Judges on Fire: Ben Kepes, Principal, Diversity Limited

In our Judges on Fire series of podcasts, we aim to let you get to know our judges a little better. They also get the chance to share their wisdom and tips about entering the Tech Trailblazers Awards. For our latest outing we are catching up with Ben Kepes, Principal at Diversity, who has been on the judging team of the Tech Trailblazers Awards since the very beginning.

In an illuminating conversation, Ben shares his views of how his category of interest, Cloud, has changed for startups over the last 10 years. He also shares his experiences from having been an angel investor and being part of a startup himself, including how access to funding has changed the lifecycle of recent startups.

From his rural home in New Zealand, he shares his love of running and, in particular, how it can be therapeutic when stuck solving a problem. So, over to Rose Ross, Founder of the Tech Trailblazers Awards, as she interviews Ben Kepes in our latest Judges on Fire podcast.


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Interview transcript

Rose Ross: Hello everybody. I’m Rose Ross and I’m the founder and Chief Trailblazer at the Tech Trailblazers Awards, and I’m here to record a Judges on Fire with our good friend Ben Kepes from Diversity. Hello!

Ben Kepes: Hello, nice to see you and chat with you again.

Rose Ross: Yeah. Well, we were just talking, we actually met at Heathrow Airport back in May 2019 to record this, where unfortunately the background noise, and the cluttering of coffee cups and chatter made it impossible to pick up any of the audio. So, I’m sure we’ll do a lot better seeing as life’s marched on and Zoom recordings and suchlike are the normal these days.

Ben Kepes: And the world is a very different place. It’s only two years – that’s a little over two years ago, but the world is a very different place today.

Rose Ross: Yeah, if only wed have known, if only wed have known, but hey. So, Ben, you’re obviously had a little bit of a repose, a little respite last year, you’ve been with us right from the beginning. And we actually spoke for the first time on Skype, so we were already trailblazing in communications back then, werent we?! Because I’d reached out to you on Twitter and said, would you mind getting involved and helping us, and you have, which has been fantastic. But just in case people don’t know who Ben Kepes is, perhaps you could give us a little quick introduction to who you are, and the kinds of things that you get involved with on a day-to-day basis, and why you’re interested in in being part of the judging panel.

Ben Kepes: Yeah, sure. So, as people will know, or since from my accent, I’m from New Zealand, and I’m down here in New Zealand, but for the past, I guess, 15 years I’ve been a tech industry analyst, commentator, and living in New Zealand, but working primarily internationally, and mainly in Silicon Valley. And that’s encompassed a bunch of different things.

I was lucky enough to be very early-on on the growth of cloud, and so along with, what was then, a very small bunch of people who were all in on the cloud journey. I started talking about the early infrastructure players, Amazons and Rackspace, and those sorts of people in SES. And in this sort of extended… and in recent years I’ve done a lot of angels investing. So, I’m involved with 30, 40, or 50 different startups in different sectors all around the world. And I’m also a professional board member, so I sit on a bunch of different boards, but technology, insurance, health sector, manufacturing. So, I’m not a technologist per se, my focus on technology is the human and business aspects of it.

Rose Ross: Fantastic. So, you say that, but obviously you do commentate, and you do quite a lot of blogging. And I guess these days you also send out your newsletter via LinkedIn, and there’s always a really human element to it. I know that some of the ones recently, because obviously we’ve got a really challenging time at the moment, and your view, and we talked about it when we sat down at Heathrow Airport as well, about a lot of these aspects. I think we started to talk about things like wellbeing and you do a lot of stuff around the periphery. I mean, I don’t know how you do the directorships, the angel investing, the commentating and sleep! But perhaps because you’re doing this at six o’clock in the morning, maybe you don’t. So, that’s the secret Kepes sauce!

But aside from all that stuff that you do, you also have some ways of coping with things; you’re a runner, you run a lot. I follow you on Strava and I can hardly keep up with the Strava stuff, let alone being able to do that, at quite a healthy pace. How have you been finding that, because I think a lot of people have taken up running over the last 18 months. But for you, it’s something that’s been part of your life for a long time.

Ben Kepes: Yeah that’s right, and I could deeply psychoanalyse and say that the reason that I’m around and I’m so focused on fitness, is because my father passed away from a heart attack, or whatever. But for whatever reason, yeah, I am pretty focused on staying fit as much as I can. And so yeah, I’m a big runner, I do ultra-marathons and stuff like that. And I would caveat that by saying that I don’t have a day job. So, while my LinkedIn looks really-really busy, it can look busy because I don’t have a 9 to 5 which maybe the luxury to do lots of things. But I guess the flipside of having that much stuff going on is that I need to make sure that I keep things in balance, and so running is that for me. I run every day and I find that if I don’t run for couple of days I get a little bit antsy a little bit grumpy.

