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Opportunities in this pandemic and how to start with Zitah McMillan from Predictive Black

Updated: Jun 17







Opportunities in this pandemic and how now it is the right time to start with Zitah McMillan from Predictive Black


Mark de Rijk

Hi and welcome to today's SME Business podcast, your host, Mark, will be joining you to interview a founder of an SME business each week, highlighting lessons learned and revealing insights. Listen and learn each week and how to get and stay ahead.


Mark de Rijk

Hi, dear listeners; thank you for tuning in for the next SME Business podcast episode. Today we're joined by Zith Macmillan from Predictive Black. She's also an enterprise advisor at the Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe, and she's also a non-executive director at Zopa, a peer to peer financial lender.


Mark de Rijk

Welcome to the show, Zitah.


Zitah McMillan

Thank you, Mark. Glad to be here.


Mark de Rijk

So, yeah, just to get our listeners to learn a bit more about you and how you know where you are and where you're going. Can you tell me a bit more about yourself and how you got into entrepreneurship?


Zitah McMillan

Absolutely. So I think I'm on my fourth career now, just to give all your listeners hope that if you find yourself in a career that, you know, you decide, is it for you? There are always options out there. So this is my first time as an entrepreneur.


Zitah McMillan

I have been in government communications for a huge government department. I've been a regulator. I had a great job early on, which was probably the most popular job in advertising, making commercials, which was definitely the most popular dinner party job I ever had. And I worked in consumer finance across Europe. So I've done several various things. And then sort of towards the end of 2018, 2019, I decided with a former colleague of mine and another chap that we would start our own business. We looked at the various things that we wanted to do and focused on what interested us, which included how you make the most of big data?


Zitah McMillan

What do you do with it? How do you bring all the latest technologies like machine learning to the fore and use that? And what could we do to support SMEs because the three of us were surrounded by SMEs in our life? So how might we put all of that to good use for SMEs? And here we are.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah, it sounds like a great powerful, very impressive path, and I can imagine, like the whole marketing and that's it's really popular, and a lot more popular than going to people and saying, hey, you know, you need to use two-factor authentication.


Mark de Rijk

I know, right. I know everybody wants to be like, oh, yeah. What do you think about that new ad from Heineken, or I don't know what do you think about this year's Super Bowl?


Zitah McMillan

And then my career peaked at the start. And I like to think that I've done things that are less and less interesting to lots of people as I've got older, except I think what we do now is kind of cool and interesting. So I think that should give older people some faith.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah. And also, let's be honest, you learned so much from it that you're going to be using it daily and in your work currently. That makes you more of a value add if you will because you bring other disciplines into it. For instance, like a previous guest, I had a guest who talked about how they used to work on nuclear operations, nuclear energy and then combining them with design-led to unique solutions.


Mark de Rijk

So I can imagine it's the same thing with financial engineering. If you can design it differently, all of a sudden, you get more traction.


Zitah McMillan

Yeah, I think so. And I'll say you bring all these different parts of your experience in your background to the fore, and you never quite know which of those things will create the point of difference in which of those things is going to help your business at that moment. But the brilliant thing is you've got them all in your toolkit.


Mark de Rijk

Yes, exactly. And then, you know, like you, especially as an SME, you know, you're wearing many hats at the same time. And then, you know, it's handy that you have warned all of those hats before. Yes, because, of course, there are things that we don't know, like we all have our areas that, you know, we're still learning. But the more areas, the better.


Mark de Rijk

I think, like, this is where we're talking about like t shaped where it's like, Yeah. You know, a specialism is one thing but having a broad experience is also definitely helpful. Yes, so tell me a bit more about predictive black.


Zitah McMillan

So we are a machine learning-based forecasting, predictive forecasting software that we've created. We looked at the various forecasting software on the market. We felt that what a lot of them did in terms of financial forecasting was take an Excel spreadsheet and give it a little bit of UX, but didn't do much more, but charged you, you know, 30 quid a month or a bit more for the privilege of using it and connected to some of the software services and stuff.


