She has gone on to found her second business, tracking venture buddi, and is a fervent supporter of smaller businesses in Britain.
After joining Quill founder Ed Bussey and Streetcar founder Brett Akker on stage at SUMMIT: The Future of Growth where she was giving her two cents on what makes a serial entrepreneur, we quizzed Murray on how it all started and what framework is still missing.
How has the concept of entrepreneurialism changed during your career?
Twenty years ago when I started out there was no belief at all that you could make a quick buck out of starting a company – it was very much a career choice that would take your whole life. When I went to parties and people said what do you do, and I said I was an entrepreneur, they would ask me what I mean, or think I was unemployed.
Nowadays it is completely normal, it is almost a positive thing. People don’t think of it as not being able to get a job, rather something that is actively chosen. So there has been a real shift, in a positive way, towards people starting businesses and calling themselves entrepreneurs.
What inspired you to set up your companies?
The first one I was inspired because I was a bit lazy and didn’t want to keep doing all the work I was doing so thought I could write some software to make my life easier. I then tried to sell that idea to my boss who didn’t really like it, as he preferred selling me out for lots of days or months. So I went and did it myself, and started selling it separately.
But I always kind of wanted to start my own business. My mother once said if you have your own business you have time with your children, and that is because she never ran a business. I suppose the other factors involve the fact that people have said it couldn’t be done – so I really wanted to do it and solve a particular problem.
What would you like to see happen in the UK to make life easier for business builders?
I think Britain is a great place to do business, and it is relatively easy to start a company. What we don’t have is real government support in the way that America does. We talk about it a lot but we’re not really doing it.
Silicon valley was, in my opinion, largely made by government procurement being given to small companies. So big opportunities for big contracts going to small businesses. There are a lot of people here who are working in that direction, but it’s not happened yet. And if we could open that up and allow small innovative businesses to get into some of these bigger contracts we’d create the next generation of big companies.
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Are there starting to be enough success stories to convince more people to start companies?
Events like this and the profile of them is making people think that being an entrepreneur and being successful at it is something to aspire to. When I started out Richard Branson was the only entrepreneur that people were talking about, and i think it is incredibly brilliant that he was prepared to talk about this failings. I thought, how inspirational, this guy has gone out there and done it and now there are just loads of people like that talked about widely.
Do you think that people are becoming more open to joining entrepreneurial companies?
Absolutely. I have got people who work for me who have sought me out as they want to work for me. Now obviously I am very impressed by that so it gives them a head start, but if they have bothered to say I think this somebody and space is going to go somewhere that tells you a lot about them. So yes, gone is the time where you’d go into a big company and expect to stay there for life. I don’t think anyone thinks like that at all.
Do you try and harness the entrepreneurial culture people bring to your company?
Ideas mostly come from the people working on those things. All I’ll say is we want to develop a product that does this, they then have to work out how that is going to happen. So i need a whole series of entrepreneurs to make my business work.
What are your future plans?
Well we’ve just spent a very long time creating some seriously world-leading technologies, so now we need to get out there and market them. So you’ll be hearing a lot of us in the next 12 months.