Many MBA students want to work at leading firms in the management consulting industry. Leigh Wells is out to disrupt them.
The entrepreneur founded Comma Group, a big data and change management consultancy firm, in 2015. He believes he has found a niche opening in the market to take on big guns such as Accenture and Capgemini. “We are taking on the biggest consultancies in the world and beating them because of our niche knowledge, focus on the customer, and experience,” he says.
The company, which has just seven employees, has been shortlisted for two categories in Lloyds' National Business Awards 2017: new business of the year and new entrepreneur of the year. Rooney Anand, chief executive of brewer Greene King, one of Comma’s strategic clients, was named business leader of the year at the same awards last year.
The explosion of data has led to a surge in demand for consulting expertise to help businesses develop insights from that information, to make better strategic business decisions.
Previously Leigh worked with Stibo Systems, which builds master data platform software. With his specialist knowledge, Comma has been profitable from the start. “In our first week, we signed up three FTSE 150 companies,” he says. “I knew from day one we would make a profit.”
Previously the entrepreneur ran his own company, W-IS, but wanted to expand his knowledge and receive an all-round grounding in business through an Executive MBA program at Warwick Business School. Leigh used the course to hone his venture. A dissertation he wrote on Uber and Airbnb’s business models provided the inspiration for him to found his own startup.
“It was while doing the MBA that I started to develop the business idea,” he says. “A mentor said: ‘Do I want to work for somebody else or run my own business?’ I decided I wanted to work for myself.”
All the core modules of the MBA, in addition to the strategy and entrepreneurship elective, contributed to Comma’s business model. In addition, the connections, network and business advice on offer helped Leigh develop his company.
John Lyon, associate dean of entrepreneurship, worked with Leigh in establishing the business model. He says: “He had great passion and enthusiasm for the business and showed great skill to translate business school teaching into practical use. He was a pleasure to supervise and WBS is keen to attract more students who want to turn their ideas into real businesses.”