Serial entrepreneur Peter Orr shares his thoughts on business success in this episode of the Pioneering People podcast, including why good people are the key to innovation, and the lessons to be learned from sport.
Beginning his career in the legal profession, Peter was following a family tradition. “I'm a third generation lawyer," he says. "My elder brother managed to avoid the bullet and I took the bullet and studied law.”
Showing the entrepreneurial trait of a risk-taker early on, Peter took his first job as a lawyer in Nairobi, Kenya - “rather than follow a formal career path in a good law firm in London or Edinburgh”.
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After practising law in areas such as corporate, E-commerce and IT at some of Edinburgh’s top law firms, Peter, along with a few others, set up Hearts and Minds, a charity that offers therapeutic clowning to both the elderly in care homes and children in hospital. Peter describes this project as a "labour of love".
“My bosses encouraged me to do many different things and that's something in my own businesses career I like to do with my own people,” he says.
With this philosophy in mind, in 2004 Peter co-founded Intelligent Mobile, a digital innovation agency. In the beginning, it was a one product business, a service called Key Text for the property sector.
However, the product soon became outdated after the ability to Google on the iPhone hit the market; so the products and services had to evolve. The business now offers other mobile services including app development.
“To be good in this space you need people to be adaptable and who are always willing to learn.” Peter credits the award-winning work of Intelligent Mobile to his staff: “Innovation comes from great people. The core of any great agency is people with ideas.”
Peter has also innovated in the law sector by going into business with his dad and founded the company The Legal Broker. “It's hard to know who is the best lawyer for a particular bit of work, how to structure the arrangement with a law firm and hard to know how much you should be paying.”
However, the business model had its shortcomings and the pair are now developing a version two. “We weren't patient enough," he admits. "Everything takes time, particularly if you are trying to crack one of the world's oldest professions.”
When asked about his proudest moment to date, Peter says: “I guess getting the idea (behind Intelligent Mobile) out the pub. I shook hands with my mate Simon a long time ago about doing this business and we got it to a multi-million pound business.
"It’s a rough road though. I remember in the fourth year, we looked at the numbers and thought my goodness, we've made more money in a month than we’ve made in our first three years! There is still a long way to go and I’m very optimistic.”
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