Andy Fisher, founder of ipatter.com
Ipatter.com was founded in April 2010 by Norfolk businessman Andy Fisher. It is an online direct messaging platform which is transforming the way that businesses and organisations connect with each other. Ipatter.com is an Enterprise Investment Scheme company with 29 shareholders.
1. Why did you decide to create the business?I noticed the trend of businesses setting up Facebook and Twitter, but thought they offered only a diluted solution as these business-related messages were competing against a massive amount of, what I termed, ‘social noise’. The principal of direct messaging clearly worked, but there seemed to be a huge opportunity to create a bespoke product with businesses and organisations in mind right from the start.2. Can you remember when and how you got the inspiration?All of my friends had originally set up their social media accounts to keep in touch with each other, not businesses. This in itself was the catalyst and I thought there had to be another way for business to reach this audience without having to fight their way through masses of social related messaging.3. How is it funded?The company is funded via significant seed capital from the management team including Soak Digital, a leading Norwich based digital agency, and by a subsequent Enterprise Investment Scheme private placing of additional shares in March 2010. We are currently in the early stages of planning for a further EIS offer in February 2011 to help accelerate our growth plans.4. Why was the word ‘patter’ chosen?We spent a huge amount of time planning the whole business and the name choice was part of that process. One of our other directors put forward the name ‘patter’ and I came up with the idea of adding the ‘i’ in front to make it more personal. I think it encapsulates the brand, is unique and also memorable.5. How does ipatter differ from Twitter or other social websites?We have two distinct types of users. Businesses and organisations which we call ‘broadcasters’ can post up to one free message called a ‘patter’ on the site each day of up to 3000 characters. In addition we have ‘members’ who can only ‘connect’ with broadcasters to follow their patters automatically. The site is completely moderated and offers lots of features such as a ‘local to you’ section promoting broadcasters in your area as well as paid for featured listings.6. How is it relevant to businesses and business executives?Social media is the current business ‘buzz phrase’ and ipatter offers businesses and their leaders a new way to tap into this communication stream in a much more focused and controlled way.7. What does it cost to sign up and are there cost implications in staying involved?Registering as a broadcaster and posting up to one patter per day is free. We have a number of completely optional additional paid promotion opportunities, but broadcasters can still get a great deal from the site without using any of these. The site is completely free for members and a great way for them to keep updated on things they are interested in without signing up to email lists.8. Is there potential within the core technology to add functionality over time and in what ways?We have comprehensive plans to add further functionality as we build the business over the coming years. The next site enhancements will be based around local offers, events and jobs which we plan to release by the end of the year. We have also developed a fully integrated referral scheme due for imminent release which will be a great way to expand and gain more exposure.9. Is this a business with global potential?Absolutely. We are growing the business brick by brick, but have already attracted broadcasters from the US, India and Dubai. Our short term plans are to develop the business strongly across the UK and then to focus further afield.10. What are your own ambitions for ipatter? Is it the kind of business that could trigger an IPO or become a prime acquisition target?We currently have 29 shareholders and a further EIS offer is likely to increase this significantly. An IPO or takeover are clearly possibilities as the business develops and we will explore all opportunities to maximise shareholder value over time.