Founder Feature: Dr. John Bates, CEO of Eggplant

Back again for the second instalment of our Founder Feature series. Today we are featuring the software visionary, Dr. John Bates, CEO of Eggplant.

Eggplant, the company looking to rid the world of bad software, and put quality software first talks to Top Business Tech about their business journey.

Dr. Bates tells us more about their successes, challenges and how they came to become recognised market leaders below.

Q: Could you tell us about your company and what you’re striving to achieve?

A: We’re looking to fundamentally change the world of software development – to put software quality at the heart of business – and help our customers win in the digital world!

Eggplant is the leader in intelligent automation, on a mission to rid the world of bad software. We can automate the testing of any technology on any device, operating system or browser. Our software harnesses AI to test usability, functionality and performance of digital assets across a vast range of infrastructure, coding languages, processes and architecture. Our no-code approach to test automation minimises time-to-market, maximises ROI and optimises UX – ultimately improving business outcomes.

I want to ensure that Eggplant is the global leader in intelligent automation, and to create a culture of leaders that will help build an even more valuable and successful company. To achieve this, we will need to continue our path of rapid growth. Additionally, I want to be recognised as one of the most impactful UK CEOs.

Q: What is the core technology driving your company’s product/service?

A: Our core technology is a platform for “intelligent automation”, utilising AI in a number of unique ways.

One way our software uses AI is in “automated exploratory testing”. Instead of humans having to manually test Apps, Websites and Processes, our software learns what is important and automatically generates the right tests, to minimise time-to-market, maximise ROI and optimise UX – ultimately improving business outcomes.

Another way our software uses AI is in our fusion automation engine – that can understand streams of images and text the same way a human would, and can make intelligent interaction decisions to drive any device – from mainframes to mobile/tablets to desktop to space craft. Using these approaches, Eggplant can automate, measure quality and suggest improvements for any system.

Screenshots of the Eggplant software in action

Q: What’s most exciting about your traction to date?

A: Our customers are super exciting – from NASA, global banks, global retailers, global Telco’s to even major healthcare brands. However, the most exciting thing is the problems we’re solving – improving their customer experience and business outcomes – and the time-to-market, and total cost of ownership improvements they are seeing.

Being called a market leader by Gartner and Forrester is also suitably exciting and humbling.

Q: What keeps you up at night/what are you paranoid about?

A: Right now, of course one thing that keeps me up at night has to be worrying about the COVID-19. Another is making the right decisions to keep the business going, while protecting employees, loved ones and the broader community.

Generally, I’m always paranoid about everything – from ensuring we keep our tech lead, to ensuring we’re invited to the right customer opportunities to prove ourselves, to hiring and retaining the right talent.

Q: How many hours of sleep do you get and what is your morning/evening routine?

A: Normally, I get 6 hours of sleep.

I rise at 5.30am every morning and, if it’s not raining or freezing, I go for a 30 minute run (about 6km for me – not going to break any records) around the park next to where I live.

If it is raining or frozen out, I head to the gym. Then shower, dress and onto the boat to travel into work – a very civilised commute! Exercise helps me deal with stress and starts the day with some success. I’m very lucky that my partner is a teacher at the same school our kids attend, so I don’t have to take them to school.

I’m a morning person – not an evening person, so evening routine is work until late-ish then walk to the boat, travel home, dinner and off to bed!

Q: What are your goals over the coming months/years?

A: Our goal at Eggplant is to change the world of software. We take more steps every day and have interim goals around product releases, customer wins and company growth over months and years. But we also live to our values – “wow our customers” being the most important, but also “together we succeed”, “move at warp speed” and “innovate every day”.

Q: Can you tell us who your mentors and heroes are, and what impact they’ve had on you?

A: When I look at the most successful CEOs that changed my life, they all share a common factor: they’re successful product marketing visionaries – whether it be Bill Gates, Larry Ellison or Steve Jobs. But no one encapsulates this more than Elon Musk, who is the master of the story and how to bring it to life. This ethos is something I aspire to in my current role as CEO of Eggplant.

My academic mentor was Professor Andy Hopper – who managed to run a commercial research lab, co-found many key companies and serve on their boards, be a successful academic and have an airfield in his back garden where he took off and landed his own plane. I wanted to be like Andy!

Also, Bob Wardrop has had a huge impact on my career. We first met when he was the lead investor in one of my early companies – Apama, and he has continued to be an avid supporter since. However, no one has been tougher on me and pushed me harder than him. His philosophy is that you must be cruel to be kind and he certainly has lived that countless times. Interestingly, he has now pivoted into academia and has set up his own academic department within the Judge Business School which is part of Cambridge University in the UK. I like to think that I have inspired him on his professional journey.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to budding innovators taking the same journey?

A: NEVER go into stealth mode! It’s hard enough to get people to listen to you, without saying anything. Own the mindshare ASAP. If you’ve got differentiation in your approach, then you can win. But you need to engage with customers ASAP, not be developing something secretly that you have no idea if people want!

Eggplant logo

Learn more by Eggplant’s website.

Bekki Barnes

With 5 years’ experience in marketing, Bekki has knowledge in both B2B and B2C marketing. Bekki has worked with a wide range of brands, including local and national organisations.