Databases, Podcasts and Yoga - A chat with Phil Telfer
Phil is both a Co-Founder and Co-Director of ClearSky Logic, after starting the Company in early 2018. Prior, Phil was a Senior Software Developer and System Architect with expertise in Database Design and Development, which he sees as a pre-requisite to creating top end bespoke business software. Phil has been responsible for leading and recruiting multiple teams of technical professionals, as well as designing, architecting and delivering software platforms that turnover around £1m per day.
What made you embark on the ClearSky Logic journey?
‘Both I and co-founder Darren worked together for Spark Energy and gained a great deal of experience in building and leading software development teams, delivering business-critical features and scalability. Our responsibilities also included having to select, manage and provision work to competent Third Parties. It became apparent that our ability equaled or surpassed that of many external consultants, so we decided it was time to branch out on our own. Our mission since then has been to take our knowledge and experience and apply it to our own business offering; be it helping deliver our partners’ business vision or developing our own in-house software projects at ClearSky. We know many small to medium sized businesses are massively-constrained by the tech they use. We aim to solve that and help them realise their potential.’
What sets ClearSky Logic apart from other businesses?
‘We’re a Tech company but our philosophy is “Business First”. What we do must serve a business purpose. Otherwise, it is just a hobby or a distraction. We are passionate about applying technology to business problems and are driven by helping our clients succeed. We’re not geeks who are interested in technology for the sake of it. We’re craftsmen (and women) who learn to use the constantly-evolving tools of the trade. We’re like a flyweight boxer. We’re lean, fit and fast and effective. We use the term “Bridging the Gap between Business and Technology” because we feel there is a gap in mindset,language and purpose in many organisations we’ve worked with, but we bridge this gap, speak “both languages” and have a firm footing in each.’
What made you choose to set up office in Edinburgh?
‘I live in Cumbria, but if I were to move to any city in the UK, it would be Edinburgh. I still feel a bit “wow” when I step out onto Princes Street from Waverley Station in the morning. I helped found the Spark Energy Development office here in 2013, built a great team from the local skills market and have worked here ever since. I have since met some inspirational entrepreneurs and business owners here.There is a real buzz in the City at the moment – its really become something of a UK tech hub and we’re delighted to be part of that.’
How did you build a successful client base?
‘Previous contacts and colleagues have formed a strong and loyal client-base,but we’ve also brought in new clients via our websites and by attending networking events. Our ideal Client for ClearSky Logic is anon-technical CEO or Business Owner or Manager who appreciates that technology has the potential to massively-leverage their business but that they’re struggling with making good decisions in this area. We offer a vCTO service where myself or Darren manage the entire technology function in the business, which could include managing existing team members, working with third parties or delivering software with our in-house teams.’
How long a day do you work (do you ever truly stop)?
‘If you have ambition and passion for your work, then you’re bound to end up working long hours. Taking up the role of business owner means I work a much longer day than I used to as an employee. It ranges from around 10 to 12 hours a day – yesterday it was 15. I tend to start early and often finish late. Working a long day isn’t something I wear as a badge of honour though. I do try to make time for exercise, relaxation and family. I always make sure to start the day with yoga and meditation, to ensure I start each day with a clear mind and maintain a youthful body.’
What resources (authors, professionals etc.) inspire you the most?
‘Podcasts are my main source of inspiration. I listen to James Shramko, an Australian entrepreneur from a Sales background who focuses on coaching business owners into creating highly leveraged business models that free up the owner from much of the day to day operations.He enthuses about how to help others while keeping yourself healthy too. I feel a connection with this mission– Shramko guides entrepreneurs by using his business knowledge while ClearSky guides entrepreneurs in leveraging technology to create automation and scale. I also listen to British ‘Disruptive Entrepreneur’ Rob Moore, who focuses on adopting positive mindsets and taking practical steps to encourage personal development and grow a successful business. He’s a great inspiration to many fledgling entrepreneurs and it shows how the generous act of helping others is such a compelling approach to business and life in general.