Whiteknights at the University of Reading is a home for many; students, academics; small businesses, even ducks and swans. One organisation that truly considers Whiteknights as home is a business called Foundation SP, a business based at the enterprise centre in Early gate.
Foundation SP is an award-winning Technology Company that provides dynamic technology solutions. They operate in areas such as Consultancy for strategy and change, websites, social and design services.
FSP often hold workshops and insight days which are attended by Henley students so, we wanted to get to know more about both CEO, Simon Grosse and Foundation SP.
Firstly, can you tell us what inspired you to create Foundation SP?
‘I have always valued freedom, and after working my way up in various organisations to management and director positions, having that freedom to do things the way I wanted became even more appealing.
‘Being able to create an organisation with a unique identity that uses values as a motivating influence was definitely a strong motivator for me. In most organisations, there tends to be this idea that values are a cost to performance, at Foundation SP we have really put the “and” back in values, performance and results.’
Who do you admire as a business leader and why?
‘I would probably say Bill Gates because of how he founded Microsoft, and I think the path that he’s gone down is very commendable. Being one of the wealthiest people, but giving the amount he gives, I really do admire him.’
Do FSP have any exciting projects planned for 2018?
‘We are launching our own Pulse 360 performance app which allows companies to digitalise and streamline how they gain feedback from their employees. We are also expanding internationally, potentially to Poland due to their technology culture. We are hiring 12 people and have a projected growth of 30%. So with all this in hand, 2018 looks to be a really exciting year for us!’
Sounds like you’ve got an exciting year ahead!
Can you share some of the proudest awards and achievements for Foundation SP?
‘We have won some amazing awards such as the UK small business best workplace award for 2016 and 2017. We also came 3rd in Europe for the same award.
‘I’d say our proudest moment would be celebrating our 5th Anniversary, where we donated all the profit from consultancy fees made in one day to a children’s charity. This amounted to £15,000. As well as this, we invited those who the charity support in to our business for a day and did fun activities with them. Giving back is a big part of our ethos at Foundation SP and it was so nice to see what our efforts were contributing towards.’
It’s nice to see how FSP really put their values in to practice.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own company now?
‘Get as many different people, from a diverse range of backgrounds and areas to give you constructive and honest feedback – people who will challenge your idea. Also, be responsive to those who give you feedback, not wearing your ‘happy ears’ so to speak.
‘To succeed in starting your business, you either need to be unique, or be the best. It’s vital to identify which category you fall in to.’
That’s great advice!
How have both Foundation SP and students benefited from Foundation SP being based on campus?
‘Being on campus provides a vibrant and engaging community for both the academic world of Henley, and for a very active small to medium sized business community. This has helped us in growing and developing business relationships, as well as allowed us to run and recruit 3 interns. We are also benefiting from first-hand PhD research being conducted by a student on our business and those in it, which is thrilling for us.
‘I think being able to help students in deciding which path they will go is really rewarding for us too. We’ve been a part of this journey through running workshops for students where we help them to develop their non-academic skills and their core values.
‘We have also hired our first permanent Henley student in a part time role, which is exciting for both us and the students.’
What do you believe to be the key traits and values students need to be successful in the modern workplace?
‘It’s so important that students develop a passion and unrelenting enthusiasm for what they decide to do, a degree is very important and will get you in the door, but traits and skills such as communication, responsiveness, enthusiasm about their work and what they want to achieve are the things you can’t ‘learn’.
‘The ability to utilise backdoor opportunities, through creating and utilising a network says a lot about a person. Employers look for individuals who want to learn and are passionate – being brave and bold in what you do as a young person can really set individuals apart from the rest.’
If you want to get more involved with events and networking opportunities to meet people like Simon, check out the Reading University Business Society, and Henley Careers and their activities.