Tell us about yourself?
I’m John McGuire, I have worked in the software development industry for over 35 years, with experience within both large corporates as well as small startups. Since 1995 I have been the founder and managing director of Pulsion Technology. Recently, have been involved with a startup product called Requiment which is developed by FieldImp (Pulsion’s sister product company).
Throughout my career I have been responsible for successfully delivering hundreds of digital solutions across many public and private sector organisations. Even after all this time, I maintain a keen interest in software development and AI and I am particularly passionate about improving how digital solutions are developed.
What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?
Being an entrepreneur has taught me invaluable lessons that extend beyond business. First, resilience – facing challenges head-on, learning from failures, and persisting despite setbacks. Second, adaptability – being open to change and seising opportunities in dynamic markets. Third, the importance of ongoing learning and the feedback loop between learning and adaptation to achieve goals. Overall, entrepreneurship has been a transformative journey that continually encourages growth, innovation, and a deeper understanding of oneself and the world.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
As someone who grew organically from a £1000 investment I would take more chances. It’s far easier to spend someone else’s money than your own so organic growth can be a bit more conservative than the ‘all or bust’ investment led business. Spending your own money can make the risk real which is not a bad thing but it can limit the risk you are willing to take. Having said that we have taken more risk as the business has become more established and the resources are there to handle the impact of managed failure.
A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?
I think I’ve managed to handle the work/life balance. What is the point of being successful in business if you are unsuccessful in relationships or family life? Everything is a trade-off. Business is a long journey so thinking you can drop your personal life to grow a business for a few years may be a mistake as your personal life might not be there when you emerge from your business building phase.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
I had always been interested in science and technology since a young age. Pulsion Technology is a digital transformation business which helps organisations increase their efficiency or profitability through technology. I read ‘Re-engineering the Corporation’ by Michael Hammer and James Champy. It really was a digital transformation book before the phrase digital transformation was coined. I also found it fascinating how organisations optimised using technology. It reminds me of sport where you are always using different techniques to improve and beat your competition.
Our Requiment product startup is really an extension of that interest. Software engineering is very inefficient and involves a lot of high cost, manual effort. The industry does a terrible job of delivering projects on time and budget. Much of this stems from the low standard of requirements for new system development. The industry wastes billions due to poor requirements and their consequences. It seemed obvious that we should improve this and by utilising artificial intelligence to allow better definition of requirements we are seeing results in less project overruns. The idea is not just to make a better product but to actually change how we define new digital systems as an industry which, in it’s own small way, is exciting.
What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?
Our requirements gathering software has several unique AI-enabled features and acts like an expert asking questions on the system being developed. Looking at the market for requirements tools many just allow people to record their ideas rather than guiding the user through that process. I think we will see more systems, in various industries, approach problems in this way. We are doing it with software requirements which seems to be very underserved.
How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?
As a start-up for the Requiment product we are still experimenting with the market. The product is a Software as a Service (SaaS) product so promotion is more about marketing as users find the system online and sign up. It’s about providing enough information to allow the user to evaluate and buy the product. It’s a vending machine in a virtual sense so where is the salesperson for the products you’d buy from a vending machine. There isn’t one !
I am definitely not a sales person but from my experience, sales are more about marketing. If you look at companies like Apple then the product can sell itself. People go into an Apple store and don’t really need persuaded to buy as the strength of the product and good marketing has already done that job.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your business, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest job so far has been to make a product which aligns to the market and actually does solve a problem. We are still in this phase but we use our own Requiment product in our own digital transformation business so we know it aligns and solves many problems we face ourselves. I do many product demos at this stage myself so I understand the challenges faced by our potential customers and the feedback has been good plus we have learned of some gaps that clients want to fill.
What do you consider are the main strengths of operating your business in Scotland?
To be honest I don’t want to get into a discussion on how good Scotland is for business. The truth is we receive offers to move our business to another country a few times every year and many countries have very business friendly environments. Scotland obviously is where I have lived all my life so it’s familiar. Personally, I don’t get the feeling the Government really cares about business in Scotland. It’s just there. We seem to make money despite the environment rather than due to it.
We speak English which obviously helps with inward investment from US businesses where many high value jobs are provided.
Scotland has always had a good education system historically but in a world of digital and AI our maths skills are dropping down the global rankings. We have good Universities, but others are catching up and overtaking. No-one can be complacent, so whilst Scotland is a good place for inward investment from US companies, it is not a great place for startups or indigenous companies.
What if any are weaknesses of operating your business within Scotland?
There are a few weaknesses operating in Scotland. We have a shortage of skills in the digital sector which is a reflection on our falling standards in education. We also seem obsessed with inward investment rather than growth of indigenous companies. With inward investment we become a cost-effective source of labour for large multinationals. However, with that strategy then those same companies will either retire to their home country when times get tough or look for an even more cost-effective location. This obsession with inward investment causes issues with indigenous companies having access to skilled staff as many are working for large multinational corporates.
Generally, the environment in Scotland also seems to be anti-business, or at least not pro-business, when compared with more entrepreneurial countries like the US or UAE. That’s a very personal opinion.
What influence does being part of the UK have on your business?
Many of our clients are UK-based companies so being part of the UK gives us a bigger market to sell to. I wish we were also still in the EU as I believe that trade barriers, however small, impact the flow of trade and ultimately jobs. Having said that, in business, you just have to deal with whatever situation arises so Scotland, UK, or EU we just have to deal with the situation as it is.
Being an internet company who can sell instantly worldwide certainly helps us cross borders wherever they may be.
What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years with your business?
We want to grow significantly and sell our products worldwide in the next 5 years and hopefully change, in some small way, how the digital industry operates in terms of building software and digital systems.
How has BREXIT impacted your business (if at all)?
As a digital company Brexit hasn’t really had an impact.