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In the Spotlight with Elev8Exec: Pioneering Fractional COO Services and Performance Advisory for Tech Ventures

At Manchester Digital, we like to interview our members to find out a bit more about what they do and their work in the Greater Manchester digital and technology sphere. This week we're with speaking Founder and CEO, Mark Hawtin at Elev8Exec.

First of all, introduce yourselves!

We are Elev8Exec and we specialise in providing interim Chief Operating Officer services and leadership advisory services to help technology businesses achieve sustainable performance improvements. We recognise that early-stage businesses understand the value and need for the COO role but may not be able to afford one full-time, hence us providing fractional or part-time COO services. We also recognise the value of helping early-stage technology businesses gain cost-effective access to the experience of leaders that have successfully scaled companies. 

What specific expertise and experience does your firm bring to technology businesses seeking performance improvement?

We use a combination of industry-proven metrics and a suite of best practices to introduce sustainable process improvements across all business functions, driven by an upfront diagnostic developed by drawing on 30+ years helping technology businesses scale and grow, organically and via acquisition. The actions we take are unique to every client and designed in a way that the client can implement under our guidance using its’ own resources. We can help avoid pitfalls as much as focusing on successful tactics.  

Could you provide examples of successful projects where your advisory services have helped technology companies achieve sustainable performance improvement?

In one case a founder-led healthcare technology business was struggling to win new business against a younger, commercially aggressive competitor. We reviewed the go-to-market and found that the messaging and positioning of their core product wasn’t as well aligned as competition and the pricing structures made them difficult to compare. 

We started by interviewing their customers, recording the language they used to describe the benefits and changing the sales & marketing messaging, from their purpose (or mission) through to the way the product was described on the website. We dedicated time to getting the whole team comfortable with the revised messaging and reinforced it through a variety of tactics such as office signage and via regular company meetings. 

In parallel we restructured the price list, taking opportunities to revise price levels as well as re-packaging add-on modules, creating new service streams and shifting to a pure subscription basis. 

The results – a 30% increase in organic revenue, 15% increase in annual recurring revenue and profitability up from break-even to 21% EBITDA. And win rates went from <10% to 66% in competitive tenders.

How do you tailor your advisory approach to address the unique challenges and opportunities faced by technology businesses?

We believe in diagnosis before prescribing solutions and so we start with a discovery call to understand and explore the dynamic intentions and vision of a client. This is followed by a structured “Ignite” diagnostic process which combines quantitative benchmarking and qualitative exploration of how a technology business operates today in its’ competitive environment. The diagnostic is guided by the discovery call as to which business functions deserve more time and effort. Once the diagnostic is complete, we collaborate with the client to form recommendations of priority actions that will deliver the vision more effectively. This allows us to use a common approach but uniquely tailored to the specific circumstances of the client.

What methodologies or frameworks do you typically employ when working with technology companies to stimulate new thinking and apply best practices?

With an engineering background we know how to approach situations, break them down into components and seek root causes of performance (good and bad). We combine this with creative flair based on our experience of growing technology companies through booms, recessions and other disruptive events to suggest solutions. 

However, I think one of the most powerful aspects of our work is that we’re completely unbiased by past client performance, current practices and other tightly-held client beliefs – which allows us to challenge how things get done today in a constructive way and pose questions about how to do things differently. We combine this with a structured program we call “Discovery Mindset” which introduces a different way of looking at the business to find breakthrough opportunities for change and encouraging structured experimentation to evaluate them before implementation.

How do you stay up-to-date of emerging trends and technologies within the tech industry to ensure your advice remains current and relevant to your clients' needs?

We devote significant time to research via reading, participating in relevant forums, networking and contributing to group thinking and discussion. This is particular important as AI becomes more prominent across all business functions and like many others this is one of the highest priority areas we’re following right now. It’s one of the reasons we joined Manchester Digital and other similar regional groups as you continue to do such a great job with the awareness and impact of emerging trends. 

Thank you Elev8Exec 

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