WHEN Nicola Hartland is asked about her line of work, she’s usually met with rolled eyes.
GDPR is not the sexiest of topics but it’s certainly the buzz word of the moment in the business world.
“People tend to think of GDPR as boring and too complex to get their heads around,” says Hartland, iCaaS CEO and co-founder.
“That may be true, but it’s certainly an area that all businesses now have to address.” Adding: “That’s where we come in.”
Hartland, 39, grew up in Scotland and knew from an early age that she wanted to work in business. She headed sales for a large technology company, which resulted in a multi-million-pound acquisition before realising that she had the talent and drive to be her own boss.
Interest in GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is growing fast – not least because of the heavy fines and reputational damage by big-names such as British Airways and Marriott.
Hartland says: “When I started my own business, there was just nothing available on the market to help me with GDPR. So, I set about finding my own solution to the problem.”
She is very proud of the hard work that has gone into successfully developing a unique and innovative product.
After considerable financial investment of more than £1.3 million from a range of technology investors (pitched to by Hartland herself) and more than two years of research, the company launched a more advanced software model, offering even more features for customers.
Proving herself to be a savvy businessperson, she managed to raise the substantial investment whilst maintaining a majority share in the business which is valued at more than £3 million. This is no mean feat!
Her business partner and iCaaS Chairman is Kevin Gaskell, a serial entrepreneur himself, who managed the turnaround of Porsche from close to bankruptcy. As Managing Director of BMW, he led the business to record growth and a 500% improvement in profitability. training as part of The Ocean 5 team who plan to row across the Atlantic Ocean to raise money for The Plastic Soup Foundation.
He and Hartland set about developing the brand and making sure the software was the best available on the market.
Hartland says: “I realised early on that there was a gap in the market and no one else was offering a comprehensive product like ours.
“We have a core team of GDPR & compliance specialists, programmers and business strategists and digital marketing experts to help grow the company and we are focused on delivering a first-class service that meets the demands of the new regulation.
“The solution we have developed is easy to use and simple to navigate. We have done all the hard work and created software that is accessible and affordable.
“GDPR does not have to be complicated to comply with when you have the right tools.
“We are also proud to have several notable partners on board. We work closely with accredited partners of the highest calibre, ensuring we provide the most comprehensive service solution to our customers.”
Adding: “With ever changing legislation, our team of GDPR certified experts make sure that we are on top of all new policies and amendments to the regulation so that our clients can continue to achieve full compliance.”
Hartland has been recognised for her business excellence and outstanding leadership in the South and recently won The Role Model Award at The Business Magazine Awards presented by Baroness Michelle Mone and selected as a finalist for, Entrepreneur of the Year and Businessperson of the Year.
iCaaS was recently nominated as a finalist at the Thames Valley Tech Awards for Tech Start-Up Business.
She has also written for various industry magazines including the James Caan Your Business Magazine where her article ‘The Science behind Sales’ was featured.
She is also asked to speak regularly at various Exhibitions across the country including Europe’s Largest Sales Conference, Sales Innovation in London along with the Great Business Show.
So focused is she on growing her business that she turned down an exciting TV opportunity earlier this year.
Now Hartland has her sights set on the global market.
The EU’s robust data protection regulations has sent shockwaves around the world and other countries are starting to take notice and some have even implemented their own GDPR type framework.
Hartland explained: “My main goal now is getting the software recognised globally. I know how good the product is and the fact we are growing at an impressive rate shows that. The company needs my full attention and anything else would be too much of a distraction.”
The best piece of advice she was given was always to be herself.
“I have always believed in myself and done the very best I can,” she added.
“I always knew that something amazing was going to happen if I continued to work hard.”
She says the most important thing she’s learnt along the way is not to try and wear lots of different hats.
She says: “Employ staff wisely and delegate. Let them do what they’re good at whilst you run and grow the business. Play to your strengths and hire to your weaknesses. Focus on your goals. That’s what I’ve always done and will continue doing”.