Zitah McMillan

So whilst it was a step forward. It wasn't a big leap in terms of technology. So we wanted to do it differently, and we wanted to hook up the power of machine learning and big data with clients financial data to give them predictive forecasts based on their sector. And critically uses the machine learning element to apply that knowledge to their forecasts.


Zitah McMillan

So it sounds a lot more difficult, I guess than it is.


Zitah McMillan

But actually, it's a nice way of making the client's data work harder for them rather than just an Excel spreadsheet with a little bit of glitz and glamour on the side. So we do that, which is direct for the clients. And we also have a service that supports businesses that support other businesses. So whether they're lenders or investors or anyone who's got a multiple client base or interest, then we've got a version of it that works for those guys as well.


Mark de Rijk

OK, yeah, so perfect explanation, machine learning, especially making use of data that customers already have and then stepping away from Excel. Unfortunately, I've seen the same myself there. There are still too many departments running entirely on your Excel spreadsheet.


Zitah McMillan

More than we would like to acknowledge. I think, Mark, I think that's the challenge.


Mark de Rijk

Let's be honest; the whole NHS thing didn't help where it's like, oh yeah, we lost almost like 65000 records because yeah, we ran out of columns.


Zitah McMillan

I mean, that actually would have made all of us sort of in the software business or even connected to the software business hang our heads. Yes. In absolute like what the hell went on there.


Mark de Rijk

And then you go like, well, you know, like I thought using Access was bad but Excel for this thing?


Mark de Rijk

Anyway, I think many people agree, and this is the good thing about, you know, like the current like disclosure system. These things now come out. Well, if I did these things, let's say even ten years ago, it wouldn't have come out.


Zitah McMillan

Yeah, you wouldn't have known.


Mark de Rijk

And just be like, polished away. Let's be honest.


Zitah McMillan

So that's great. So who's your main customer or target for your workplace?


Zitah McMillan

So I think we've got three targets for us. So the first would be the finance director of an SME. And we're not talking about sole traders and micro-enterprises. We're talking about SMEs with probably half a million-plus turnover. So they're big enough to need something more sophisticated than an Excel spreadsheet, even if they don't quite know it yet. And so the finance director is definitely in our sights. But increasingly, we've been talking to third parties such as lenders.


Zitah McMillan

So SME finance providers are hugely important to us because we connect to open banking and accounting software to help lenders with their underwriting, their due diligence, their onboarding, and then over time, their client relationships. You know, how will they know how to manage their own risk in their book? If we're pulling in all that client data, we can help them manage that risk.


Zitah McMillan

And then the third one would be for investors who are managing a portfolio of businesses. So they, like the lenders, are looking at performance in third party companies. So we have a specific product targeting those people, so finance directors, lenders and then investors would be our three main targets.


Mark de Rijk

OK, yeah, it's great, it's good to have, the potential for different segments, if you will, especially, let's be honest, in these times.


Mark de Rijk

I think so.


Zitah McMillan

Yeah, I think so. And actually, there's a brilliant concept around founder heresy. So when you start a business and start out thinking, yes, we're creating this product, and it's going to be exciting for that specific target audience. And we're going to go after that target audience hard. This happened to us, and we went after a specific target audience, and we fell on stony ground. We couldn't have been less appealing if we tried, so we had to have a little bit of head-scratching.


Mark de Rijk

Pivot, Pivot


Zitah McMillan

Yeah. And you have to kind of look at yourselves and go, well, we do waste time carrying on targeting these people who are not interested in our product. And that's OK. And we need to learn from that. We need to say, OK, so why aren't they? Can we fix it, yes or no? Should we think about something else? And so, very quickly, you pivot to where you believe the product is best suited.


Zitah McMillan

So that little moment is found a way you kind of go, Oh, I thought that. But sadly, they don't like it. So I must try a different tack.


