Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Sky’s the limit for pilot who aims to give firms some tender advice

Managing director of Evince Systems, Denis Thornton, believes entrepreneurs must give before they can get when it comes to small businesses

Evince Systems is an Enniskillen small firm which has just been set up by Denis Thornton.

What does your business do?

We help companies produce winning tenders for the Government procurement market.

We do this through a ‘bid in a box’ system that has the tools, techniques and procedures clients need to manage their bid team and effectively sell their services through a tender.

I am the managing director — I lead the company and I personally take charge of all marketing.

What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?

The author and speaker Brian Tracy has said that “you are only as free as your well-developed options”.

I like to have choices, so I started up this company while still working on my day job.

I chose tendering because last year I was the bid manager for the winning tender in the Irish Coast Guard’s helicopter contract — and I worked for several years as a Government tender assessor, so I know what plays well in procurement.

What have been the biggest challenges in starting the company?

I knew the market was out there, but it is quite a scattered niche, so actually finding the people who wanted to lift their tender win-rate was a challenge.

I used Traffic Geyser to drive traffic to my website, www.winningtenderswithoutconsultants.com and networking sites, especially SmallBusinessCan.com.

What is your unique selling point?

This is the only system you can inject right into your normal business practices for analysing, developing and producing tenders and is designed by an ex-Government tender evaluator and a winning bid manager.

It has been described by Grahame Newell of SecureITConsultancy.ie as “Prince 2 meets the tender process”.

What qualities make you a good entrepreneur?

I genuinely like helping people succeed in their business.

I believe you have to give before you can get.

I set tough goals for myself. I’m willing to learn and take advice. And I leave nothing to chance.

How are you marketing the company?

Direct response copywriting is my favourite method — it is so versatile.

It enables a clear return on investment to be identified, which is not possible with normal advertising.

My main marketing tools are offline direct mail, and online video presentations that are very heavy in valuable content. I give away 20 content-rich tender development presentations at my website.

What are the biggest challenges to growth?

The business scales really well, so growth is less of a problem than speed.

To solve that, I outsource a lot of IT and admin work.

If you were starting fresh, what would you do differently?

I would have done it all a lot sooner.

What plans have you to develop the company further?

I want to get to the position where a company’s ability to produce an effective tender is as native a skill as any other essential business practice.

How have you been innovative?

I offer several information products that many consultancy firms would charge a fortune for, but I give them away free.

The latest is a 33-minute documentary on the five most dangerous trends facing companies in the public procurement market today. It is available at the website www.evincesystem.com/trends.

Worth checking out if you are thinking of tendering at any time within the next five years.

How do you keep yourself and your staff motivated?

By loving clear goals and hating micro-management.

Which entrepreneur do you most admire?

An American copywriter called John Carlton.

What is your favourite gadget?

My brand new Amazon Kindle reader, the iPod of books. And PDFs.

If you could do any job, what would it be?

I currently do it. My day job is a search and rescue helicopter pilot for the Irish Coast Guard

Smallbusinesscan is a portal site for discussions, articles and advice on all kinds of financial, legal, HR and tech issues that face start-ups and other small companies.

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