Tom Hatton's (aged 25) start-up RefME is changing the game for students everywhere. Co-founded by Ian Foreshew and Tom Gardiner, RefME is a free mobile and online tool that takes the pain out of the referencing process. It automates citations, references, and bibliographies, turning a long and tedious process into a quick and easy one.
Can you tell us about your education and background? And your co-founder(s)?
I studied History of Art and Music at Oxford Brookes
. Ian studied Business at Birmingham University and Tom G studied Artificial Intelligence at Manchester University. Ian and Tom, are both a little older than me and have run tech companies before but everything they’ve built and worked on has been in the youth space.
What is RefME and how does it work?
RefME is a tool that automates citations, reference lists and bibliographies
, accurately. Our tool supports over 7,500 referencing styles
and lets anyone create a citation for anything, in a click.
How did you come up with the idea for RefME?
I am pretty dyslexic and referencing was and is a headache
. None of the tools out there from the simple citation tools to the advanced research tools made it any easier. So I set out to solve that.
Why did you decide to launch your own business?
I really didn’t as it actually just happened. I enjoyed being creative
(before this I ran a small digital agency) and all of a sudden, I had a business.
How are you funded?
We recently just raised a $5m Seed round
with GEMS education
and a small angel investor.
How many users do you have to date?
We are just tinkering on the 1 million
RefME has taken off quite quickly. To what do you attribute this success?
I think it is a classic case of people finding citations a nag
and experiencing the same problems as to why I started the business in the first place. To date 70% of our growth has been organic
and that is pretty telling.
You currently have 36 employees. Do you have plans to expand the team?
We are always hiring.
I’d like to think that me and my co-founders are now part time recruiters. We’ve started to attract inbound talent which is pretty cool as to begin with it was a networking and recruitment push that took up a lot of our time and money! We are starting to figure out our expansion plans and so yes, expansion is on the horizon.
So how exactly do you get the references for all these books? There are so many!
Well… We’ve got our own golden database that we’ve built up over the last year. We also use publisher data
and a number of Book/Journal API’s
that keep us covered. There are also some other tricks, but that is part of our magic sauce :)
If you could give a young entrepreneur a piece of advice, what would it be?
Surround yourself with good co-founders
, if you don't ask you don't get
and test your theories before writing a line of code.