Mark de Rijk

Exactly. The power of market research where you go like I thought that X would work, but actually, it's Y. I've been through a few pivots already, even being a small business.


Zitah McMillan

And it's, and it's about the bravery to commit that moment of, and they call it founder heresy. It is just about saying that just because I said I was going after that target doesn't mean I always have to stick to it. You know, if new information comes to light, then change your mind.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah. This is so funny because I started writing a book, and then, when I finished the draft I write, the funny part the reviewer said this is more suitable for the SME crowd.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah. And I was like, well, actually, I care more about the SME crowd.


Mark de Rijk

It looks like you wrote it on purpose like that. That's really like revealing. So yeah, I have a draft to rewrite.


Mark de Rijk

But because now the audience for the book has completely changed together with my services. So yeah, that's interesting. But yeah, that's where you have to do; you have to pivot, you know, not with a couch in Friends but with your business.


Zitah McMillan

My daughter, she loves that show, she watches it.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah. Exactly, pivot, pivot, pivot. So what makes what you do different from the competition.


Zitah McMillan

So the big difference for us is that we bring in and we have a product called our industry analysis, and we bring in macro market and sector economic data into the site. And we've got about two and a half billion data points that we are working with right now. And we look at countries, and at the moment, we're in the U.K., but we're actively looking at the U.S. and other countries that have got similar data structures. And we look at the way the statistics are produced.


Zitah McMillan

So in the U.K., it's the Office for National Statistics, and we all look at their GDP data and all the various bits, data that it pumps it out. Then we use the standard industrial classification system. So when you look at our website, you can go into deep levels of data around every single sector and every sector we produce an outlook and what we think their performance is going to be, we produce revenue costs and cash charts. We bring in data, for example, HMRC data around revenue and businesses in revenue band and the number of employees in those revenue bands.


Zitah McMillan

We look at fuel prices, and we look at F.X. spot prices. We look at tangible and intangible assets. We look at SME lending on overdrafts and excluding overdrafts. So we bring in this enormous amount of data, and then we put it into an easily digestible format that tells you something meaningful about that sector. Then, we benchmark them for our clients, and we create predictive forecasts based on their sector. So if they are a care home provider, they are benchmarked, and the machine will forecast their predictive cash position against the care home sector, not against the economy, per se, but against that sector.


Zitah McMillan

So I think, you know, I like to describe it. And I had this brilliant piece of feedback the other day where I said to someone, you know, it's kind of the end of wishful thinking in your forecasts. And this guy goes, wow, that is the most buzz kill thing I've ever heard. Yeah, but it makes sense, you know.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah, you know, if you have more data as you go beyond. So like care homes you go like, population age goes up. More people are retiring. More people would need care. But that's still your interpretation of what you say and then basically, depending on which papers you read, but the more data points you have, the more complete it gets.


Mark de Rijk

It gets a complete picture like it's not just a thought.


Mark de Rijk

So I have facts to prove that.


Zitah McMillan

Yes, yes.


Mark de Rijk

That care homes growth will be 23 per cent over five years because of X.


Zitah McMillan

And then if you're saying say you're an owner of a care home and you're saying, well, I'm going to grow by an additional 10 per cent, and you're either ahead of or behind the projected or predicted growth for that sector, why, you know. And if you're ahead, why do you think you can beat the sector norms? You know, your sector is benchmarking, let's say a loss of five per cent. But you're saying you're going to grow by 10 per cent. How is that a thing?


Mark de Rijk

So like, what are you doing for you to justify that? That for instance, if you talk about lending, why do you need this extra loan for, let's say, five million? Like what you are basing it on. What do you know that you can go from negative to positive growth? Exactly.



Yes. Really. Yeah. Yeah. And of course, everybody knows how to say what it now.


Mark de Rijk

So, in a typical question, how would you describe the economic landscape for SME's right now?


