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  • Writer's pictureRomesh Jeyaseelanayagam

INSIGHTS: Q&A with High Growth Business Leaders

Gain insights on business growth in our series of bite size chats with Business Leaders, brought to you by The FD Consultant.  Today we welcome Andy McNulty, CEO of Touch Stay.

Gain insights on business growth in our series of bite size chats with Business Leaders, brought to you by The FD Consultant.

We interview high achieving individuals who we believe everyone can learn from, and who bring insight into the many aspects of successfully growing a business.

Today we welcome Andy McNulty, CEO of Touch Stay. Touch Stay offers a great software solution enabling accommodation providers to create a tailored digital guidebook for their guests. The business is international and continues to enjoy strong cashflows and accelerated growth.

We hope you find the Q&A with Andy interesting and insightful!

Hi Andy, please tell us about your business.

I’m Andy, the cofounder and CEO of Touch Stay. We provide the software for accommodation providers to create a digital guidebook for their guests.

The guide would provide the guest with everything they need to know about their stay, from the property info (WiFi, check-in process, hot tub video instructions, etc) to the best local spots (the local pizza place, where to enjoy a great cocktail, recommended activities, etc). The guide can then be sent to the guest via email, text, the booking system, OTA platform, WhatsApp, or even a QR code in the accommodation.

The purpose is to reduce the number of questions a guest has to ask, resulting in operational efficiencies AND a better guest experience. Most importantly, it’s all done in a human way, so that the guest still feels connected to you. No robots here!

What are the key factors which have driven your growth to date?

I’m glad you said ‘factors’ and not ‘factor’, I really wish there was one magic thing! That said, I would cite being human as the common thread running through everything we do.

It has been (and still is) possibly THE most important factor given we operate in hospitality, with tons of fragmented software products serving a huge longtail of small operators, with no VC funding. That backdrop requires us to build trust with people, to find customers through industry partners, to help not sell, and to slowly but surely build a brand that people see as human, here to stay, and genuine.

Just as accommodation owners and managers will always want their guests to feel like there is a human touch behind the automations and processes, so we want them to feel that way about us. For us at least, that’s the key factor.

What makes you so passionate about what you do?

I love waking up every day and having to solve problems. By nature I’m optimistic so, whilst the problems initially vex me, I always believe there’s a solution, and it’s nearly always about opening the mind and being more creative with it. That gets harder as the team grows because it’s no longer me that gets to solve problems, I need people around me that do.

Thankfully that’s my other passion in business, surrounding myself with people who want to get stuff done, who have the energy, enthusiasm and creativity to problem-solve. Our team is full of them and that’s not a coincidence, it’s truly what I believe makes a business succeed.

It also helps that we work in hospitality, and a section of hospitality that aligns perfectly with us, full of personable, creative and energetic people who want to deliver the best possible experience for their guests.

What do you view as your greatest achievement in this role to date?

When I jumped out of a career in luxury fashion, leaving behind status and a big salary package, I got some strange looks. One person even called me stupid. I remember that moment and I remember how it felt to be judged for turning left at a career (life) crossroads when the logical direction was straight on.

Straight on didn’t fire me up. Left fired me up.

And I’ve always been an advocate of changing something if you’re not digging it. Looking back on that moment, particularly looking back to how I was made to feel for making what I knew was the right choice, I can confidently say that my greatest achievement in this role (so far) has been to see our 7-figure ARR company blossoming.

If you want a straight up answer, it’s being able to say “I told you so”.

What are the biggest challenges your business faces?

Ourselves! There are of course macro challenges, but it’s ultimately about how we respond. There are hurdles in front of most things we want to do, it’s how we choose to go past the hurdle. Do we gracefully jump, stutter and clip, run right through it, or simply pick it up and move it out the way?

It doesn’t matter, the challenge is not about how to clear the hurdle, but to be determined to go past it. And that’s almost always about ourselves, whether and how we choose to respond. Every decision, whether product, marketing, organisation, customer support, sales, retention, etc, comes down to us.

What one piece of advice would you give to those who want to achieve or sustain high growth in their businesses?

Gosh, there are so many factors at play in growing. Determination, iteration, testing, optimism, team, etc.

But if I had to narrow in, I’d say you must be comfortable being uncomfortable.

Things get messy, decisions are never certain, outcomes will differ, you’ll wake up thinking about the business, and so on. I’m not saying it’s about being unhappy and stressed (although you will have moments!) but rather about accepting and enjoying the challenge; of moving into the stretch zone where being uncomfortable is a positive force. Without that you most certainly don’t grow.

I also think it differs slightly between the two words you’ve used. To achieve growth the discomfort is around testing and iterating, to sustain growth the discomfort is still around testing and iterating, but it’s also about scaling what works, it’s harder!

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