It’s interesting, I can have a really big thorny business problem or whatever that’s stressing me out, and I’ll go for a run and that all melts away, it gives one a little bit of perspective, I guess, on what’s important and how important things really are or aren’t. And on the scale of things, how much it really matters, 5/10/100/200 years down the track.

Rose Ross: Yeah, it’s interesting. I did have a go at running, I’d always seem to pick up an injury the two times that I’ve experienced it. I dont know what the opposite of an ultramarathon is! But I’m pretty sure that was the area that I was in. But, I do splash around in the pool, I do aqua aerobics and I find that a really good time to think about things, and over lockdown I’ve been doing a lot of walking, and again, that’s the time when all those things that have been on your mind percolate through, and sometimes you get a really nice brew at the end of it, and sometimes you go, no, let’s go for another walk, or let’s go for another splash in the pool.

So, I think it is really important, I think thats something that’s come to the fore for people as well. And hopefully, that’s at least one of small not small positive, its a very positive, but a positive thing for a lot of people is that they have started to think about health and fitness, and the importance of exercise, whatever that might be; whether it’s a gentle stroll for 20 to 50 minutes, whatever, out in the countryside, or wherever you live, even if it’s just pounding the pavements, or something a little bit more energetic, like ultra-marathons! So there’s a whole spectrum of things that people can enjoy.

Ben Kepes: Absolutely. You’re absolutely right, yeah.

Rose Ross: Being active and how that promotes the brain. Because ultimately, as we’ve evolved weve never really spent very much time sitting at desks thinking about things, tapping on the computer, just wasn’t part of it. We are designed to be active.

Ben Kepes: Absolutely.

Rose Ross: That’s the way we work, right? And our bodies are built for that, and obviously our minds are built for that as well. And we can’t reprogram that over a couple of generations. So, we’ve got to go with the flow. Evolution will just have to try and keep up with us! So, thats another thing.

There’s another thing that I think is fascinating, so, on top of the running, all the business interests, and I know you’ve being very generous and saying, Well, I haven’t got a 9 to 5, you’ve probably got a 6 to 9, and then some weekends and doing other stuff. But you also volunteer for the local fire service as well, don’t you?

Ben Kepes: Yeah, we’re lucky, I live in a little rural area in New Zealand, and so we’ve got a little hobby farm, or whatever. In New Zealand, like many other countries, and especially in rural areas, volunteerism is the lifeblood of community and of society. And so we moved to this district, and we didn’t know anyone, at that stage we didn’t have kids. And so the absolute natural thing to do for me was to join the local fire brigade. I’ve been a member there for 23 years now, and it’s great. I put in a lot of time and effort and go to lots of fires, medical events, and car crashes, and things like that. But it’s also a really rewarding thing to do, a lot of camaraderie. You see some horrible things, but because of that you build some really strong connections with people. And so, yeah, I really enjoy doing that as well.

Rose Ross: Yeah, its as you say, getting that perspective on life as well, about what’s really important, and there are certain scenarios when everything else pales into insignificance and there is just one job to do, and that is to keep someone alive, or to put out a fire that’s endangering life, whether that’s human or otherwise. So, yeah, thank you for that. There are lots of people who are doing what you’re doing, so really, really, appreciate it, although obviously you’ll never get to do a direct thing for here, but hopefully you’re doing something good for the greater community, so that’s brilliant.

So, I guess we’d better talk about the Awards, although the other stuff is very, very interesting. So, you’ve been primarily involved with the cloud category, and obviously when we started this 10 years ago, cloud was still emerging, it was still a little bit edgy and people were kind of ‘yes’, and software as a service, and all this kind of stuff. And now, obviously, bringing it into the whole cloud native, we’ve really accelerated, as well, the digital transformation we’re seeing due to the fact that the pandemic has forced us to now all work from home, or a lot of us to work from home, and the impact that’s had on the infrastructure that organisations need to have.

But what have you seen as being particularly interesting over the last 10 years, say, and what are you seeing or youre likely to be seeing from entrants this year? And just so you know, the cloud category is still very popular, even though it’s maybe seen as being a little bit retro these days perhaps!

