There is no guide to starting your own technology business. But there are many inspiring entrepreneurs who are building their own pathways to stimulate technological innovation in the UK. Victoria Edwards, co-founder and CEO of FIDO Tech, is a shining example of the diversity of experience in our technology sector.
Edwards is a former concert pianist who specializes in music analysis before spending 15 years providing large sophisticated software and operational projects for household names. She then used her knowledge of big data analysis and management of internal and technical data centers to start FIDO Tech.
This pioneering technology company, which uses acoustics and AI to revolutionize leak detection in the global water sector, blew up judges last year when the company was crowned Technical innovator of KPMG in the United Kingdom 2021.
The company’s inspiration came from physicist and data expert Neil Edwards, now FIDO’s technical director, who saw the potential of using a mathematical technique called differential analysis and machine learning to determine fluid from pipelines. A special team of scientists, technicians and businessmen was needed to turn it into the complete technological solution it is today.
Warren Middleton, a leading UK partner at the Emerging Giant Center of Excellence at KPMG, caught up with Victoria Edwards to talk about expanding her business and the challenge of water scarcity.
Warren Middleton: Your business is growing, but what were the biggest challenges in scaling up your business and how did you overcome them?
Victoria Edwards: One of the biggest challenges in business scaling is maintaining the FIDO ethos, or as we like to call it, the FIDO Faith. Maintaining our flexibility to adapt and invent quickly has always been at the heart of our business.
We maintain this agility and faith by recruiting people with the right attitude, not necessarily the right skills. Our values are at the heart of FIDO Tech and are shared and owned by each of our employees.
WM: As a business with sustainability at its core, how has the ESG agenda helped your growth story? Why is ESG important?
VE: It’s just that the world is facing day zero – the day the world ended without water. We will not even reach zero without facing the challenges of a world in which four out of 10 people face water scarcity and insecurity.
The realization that we cannot continue to plunder the most valuable resource on earth has allowed us here at FIDO to break down barriers to accepting our AI independent of sensors, open data.
WM: How do investors view the ESG business?
VE: The huge shift in focus to ESG after the pandemic and COP26 means that impact investments are predominant, and we were lucky to be approached by some of the world’s largest and most reputable impact investment funds.
WM: What are your forecasts for the growth of ESG-related technology businesses?
VE: Any sustainable technology business that fundamentally solves a real need or problem must thrive in today’s environment. The important thing is that there is no “technology for technology”. True innovation is transformative, not transactional.
WM: What advice would you give to anyone looking to start a business that has an environmental or social impact at its core on how to ensure longevity?
VE: ESG may be incredibly up-to-date and in trend right now, but just calling yourself an ESG business will not guarantee longevity. You need to understand the problem and the challenge and create a solution that meets that need. My advice to anyone who wants to start their own technology venture is to lose arrogance, listen, adapt and have the courage to accept failure.
WM: What did you learn about yourself and your business by participating in KPMG Private Enterprise Tech Innovator in the UK competition?
VE: It was amazing to connect with some great global companies – many of whom shared our values that we really want to use technology to make the world a better place. The competition made me think hard about what challenge FIDO AI can face, how it should be agnostic, flexible and have clear applicable data as a result. This has improved our service offering, sharpened our focus and given us an extra spring in our stride to continue to push against what is now, open doors welcoming FIDO AI.
Throughout the process, from completing the application to presenting to the public from global business, investors and innovators in Lisbon, we learned a lot about ourselves and that we can have a real conviction that FIDO saves the planet one megalitre at a time.
Applications for the KPMG Technology Innovation Competition close on May 24. Don’t miss your chance to tell your story (just like FIDO) to a global audience – KPMG Private Enterprise Tech Innovator – KPMG United Kingdom (home.kpmg).
This article is part of a paid partnership with KPMG.
FIDO Tech CEO on scaling, ESG and the day the world runs out of water