Barry Darmody, founder and CEO of Search4Less and ENKI, shares his story on the life experiences that were the catalysts for him becoming a startup founder, getting the Search4Less product to market in the early days, keeping the faith through the lean years, making yourself expendable through building a great team, and connecting the dots of life through his passion for problem solving.
Search4Less is a limitless company information platform that allows you to access any publicly available information about directors, shareholders and companies in seconds. ENKI is also part of the family, which is a focused product built around the Search4Less core that makes law searching easy and efficient for property transactions.
On the impact of playing a key role in acquiring businesses early in his career: “I learned a lot in the due diligence phases and in being part of the discussions in the negotiations. A lot of empathy is required to convince the vendor that their ‘child’ is going to be looked after and their reputation is going to remain intact post-deal.”
“These were important things when we were making these acquisitions because a lot of these businesses are personal to the owners. The owners struggled with the thoughts of getting out, but they just knew the timing was right.
On leading a business that had been acquired by a multinational (MDA): “It was a massive experience for me because I learned how multinationals work and I learned how to navigate the bureaucracy and the decision-making.”
On waking up to what he really wanted to do: “I moved into crisis management, rationalizing businesses, managing shareholder relations. All of that helped the business, but it was all complicated, and it wasn't what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to build products and make processes better, use my skillset to make life easier for people and to be more efficient in delivering the end product.”
On launching a corporate-joint-venture-funded startup: “We did Insure4Less from startup. It was a great experience, especially with the amount of open-source technology we brought to the business. As you know, failure is an orphan and success has many fathers. When the business started to get a little bit of success, we got a bit of interest from my corporate peers who wanted to ‘help’ with the future direction of the business. And I just thought, ‘I've been around the block now and I've done this a few times and maybe it's time I did it for myself.’”
On early customer feedback after launching Search4Less: “When people started to use it, they were saying ‘wow, this is impressive’. And the prompt just kicked off from there - half of the clients that we sign up are referred by somebody else. We're even seeing trends now where people move between firms or start new firms. And the first thing they do is ‘What do you mean you don't have Search4Less? We need to have it, this is an essential tool’, and it just grows from there.”
On the lean years: “Those were difficult times. I always checked myself at those times to say to myself ‘you're going to just remember this when you're successful, you must remember this’. Human nature is to forget pain - they were difficult times, but we got through them. It certainly didn't happen as quickly as I thought - I thought that in a year, I'd have 5,000 SMEs signed up to Search4Less and that I'd be kicking back, watching my kids grow up, standing there on the sidelines and shouting and roaring for them.”
On making it through and turning the corner with a successful business: “The big thing that has changed is that I've built a pretty strong team and it's not just me. I’ve found that I've become surplus to requirements in most days in the office.”
On the qualities of a strong team “I'd like to think that everybody who works within our organization would say that we're an honest organization. We're candid, we're transparent. We put our hands up when we get it wrong, and we lead by example. But most important, we back each other and I wouldn't be anywhere today without that team.”
On staying agile: “If you get too big, you can't react quickly, and I think that's our secret sauce. A customer might make a suggestion to us in the morning, and it could be there by close of business tomorrow. I like being able to do that, and that's what gets my juices flowing.”
Episode title inspired by All the Things You’re Searching for by G-Eazy
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