In our most recent issue of The Pelican Magazine, we were delighted to interview Amy Read, Class of '95 who is at the forefront of technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.
One of the first females to attend Robert Gordon's College, she left in 1995 to study Business Studies at the University of Strathclyde. After graduating from university, Amy joined the BT Graduate Scheme and headed up the marketing for many of BT's most successful campaigns, including the launch of BT Broadband. After moving to Singapore over 10 years ago, she shifted her focus to digital and tech, working for industry leaders including Facebook and NMG before starting her own business.
Amy is now taking strides in the technology industry as CEO and Co-Founder of Techsembly, a VC backed tech start-up. She is also Director and Founder of Gifts Less Ordinary, a Global marketplace which has featured in Singapore Tatler, Marie Claire and the Business Times.
Amy, congratulations on recently securing US $1.4 million in venture capital funding. This is a major breakthrough for Techsembly. Can you tell us more about the idea behind Techsembly and what the funding means for you?
Techsembly was born out of my first business, Gifts Less Ordinary, an online global marketplace matching bespoke local artisan brands with global brands. One of the most unique aspects of Gifts Less Ordinary was the ability to appear hyper-local in each of the markets we operated in, yet retain centralised control.
We originally built the site on Magento and made so many customisations to the code base to allow for this level of eCommerce localisation, it became no longer fit for purpose. I recognised then that for Gifts Less Ordinary to scale further we needed to build out more geo-targeted localised storefronts to capture the interests of a global audience. To achieve this with our existing site or any of the other eCommerce players out there required us to either manage multi-instances (sites) or heavily customise the code-base. As a result, we decided to build our own multi-store/multi-vendor localised platform in-house. We were then approached by The Peninsula Hotels to license the software so they could host multiple eCommerce storefronts on one centralised platform. Once we realised the demand was there, we decided to licence it out as a SaaS solution for the hospitality industry and hence, Techsembly was born January 2020.
We were funded at the end of March 2021. This funding has enabled us to grow our tech team and expedite our product roadmap. We have now expanded to a team of 31 people across the globe, most employees being developers. We have evolved our product offering considerably and are now offering not only multi-store eCommerce solutions, but now support multi-product types.
Working for BT, you were one of the youngest recruits to be promoted from the graduate scheme within six months of joining the company. You quickly climbed to Head of Digital and Online Marketing for BT. What was it like to hold a senior leadership role at such a young age?
BT was an amazing company to kick off my career with. It gave me a great grounding in business, entrepreneurship, and leadership. I am very grateful for the time I had there and the colleagues I met along the way. Once you get to a certain stage in your career though you need to make the decision about the path you want to take. Being senior in an enterprise company often means spending more time presenting and less time creating. Project approvals and sign offs can take a lot longer and often get a bit more political. Where I thrive is creating, making things happen quickly and feeling empowered to make my own decisions. To me, I always knew that meant being an entrepreneur; I just had to time the transition right.
Moving to Singapore, you joined Facebook which had more than 1.6 billion users last year. Any thoughts on their recent major rebrand to Meta?
Facebook has been in the news a lot recently, sadly for a lot of the wrong reasons. I still think of Facebook as an aspirational brand, backed by incredible people. But, to be honest changing their name to Meta is just putting a band-aid over the current issues they are facing.
Being one of the first girls at the College 31 years ago, how did the College help prepare you for life and work?
Being one of the first girls to attend an all-boys College was an incredible experience and one I’m very grateful for. It grounded me. I learnt a lot along the way, made a lot of incredible friends and I’m eternally grateful for the teachers who supported and inspired me on my journey.
If a pupil or former pupil was thinking about pursuing a career in tech what would your advice be?
Do it! If you love change, creating things, breaking things, and making things happen, then tech is the one space you need to be in.
Read the full interview on pages 10-11 in the latest edition below.