Ben Kepes: Yeah, it’s funny isn’t it, I think that my leans, and the reason why I first got interested in technology and talking about it and stuff 15 years ago or more, was the thing with cloud as a way of delivering software is that it democratises things. My background is small business, I still own and run a small manufacturing business, and what cloud has enabled is that we can obtain solutions and new solutions that formerly would have been hugely expensive, too expensive, too big, too hard, and so you see those. And I guess my first focus on that was software as a service.

And so with SaaS, taking the old days you had, SAP and Oracle, or nothing. And now to the days where we’ve got things like Xero, and all of the add-on solutions, and app marketplaces and tiny little point solutions. And I think what happens, if I reflect back to maybe 2008, that sort of era, that was the start of… the first generation of enterprise SaaS was Salesforce; Salesforce, NetSuite and those sorts of companies, which were still big enterprise solutions, essentially. And then in 2008 you had the likes of Zendesk, New Relic, GoodData, and those sorts of companies that were much, much more point solutions. And I think what we’ll see in the competition this year is an even finer winnowing down of solutions, where in the old days if you were doing simply an employee NPS solution, you couldn’t build a business out of just doing employee NPS, but today you absolutely can. There’re probably 500 companies doing different variations of employee NPS. And so I expect to see that happening.

I think the interesting thing for me, and it’s what I’m sure a lot of the companies will be thinking about, is as you get that spread of lots and lots of different point solutions, whether it’s infrastructure or software, there’s the corresponding requirement for single panes of glass, that used to be the buzzword, but something to tie that all together, whether it’s tying it together by APIs and those sorts of things, or whether it’s monitoring, or whatever. So, I think that you’ve got this corresponding thing, you’ve got this much higher granularity of solutions, but you’ve also got a need to tie those solutions together, better. So, I think that’s what we’re starting to see and what we’ve started seeing over the past couple of years.

Rose Ross: Yeah, it will be very interesting, I haven’t had a chance to dive in yet, but I’m sure you’ll be feeding back on stuff. And obviously we’ve brought in some new categories, containers, obviously, cloud native is one of those, and that’s grown. Were probably seeing with that one, as we almost lose the companies as fast as they enter; like every winner has either had a huge amount of investment or has actually been acquired. So, it’s almost like there’s an acceleration in that whole process now, because usually, you’d say, Mm, well, you’ve got a couple of years to develop your hardware, youre amazing enterprise tech, flashing lights, the whole shebang. Now, of course, with it being software only delivered via the cloud, accelerated by that whole move to the cloud, people are building businesses, spinning them up, I guess, if we want to use some terminology from the data centre or from the cloud itself.

Ben Kepes: I think you’re right, and there’s some macro trends that come into that. So again, if I think back to 2008, the likes of Zendesk for example, they started, they went for a few years, they got a bit of funding, did a few more rounds, took 7, 8 years and then IPO. Same with New Relic, same with lots of them. What we’re seeing now, because interest rates globally are so low, and because there’s money, just an absolute flood of money pouring into tech, there’s just so much funding. And so it gives companies an option to stay private longer and means they can raise more readily.

There are some flip sides to that. I was very involved in the OpenStack community from day one, when it was just a project out of Rackspace. And we saw that gain huge hype, massive investment, huge number of startups, and frankly it was a bit of a disaster, and a lot of that money was wasted. So, that over the pandemic, because of interest rates we’ve seen money absolutely pour into tech, I fully expect that a significant proportion of those companies and of that money will be lost. That’s created distraction, I mean that’s that’s the way it works. Yeah, it’s going to be interesting.

And I think you’re right, it’s interesting to look back and think about the companies that did well in previous years of the Awards and mapping their journey with the economic cycles. Because obviously, what’s perfect is to start a company today when there’s huge money, lots of good valuations, lots of funding, but what about those companies that started around the GFC? Like the Zendesks and the like, where things were a lot tighter, and mapping their lifespans to the economic cycles?

Rose Ross: Well, we’ve got a very unusual situation, weve certainly seen huge investments into the cloud space, into the cyber security space, AI, and unsurprisingly that’s reflected in where a lot of the very popular categories are for entrants as well. But we do have a couple of new ones, and they’re actually beyond startups, so out into the ecosystem. I’d be very curious with your experience of working as an angel investor and advising, I’m sure, a lot of the VC community and a lot of startups themselves.