Zitah McMillan

Well, I think that SME's generally speaking, if you looked at the data we look at, it gives you a slightly odd view of the world. So if I look at the revenue and the cash position of many SMEs, it's artificially inflated by access to effectively free money through the BBL's and the CBILLS's scheme earlier last year. So if you look at the deposits in any given sector, they look pretty good. But if you look at the future revenue forecasts in many sectors, they look dire.



And, you know, it's really difficult then to get into an individual sector and say, OK, I think you will bounce back because and if you look at, let's say, soft play centres, they are a lot of them had started to come back. They'd usually are owner-managed. There are not huge chains, generally of those sorts of businesses. And they're usually a passion project. Somebody in the local area generally knows Mums, who managed to get some investment.


Zitah McMillan

But they are they tend to be owned and managed by those sorts of people. And they are in real trouble. You know, they may not reopen them fully by the time their debt falls due. So they're going to be looking at, well, how do I then stay afloat? How do I stay open? So I think, and that's one example of an SME in a specific sector, and that is multiplied across the economy. And the unemployment figures, they're going to go up, obviously, businesses. While they're still opening in terms of their still new businesses being created, many businesses will not make it.


Zitah McMillan

So I think the January figures, I think to post the end of the year, will be quite salutary.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah, especially like you said, things like soft play, events business, arts, they're all suffering, and it's sad because, like many people, of course, like putting their whole being, if you will, into their businesses, their life savings.


Zitah McMillan

You know, there's a lot of small businesses who act as guarantors on their finances. And that's a terrifying position to be in. So I think there's some good news in terms of certain sectors are performing well. I don't think there's an enormous amount of positivity at the lower end of the SMB market. You know, I think people will be doing everything they can to stay in business, but they'll come to a point where the old cut your losses will be the mindset.


Zitah McMillan

And how much more debt can these businesses take on?


Mark de Rijk

Yes. Yes. So when you know, it's better to say, hey, we stop and we restart,


Zitah McMillan

Stop and restart. Yeah, I feel I've got quite depressing, Mark.

Yes, I mean, I let you down here.


Mark de Rijk

Well, you know, and this is like on the other end, if you go like, oh, like these debts don't work because especially at the lower end, you said yourself that there are loans available, but, for instance, grants, if they were available, you know, they might have paid for months of rent.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah. But then if you got money, you shut down for six, nine months, 12 months. That's not enough. So really, if it was up to me, and I was M.P., I'd be like, hey, you know what? We need to make it easier for people to restart. And yes, we better effectively saying that these loans become grants.


Mark de Rijk

But longer-term. Can we afford the other option where it's like we don't do that and then lose five years of our potential, SME sector, a sector being hollowed out?


Zitah McMillan

Yeah, on the flip side, because there are many businesses, the larger businesses are taking the opportunity to shrink and reduce their overall cost base either because they don't need the offices anymore or realize they can work remotely with fewer people. You know, what is quite heartening is there is much creativity out there. So whether it's, we started our businesses pre the pandemic.


Zitah McMillan

But, there will be people out there listening who think, well, maybe now is a good time. You know, what else is there for me? And if now I can't go back and create this business that I want to create, when else will I? You know, maybe the flip side of this will be people will feel emboldened to take a risk.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah, yeah and then also, let's be honest, the last economic crisis, there were lots of, let's say, unicorns built.


Zitah McMillan

Totally.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah. So you have to be positive, and in a way to be fair, the companies will die, but then, you know, I hope by let's say mid next year a lot of those people will come back in a different form because I think it's also about a lifestyle where it's like owning your own business. Yeah.


Zitah McMillan

Yes.


Mark de Rijk

It gives stress, but there's much freedom that comes with it. So I'm not worried that we're also going to lose many entrepreneurs. They just will come back in a different shape.


Zitah McMillan

I think they will. I think they will.


Mark de Rijk

So, yeah, that was the thing on everybody's mind right now.


Mark de Rijk

But what does the future hold for predictive black?


