Northern Echo – Software firm success music to Graham’s ears

11 Aug 2015

AS a drummer touring Europe with his band mates, Graham Anderson was used to making himself heard.

Part of the foursome Flash, he was gigging night after night for close to five years.

The experience shaped his formative years, a mixture of fun and hard graft instilling a strong work ethic.

Today, the drums may not take such a regular battering, but the lessons learned from his European adventures are still prevalent.

Mr Anderson is founder of OpenCRM, based in Richmond, North Yorkshire.

The firm is known for its work around cloud software, which offers businesses the ability to access secure IT services over the internet, rather than host it in-house.

Now a decade old, OpenCRM works with customers to create tailored support systems, which aid their productivity and assist with cost savings.

So what made this drummer put down his sticks and take on a new venture?

“When I left school I joined a local band and we toured for about four-and-a-half years”, he says.

“It was seven nights a week and we went around Europe making a living from it.

“It is a good, but you had to work hard.

“Lots of people go off to further education, but that was our growing up period.

“We made a living but we got to the point where we needed to go off and be super rockstars or get a proper job.”

So, with music aside, what was this proper job?

Well, he admits Apple was a catalyst.

The firm may be universally recognised now, but, back in the 1980s, it was busy making a name for itself in the UK introducing its new Mac.

It needed the right people to kick-start the brand on these shores.

He said: “I fell into it almost by accident.

“I was fortunate Apple were looking for a certain type of person as part of the Mac launch in 1984.

“I had always had a real interest in innovation and technology to move things on, and that cemented that.

“Since then, I’ve been involved in a number of other ventures, which have predominantly focused on software development and technology in business.

“Here, we have gone through a journey to understand what it is like running a small business and grow it, and the challenges to a rural business.

“We could be in Newcastle or London, where recruitment might be easier, but we took the decision to be here.

“We are rooted in the community; we really want to be here.”

Five minutes with…Graham Anderson

Favourite North-East building and why? There are a number of structures in the area I like, but for me it has to be Aysgarth Falls. I know it’s not a building but it really is a natural monument and when the water is up it makes you realise how small and insignificant we are when pitted against the forces of nature.

What was your first job and how much did you get paid? It was in the Coffee Bean, in Richmond, which was owned by my mother. In terms of pay I was rewarded with pate and toast and copious amounts of fizzy pop. After leaving school I became a professional musician, well, a drummer. Some would say this does not count as being a musician.

What is the worst job you’ve had? This is a really hard question because I have never had an awful job. I have been very lucky, never really having a job in all of my working life. All I have done is do things I love, with people who share my passion and getting paid for it to boot.

What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner? I guess that goes hand in hand with how close is the nearest A&E? I love food but cooking is not something I get any time to practice. However, I do a mean curry (from Spice Island, in Barnard Castle).

What would your superpower be? This is so easy, I would have the power to fly. I know its common answer but to experience the world from such a different perspective would be fantastic.

Name four people, dead or alive, who would be at your perfect dinner party: Steve Jobs, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Marie Curie and my mum.

Most expensive thing you’ve bought – other than car or house – and how much? I love tech and it’s true that I spend a lot on latest technologies, but in terms of a personal gift to myself, I recently bought a watch. It’s a Breitling, which was over £5,500 and it really did feel like a treat.

Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why? Sir Richard Branson. He actually talks sense.

Favourite book? Born on a Blue Day, by Daniel Tammet.

When did you last cry? Just answering these question made me cry. I am a true cry baby, but don’t let anyone know.

What is your greatest achievement? Managing to stay sane while everyone around me loses their heads.

What’s the best piece of advice in business you’ve ever been given? The satellite delay. Put a pause in whenever dealing with people, that heart beat often saves you a lot of grief.

Favourite animal and why? Dog. Bailey my chocolate Labrador is just the best. His ears are to die for.

Most famous person on your mobile phone? I have 4,678 contacts on my phone, and I can’t say who is the most famous, I mean I REALLY can’t say who he is….

What was the last band you saw live? Toneriders at our company tenth anniversary bash.

Describe your perfect night in: Apple TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime and catch Up Channels. You can see where this is heading. Getting my head immersed in something that cancels out the constant noise of running a business.

In another life I would be… Born again.

Who would play you in a film of your life? Easy. Scarlett Johansson.

What irritates you? People who don’t think before they speak/act and lack of kindness.

What’s your secret talent? I am a drummer – very noisy (well that’s not a secret).