Nick Russill
Founder of TerraDat

In this show, I interviewed Nick Russill, co-founder of TerraDat, who provide specialist 3D subsurface mapping, using state of the art techniques. Nick is also co-founder of Snow-Forecast.com, a Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence, and a photographer.

 

During this interview we discussed how TerraDat Geophysics started, it’s 28 years of steady growth, and how despite the pandemic the business continues to thrive. In this fascinating interview you will hear:

 

  • How to continue to grow your business by innovating and staying agile

  • Why it’s important to sometimes say ‘No’ to new business

  • The value of honesty, when it comes to ensuring repeat business

  • How to work in harmony with your partner, by knowing your strengths and weaknesses

  • The benefits of sticking to what you're good at in business

Nick Russill
00:00 / 01:04

1:42 | Alan welcomes Nick Russill to the show and invites him to introduce himself and his business, TerraDat. Nick denotes himself as a geoscientist and reveals his background in mapping.

2:52 | Nick explains how his background led him to co-found TerraDat, a company that offers mapping underground using non-disruptive methods.

3:45 | Nick gives insight into TerraDat’s client base, and the variety of customers who require the service.

4:43 | Nick recalls how he and his partner founded the company when they were students, noting that their academic roots led them to employ staff with a background in geoscience. He goes on to give an impression of the size of the company and the location of the offices, including a new office in Spain.

7:17 | Nick explains how the company finds new clients and business. He discloses that the high repeat business rate is due to a low failure rate, and reveals the reasons for the company’s low failure rate.

9:08 | Nick gives an example of a successful case of geo-mapping in Ireland. He also establishes how the company contributes to archaeological excavation. 

11:04 | Alan asks Nick to give an example of a project that the company wouldn’t be able to carry out. He distinguishes severe liability as a factor for rejecting a project.

13:17 | Nick talks about how TerraDat manages risk and liability.

14:42 | Nick attributes his love of geology to his educational path and his career. He explains that his family background, and experience as an employee, drove his ambition to found his own company.

18:30 | Nick discusses his partnership with Rob, the co-founder of the company, and how their distinctive roles have developed.

19:52 | Nick recounts the early days of the business and the first ‘win’, which allowed them to re-invest in the company and grow.

21:26 | Nick elaborates on how they introduced an innovative mapping technique into the UK market. He goes on to illuminate how the company have developed technology and software for new applications for various projects.

24:17 | Nick reveals the importance of an overlap between work and leisure time, and an innate interest in mapping and geography held by employees.

26:26 | Nick discusses some of the financial risks taken by TerraDat, and the positives that emerged from these risks.

27:38 | Nick describes how the business has grown, and talks about the importance of maintaining an ethos.

29:09 | Nick gives insight into how the agility of the business has allowed it to grow.

30:45 |  Nick reveals how the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the company, and the adjustments made within the company. He goes on to share how he has managed capacity and fluctuations in demand during the pandemic.

33:54 | Nick discusses the reasons behind his pride in the company. He goes on to share some of the mistakes he made in setting up the company, and some lessons learned in the process. In particular, he recounts the risks and issues that emerged when starting an internationally operating sister company.

37:16 | Nick reveals some of the hopes and aspirations he has for TerraDat, including involvement in preventing negative impacts upon the climate.

38:42 | Alan asks Nick to further explain how the company can combat the climate crisis. Nick describes how their mapping expertise can offer solutions to geological issues arising from climate change.

40:21 | Nick reveals his hopes to spend more time teaching entrepreneurial minded people, and discusses projects he is involved with at Exeter university.

42:24 | Alan and Nick discuss the difficulties in letting go of direct leadership over a business, and the balance between personal life, work, and mental health. Nick goes on to explain how and why the company has resisted certain forms of growth.

46:27 | Nick describes some of the ways in which the pandemic has led him to manifest and strengthen core values.

48:02 | Nick shares some of his learnings, including his experience with David Hieatt’s expression “do one thing well”, the importance of exposing oneself to different disciplines, and meeting different people from different backgrounds.

52:24 | Alan and Nick talk about the importance of mental wellbeing of business owners with regard to the performance of the business.

54:07 | Nick shares information to aid listeners who want to find out more about Nick and his company, TerraDat.