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Our October Masterclass was given by Gav Winter, joint founder of The Test People which won many awards including as the fastest growing tech company in Yorkshire and the Humber 2013-15. Gav has now joined RapidSpike, a company formed by another 2 of our Entrepreneurs in Residence Andrew Mason and Robin Hill. Gav has been CEO of RapidSpike for 18 months and it is now growing at 300% pa.

Gav’s story

His Dad had his own business which he lost-he was never as happy again. Gav failed his degree in Business Studies. He had hard times for a few years then got a job at Yorkshire Water and he re-coded their software; he never applied for a job; He met his mentor in a pub who got him into testing software.

The kit he used was too slow and he got a job at Accenture, which had a large testing environment. He was at Accenture for 4 years before deciding in 2006 he wanted to do it on his own. 

For the first year he was on his own, he lost confidence then his old boss and 2 colleagues joined him-the 4 of them were core and they made The Test People work. Their first big customer was William Hill who needed a tester. Gav said they could do it, he had no idea how!! After approx 10 years.

The Merger

The Test People had got to sales of £25m from scratch and Gav realised he was not the person to take the company to the next level. Their main competitor was Ten10, a testing company from down south. It was a very difficult merger; vast amounts of detail, trust levels plummeted. Gav stayed on, but it became very lonely. He was told he needed to be more “corporate”. He realised he is an entrepreneur, left, and joined 2 entrepreneurs at RapidSpike.

The lessons he learnt

Try hard at things requiring zero talent, give 110% and you will succeed. In his view he is not special, academically average, he’s been really lucky; having a good supportive family helps a lot. Think outside the box.

Put people before profit and you will build a big business.

Always be ready to walk away from a deal. Make sure you get the right lawyer, i.e one experienced in buying and selling companies.


Nick Butler