Cally Russell CEO and Founder of Mallzee
Published on 27 August 2017
Mallzee was the most downloaded multi-retailer shopping app in the UK in 2016. CEO and Founder, Cally Russell offers us his top tips
Mallzee was the most downloaded multi-retailer shopping app in the UK in 2016. In 2017, they launched a retail insight platform destined to change the face of retail by giving retailers a data-led understanding of what consumers really think of their products.
University of Dundee alumni Cally Russell started the company a few years after graduation. The idea came when he tried to buy some black jeans via his mobile and found it a frustrating experience - and this is when he spotted the opportunity. In three short years, he has taken the business from a concept to an award-winning app used in over 200 countries worldwide. He has secured over £3 million in investment, growing the company to a team of 30 and working alongside some of the world’s biggest brands. He has been named on both Forbes and Drapers 30 Under 30 lists - It’s fair to say he’s picked up a fair amount of experience along the way.
Here are his top tips:
Find a real problem
Find a problem that’s important enough to make a difference in someone's day-to-day life, and you’ve got a pretty decent basis for a business. We started with the simple problem that finding a pair of black jeans was almost impossible, and we are now helping retailers solve some of the biggest buying and marketing problems in the industry.
Never stop believing
Building a business from scratch isn’t easy and there will be days when even small tasks feel impossible. You can go straight from a terrible meeting to presenting in front of a room full of people, and there’s no space to doubt yourself in between. You have to be the one to have unfaltering belief in what you’re doing, not only so you can keep going yourself, but so that your team always feel inspired too.
Don’t be afraid to fail
Success rarely comes from playing it safe. You have to try new things, innovate and take risks if you want to discover the gems that build growth. In the early days, there’s no time or money for intensive planning and careful testing, so you need to be brave and use your energy to try and then iterate on your ideas as fast as you can. View mistakes as learnings and you’ll be better off for them.
Passion beats skill
We have a quote in our office that says "you didn’t grow up driving...you learned", and it’s one of the core beliefs at Mallzee. If you don’t know how to do something, you can learn it (and we do just that every day in our office). Most skills can be developed or taught, but there’s no magic formula for creating genuine passion. Every day I find new things to be passionate about in our business, and the passion in our team is positively infectious.
Location shouldn’t hold you back
I was born on the West Coast, went to university in Dundee and now live in Edinburgh and I’m a massive advocate for the high quality of life that can be found in Scotland. Our HQ is still in Edinburgh, and with the universities and exploding tech scene in Scotland, we’ve found an insanely high quality of talent without needing to look further afield. It’s easy to assume that you have to be in London to make it, but with the success stories coming out of Scotland, it’s clear that that is not the case. Working closely with the fantastic Scottish business community, helping develop our emerging talent and a willingness to do a bit of travel is all you need.