After growing up in a single-parent household in a rough neighbourhood in Lithuania, Tadas Labudis was determined to change his fortunes. He noticed that all the wealthy people in his town were running their own businesses, so from a very early age he set himself on that path and hasn’t looked back.
As a young teenager Tadas used to buy and sell second-hand computer parts and used the profits to buy and upgrade his own computer. However, despite a passion for tech, Tadas didn’t see it as a lucrative career path so he moved to Glasgow to do a business degree whilst maintaining an interest in computers as a hobby. He taught himself how to code in order to be able to make money from his entrepreneurial instincts.
Tadas said: “When you want to learn a foreign language, it’s best to immerse yourself into the environment that speaks that language. I find coding is the same. Throw yourself into a project you are passionate about and push yourself to learn the skill as you are using it.”
After a couple of attempts at starting his own businesses, with some varying success, Tadas made the tough call to put his entrepreneurial ambitions on the back burner and following his graduation from university he landed a job with a mobile development agency.
“I was working as a product manager for a mobile app start-up and I was obsessed with customer research, making sure that I fully understood our customer needs and prioritised the most impactful features. That meant I spent a lot of time interviewing and surveying customers, reading support tickets and making spreadsheets. I couldn’t find any good dedicated tools to help me with the analysis process, so that gave me the idea for Prodsight. After interviewing about 30 other product managers I quit my job and struck out on my own to build the next generation customer feedback analytics platform.”
The biggest benefit for me is having a great balance between access to talent and cost of living. It allows you to do much more with the same budget.
Prodsight, which officially launched in 2018, is a platform that uses artificial intelligence to identify and track key issues in customer conversations by analysing topics and sentiment. These insights can then be used to prioritise the product features or experiences that need to be improved to boost customer satisfaction and reduce churn.
“I spent the first year building the early prototypes of Prodsight to acquire our first customers and prove that it was a valid business idea. However, I knew that in order to make it work we had to bring Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology into the mix. Since I wasn’t an expert in NLP I decided to raise investment and hire an engineer and a data scientist to build the right product. This was the right choice as the team I brought on-board built a scalable and powerful product which enabled us to acquire customers like Code for America and Catapult, grow revenue and raise follow-on funding to further scale the business.
“Our codebase is now too complex for me to understand and contribute to so I leave it to our engineers and instead focus on areas where I can add most value like strategy, product management, fundraising and hiring.”
In 2018, he was accepted onto the Scottish Government’s £4M Unlocking Ambition programme, which offers intensive wraparound support to help early stage and high potential entrepreneurs in Scotland scale-up their businesses and develop their leadership skills.
“Launching a start-up, especially as a solo founder, is a very lonely experience. Having a community of fellow entrepreneurs going through similar challenges helps me stay sane and focused on the big goal. Also, having access to entrepreneurial mentors who have launched, grown and sold technology businesses gave me access to very practical insights into how to solve various challenges which has allowed me to overcome hard problems and move forward with Prodsight.”
Launching a start-up, especially as a solo founder, is a very lonely experience. Having a community of fellow entrepreneurs going through similar challenges helps me stay sane and focused on the big goal.
As part of the Unlocking Ambition programme, Tadas visited both Babson College and Silicon Valley in the States to develop leadership skills, receive business growth training and gain unique access and valuable face-to-face time with some innovative and successful companies.
“Naturally, a lot of knowledge about how to build a start-up comes from the States. However, going to Silicon Valley with Scottish Enterprise, Entrepreneurial Scotland and Future X, and to Boston with Scottish Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Scotland, and hearing first-hand accounts from entrepreneurs, investors and operators made it even more real. It gave me the confidence that I can build a successful global company if I focus on execution, learning and perseverance.”
Although he is looking to America for inspiration, Tadas chose to stay in Scotland following his graduation from university to set up his own business.
“Scotland has a lot of good things going for it. It has a high concentration of very high-quality universities which generate fresh talent every year. There is also a lot of government support for promising start-ups both at the early and scale-up stage. The biggest benefit for me is having a great balance between access to talent and cost of living. It allows you to do much more with the same budget.”
The next ambition for Prodsight is to continue delivering on its mission of helping companies around the world maintain a strong understanding of their customers so that they can offer the right products and services and avoid building something that no one wants.
“We have taken the first important steps to deliver on our original mission but there is still a long way to go. We have just closed a $0.5m funding round to grow the team, build new integrations and make the product even better for our current and future customers. I’m excited to bring clarity on user needs to other product managers around the world and help them make better decisions for their customers.
“The business has been growing at a rapid pace in the last year and I’m looking forward to using our latest funding to supercharge our efforts in 2020 and beyond.”