Simon Hill is the CEO and founder of Wazoku, a leading high-growth B2B software company that powers collaborative innovation within medium and large companies globally. In 2014 Simon won the Guardian SME Business Leader of the Year award and was recognised by Crowdsourcing Week as one of the top 15 most influential people in the high-growth crowdsourcing sector. An experienced entrepreneur, advisor, public speaker, investor and author, Simon was part of the early team at the hugely successful Huddle and also worked at PwC and Deloitte.
What prompted you to build a business around innovation?
I’ve been fortunate to have worked for very large, mature organisations such as PwC; and also with a number of small start-ups through the journey from business idea to delivery and growth. In all of these environments ideas are everywhere. It struck me very early that if ‘innovate or die’ is true then we ought really to be placing a lot more emphasis, focus and structure to the source of those innovative ideas… and so Wazoku as an idea was born.
What value do businesses get out of running innovation programme?
I could go on for ages on this question, but I only have 106 seconds! A successful innovation programme will help businesses to unearth, prioritise and select the best ideas, and will also build a culture in which ideas permeate and are encouraged from anyone, across the organisation. As such, an innovation programme can then start to touch on talent management including reward and recognition and employee mobility. Having a culture that values ideas and innovation and makes it accessible to everyone through the right tools is a huge positive!
Any particular successes you can mention?
We work with some incredible organisations. We have TV shows that the BBC have brought to air through their iCreate version of our platform, for example. Wazoku.com has loads of case study information told by our awesome clients; the videos from Aviva, Waitrose and others are definitely worth watching!
It is now integrated with the MS suite. What’s the advantage of that?
We can all have an idea at any time. If you have to hold the thought, go to a web application, submit that idea etc. then we risk missing out on the best ideas. So we work closely with leading enterprise platforms to bring our powerful innovation engine as an integrated feature within their toolset. Our Office 365 integration is one such example and is great for our customers who can now submit ideas, attach documents, and interact with ideas directly from within the Office 365 suite.
Things seem to be going very well. What was it like to pick up the Guardian award?
The award was a big surprise and we had a great evening after collecting it! We’ve won a few awards over the years and they’re all great recognition for the work the whole team at Wazoku are doing. It’s hard work starting a new company and building a pretty new sector – so being recognised for all the effort and success is amazing.
Finally, why Wazoku??!
Wazoku is Swahili for Great Idea. There are a variety of reasons from a personal level why Swahili, but time is ticking and I’ll save that for the book!