Shamus Rae is co-founder and CEO of Engine B, a digital technology company that has developed artificial intelligence (AI)-based tools for listeners.
Founded in 2019 by Rae and Donne Burrows, B-engine aims to standardize customer data in professional services.
The London-based company raised £3.5m in funding, including £1.7m from a Innovate UK Grant in April 2020.
In this week’s Founder in Five Q&A, the head of Engine B explains why he thinks a good CEO should hire people to “start” you if it’s in the company’s best interest, why the 10 first hires are crucial to shaping a startup’s culture, and shares the emerging technology that interests them most.
1. What was the most important first hire you made?
Shamus Rae: Bbefore Engine B was even a full-fledged business, I had Donne Burrows on badvice. She has all the operational intelligence you would need, understands my way of thinking and shares my values for the bbusiness. She is now co-founder and chief operating officer.
2. When should a founding CEO pass the baton on a new CEO?
RS: I passionately bbelieving that different people are good at leading bcompanies at different stages of their growth. It takes a CEO with real self-awareness to know when a different leader is needed to effectively develop the bbusiness to realize its potential.
Many founders (myself included) will bI can bbuild and grow a business until it reaches around 200 employees, after which a CEO with a different skill set will likely be bI have to take this bbusiness forward. me too firmly bbelieve that hiring people who have the talent, vision and values to bkick you out if they think it’s in the bthe interests of the bbusiness is vital!
3. What is the bhe way to promote diversity in the workplace?
RS: The benefit of running a startup is that you can encourage diversity from the start and ensure it’s part of your organization’s DNA. One of the very first things we did at Engine B was to write the staff manual and define the values of the bbusiness.
I’ve also learned that the first ten people you hire will have a critical impact on your culture and values, so it’s critical to get it right and encourage diversity in all its forms as part of this process. ‘hiring.
4. Which emerging technology is the most promising?
RS: It’s hard not to be excited about the potential of AI to positively transform the accounting and legal professions. Specifically, when combined with knowledge graphs, AI bWe are extremely transformative in how we manage knowledge and serve our customers digitally.
5. What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
RS: In the early 1990s, as a serial entrepreneur, I traveled to India and Sri Lanka and realized how many talented, driven and creative people were there.
As a result, I moved to India, bI settled in Mumbai and worked there for about seven years.
Founder in Five – a UKTN Q&A series featuring the entrepreneurs behind the UK’s innovative startups, scale-ups, unicorns and public tech companies – is published every Friday.