CDSM

Origins

CDSM was founded in 1998 by Dan Sivak, Meic Gilby and Cathy Sivak, and has developed significant capabilities in the exploitation of the Internet for educational, personal development and business purposes. The main challenges included understanding precisely what the firm’s value proposition was to the UK marketplace and then finding effective methods to convey that message to a potential customer base. All the founders were teachers with no knowledge of business and the pressures of cashflow management and the ensuing factors in terms of owner management were significant challenges.

Success Factor

The development of relationships with people – customers, staff, stakeholders and suppliers – is seen as vital. Once people understand the commitment of the firm, only then will they make a trust-based decision. Once trust and respect is gained, they will follow the firm anywhere. The owners also see planning and funding as inseparable. When the firm didn’t have a plan, it couldn’t get funding and was getting nowhere quickly. With funding, there was time to building infrastructure, customer relationships and the company. Finally, sheer bloody mindedness, anger and frustration has played its part. Across the company, a ‘can do’ attitude that believed that "business" should not be a barrier to successfully doing what the founders set out to do – to exploit internet communication and multimedia capabilities to deliver a fantastic open and distance learning experience for adults. This was twinned with a disbelief in the money spent producing "tat" by corporates, universities and colleges in the UK that is being described as quality e-learning.

The Future

The vision of the firm is to develop from an entrepreneurial run business to a managed business. It is building a valuable business by driving quality processes throughout the business and its activities and has chosen to put in place process and structures that will allow CDSM us to grow rapidly again and be far more profitable. The business is to be built on the basis of valuable customer relationships and CDSM strives to build relationships with new customers demonstrating quality and value and then moving towards service level agreements with annual value commitments from customers. Intellectual property will also be developed over the next two years with a balance sheet value, although this is still at the R&D planning stage.