He spoke to Econsultancy about how he founded ihateironing in order to support small businesses, how he spends a typical working day, his favourite tools for the job and the advice he would give to a new marketer just starting out.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
Matt Connelly: As CEO of the company I’m ultimately responsible for making sure that the business is healthy and growing quickly.
My job is to set the strategy and make sure we’ve got a great team to implement it. Day to day it’s about supporting the team to enable them to do great work, enjoy their roles and keep our customers happy.
We’re still a relatively small company so I’m also fairly hands-on. I like to be involved quite heavily in product strategy and I personally run a training course on our values and ethics for any new dry cleaning partners to ensure they are clear on what is expected from the outset.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
Matt Connelly: I sit at the top and at the bottom. The top in terms of setting the strategic direction, helping to establish the culture, the standards and having ultimate accountability.
The bottom because I believe it’s my job to support my team to be successful, take ownership of their own areas of the business as opposed to give orders downwards all the time.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Matt Connelly: You need a clear vision and to be committed to making that a reality. Resilience, grit and determination cannot be underestimated as qualities needed to grow a business.
I also think it’s important to have a reasonable knowledge of all the key areas of the business. I’m not necessarily an expert in marketing, tech, operations or product but I know enough to ask the right questions and assess what other people are saying/doing.
Ultimately, you really need to have clarity of thought and be able to get the majority of your decisions, especially the big ones, right.
Tell us about a typical working day…
Matt Connelly: I like to get out and visit four of our 60 partner dry cleaning centres at least once a week. For the rest of the week my typical day looks something like this.
6:50: Wake up, drink a coffee, check emails and start work. I love working at this time of the day, where my phone doesn’t ring and rarely get disturbed it’s a great time to do some planning or clear something important off the to-do list.
8:00: Go for a 5km run around Brockwell Park. It’s a really important part of my routine and really puts me in a positive frame of mind for the rest of the day. I’ll then get showered and ready for the day.
9:00: Go to my favourite coffee shop and order porridge and coffee. If I’ve got something on where I really need to concentrate (or ‘deep work’ to use the parlance of our times) I’ll stay there until it’s done.
10:30: I go into the office. It’s nice to have done some concrete things before I go in so I’m happy to be interrupted and help the team out with any issue they are having throughout the rest of the day. I may have 1 or 2 meetings normally and usually meet all my direct reports individually on a Friday.
18:30 – 19:00: I leave the office and go home. Nothing too exciting in the evenings. I try not to work but I might log on for half an hour here and there. I’m usually in bed by 22:30.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
Matt Connelly: I love all the great people I work with and feel proud to see them grow and develop. The same goes for witnessing the success of our dry cleaning partners because we’ve been a significant contributor to their growth, so when we help them to hit a personal milestone, like being able to buy a new house or taking their family on an amazing holiday, I know what we’re doing is truly worthwhile.
What sucks as an entrepreneur is having to manage your own expectations when you’re always looking for things to improve and focusing on what needs to come next. It means I’m never really happy or contented, which makes it hard to enjoy the experience. But that focus is what has allowed us to build a successful business and deliver the very best service to help our partners to grow in the process.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Matt Connelly: Retention rates and cohorts are key for us. We want to build long term relationships with our customers. Once somebody uses us once we want the service to be so good that they keep coming back time and time again.
We’re also focusing on reducing our carbon footprint and becoming more eco-friendly this year, something our partners are really passionate about, too.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Matt Connelly: Top five in no particular order: Running shoes, Macbook, supportive partner, coffee machine and humour.
How did you end up founding ihateironing, and where might you go from here?
Matt Connelly: Ihateironing was founded in 2014 and the idea came to me during a run around Brixton. I was working in Old Street at the time, in a professional role supporting small businesses. Working long hours meant I was struggling to find a way to get my laundry cleaned and ironed around my working hours. I became acutely aware that the dry cleaning industry was missing a trick to really be able to service an important target market.
I knew these high street businesses were having a hard time and became convinced that there was a better way to meet the needs of someone like me. I decided to test demand in my local area, which proved there was merit in the idea. So I sought investment to develop the technology platform and delivery mechanism. Today we’re operational in six cities around the UK and recently launched in the US.
Which advertising has impressed you lately?
Matt Connelly: It’s hard to think of a stand-out campaign in an age where we are so overwhelmed with brands selling to us. I think that trusted recommendations about a brand or service is what really makes something stand out for me, that’s something I take notice of.
What advice would you give a marketer starting out?
Matt Connelly: Look for roles where you can learn from the people around you. I also think it’s important to experience real responsibility early on in your career.