IdeaMensch: An interview with Mark Allardyce

Written on 08/01/2018

"Believe in yourself, not what others say or do"

Mark Allardyce is Founder & Group Chairman of Envilope, the World’s First Blockchain Postal Service. A 30-year software industry veteran, Mark has run many software development and new media production companies that have created countless apps used by millions of people across the world. He sold his first company to a fully listed PLC in 2000. Since then he’s continued to exit or license to a variety of channels. Clients include: BP, Shell, HSBC, NAB, Cadbury, CICM, Airports, NHS, Police, Fire, and Ambulance. As a UK Crown Government Approved G-Cloud Supplier, Mark has supplied the Cabinet Office, Foreign Office, Business Development Office, and HMRC.

Where did the idea for Envilope come from?

We’re serial startup specialists. And as anyone playing in this space will tell you, it’s not a place for the fainthearted. In the early days when things are tough and you’re doing endless funding rounds, listening to VC’s continually requesting the things you don’t have and blustering once you produce them. You need to be able to track and control your communications. And, apart from lead underwear, Envilope was a product that we really needed. It wasn’t available, so we developed our own solution to an age-old issue.

Envilope is a virtual envelope in which you can lock emails, digital files, or secure messages containing text, images, audio, video – anything that can be sent online. Envilope gives senders unprecedented privacy and control over their content, including who views it, when, and where. Only the intended recipient can open an Envilope, and only after accepting the sender’s terms and conditions. If a user ever suspects a breach or regrets a message previously sent, he or she can vaporize the content with a click, regardless of how many times it has been shared or forwarded and fully restore that vaporized content at a later date.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I start early, end very late and love every minute in between.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I love every aspect of the creative process and have been creating services and solutions for over 30 years. I have a brilliant team that’s been together for over 20 years, so we kind of get most things intuitively and each of us knows where we all fit into the overall jigsaw. So, with experience (and luck), we have produced countless apps and services that have touched millions of lives around the world.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The funding shift in capitalizing startups, a long-awaited disruption.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Tenacity and persistence.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Believe in yourself, not what others say or do. Trust your gut instinct, with hindsight, it’s proven to never have been wrong.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

“It will launch on time”. No, to be honest, no-one remembers how fast you did something, only how well.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Never give up.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Don’t spend all you hours in an ivory tower developing, only communicating with prospects online. Get out, talk to people and listen, carefully, to actual users and then sell them what they want.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Beware of legal and tax experts setting up expensive and elaborate structures, that are clearly overkill. In the early days, keep it simple. And, remember that if you hire a Rottweiler be ready for it to turn on you. Every now and then when you take one on the chin, get up, smile, and go back in again.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Drinking just too much Bassus Pinot Noir at the Mandarin in Barcelona (try it).

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

When Skype first came out it revolutionized the existing telephony model and I’m still grateful and loyal, I use it most days.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

What is your favorite quote?

I love “Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original proportions” by Oliver Wendell Holmes. But recently, while working with self-professed blockchain ’experts’, I find myself paraphrasing the author James Baldwin, “I can’t hear what you’re saying, because I can see what you’re doing”