Q&A with Laura Haldane, Co-Founder and VP of Sales and Marketing at SciLeads

  • How did you meet your fellow SciLeads co-founders?

    Daniel McRitchie, our CEO, and I met in our early twenties while we were both working in Andor Technology. We quickly became friends due to our shared mission to one day start our own companies. I’d tell him about James Campbell, my friend from school who was a software engineer, and the random small businesses we had set up for pocket money, which got more sophisticated as James’s coding skills grew. Between the three of us we didn’t have the idea yet, but we knew we wanted to start our own business.

    Why did you want to start your own business?

    It’s something that’s always been our dream, the idea of being able to put your own processes in place and that feeling of success knowing it was directly from your hard work. There’s no imposter syndrome when it started from nothing! I guess a lot of it too was wanting to create an environment that we wanted to work in; one which was both fun and flexible, while also growing quickly.

    Daniel is an early bird, whereas James and I are super night owls so none of us fit perfectly into that ‘9-5’ mould, so we realised if we wanted everyone working at their best, we needed to go against that ‘norm’. We created a remote-working company from the outset where everyone could work at their peak performance times and be trusted and supported to do so.

    How did the idea of SciLeads come to be?

    Daniel and I were on one of our regular Clements Stranmillis catchups and he told me he had the winning business idea. He could see a gap in the market for an automated sales and marketing platform in the life sciences industry, which was perfect because it was in all of our fields. So, James and Dan got to work building the platform from scratch, the lovely guys at TechStart supplied the initial POC money, and once the platform was built my role was to get it to market!

    What exactly is SciLeads?

    Well, officially, SciLeads is a lead generation and market intelligence SaaS platform that helps scientific sales and marketing teams identify and reach their ideal customers. But what that really means is we have collated a big data set of information in order to provide the most comprehensive and accurate database of scientific researchers in the world.

    It is pretty niche, but it is very useful for companies in our market to quickly locate who needs their products for their research. To do this manually would take teams of people and hours of research, whereas we do that boring bit for them so they can concentrate on selling. So we now have customers across 25 countries, and SciLeads is used by 14 out of the 15 top companies in the life science instrumentation field.

    How does your remote philosophy affect your business?

    It is what drives our success, ultimately because we can keep our HQ in Belfast but have a global workforce to ensure we are available in our customer’s multiple time zones. With 93% of our business coming from outside of the UK, we need people to be awake when they are. By ditching the 9-5 regime and giving our staff the freedom and flexibility to work when suits them best, they are much happier and more productive. And as I said I’m a night owl, so when I’m on a call to California at midnight, it is much more pleasant being at home than in a cold office!

    How has SciLeads grown since starting in 2016?

    Well once the boys built the platform, I trawled LinkedIn and signed up our first 100 customers. We then started recruiting more people and quickly gained traction in the market. We have been growing rapidly ever since with Top Fortune 500 companies trusting us right down to the smallest start-ups. Jumping to 2023 we are on the cusp of a new BioPharma product launch, have been named one of the top 20 fastest-growing tech companies in Ireland by Deloitte for two years running, and have a team of 55 global SciLeaders with a plan to double that number by 2024.

    What do you think has led to your success?

    Without a doubt, it is our exceptional team and our focus on innovation. We have lived and breathed the problems our customers face so we’re in a unique position to solve them and by listening closely to customer feedback we can keep enhancing the software to their needs. Aside from that, work ethic would be high up there, something the three of us share. I’m not sure if we can even call it work ethic though because we enjoy it so much. And that’s really what we wanted to create, an environment where you love coming to work, and it helps that the commute is just down the hallway.

    How have you managed the competition for talent in the workplace?

    We quickly learned that the success of any business is entirely down to the team. Finding talent in today’s market has definitely been one of our biggest challenges, but our remote first working allows us to overcome this by hiring anywhere in the world. Also being flexible with our current staff - in fact, we had an employee ask us recently if they could move to Australia and work for SciLeads there. The answer, of course, was “absolutely”!

    As a remote company, how do you maintain company culture?

    Maintaining the company culture as we scale is another challenge. When we started out, we knew we wanted to create a company with a truly flexible culture and work-life balance, which is why we chose to work remotely way back in 2016. We always encourage

    our staff to get outside, walk the dog, go to the gym, play in the snow and see the sunshine! Yes, we work hard, but it's also nice to have the flexibility to go to the post office when it isn't so busy, or pop out to have a coffee with your mum.

    As we scale, we are adamant about maintaining this. We also appreciate that not everyone has a lovely home office set up, so that’s why we give each SciLeader £750 every two years to get their ideal home office - with a stand-up desk, huge monitors and a fancy coffee machine, whatever you desire.

    What’s next for SciLeads?

    We’re at an exciting point in our journey where we’re the industry leaders in our space, but we still have massive potential to grow further. Our growth will be a combination of our new product launches, our expansion further into the Asian markets, and generally following the same steep growth trajectory that we’ve been on the last few years. We’re open to all options in assisting us with our plans, including taking on investment from the right partner.

    What are your goals for the future?

    Our goal is to continue to grow significantly in the next few years, doubling our existing team of 50 to over 100. We’ve been in the top 20 of Deloitte’s fastest-growing Tech Companies in Ireland for the last two years, and we plan to be high up there next year too. We’re launching a new product in early 2023 which will expand our potential market, as well as add additional value to our existing customers.

Share this story