Zitah McMillan

So we, well, we were the beneficiary of a grant this summer. So we received an innovate grant, which helped us produce part of our service. Which is a scenario planning functionality to help people get a better grip on the various scenarios that they need to, whether that's how much does it cost me to furlough people, whether it's, can I take on extra clients? What would that look like?


Zitah McMillan

Do I need more people? You know, being positive and all.


Zitah McMillan

So, yes, we have launched that properly last month. So we are just at the moment working on our client acquisitions. If anybody needs some forecasting software that's listening, hit me up. We are working on our client acquisition and just really pushing hard this side of Christmas to get clients on board.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah, and that's how to do it and sounds like a great opportunity to get the grants. I know many people applied for it, so it's always great to meet someone who got some.


Mark de Rijk

To me, getting that means the government recognized that there is something unique there. And client acquisition, you have to go out and, especially in the beginning, get those first clients they're not going to come to you. You have to come to them. And this is the good part, with everybody being remote, there's no fancy outside salespeople anymore where you go to a restaurant and then buy them steak.


Zitah McMillan

You're just teasing me with that memory now.


Mark de Rijk

And then go to the golf course and make sure that the client wins one day.


Zitah McMillan

One day.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah. That one day, we will get back. But I think the real opportunity means that things using like video, means that more companies, more SME's get the opportunity to compete with the big companies.


Zitah McMillan

Yeah, I think so. And actually, I think LinkedIn is brilliant for this and meeting new people and connecting with people and making sure you use your LinkedIn network sensibly and not being afraid to say. Hey, can I take fifteen minutes or half an hour of your time, show you what we're doing and then reciprocate if somebody asks you to do the same, you know, so I think in a sense it's become a bit more democratic.


Zitah McMillan

It's less about whom you know; it's more about whether you have a persuasive message for people to help them give up some of their days to talk to you?


Mark de Rijk

Yeah, and this is why many people prefer LinkedIn because they go like it's not just somebody posting I just made my cake, I go on Facebook, and I go, I don't need a cake, I don't need the calories today.


Mark de Rijk

So you go like, well with LinkedIn and then you hey, I have this new idea.


Mark de Rijk

Let me talk to, I don't know, 20 M.D.'s on LinkedIn and then find out what they think, and if there's any meat there, whether the idea is maybe not ready for the limelight yet or, they could be like, well, this is an idea, but you're five years too early.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah. That that could also be the case. And I noticed those different dynamics at play as well. You know, of course, many people go back to core services.


Mark de Rijk

So maybe what you're supplying is not currently necessary. Still, then it's a question of maintaining those relationships, so when the economy recovers, you will be the first one, you know, in their cell phone.


Zitah McMillan

Yeah, and I think that the idea of using it too, the parlance of pay it forwards a little bit, is really important. Many people are starting out there doing really interesting things on LinkedIn, and it's about giving them that moment and that opportunity. You know, I hope I do that with people who connect with me on LinkedIn. And I'd like the same to be reciprocated. So I do think there is that.


Mark de Rijk

I think there's more of that on LinkedIn. Yeah.


Mark de Rijk

And hopefully, you know, like LinkedIn keeps nurturing that because that's the USP.


Mark de Rijk

So talk about LinkedIn. How can people get in touch with you to find you on LinkedIn?


Zitah McMillan

Obviously, go hit me up on LinkedIn. There's not many Zitah's. When you start typing Zitah, you will generally find me, which is both a blessing and a curse.


Mark de Rijk

I think it's a strategic name, you know.


Zitah McMillan

I know, right? My parents got that right. They were like, what can we do?



That means she will never be able to do any graffiti, and people will always remember her name like that.


Mark de Rijk

The other thing is to be like, hey, why did you not call me Predictive?



Yeah, exactly. The problem is that high school wouldn't have been fun. Well, that would have made my life even harder. So I grew up in Wales, and there's no Z in the Welsh language. So I grew up in a country where my name can't exist. So yeah. So I think it would have been even crueller of them to do that.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah, I didn't even know that, so I learned something new.


