Want Expert Help With Growing Your Business? Sign Up For Advice From Jon Reynolds!

The SwiftKey app has been No 1 in 58 countries to date and the best-seller worldwide on Google Play for the last two years.Jon Reynolds is one of the NextAdvisors signed up to advise our community in our Business Advice Programme.

Jon, 27, is CEO of SwiftKey, the award-winning language technology company. He was named ‘Young Tech Entrepreneur of the Year’ (2013) at the Europioneers, and also achieved Highly Commended for ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’ at the London Loves Excellence Awards.

Jon co-founded SwiftKey in 2008, aged just 22. It is now a globally successful company with a staff of over 100. SwiftKey’s keyboard was the best-selling paid app on Google Play in 2012 and has been No 1 in 58 countries. The company’s software is also pre-installed on tens of millions of mobile devices. It uses advanced natural language processing (NLP) to learn from each user and accurately predict their next word. SwiftKey has won a GSMA Award and a publicly-voted Webby and the company was recently ranked the 6th most innovative mobile business in the world by Fast Company.

Jon is ready to start advising you on your business. For more details on The Business Advice Programme and to sign up, click here

Jon has an MA in Natural Sciences (Physics) from the University of Cambridge and an Advanced Diploma in Management Accountancy, CIMA. Prior to starting SwiftKey, he worked as a civil servant in the British government.

TNW: Tell us about your current role/venture. What’s at the top of your mind with regard to your business?

JR: I’m CEO of SwiftKey, the language technology company behind the SwiftKey keyboard, an award-winning Android app. We create intuitive, smart, personalized technology that learns from each user to accurately predict what they want to say next. The SwiftKey app has been No 1 in 58 countries to date and it’s been the best-seller worldwide on Google Play for the last two years. We also work with phone manufacturers and other enterprises and license our prediction technology to them.  Our technology is now embedded on over 100m devices.

At the moment I’m focused on growth - we’re growing the number of applications for our technology, we’re growing our userbase and we’re growing our team. We now have a team of 120 based in the UK, US and Korea and will continue to invest in bringing in the best people to work with us at SwiftKey. We want to put our technology in the hands of many more millions of users and that’ll be the focus of 2014.

TNW: Which business topics are you most interested in providing advice on?

JR: 

Each business is unique but I’ve learnt a lot about how to take something from being an idea to a global business in a short amount of time.

I co-founded SwiftKey when I was 22 so virtually everything I know about running a business has been learnt on the job - it’s been a fantastic journey and probably one of the quickest ways to learn what works (and what doesn’t!). Specific areas we’ve dealt with include: launching a successful consumer app, selling to large international companies as a small company, setting up overseas, fund-raising and investment, building our unique technology and IP, rapid growth and team building. 

I’d be happy to help advise anyone who’s at an early stage with their business and looking to grow their team and customer base.

TNW: How should a NextAdvisee approach their relationship with you, to get the best out of you?

JR: Lots of people can give you lots of advice about every aspect of your business.

Fundamentally, you will know what’s best for the company and you need to be able to filter the various bits of feedback to make the right decision for your company. 

I won’t be able to tell you the answer to solve your business problem, but hopefully I can provide a useful perspective from someone who has been there before. Having a clear area / question of what you would like advice on would be helpful so there’s a focus to any advice.

TNW: What do you see as the benefits of an advice relationship, for the advisor?

JR: We’ve benefited a lot from advice as we’ve grown, so it’s important for anyone trying to build a company.

It’s always great to be put in touch with interesting people who are seeking to innovate, and learn from other perspectives and challenges they’ve faced.

TNW: Do you currently have a mentor?

JR: I receive strong advice from a range of individuals and that continues to be really valuable. For example, I meet with our chairman Mark Paterson regularly - as one of the early members of Orange, he has huge experience of the mobile sector. Our investors, from Rich Wong at Accel to Martin Mignot at Index Ventures and Jo Oliver at Octopus Investments, have also been a source of great advice and ideas. I’ve also enjoy meeting people running other tech companies and startups as a great way to learn from peers.

TNW: Which business matters have you most needed advice on during your career?

JR: On a practical level, opening offices abroad has been the subject we’ve needed the most advice on - there’s a lot to think about from tax to recruitment to US healthcare schemes! It’s also been great to get advice on how to structure your company.

When you’re growing all the time, you need to keep revising who leads what teams and projects and how to keep evolving decision making.

TNW: What is the most useful lesson you have learned from a mentor?

JR: 

The best advice I’ve been given to date is to focus on recruitment. 

If you get the right people, who are leaders in what they do and make a positive contribution to your company culture, everything else becomes achievable.

When you’re growing very fast it can be tempting just to hire the first people you see. We’ve taken great care to hire only the people who really fit for the long-term.

TNW: Who would be your dream mentor in a fantasy world (they can be living or a historical figure)?

JR: I’m really interested in Jeff Bezos, he’s demonstrated amazing vision developing Amazon from selling books to the huge range of products and services they offer today so I’d definitely want to pick his brains about how to scale at that pace and how to make such a bold ambition a reality.

TNW: Is there anything we haven’t asked you, but which you would like to share with our community?

JR: It’d be great to tell your community we currently have a new SwiftKey beta out which is free to download (click here) and test! It introduces new features such as emoji support but as with every update, the emphasis is on our award-winning prediction technology - the keyboard learns from you and understands the context of what you’re writing about so it can accurately guess what word you might want next. 

Beyond that, the thing I’m most proud of with SwiftKey has been putting innovation first and making it a central part of our work culture.

You can see more about that, and our current job vacancies, on our website - we’re currently looking for talented friendly people in a range of areas from engineering to community to product. 

Jon is ready to start advising you on your business. For more details on The Business Advice Programme and to sign up, click here

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