced support across customer service, back office, content moderation, and sales enablement.

A visionary and respected thought leader, Ian knows that offering real value to outsourcing clients – value that is transformative rather than just transactional – is the real game-changer.

Prior to founding Enshored, Ian worked for twenty years in financial technology ventures, leading global businesses for Dealogic, Reuters, BARRA, Multex, and Fitch.

Tell us about the early days of Enshored.

Like any start-up, the early days of Enshored were a challenge. We were a self-funded outsourcing company with no clients on day one, and needed to work out how to get the business moving. We were certain we would not look to expensive salespeople to bring in clients, so my co-founder and I tried a number of different ways to get new clients. Jeff and I focused a lot on working methodically through our business and personal networks. We’d both built out great networks through our time in prior jobs, undergrad, and MBAs. I also was really interested in using blogging and thought leadership as a way to find new business. We tried to stick close to areas where we had interests and good credentials. This meant a focus on logistics for Jeff and FinTech for me.

Our first clients came on board about six months after we started, coming in through Jeff’s personal network and a blog article I wrote for a FinTech blog. We then transitioned from finding clients to operationalizing the business. We needed to quickly learn how to build out efficient facilities in the Philippines to operate from. This was a challenge. On one hand, we didn’t have a great network out there, and found some people gave advice only insofar as it was in their personal interest (by this I mean people tried to take advantage of us), and on the other hand, the Philippines is a bureaucratic place to operate and things didn’t move as quickly as we’d like (there is no Amazon to buy computers, for instance, you need to go to the mall).

The next challenge is that our early success didn’t replicate as quickly as we’d hoped, and we kind of got into a low growth zombie state. It was frustrating – we couldn’t move the top line quickly enough, and it felt like our early tactics (network and blogging) were not going to be enough to sustain us. We then looked at other avenues, including adding a third partner to the business, as well as referral agreements and more aggressive cold outbound efforts. What finally got us moving more quickly was a combination of client referrals (we get 40% of our new clients through referrals) as well as some really solid organic growth with existing clients.

Today, we are recognized as a capable and flexible outsourcing partner to disruptive, high-growth businesses. We have plenty of references to call on, a deep operations leadership team, and have come out the other side of some of the challenges of operating in the Philippines. We show strong loyalty to our people, our suppliers, and try to always be adding value to our clients. This has led to three years in a row of consistently doubling the business, and we are now around 600 people operating from three locations, and looking at how we double again next year. It obviously gets harder as you grow bigger to keep doubling, but at the same time, it feels like our flywheel is turning nicely now and we are beginning to see a stronger brand to help underpin sales to larger and larger disruptive companies.

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Interviews are conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.

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