Zitah McMillan

Exactly. So hit me up on LinkedIn, or you can find me on our website.


Mark de Rijk

Yes. That's predictiveblack.Com.


Mark de Rijk

So out of questions, what could governments around the world do better to help small businesses grow?


Zitah McMillan

So I would go back to the grand idea, actually, and you mention this, Mark. And so we were a beneficiary of the grant. I think there is a real reluctance from an SME's perspective to take on too much debt, and debt shouldn't always be the answer. So I think it can be part of the answer to your overall financial package. And maybe I'm focused on it because I'm in a financial software business.


Zitah McMillan

But if there were more grants available, which will be encouraging from a strategic perspective, the economy and they were accessible for SMEs to find it. And yes, it's competitive, then I think that would feel a bit less burdensome, actually a bit more encouraging.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah, grants and, let's be honest, if governments can subsidize multinationals.


Zitah McMillan

Yeah.


Mark de Rijk

Like advantaged tax situations, then why can't governments, like literally at the international level, decide together, we're going to go still to give them deals, but those deals will be one per cent less.


Mark de Rijk

Yes. And literally, say if you want to do business in these 68 countries or whatever, you need to sign here that you're not going to use it against us. You will come off better. After all, you will say that you're reducing your tax because you want to help small-medium businesses.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah. I can make it into a P.R. exercise as well.


Zitah McMillan

Yeah, I would be a business that hopes to grow in scale and go international, etcetera; in the next five years, I would be very happy to pay a tax percentage called an Innovation Tax that funds future Innovations. So we're using technical innovation for our product. We couldn't have existed a few years ago, so why not have things? It's a bit old fashioned to call it like a tithe.


Zitah McMillan

But, you know, I would happily contribute to my successes, like who's coming behind us in this technological space. Why not be more creative in that system rather than the tax system is so complex, but it's not helping anyone.


Mark de Rijk

No. And this is great. You bring it up as well. This is like one of my pet projects that I'm working on and the Institute of Directors. Sort of working on doing a symposium next year and like reaching out to schools and universities.


Mark de Rijk

And then I have, like, bold plans to revitalize the High Street, do like local innovation hubs and then use all of that to find a new CEO, sort like the Gym Shark's of the world.



Yeah, absolutely.


Zitah McMillan

I will be like voting for you as the new prime minister in a few years, Mark.


Mark de Rijk

I'm not going to help myself here, probably, but we need fewer grey men. More people look like people you see on the street because if you see successful entrepreneurs and look like you, you think I can do that.


Mark de Rijk

And they come from the same backgrounds, you know what and you see that, and you go to a high school level, and then you end up in a situation where the people are leaving high school, they were like, I could be a footballer, or I can try to get into a good university. They will see that there's a third path which is like entrepreneurial.


Mark de Rijk

And I think that's where not only the U.K. to be fair but also other countries that they need to do more because we need to be growing the new companies of the future.


Mark de Rijk

We need to grow the new multinationals of the future.


Zitah McMillan

Yeah, I would say, though, it goes back to something you mentioned is that there doesn't need to be not every entrepreneur needs a degree qualification. So the university is not the place. Many universities, not all lots of universities, are not the place for entrepreneurs to be born. So I see many high school students who have got that entrepreneurial vision and ambition, but then they lose a little bit because they say, oh, well, I've got to get a degree just in case it doesn't work out.


Zitah McMillan

And I'll need to take that box because the machine algorithm that recruitment uses says you must have a degree or don't pass this first stage. And it makes me so cross because I said, well, you know, I don't have a degree. So I wouldn't get most of the jobs advertised on LinkedIn right now because it says you must have a degree. No, I don't get what you are saying.


Mark de Rijk

I don't have a degree myself. So what do I do? If I were starting right now, I wouldn't get a job simply.


Zitah McMillan

We have to hire each other.


