Catching up with our Runway East Moorgate member, Paul Archer, founder of Duel

What does Duel do?
We’ve built a that platform helps brands and agencies manage user-generated content and engage their customers.

Why is that important?
One of the biggest problems in advertising at the moment is trusting the advertisers. The most trusted form of advertising is word of mouth from your peers. For example if Nike emails me telling me to buy a football I will probably think ‘meh’. But if my friend tells me ‘buy this ball, it’s great’, I’ll be like ‘OK I trust you, I’m going to buy that’. So we enable brands to harness the power of word of mouth marketing on a large scale.

What did you do before this?
I’ve been building websites since I was fourteen, then started working for a software start up when I was 19. After university I fancied myself as a professional adventurer, which surprisingly worked out! I started running the ‘On The Metre’ expedition where a group of friends and myself managed to drive a taxi around the world. We wrote a book about our time that has become a bestseller in Germany, which is amazing because none of us can speak German. I thought that would be a pretty good career so I could travel around the world but somehow I’m now sat in London tapping away at my computer most of the time!

When did you start Duel?
2014

How many employees do you have?
7 employees.

Hirings a big problem for startups. How do you approach it?
It’s been challenging, we were only a team of four last week and now we’re seven. Probably one of the most important things you can do as a founder of a business is to build a top quality, top calibre team. A good example of the way we do this – we’ve got a way to hire salespeople which is that you’ve got to love them straight away because if they can’t make you love them in an interview, they’ll never make the client love them. You need an excitement about what it will be like working with them. If you don’t get that excitement about where they could take the business then they’re probably not the right person for the business.

What does your idea of success look like?
I would love what we do to become a process that people recognise in the industry. So you know when it’s our software. I’d love us to be thought of as leaders in this space.

What is one piece of industry advice you can think of?
You should listen to everybody when they tell you that it won’t move as fast as you think it will. Also, double your expected runway because something will go wrong. If you raise a certain amount of money and say ‘this is going to last us 10 months and then we’re going to hit revenue’, it won’t, you need it to last 20 months. And approach things with the mind set of disproving your business as opposed to proving it because the more you don’t sell the more you really understand why you’re not as good as your competitors. There’s three!

And lastly what does Runway East mean to you?
Runway East has been a gateway to London for me. We actually started out in Bristol and didn’t really know anyone in London so it’s been a great connecting tool. It’s also perfect for businesses if you are only two or three people and then it supports you as you grow.

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