It started out as a table on a spreadsheet. A handful of prospects with some numbers against them that added up to £360k. It was September 2010 and I was 44. It was a now or never moment. I’d always wanted to run my own business from a young age, but doing what? For the first time in my life I knew exactly what, there was no doubt in my mind.
I’d trained as an accountant with PWC, left to travel the world with Schlumberger, an oil and gas contractor, dabbled briefly in telecoms and then emersed myself in property for nine years at DTZ. And it was at DTZ that two independent events occurred, which together lit the touch paper and set me off on my journey.
The first event was pure irony. DTZ had invested in a professional coach for me and after a few sessions, my coach said “You don’t fit in the corporate world. I suggest you leave and set up your own business”!
The second event was a Dragons Den type competition where a number of us were asked to pitch to the DTZ Board and management team, an idea or project to invest in. Having been a keen advocate of DTZ’s small sustainability team, I pitched to significantly expand the team and develop a sustainability software platform for the real estate industry. I came last with one vote.
Less than a year later I had left DTZ with my £360k prospect list and a sketchy business plan to create a market-leading sustainability business for the real estate investment market. I just needed some help.
A quick trip to Bolton and Paul Sutcliffe was on board once I’d persuaded his wife Eleanor what a great opportunity it was. Paul was sustainability Director at DTZ and had fantastic technical knowledge.
One down one to go. Ed Gabbitas, another great technical consultant, signed up shortly afterwards who jumped at the opportunity. Job done. Three is never a crowd for a new business, it’s the magic number. It provided just the right mix of skills, lots of ideas to bounce off one another and most importantly, a level of resilience. Evora was formed – well, not quite. We started off as Sustainable Commercial Solutions but that’s quite a mouthful. The EVORA name came later.
That was ten years ago. If the strapline back then was “Sounds interesting but maybe next year”, now it’s more like “I need an ESG strategy, can you start Monday”! A lot has changed over those ten years and we’ve been very fortunate with the way market sentiment has changed towards climate change. But it’s also been tough at times and a lot of hard work. When I told Mandy, my wife, my plans, her first comment was, ”Can’t you just get a job like a normal person” but her support has been unwavering. As for Paul and Ed, I marvel at just how amazing they are – no more to be said.
If 3 was the magic number back then, 10 years on it feels like 100 is the magic number now. Having recently employed our 100th employee and gained our 100th client, we’re set to achieve 100% growth this year. If that wasn’t enough we are also bringing a number of highly innovative software products to the market this year through our SIERA ESG platform.
Are we the market-leading sustainability business for the real estate investment market? Maybe, maybe not, it depends who you ask, but I don’t think that’s important anymore. As a business we have a bigger purpose, ‘To accelerate the evolution of real estate sustainability for the planet and its people’, and that is an ambition that needs the whole industry to get behind and collaborate on.
And behind the numbers is an incredible bunch of people at EVORA who all really care – for one another, for the work they do, for their clients and for our planet. Here’s looking forward to the next 10 years.
Finally, for those wondering or vaguely interested, of the £360k of prospects on my sketchy business plan that I enticed Paul and Ed with, £11k came off. And why EVORA? EVOlution of Real Assets through sustainability – you know it makes sense 😊