Reacting to the ever-changing world of commerce means balancing a fine line between boom or bust. Without the wonders of a crystal ball to aid this, businesses must rely on data analysis to predict the future and aid growth. The availability of data on consumer activities and global trends is easily accessible, but it’s what you do with it that counts.

Seeing a potential business opportunity in this field, alumnus George Boretos (Full-Time 1994) launched his own business, Global Forecasting Solutions, earlier this year. The company provides forecasting and predictive analytics solutions, helping enterprises to interpret the future.

George’s light bulb moment came while workinGeorge Boretosg for the marketing department of a large business software vendor and struggling to accurately estimate the growth of new customers their respective churn rate. “This is a typical problem that most marketers, sales persons, and business people face every day. After a long search, I came across s-curves and competition systems analysis and used these models to perform the forecast. I found them very accurate in capturing the key trends of the market.

“From that point on, I started working with these methods, and developed my own models and tools also, which I tested on everyday business problems, working on improving them for over a decade.”

Capitalising on the rapidly evolving world of  social media and big data analytics, which were influencing the forecasting profession, George launched a website, ‘Forecasting Net’ and a LinkedIn group in order to exchange ideas about future trends and practical forecasting problems with the broader, e-connected, community.

The positive reaction I got from all these led me to the next logical step, and Global Forecasting Solutions was born.

Launching a business in a competitive industry requires business acumen, drive, ambition and determination, something which George was well equipped to deal with.  “I started a career in marketing because I was inspired by my marketing professor during my time at the Business School. I took the elective New Ventures, so that one day I could start my own business. And when, eventually, I did, I used almost everything I learned during my MBA year. However, the most important lesson came from some of the case studies, and it was a simple one: dreams and miracles do come true, as long as you believe in yourself and your team and keep on trying!”

However no matter how prepared you are, no business launch is without its challenges and for George this was identifying what the value proposition would be. “Although we had a general idea about our offerings, when we actually entered the market and talked to potential customers and partners, we soon discovered that we should keep our ears, minds, and options open and continuously adapt to new stimulus and ever-changing circumstances. Currently, only one third of our offering is based on ideas that we had before starting our company full time, the rest is a result of our engagement with the market.”

And it is this ability to stay reactional and evolving, listening to customer needs that won him recognition in the form of being shortlisted as one of six finalists in the Reload Greece competition, hosted at London Business School.

“Our team participated in a 5 day-long startup bootcamp that ended up with a Dragon’s Den like event in front of investors, industry experts and a general audience. We gained a lot from the process, including top notch mentoring from industry experts, great international exposure and networking, and, obviously, interesting sales/partnership/funding opportunities to explore in the future.”

Reflecting on the whole process of launching his business, George said: “It challenged me in a creative way to explore the potential of the company, and also my personal potential to deliver something of value to the market.”

And his advice to other wishing to follow in his footsteps? “First, everything is important starting from the product itself, the production process, marketing and communication, networking, selling, and even legal, accounting or other support functions. You can’t afford to neglect anything. On the other hand, you have to prioritise and accept that you and your team cannot be perfect in all aspects. You have to excel in some key core competencies, which are different for every company, and pursue partnerships to complement your efforts. And always keep in mind the Minimum Viable Product concept. Don’t optimise your product, at least not in the beginning, but let the feedback guide you to perfect it in time.”

George’s final words of advice to other entrepreneurs are simple, “do it, but be prepared, you are entering a war zone, but one full of excitement!”

If you have launched your own business, or are inspired to learn more, please get in touch alumni-business@imperial.ac.uk