Vin Murria, Woman of the Year, 2012 Cisco everywoman in Technology Awards: From 0 to 1000 Staff in 4 Years

Vin Murria, recently named Woman of the Year in the 2012 Cisco everywoman in Technology Awards, launched Advanced Computer Software Group, a leading provider of patient management software solutions, in 2008 and has since grown the company to £200 million market capitalisation and almost 1000 staff.

Vin has over 20 years’ experience of publicly listed companies and private equity experience focusing on the software sector. She is a partner at Elderstreet Capital and a non-executive director of Greenco plc.

Throughout her career Vin has been passionate about the advancement of women – setting up academies for employees to develop themselves and fulfil their full potential. She is also committed to various charitable projects as a Trustee for the Princes Trust and the Founder of the PS Foundation – helping to get young girls from disadvantaged backgrounds in India into education.

We spoke to Vin about her tips for entrepreneurs; about turning challenges into opportunities; and about smashing the glass ceiling.

TNW: How did you come up with the idea for the business then arrive at the decision to turn your idea into a reality?

VM: This is the third business that I’ve started-up. I focus on core technologies which are my passion, and I look at how these technologies can be applied to a vertical market (such as accounting, legal, healthcare and not-for-profit) in order to become a significant player. This has been applied to Advanced and the company is now a leading provider of patient management software solutions for the healthcare sector.

TNW: What is your business model? What makes your company different from your competitors?

VM: We concentrate on how we can add real value to our customers in terms of efficiency improvements, growth drivers and return-on-investment. Our whole business model is built around our customers’ needs so that we can retain customers for the long-term.

TNW: When you built your team, what are the key qualities you looked for to ensure the success of your business?

I look for team players who are supportive of one another and don’t get involved with party politics and one-upmanship to try to get ahead. Prima donnas have no place in a successful team.

TNW: What is next for your company?

VM: Advanced has grown from zero to £200 million market cap and almost 1000 staff in just 3.5 years. I intend for the company to continue to grow strongly by using our existing people and IT solutions to push the company forward.

TNW: What are the advantages of gender diversity in a startup? Are there any disadvantages?

It’s important to have a balance between testosterone-pumped, driven people and more considered, customer-focused people, regardless of their gender.

A mix of types ensures a balanced approach and outlook across the organisation.

TNW: What lessons have you taken from your successes &/or failures?

VM: I have learnt from both successes and failures. It’s important to take lessons from both in order to become a more rounded and astute business person. I’m also mindful that I am only as good as the last thing I did and the people that helped me get there, and so I take onboard and learn as much as possible. This helps to tip the balance in favour of success the next time around!

TNW: Do you have any tips or any advice for women who are thinking about becoming entrepreneurs?

My biggest tip is to go for it! Don’t sit below the glass ceiling looking up at it but instead, break it with both hands.

The UK is geared-up to help entrepreneurs of all genders to succeed thanks to the SEIS funding available and the Entrepreneur’s Relief which enables shareholders of companies to sell their shares at a capital gains tax rate of only 10% for gains of up to £10m. There has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur and so use the opportunities and run with them!

TNW: Do you have any role models or mentors?

VM: Yes – plenty. I use a range of mentors for different aspects of my life. I also use characteristics that I like from different people to guide my decisions and to question the sense of what I am doing.

TNW: What does your day look like?

VM: Busy, fun and vibrant. I see so many exciting business opportunities that my days are never dull. I think that I have the best job in the world!

TNW: What has been your biggest challenge throughout the history of your company, from planning to funding and execution, and how could others learn from it?

VM: I have experienced all types of challenges but often, these can be turned into great opportunities. My biggest challenges were when I first started out in my career.

I got told that being Asian, female and young would hinder my career. These supposed hindrances turned out to be incredible advantages as I was driven to prove people wrong and succeed.

TNW: Do you think that attitudes towards female entrepreneurs are changing?

VM: Yes - absolutely. More and more female entrepreneurs are demonstrating success which is subsequently changing attitudes.

TNW: What do you think could be done to increase the number of women entrepreneurs?

VM: A number of tools can be used to increase the number of women entrepreneurs, from female only business workshops through to increasing angel investment opportunities. Confidence building is also key so that women recognise that they have the abilities and skills to succeed.

TNW: What qualities do you think women entrepreneurs need for sourcing angel investment/raising venture capital? 

VM: The qualities needed from women are exactly the same as those required from men. These include a good business case and model and evidence that the business proposition will deliver a good return for the investor/share holder.

TNW: Do you believe that it is easier for technical women founders to achieve venture funding than non-technical? If so, what are your reasons for this?

VM: It is neither easier or more difficult. Women from all fields, from technology through to retail, have been successful in achieving funding.

I believe that women can be successful in all fields as they naturally have broad capabilities across a multiplicity of areas.

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