In today’s fast-paced digital age, industries across the board are experiencing disruptions brought about by advancements in technology. But who would have imagined that even the seemingly traditional office cleaning industry would be ripe for a technological overhaul?
Enter Simon Elias, Group CEO of Dazzle, a London-based office cleaning company that’s not your typical janitorial service. In our exclusive interview for Bright Founders Talk at Temy, Simon delves deep into his entrepreneurial journey, highlighting how his tech background led him to identify and address a gap in the office cleaning market.
From leveraging technology to enhance service quality to tapping into the power of digital marketing, Dazzle is setting new benchmarks for an industry in transition. Join us as we uncover the story behind Dazzle’s inception and the unique blend of tech and service that drives its success.
When Tech Met Tidiness: The Dazzle Evolution
Let’s set the scene: Simon Elias, sporting an air of both casual assurance and tech-driven passion, elaborates on his unlikely journey from running a mobile app development agency to diving headfirst into the office cleaning scene with Dazzle. “We work in a tech world now,” he quipped, capturing the room’s attention, “but we realized office cleaning hadn’t embraced technology as a key enabler.”
Dive deeper, and you’d see Simon’s entrepreneurial spirit shining. Rather than just lamenting the problems he noticed in the cleaning industry, he leveraged his technological prowess to offer a solution. “Office cleaners just weren’t turning up on time, they weren’t doing a good job,” he mused, painting a picture of an industry ripe for disruption. “We’ve got the technology, but we need to solve this industry.” The sentiment resounds, encapsulating his vision.
But the tale doesn’t stop with just an idea. The nuts and bolts of Dazzle’s foundation lay in Simon’s unique blend of prior business experience and sheer gut instinct. In an era where startups often scramble for venture capital, Simon proudly bootstrapped Dazzle, leaning heavily on its brand strength. “It’s a marketing-led business,” he revealed, elaborating on how mastering Google presence and smart brand-building were pivotal. And just like that, from the marriage of tech and grit, a cleaning revolution in London was born.
The Power of Pivot: Navigating the Rough Seas of Business
There’s something incredibly genuine and vulnerable when a CEO lays it out, unfiltered. Simon gave us just that. Reflecting on how Dazzle navigated the turbulent waters of staff recruitment, he mused, “It comes down to two great people on the back office.” With changes from Brexit shrinking the talent pool, Simon highlighted the challenges of a landscape that went from a vast sea of potential hires to more of a puddle. And amidst all this, what stood out was Dazzle’s agility, amplified by their leveraging of technology. Using an ingenious HR recruitment platform, the company could rapidly roll out adverts across various platforms, funneling applicants efficiently. This was not only a testament to Dazzle’s adaptability but also underscored the transformative power of tech.
But as with any story worth telling, there’s a darker chapter. The pandemic, as Simon so candidly put it, was “possibly the worst period I ever had in business.” Every entrepreneur has their war stories, and Simon’s recounting of a barrage of emails from clients wanting to pause their contracts was no less heart-wrenching. “We’ve never had this type of pause in society before,” Simon lamented, capturing the gravity of a global crisis and its implications on businesses.
Yet, it’s not the struggle but the resilience that defines us. The juxtaposition of Simon’s initial entrepreneurial journey – a simpler time with Excel spreadsheets and pen & paper, against the backdrop of the unprecedented pandemic challenges – serves as a reminder. Business isn’t just about scaling or profiting, but about adapting, learning, and pushing forward, even when the world hits pause.
From Panic to Pivot: Dazzle’s Survival Tale Through the Pandemic
Diving into the narrative, Simon recalls the early days of the pandemic – a time when everything felt eerily uncertain. He draws a vivid picture, “It’s like a rabbit in headlights.” His voice takes a wistful tone as he revisits the rapid descent from having 70 clients to a mere three. One might assume this is where the story ends, but this downturn forms the crux of Dazzle’s comeback narrative. “If it wasn’t for those three clients, we probably wouldn’t be here today,” Simon admits, a heartfelt testament to the lasting bonds formed during trying times.
The interview took a more uplifting turn as they reminisced about the post-pandemic revival. Government furlough schemes offered a lifeline, allowing Dazzle to retain their staff. The silver lining? As life slowly returned to a semblance of normality, Dazzle was met with an overwhelming demand for their services. But it wasn’t just about business; it was about the camaraderie and the strengthened bonds forged in the crucible of crisis. “When you’re down in the trenches together, you really get to know people,” the interviewer notes, capturing the essence of shared hardships.
As the conversation flowed towards the future, a palpable excitement resonated in Simon’s words. While some secrets remain closely guarded, hinting at intriguing developments in 2024, he did spill the beans on one venture: the launch of a handy person division. It’s clear Dazzle’s story, filled with ups and downs, serves as an inspiring testament to resilience and the undying entrepreneurial spirit. As Simon aptly puts it, “You can have everything one minute and the next minute, you can’t. But if you can come out of anything… you’re doing well.”
Dazzling through Adversity: Simon’s Journey from Plate-Spinner to Pioneer
Navigating through the maze of the post-pandemic world, Simon casts light on Dazzle’s evolution. The demand for handy-person services triggered a new business venture slated for the first quarter of 2024. But Dazzle isn’t stopping there. “It’s about workspace wellbeing,” Simon shares, echoing the firm’s mantra. This means bringing people back into the office, crafting environments conducive to mental and physical wellness. This holistic approach introduces innovative offerings like healthy snack packs, specifically their hit vegan box. He offers a teaser, “We’re delving deeper into workspace wellbeing,” signaling that there’s much more brewing behind the scenes.
Simon’s zeal for ethical and sustainable office cleaning captures the heart of Dazzle’s mission. His proud announcement about Dazzle aiming for a B Corp status underlines the company’s dedication to sustainability. But the real gem comes when the conversation steers towards entrepreneurial wisdom. “It’s really critical to be a problem solver within a business,” Simon emphasizes. To him, people skills, emotional intelligence, and resilience are the trio underpinning business success.
Wrapping up the conversation, Simon’s gratitude and willingness to guide budding entrepreneurs shine brightly. He underscores, “It’s about trying to help people on their way up.” This sentiment embodies the essence of Simon’s leadership – a blend of experience, empathy, and encouragement. As he signs off, leaving listeners with the catchy “Dazzle dot London,” it’s evident that this entrepreneur has spun his plates into gold.