So, we focused on investment and diversity, because those are two areas where we’re seeing a lot of activity. I mean, obviously diversity has been a big topic within tech for a long period of time, and we’re not just talking about gender or ethnicity, we’re looking at basically anything that could be seen aswe just want an equal playing field for everybody, and I think that tech will benefit from that, and companies will benefit from that, because we’re getting that rounded viewpoint on solutions, on the way to do business. But again, in investment terms, one of the things we want to look at is, where are we seeing innovative approaches to investment, whether that’s bringing people together, almost like lead angels bringing other sort-of mini angels along, those types of things.

So, how have you seen that the whole investment space has changed? Because, really what you’re saying is, there were less companies to invest in say, 10 years ago, and they weren’t getting as much money, so they weren’t getting so much help, effectively. Whereas now, if I look at the number of VCs out there, I mean if you’re a startup looking for funding, I don’t know where you start. I mean, you literally could pitch every day, all day, for a couple of years and still not have actually pitched to every single organisation which could potentially be an investor in your business.

Ben Kepes: Yeah, you’re right. And maybe I’m just sounding old and negative, but I do worry about the risks of every woman and her dog now being a VC and being able to raise squillions of dollars, and to do a fund. In the same way that it worries me where everyone can call themselves an angel investor, and go along to these wine and cheese evenings, and play the game of talking themselves up as an investor. And I think that what has troubled me for the longest time is the fact the playing field isn’t level, and so I’m well aware that if I’m wearing my angel investor hat, all I bring to the table is a bit of money and maybe a little bit of experience. The entrepreneur is bringing their life, they’re working 24 hours a day, not sleeping, all of the stress – all of the risk. And it really pains me to see angel investors having to be wined and dined to invest in companies. I mean, they’re privileged to be able to ride on that journey for a period of time.

And I think the same in the VC space. I love my VC friends who are smart, helpful, and want to be involved, and can help take a company to the next level. But what I don’t like is this ‘pump and dump’ approach where someone will raise a bunch of money, will hire a graduate just out of university who doesn’t even shave yet, be they male or female, to work with the phones and make the connections. That absolutely sounds ageist and I’m not trying to stop them; I think it’s awesome that young people can get into the industry. But in a past life I did an apprenticeship, I’m an electrician by trade, and so I really like the idea of doing your time; you learn a trade, you learn a craft, you learn about the people, you learn about processes, and simply raising a few million dollars and having a shiny MBA or whatever, doesn’t give you that experience. And absolutely that sounds like an old man clutching on to a world that has passed by. But yeah, that’s the kind of the way I think.

So, I think it’s great that you’re extending the Awards to recognise this, because they are a very important part of the ecosystem. And I hope that casts light and clarity, as opposed to the superhuman thing. I mean I’ve spent a little bit of time with Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz, and obviously he’s got a brain the size of the planet, he’s insanely smart. But the rock star thing that he’s got going on, I feel a little bit uncomfortable about it, because yes he’s incredibly smart, but he was lucky to be in the right place at the right time, and have other people take him on the journey. We’re all simply a sum of the component parts of people that have helped us through life or whatever. And I think that anyone that purports to him, have done it on their own and not needed any help is probably a little bit fraudulent. I’m not saying Marc Andreessen is fraudulent, but that whole superstar VC thing I feel a bit…

Rose Ross: I think it’s just, he who wins owns the narrative, right?

Ben Kepes: Yeah, totally. To the winner goes the spoils. I don’t know, maybe I sound like a crazy hippie, but in a hundred years’ time I’m fairly certain that… I mean, Mark Andreasen probably does blood transfusions from 14-year-old Silicon Valley folks, and maybe he will live to 300. But outside of that, I’m pretty sure that him and I will be good. And the fact that he was a superstar VC 200 years ago, probably makes no difference on the scale of things. And I think it’s important to… we should strive, absolutely, and all of the entrepreneurs in the competition are striving every day to be successful. I think it’s also important at the same time to realise, not that it’s futile, but to realise that this too shall pass, I guess.

Rose Ross: Very important, very Deepak Chopra there. Ive done quite a lot of meditation over lockdown to try and keep everything balanced, for sure! But yeah, I think perspective, shall we say? At the end of the day you meet Mick Jagger and he’s just still a guy, right? Or whoever it might be, Beyonce, yeah, good singer and shake it up, baby. But, at the end of the day, we’re all human and we’ve all got to get on with stuff and be part of the

Ben Kepes: We’re all broken in our own ways.

