Titus Sharpe is CEO of Expert Market, the UK’s largest B2B marketplace, alongside a multitude of other business facets. The businesses operate across 120 countries, with offices situated in London, U.K and Texas, U.S. Interested in comparing his own entrepreneurial journey to that of other entrepreneurs, we created a new series: CEO to CEO, allowing Titus to interview entrepreneurs from a wealth of sectors and gain insight into their experiences.
The Birth of Mumsnet
Mumsnet is the leading website for all things parenting, with articles and chat forums discussing everything from pregnancy and birth all the way to food, lifestyle and money. Justine Roberts credits serendipity as to the creation of her business, which was borne subsequent to a disastrous, misinformed family holiday. Justine spotted a niche for a pool of information, advice and understanding from like-minded mothers in the know and in search of the know.
She explains that her overarching vision is ‘all about making parents’ lives easier’, largely through UGC (user generated content) offering digital solutions. Parents can read articles, pose questions or offer responses, resulting in a hub of social interaction.
Justine recalls it wasn’t always that easy, admitting to posting under various guises to encourage interactions. Now, however, operating a flourishing forum, she explains how the Mumsnet community have helped women, not just through building confidence and offering guidance, but also advising on much more serious matters. Justine tells of ectopic pregnancies that have been discovered due to this cornucopia of knowledge, sowing a poignancy into the foundations of the Mumsnet brand.
The Moral Obligation
Titus questions Justine on her moral obligation, essentially holding overarching responsibility for the advice doled out to 9.4 million users, however she credits the sheer volume of responses as a filter for bad advice. She claims to be able to sleep at night due to a ‘very large, very opinionated, very wise group as the Mumsnet users are’ and explains that bad advice will rarely make it through as the general community hold disdain for trolls.
Unfortunately, a common byproduct of a higher profile, is the need for higher levels of security. As businesses become more successful they become a more substantial target for the likes of spammers, trolls and hackers. Despite some tough experiences with cyber security, resulting in a visit from a SWAT team, and the leaking of customers’ personal details, Justine remains positive explaining that their cyber security is now stronger than ever.
Justine explains of tribulations with funders being resistant to allow her to continue to lead the business, should they offer funding. ‘My advice is there is no one better than you to run your own business’. Firmly footed in the knowledge that those who coin their concepts, are those best-equipped to nurture them. Justine touches on the need for a wider pool of female funders, to represent the 50% female half of the population.
And finally, the best thing about Mumsnet? Its altruism. Justine preaches purpose over profits, which in turn has ensured her a huge, reliable social community of contributors feeding the network. She affirms that just one of their KPIs (key performance indicators) is monetary, measuring success through more qualitative avenues.