Mark de Rijk

"You finished high school, like, why are you even sending your CV?"


Mark de Rijk

Which is so sad. And then. Yeah, that's why, as I mentioned before, things that I was doing with UCL, and many people don't even get to university because, for instance, they are taking on responsibilities for the family, but they are brilliant. But because they're not meeting the right people, quote-unquote. They already basically give up before they start, I'm trying to find out the nice saying about like a horse bolted the barn door kind of thing, but yes, it yeah, it makes me sad, there's going to be you we were talking about deprived neighbourhoods and whatever.


Mark de Rijk

And think about it differently. Don't talk about deprivation but find those people and then get them thinking like crazy, like releasing their creativity.


Zitah McMillan

Yeah, totally. Yeah.


Mark de Rijk

So that's one of the pet projects I'm working on. One day I hope that like turns into a massive thing. I need to clone myself or find a way to


Mark de Rijk

And the grants it's good as well. So I applied for that grant so, but yeah, I didn't get it, but yeah, it's one of those things, of course.


Zitah McMillan

it's a very competitive process.


Mark de Rijk

Yes. So if a budding entrepreneur would ask you for one piece of advice, what would it be?


Zitah McMillan

Really follow, what interests you know, not what's trendy and popular, what interests you? Because it's really, really hard work.


Mark de Rijk

Yes, yeah, the thing that always had it's like it's not my quote, of course, everybody says if you do what you love and it's your passion, whatever, then it's not work.



Yeah. And like personally, I am an example, as I have been in cybersecurity before it was cybersecurity.


Mark de Rijk

Well, like I had like a neighbour that was like the head of a calculations centre. That's enough about my age. Yeah. To be fair, I started when I was nine. So yeah, I don't have to be too hard on myself. But yeah. I came from an area where I remember when I was initially young and on the Internet, and I don't know if it was Fidonet, maybe before, there were like are 253 people on that version of the "internet".


Mark de Rijk

So everybody knew each other. And then those people are not going to be evil because we know everyone.



It doesn't stay that way; that quote has been immortalized because, of course, some people of those 200 something people, and it's something people wrote it down.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah. And, you know, like, you know, you had a virus that happened, like Morris Worm was one of the first ones. But yes, just funny because the cool thing is that many nerds made it possible that everybody can use the Internet. But that also means that everyone everybody can use it.


Zitah McMillan

I mean, I think I would say it's not always just about your passion. So I'm passionate about lots and lots and lots of things, but they wouldn't make me any money. So I think, so for me, it's more about following your interest, because if you start your business and if you're not interested in either the people you're trying to serve or the product you're creating. Then you will not commit the hours necessary and the brainpower necessary and the sheer doggedness to try and get it off the ground.


Zitah McMillan

So, you know, if I follow my passion, I'd be out doing all sorts of weird and wonderful. I'd probably be writing really bad books, Mark; there you go.


Mark de Rijk

Yeah, well, you can always try it.


Zitah McMillan

I could try it, but it's not about to make any money, like,


Mark de Rijk

You know, like you had books in the Nederlands, which like children's books, which like yeah the Bear books, so you can recognize the library what I am trying to say, a predictive book series you could create.


Mark de Rijk

It could be like a lead magnet.


Mark de Rijk

But then you could do like one of those interactive books where you choose your adventure.


Zitah McMillan

That'd be nice.


Mark de Rijk

And then actually, what you do, you secretly create a second copy or something where you predict what they're going to say.


Zitah McMillan

Like magic, and then people would look like, wow.


Mark de Rijk

You can say, I can do that with your data completely, like a completely different lead magnet.


Mark de Rijk

So yeah. Then the last thing was like if you had a magic wand, what would you want to make happen? And you can only pick one thing, and you can replicate it 5000 times or five million times or the whole planet.


Mark de Rijk

But unfortunately, you can only pick one thing.