Rose Ross: In our own beautiful ways, Ben, were all broken, that’s for sure. And I think that’s the challenge isn’t it? That we’ve got to almost demystify things a little bit, and work on partnerships. I mean, that’s always been a really big thing from that perspective, that I think you can bring money to the table, but you need be part a partnership really, in that type of thing. And I’m sure, obviously as an angel investor with a lot of companies, you can love the idea, you can love the team, but ultimately you’ve got to find a balance where you know that you can support them. And as you say, you bring a lot of experience, but I think you’d like to feel that it is more than just money that you’re bringing to the table.

Ben Kepes: Absolutely. Yeah, probably because I’ve got time, I tend to be more involved rather than less in my stuff actually. So, what I tend to have is a slight feeling of grief when they grow up beyond the utility of the little bit of help that I can give. And so that’s a little bittersweet, it’s like ah well, this company has actually gone to the next level. It’s kind of like when you get to leave home, I guess. But it’s great, it’s great to add some tiny-tiny level to help someone to… ‘fulfil their dreams’ probably sounds a little bit dramatic, but yeah that kind of thing.

Rose Ross: Yeah. Well it’s hard work, isn’t it? I think just having people along the way who can keep you positive is really important, because it is hard work. Like you say, people are working incredibly hard, and that’s why I love doing this because you really do feel that this is a chance for some of them, obviously not all of them, but for some of them to at least be acknowledged for all the hard work that they get and provide a bit of reward. And I love the whole podcast stuff because I get to talk to everybody whos won, which is, it’s supposed to be a benefit for them, but I really enjoy it too!! So, that’s important.

And all the little parts of this all build up to the bigger impact, don’t they? If you can just by one conversation convince somebody to keep going, or just point them in a direction, and its just those little moments sometimes that can make a massive difference. We’ve all had them, the I’m going to give up on this’, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore, and then you have this conversation with somebody who goes, But you’re amazing at that, or Maybe you just need to look at it from this perspective. And it can just pivot the whole thing.

Ben Kepes: I guess that’s the kind of nub of mentorship. And again, without wanting to be dramatic, it’s a real privilege to, at some tiny level, be able to be a sounding board or an aid. And the reality is, I don’t have the attention span or the energy to do a startup myself anymore. So, to be able to vicariously take part in others’ is awesome, being able to help them in some tiny way on their journey is really great.

Rose Ross: Fantastic. So, bearing in mind the fact that you’ve judged since the beginning, you’ve got a huge amount of experience; our entry forms are really focused on almost presenting what you would present to an investor, right?

  • What’s your market traction?
  • What are you bringing to the table?
  • What problems are you solving, etc, etc.

What would be your top tips? So, whether people are pitching you an idea, or whether they’re entering the Awards, what’s going to make Ben go, Oh, I really like that. Yeah, I think that’s got something going on there’?

Ben Kepes: My approach from this is the same as my approach to judging competitions. I guess the important thing to note is that that’s because I don’t actually know about the stuff. I’m not a technologist, I’m not an engineer, I’m not a developer, and so while I understand concepts I can’t actually say, ‘Oh, yeah this is a great UI for development, this one isn’t’. So, I default to the same things which is, frankly, do I like and respect this person, and do I think they have the ability to execute. And so, obviously that’s easier in personal face-to-face, but absolutely I’ve read competition entries where I could really sense that this was a person that thought deeply, knew where they were going and was able to get there. So, that’s the first thing, alongside that is their team that can execute this.

But also, and it’s a bit of a balance point, I want to read an entry or hear a pitch from someone who absolutely understands where their product sits in a broader world, in a broader technology landscape, and can articulate why that is important. But not to the point where they bring out the whole, ‘making the world a better place through intelligent data analytics’ claims, or whatever. So, perspective, ambition but perspective, I guess it’s borne out by what I’ve said, like I’d probably err to humanistic side of things, and so a person who says, ‘I’m absolutely focused on doing this’.

Yeah, I’m involved with a startup right now, which is a kind of New Zealand take on Ocado, a supermarket play. And the founder of that, she’s amazing, she’s incredible. she’s totally passionate and totally committed to what she’s doing. Making money, building wealth, having a big stake isn’t her focus. This is a problem that she absolutely wants to solve, and she knows the problem backwards; she comes from a family that’s involved in that sector, she’s spent three years researching so she knows it backwards. So, that’s the sort of thing that is really easy to get on board with, because you’ve got a person that knows what they need to do, isn’t focused simply by building a billion-dollar business, because that drops out of executing well. If that is your focus, then something’s misaligned.

