An interview with Nick Cousins, CEO and co-founder of Exizent, a technology platform that connects the data, services, and network of people involved when someone passes away.
Why was Exizent founded?
When I left financial services, I was determined to create a business that could have a meaningful impact on the lives of the UK population. Having been through a number of bereavements with my own family and seen a number of my friends sadly lose partners very early, I kept coming back to the processes and experiences around bereavement.
I’d found the process very difficult myself and watched friends struggle trying to deal with the administration that followed as well as coping with the loss itself.
The administrative side of bereavement can be lengthy, repetitive, overly complicated and things are dragged out for people. In an era of digitized services, and more transparent and open access to data, I was convinced there was a better way. Enter Exizent, a proposition founded on the desire to help people at the most difficult time in their lives. A business set up with a great team and a strong social purpose to improve the bereavement experience for everyone involved.
What do you do to stay one-step ahead of your competitors in the market?
We have a service design-led ethos at Exizent. That means we are always looking to solve problems that our customers face through the development of well-designed solutions and services. By its very essence, service design is based on deep engagement with the users of your product or service, so we have a constant dialogue going with customers and prospects via our research community.
We are also truly agile which means we aim to deliver small pieces of value regularly (ideally every two weeks) and we prioritise that value delivery based on what we hear back from the community. We keep a close eye on our architecture to ensure the right balance of security, resilience and flexibility and use best of breed proven technologies where we can.
What are your plans for the future?
Our goal is for Exizent to become a fundamental part of the bereavement ecosystem, delivering benefit to all the different groups involved. We believe in tech for good, in harnessing proven technologies to solve known problems, and in the power of smart collaboration, so would expect to be working with other similarly minded companies to help solve what is – in our view and experience – a real issue for many people.
What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?
Build your business around a clear purpose: If people can see and believe in what you are trying to achieve, it will not only get you out of bed in the morning but get others to join you.
Have conviction in what you are doing: It’s not plain sailing, and overnight success is extremely rare so having real belief in what you are doing – that you are building something that will make a real difference – is key if you want to withstand the buffeting of inevitable headwinds.
Know your market: It is vital that you support your conviction by testing your product or service fit with the market early. You need to make sure you are solving a real problem and not just building tech solutions simply because you think they are right. You need to get your product into people’s hands in some form, early on, and then really listen to their feedback.
Be bold and ambitious: Most importantly of all, surround yourself with great people who will cover your weaknesses, challenge your thinking and be accountable for their piece of the puzzle. You will never know all the answers yourself and you will only slow down progress if you think you do.