LDC Top 50 2022
When Oliver Shaw took over Manchester-based Kalibrate as CEO in 2019, it was a technology firm operating in a niche market – providing petrol-pricing software to fuel retailers. “I’m agnostic about failure – if we try something and it doesn’t work, that’s okay. As long as we learn to do something else,” he says.
Three years and three acquisitions on, he has more than doubled revenues to £58million and transformed Kalibrate into a location intelligence business, working with brands such as Papa Johns, Claire’s Accessories and Home Depot. “The company has diametrically changed,” he says.
I’m agnostic about failure – if we try something and it doesn’t work, that’s okay. As long as we learn to do something else.”
What made you join Kalibrate?
I’d just come out of a job at Iris Software. I was heading up a division but my ambition was to be a standalone CEO. I was looking for a business that was focused on AI and predictive analytics – at the cutting edge. With Kalibrate, I could see the growth potential. I felt I could make a difference.
What were the challenges?
The business thought of itself as the market leader. It didn’t really listen to customers and it wasn’t innovative around the strategy. It was too confident and too comfortable. I stood up in front of the team and I told them the truth: the business was experiencing a high cash burn and our Net Promoter Score was minus 11. We had to change.
Where does your ambition come from?
We moved around a lot when I was growing up and I was bullied. I was an outsider. I did a business studies degree with a one-year industrial placement. One of the bosses took me out for lunch and said, “You can go as far as you want in your career.” That was the first time somebody showed that they believed in me. It was the making of me. I made it my target to be a Director by the age of 31 – and then I really started to learn.