So, those are the sorts of things. I think that it is hard because the competitions tend to have a tech-heavy entrant pull, and so, often technologists are a little bit poor at articulating the ‘why’, in terms that us mere mortals can understand. So, I would really encourage entrants to spend some time, put their entry past their buddy that’s a trades person or an artist, or something, get your mom or dad to read it. Try and make sure that it doesn’t sound like a foreign language that that doesn’t connect with people, because when you’re building a company – and it’s the same – if you’re building an enterprise technology company, it comes down to selling a product, and you sell through connection. Yes, the thing that I’m selling has to be able to fulfill the requirement, but there’s lots of different products that will do that. Can you, as a person that’s trying to sell me your product, connect to me, and convince me that this is the right thing? It’s the same whether you’re pitching for funding, whether you’re entering a competition, whether you’re selling a product, or whether you’re eventually selling your business to an acquirer.

Rose Ross: Some good advice there, some good advice. And passion is one of the things, it’s very hard, I know, to get out on paper, so obviously there’s a little bit of restriction there. But it’s certainly something that comes across when we interview the winners, there’s always a lot of really dynamic energy around the founders, because that’s usually who we chat to when we do the podcast with the winner. So, exciting times.

And we’ve also got the Male and Female Trailblazers as well, where welook at the startup founders, and that was very, very popular last year. So hopefully, you might get a chance to have a peek at some of those entries as well, if you’ve got the time Ben.

Ben Kepes: Awesome.

Rose Ross: Yeah, so exciting times. Well we’ve covered an awful lot of ground. I’m just trying to think Is there anything else that you’d like to share, that you think it’s important for people to know about, this type of competition, or just the space that you’re seeing? Maybe outside of the cloud world, is there anything else that you see as burning, interesting tech?

Ben Kepes: Yeah. I think maybe because I’m getting older I’ve become a little bit more philosophical, so appreciation. It sort of struck me before that we’ve probably been a little bit lax, because you’ve done this for a decade, at some level there’s probably a bit of business that comes out of it, but primarily you do it because it’s the right thing to do. So, I think it’s important, and as I say I’ve been lax in not articulating it previously, it’s important to recognise what you do in terms of putting the Awards on, running them, and know how much work it is.

That’s my little example, we probably all need to try a little bit harder to take some time out of our day, and our horror and angst that we articulate on Twitter at the drop of a hat – to actually show some appreciation, whether it’s paying it forward and buying a stranger a coffee next time you’re in a cafe or thanking someone who puts in huge amounts of work to put on a competition such as this. I think it’s what separates us from the animals, and it’s probably something that we’ve got a little bit slack at, but I think maybe out of the pandemic, that it may refocus us on being a little bit appreciative for our part in the world and for others.

Rose Ross: Yes, well its something that I really enjoy. So, I get payment from the passion of everybody and getting involved and being involved in making a difference. We’ve found that the virtual world has now become a lot morepeople understand it. People couldnt understand the virtual awards, You don’t have to dress up and go and have a dinner, how does that all work?And I say, well if it’s global how would we expect New Zealandwell particularly now, because you’re not allowed travelled really, not unless you’re not going back for 18 months. Or people in India or China, if we’re doingwhere would we do that, where everybody would congregate freely?

Ben Kepes: Absolutely, yeah.

Rose Ross: It’s another playing field thing. It’s like, if you have a physical event you can’t invite everybody, you can’t have everybody there, because there’ll be travel issues, expense. It’s not inexpensive to travel around the world, particularly if you’re just going on the off-chance of winning an award, which, obviously, we see that as beneficial, but I couldn’t justify somebody getting on a plane in case you get to pick up an award. So, now we can do all this stuff a lot more virtually, and the technology is there for us to do a little bit more. So, we might well be doing a little bit more, we will see how that all pans out.

But it’s been a pleasure, and I really wish wed got to have a coffee at an airport, or somewhere where it wasn’t so noisy so we could have done this. But this is great too. And thank you very much for acknowledging what myself and the team have been up to, because everybody does work very hard in the background, and we also very much appreciate you taking the time, and all of our judges who dedicate their time, volunteer their time, to look at what all of our entrants have been up to. So, that’s awesome. Thank you, Ben, and thank you everybody, for listening. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

My name is Rose Ross and I’m here on Judges on Fire with Ben Kepes from Diversity. And yeah, we are chatting thousands of miles apart, all thanks to the technology and a load of enterprise tech at the back end.

If you’d like to find out more, please have a look online at www.techtrailblazers.com, follow us on Twitter, or find us on LinkedIn. Thank you very much.