Client Success Story:

Custom D

Julie Ryan


Clarity, Confidence and Cohesion

The team at Custom D build sophisticated software for web and mobile using advanced technology. Their ideal client is an innovative, mid-sized business that likes to do things differently. ‘Off-the-shelf’ solutions aren’t an option for these market leaders who want to leverage technology for competitive advantage.

Custom D was established nine years with four directors, each with a 25% stake in the business. In 2021, three highly valued, long-term staff members were also offered shares in the business, creating seven directors and a unique, increasingly complex structure.

After reading the Scaling Up book, Custom D Director, Julie Ryan, began her search to find someone to help the company navigate growth using the Scaling Up methodology, and connected with Rob.

Refining business model and relationships

Julie approached Rob for help on three levels…

  • redefining new shareholders’ relationships and responsibilities
  • exploring how the change in ownership would affect business performance
  • how to take advantage of their new directors’ skills and add value.

At the time of adding three new directors to the business, Julie says the future for the business was Web 3.0. But then “the wheels fell off” that part of the market and the Custom D team quickly realised they needed to go back to the drawing board to re-consider their growth strategy.

“The reality was, we had to change and scale the business, or it was not going to be financially viable with seven shareholders.

“We needed to help these new directors, who were on a rapid learning curve, but also really dig into what this change meant for us as a business, in terms of performance.

“When we first appointed Rob, just before Christmas 2022, we were still quite fragmented – there was a lot of tension. With a team of seven, that’s a lot of people who need to agree.

“Rob helped us start working together effectively and get our heads around the fact that we needed to be able to have some friction. We now know we can’t all agree with everything all of the time; there needs to be debate, to challenge other people’s thinking in a positive and constructive way.

“Now, everything gets better and stronger after each session with Rob. Each one of those sessions helps us build on what we’ve started to develop. To have owners all moving in the same direction cohesively – it’s a significant achievement.

“I think of Rob very much as our support act, and that’s quite empowering. It helps us feel we are in the driver’s seat, but we are also very aware we would never be able to do this on our own.”

Alignment on strategy and values

Julie says that one of the biggest advantages of working with Rob has been gaining a real sense of clarity, and that there is now alignment and common goals for the entire team.

“Previously, when I asked our team, ‘what do you think our values are?’ They didn’t really know. They couldn’t articulate it – neither our directors, our shareholders or staff – and most of them have been with us for a long time.

“Rob helped extract information we already had, but didn’t know how to articulate or structure, so we could share that messaging with others. This applies to our purpose, goals and values, and being able to talk confidently about our business, externally and internally.

“Our people are everything to us. Having continuity across the team is incredibly important in how well we deliver value for clients. We wanted to ensure everyone understood who we are, what we are doing, where we are going. Now we can share that, to bring them along with us on the journey.

“When we shared the values we put together with Rob, they all completely agreed, these are the things we stand for.

“Today, our objectives are clear. Our goals are clear. Our values are clear.”

Implementing the Scaling Up approach for growth

Julie says that while the key ideas behind Scaling Up are simple – People, Strategy, Execution and Cash – implementation is a little more complex.

She says that Rob’s wealth of experience enables him to facilitate highly effective discussions that create real change.

“It’s been so valuable to have Rob take us through the top priorities and help us agree on that as a group. When you’re not 100 percent sure, or have conflicting priorities, being able to devise clear objectives for quarters in particular, is empowering as a business.

Since beginning with Rob, we’ve taken on another four or five new people. I know that we wouldn’t have been able to do this without Rob. We certainly wouldn’t have been able to do it as quickly, and we definitely wouldn’t have done it with as much cohesion.”

“The clarity we now have on our direction, and having people working together cohesively, has been massive for us.”

“(Working with Rob) feels quite effortless. He asks hard and challenging questions, but the process of actually arriving at conclusions, strategies and next steps feels easy.”

Explore Other Client Success Stories

Right now, multiple New Zealand companies are building enduring, great businesses with our help. Don’t just take it from us, read first hand accounts of what our’s clients have to say about the impact we’ve made on their businesses.


“Rob is very smart; he’s highly intellectual and quickly gets to the bottom of an issue. His combination of financial clarity...”

Chris New


Bridge It New Zealand

"I could talk all day, but in the end, what I appreciate most is his ability to really listen and understand what drives us..."

Kim Bevins

Business Manager

PCL Group

"The moment I met Rob I liked the cut of his jib. He was very approachable, down to earth, and I knew this was the type of person..."

Greg Ward


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