The American dream

Martin port

By Martin Port

15 September 2021

In 1986, I went to New York to work for a German bread bakery business. I was just 24. I fell in love with the Big Apple, with America, and loved helping to build Schripps from the ground up.

In the first year, I doubled the sales of the business. The following year, I worked for Fritz Pretzel, which had a pretzel store on 42nd Street in the Port Authority bus terminal. In 1989, I came back to the UK and set up a bakery business called Kroustie and had my first taste of entrepreneurial success.

I may have built a career in the bakery sector but, even as a twenty-something, I loved technology. I always dreamed I would go back to America, and build a technology business in the greatest, most competitive market in the world.

Well, here I am – I’m not going to tell you how many decades later – and I’m on the precipice of making that dream come true. I’m writing this from New York City, a place I used to call home. I’m here as a man on a mission. I’m meeting the business owners and forward-thinking managers who use BigChange – or would like to in the future.

Speaking to customers has always been – and will always be – the best part of my job, as founder of this company. I love hearing about their challenges and figuring out ways to help them. Nothing beats the look on someone’s face when you tell them you can save them time, money and frustration.

I know that we have created an exceptional platform in the UK and I want to make sure that our American customers feel the same way too, so it’s really important to me that I make each conversation count. We’re halfway there already, winning business here without even having a proper office or dedicated sales team. I’m also meeting potential partners who are keen to become BigChange resellers. This is a powerful way to grow in a new market, and it’s exciting to hear these people’s passion for our technology.

Later this week, I will fly to Boston to meet our investment partner, Great Hill. The pandemic has meant that, even though we did the deal six months ago, and were talking long before that, we have never actually met on US soil. Imagine that? Finally, we are going to sit down together, shake hands, and speak without the need for technology to bridge the gap. I’m also meeting Mike Profit, who joined our board as non-exec in June. He’s gained so much experience over the past 25 years, working with a staggering number of US technology blue chips and fast-growth start-ups. I have been looking forward to meeting him in person for the past three months, and finally we can really shoot the breeze, to borrow an American phrase.

It’s taken a lot of hard work from many different people to get me out here. It took three months to get the visa, and I would like to thank the Department for International Trade for all their help.

I hope that our US offering will formally launch in January 2022. I feel like a start-up founder again, creating this new business within BigChange. I can’t wait to see how big we could be here, and to begin spending more time here as we cement our position as a leader in our industry. I wish that my 24-year-old self could see me now.

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