January Meetup with John MacLeod CEO of The Professional and James Gupta founder of MyCQs
January’s Lean Startup Yorkshire meetup was a popular night. A room full of local entrepreneurs and early stage business teams listened to John MacLeod and James Gupta talk about their respective businesses and the ups and downs of the journey so far.
Building a business is a tricky challenge requiring a broad set of skills, a tenacity to stick at it and generous helping of accumulated wisdom. Both speakers at January meetup had already accumulated a depth of experience and success only normally common in people many years their senior.
John MacLeod is the founder of the Leeds based publication The Professional. The Professional magazine first began to appear around Leeds in physical printed form a couple of years ago and this is how many people first became aware of it. For John MacLeod this was always the plan and a way to raise awareness and as of issue #6, the printed version has been retired and publishing moved entirely online. John’s vision for The Professional has always been to focus on feature based stories covering local entrepreneurs and business people but for this meetup audience he was telling his own story. Moving The Professional to the web and building an editorial team to run the magazine was described by John as a milestone the team had been working towards right from the start and represented the culmination of a lot of work and a journey that came after starting several other businesses. John had originally set out with the intention to indulge his passion for football and sporting academic background into a coaching business. This turned into an early online travel alerts company and also the invention of a transparent sticky note product. At the time this often meant adopting slightly schizophrenic business persona while attending business events, sometimes confusing potentially useful contacts and resulting in one of John’s recommendations to always be focused on one thing. John talked at some length about the influence his network has had on him including an influential relationship with Paul Lindley the Ellas Kitchen founder after a chance meeting at the Made festival in Sheffield. The following year after reacting to his mentor-ship John became branded a Change Maker after being nominated for the award at the same event.
The story of The Professional is still unfolding with plans to expand to other cities over the coming months and to continue to innovate with its native advertising business model.
Every month at Lean Startup Yorkshire we invite a local early stage company to come and demo what they do and briefly tell their story so far. For January James Gupta showed off MyCQs, a social learning platform that allows students and professionals to take, set and share multiple choice questions on any topic. As a medical student himself the platform has attracted attention from his academic peers as well as other professional groups.
MyCQs is the second product business James has personally been involved with. Previously he served as the CTO for JumpIn a student lift sharing mobile application that was recently sold to large London-based taxi firm. In fact the inception of MyCQs preceded JumpIn and was initially built by James and one of his co-founders Omair to help with their own study activities. It was only after the sale of JumpIn that they decided to release the platform publicly.
James talked at length about is vision for technology within the field of medicine and about his general philosophy for product development and personal productivity including managing energy levels not time and the always be shipping approach that all lean thinking teams are fond of.
James and the MyCQs team are currently exploring funding options in order to continue to build functionality and to expand the the product with processionally written questions that will complement the community generated content.