Zitah McMillan

So I would like to do something funny, but I think you would appreciate this, but childhood food poverty depresses me to no end. And it ought not to be. I think children should not be going to bed hungry no matter where they are. And in rich countries like the U.K. and the Netherlands, where children in food poverty through no fault of their parents necessarily. And I hate the generalization where the welfare state says parents are just making poor choices.


Zitah McMillan

That's absolute nonsense.


Zitah McMillan

So if I could wave my magic wand, I would end childhood food poverty. Yes.


Mark de Rijk

Yes. That good because, again, it's just one thing pointing at parents, especially now. And in these times, I know parents that were doing fine before. But because of a combination of circumstances, they are not at a poverty level, but they're just scraping by.


Mark de Rijk

You know you can't say you should have been better. I was like; actually, I can't control the economy. Exactly.


Mark de Rijk

Exactly. And that's the thing with all of this. And then what kind of signal do you want to give to those parents a that the kids go hungry


Mark de Rijk

and b, what do you want to say to those kids who will be future taxpayers for their government is not even stepping in to make sure that they're not going to bed hungry.


Zitah McMillan

Exactly, and I think that I hope, for those children who are experiencing it and old enough to understand that it's not their parents' fault, then maybe we will see a generation of children grow up to be immensely powerful activists.


Zitah McMillan

Yes. And not correct the mistakes we made. You know, I hate that when somebody says, oh, the next generation will change the environment, no, we should be doing all of that for ourselves and make it less bad. But, maybe they'll have a fire inside them that says not again; it can't happen to another generation. And so we'll go into politics to stop it.


Zitah McMillan

You know, that would be an awesome response. Yes.


Mark de Rijk

Yes, exactly. And to be honest, this is my personal opinion there, you know, like the whole two-party system. Yeah, I'm just so used to like the Netherlands version of a government where you have all parties participating.


Zitah McMillan

Yeah. See, we tried a coalition.


Mark de Rijk

I know. And it failed. I know.


Zitah McMillan

It wasn't brilliant for us, but I agree, I would much prefer that system. But yeah. You know Germany seems to do well with a coalition system. Listen, you guys do; Denmark does; it's like it's not an unheard-of system; it's just that the U.K. is wedded to this old school way of thinking.



This is actually what I think; it sounds weird, great about this. This whole pandemic is that it's rocking the system so much that it's creating the necessary momentum for things to change. I am not saying the U.K. stops the two-party system.


Mark de Rijk

But if you add that to question many things that never questioned before, I agree.


Zitah McMillan

But on your list of, you know, saving the world and all the other stuff you're going to do, could you put that on there as well? That'd be great.


Mark de Rijk

Yes, yes. Yes. To be fair, I bring it up to like my local M.P., which is Dominic Raab. Yeah. Yeah.


Mark de Rijk

I think it probably, when I say that, he just goes like, I'm going to ignore what this guy says.


Zitah McMillan

Yeah, exactly. I'm going to bury my head in the sand and hope he goes away. Yeah.


Mark de Rijk

And this is the funny part, because I still get emails from the conservative, like donate, and it's like, OK?


Mark de Rijk

That's it. Anything else that you wants to share with our listeners?


Zitah McMillan

No, I just think, I think that for any SME listening, I hope you're OK, and I hope you come through this better than OK. And if it's not in the business you're in today that you have the inspiration to do it again.


Mark de Rijk

Yes. And that's great. So thank you for your time today.


Zitah McMillan

Thank you. Mark.


Mark de Rijk

I hope you are listening at home or on your surfboard, in the car, or on the underground. Although, to be fair, not many people on the tube right now, on a volcano, on a tropical island, which would be nice, are enjoying us. If you have any more questions, please contact me, and I'll see you next episode. Thank you.


Mark de Rijk

Thank you for tuning in to this episode. I hope you enjoyed the show, and I look forward to having you tune in again next episode. See you next time.


Find out more about Predictive Black at:

https://predictiveblack.com/

Find Zitah at:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/zitah-mcmillan/



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