UENI: the company launching over 300 websites per day
London-based tech company UENI is launching over 300 websites per day, with hairdressers, plumbers and small shops among those finding a way to compete with the world’s biggest brands.
“Our mission is to make all businesses visible online. We are a digital agency for the masses,” says UENI CEO Christine Telyan. UENI provides a free website and Google My Business listing to all small businesses that sign up for its service. The business also provides paid services such as a custom domain name, professional email address and listings on trusted, high traffic maps, directories, and social media sites.
UENI’s ‘freemium’ model now sees more than 300 businesses sign up per day – an increase of 100% since the beginning of 2019. "We want to level the playing for small businesses. For consumers, this means far greater choice when buying locally. For our customers, it means more trade and business growth. As for big businesses that have been taking their customers for granted, watch out.”
The inspiration for UENI came about in 2014 when Telyan was tasked with finding a dentist for her husband, Anh Pham Vu, who was returning from a business trip with severe toothache. She went online to find a local dental surgery but was surprised how hard it was.
“I thought it would be easy but actually it took quite a while and a number of calls to find and book a dental appointment for Anh,” she recalls.
The bad experience stayed in the minds of Christine and Anh and led them to realise that, if dentists were hard to find, so were many other types of businesses.
“Whenever we need to buy things, the first thing we do is search the internet. But by and large, search results turn up chains and franchises, and many small businesses are invisible online.
The couple researched the market and discovered that over 70 percent of small businesses lacked an online presence. Existing options, such as website builders, require time as well as knowledge that many small businesses unfamiliar with online publishing don’t have, such as content writing or SEO
In December 2014, Christine and Anh set up UENI and shortly after quit their jobs to focus on its development. In 2015, the company gained its first investment of £1.5mn from business angels. As of 2019 the company has raised a total of £15mn in funding.
“Being online is now so much more than just having a website,” Telyan says. “But it’s an area many need help with, as most don’t have the skills to create a full online presence or the budget to hire an agency.”
“We now have over 300 people signing up with us each day. In order to do this, we use a lot of automation but nonetheless we are delivering a personalised product to every user. Also, we have a team based in the UK who oversee every website before it goes live.”
The London-based company currently operates in the UK, France, Spain, the United States, and India.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”