I remember the first time someone told me, “Gas Tag is the ‘disruptor’ in this sector.” I vividly remember having a spring in my step for the rest of that day, thinking that we’re finally making our mark.
But in hindsight, I’m not so sure that being a disruptor is always perceived in the way people want it to be. It can sometimes have negative connotations. When you create a product or service and you have no direct competitors, you have the field to yourself, which can be attractive at first. While you have no one to be compared with and no one to outperform, it can be lonely and you have to not only bring on new customers but you also have to create and shape the market. When you turn up to your first meeting and say, “Gas Tag has reinvented the gas industry which affects over 23 million households in the UK”, your audience’s first reaction can be, “Who on earth do these people think they are?”
If you are trying to completely disrupt any industry, it’s always going to be extremely difficult to achieve. You need to convince people that, above all else, you and your company are trustworthy and, not forgetting in this age of ‘fast to fail’, that you are financially stable. How do you gain the trust of people and organisations who several weeks ago had never heard of you?
To achieve that positive disruption, you will need to demonstrate that what you have created will help customers in their daily lives, not overcomplicate things and not cost more than they are comfortable paying. In short, you need to be very easy to buy from!
Primarily, your goal must be to somehow find and convince an organisation’s ‘real innovators’, the ones who will take a chance and be the very first to use your product. This archetype of an early adopter wants to be known as the person who ‘thinks differently’ and who isn’t afraid to take risks. These people are keen to try something out for the potential upside of looking like the hero but are also intelligent and self-aware enough to understand that they can be made to look the fool. For the real innovators, early adopters and risk takers, your product or offering must have the risk vs. reward up front to make the deal happen.
Over the past two years, I’ve been meeting people and organisations across the UK and exciting them about the possibilities of Gas Tag and how our positive disruption delivers tangible benefits.
Finding the innovators
At first, our sole purpose was to identify the innovators and enable them to help me to launch Gas Tag. The help from these people and their organisations doesn’t stop with simply signing a contract or becoming the first to use it. For me and the team at Gas Tag, these trailblazers have become an essential part of our product development. For this approach to be successful, the relationship needs to be strong and based on mutual understanding and trust. Having this kind of relationship helps tremendously when you are all pulling together with the collective desire for constant innovation. Some of the most impressive features of Gas Tag to this day have been shaped by the ideas of our customers.
You need to ascertain quickly who these ‘real innovators’ are, compared with those people who merely feign interest and excitement. But these innovators don’t exist everywhere; you must remember that every contact still has to leave a strong, positive impression, even on those people who may not want to be seen as cutting edge.
These people will be ready and waiting to leap on your product as soon as they see it working successfully with their peers. I can speak of this with experience; at Gas Tag, I’ve met organisations who went ‘radio silent’ after initially strongly positive meetings and then, more than 12 months later, they approached us to say that they wanted Gas Tag now.
To maintain the positive disruptor ‘tag’, I’m always conscious for the need of constant and never-ending improvement. Working closely with our early adopters and launch partners enables Gas Tag to harness their passion and determination so that it mirrors our own.
Gas Tag as a business can be summed up by our strap-line ‘safety through technology’. Our mission is to create greater transparency and accountability across the sectors we work in. I’m always shouting, “Why the hell do we know more about our Uber driver than we do about a gas engineer, working in our homes on appliances that have the potential to explode?” Technology is constantly delivering innovation in how we bank, shop and engage socially, so why not in something we may consider as mundane as keeping us safe and warm?
While the Gas Tag team and I work hard to keep doing the right things, we have many miles to go to reach our goal of a Gas Tag in every property, making the industry safer for all residents across the UK.
Having embarked on the journey, we owe an awful lot to our ‘real innovators’ out there, those people and organisations who have helped Gas Tag to the point we are at today. Without them, we wouldn’t be who we are, so thank you – you know who you are!
Paul Durose is the CEO and founder of Gas Tag.