Ashley Lawrence


Sector: Digital, Risk and Finance, Life Sciences

Established: 2014


Fact file

  • Brands: Trust in Soda, Broadgate Search, Biotalent
  • Sectors: Digital (Trust in Soda), Risk and Finance (Broadgate Search), Life Sciences (Biotalent)
  • Previous financier: HSBC
  • Current headcount: 68
  • Contract team growth: 4 to 36 contract consultants
  • Contractor number growth: 9 to 170 live contractors
  • Awards: many! Including – LinkedIn top 20 most socially engaged staffing Agencies (2017) (2018)

Core reasons for joining Sonovate:

  • Improved cash flow “we could only drawdown 60%”
  • Work with a financier who can see the “bigger picture and ‘understands our business.”
  • Benefit from economies of scale “Removes the need to hire 4-5 fixed salaries on back-office.”
  • Use the best technology “Usability of the product is exceptional.”
  • Personable and friendly customer service “access to people who can give quality information.”


Long-before Ashley completed his MBA, he had a clear view on why operational effectiveness and efficiencies are so important to sustain growth.

Trust in Soda’s previous financier didn’t offer the potential to achieve his growth ambitions. At a broad level, HSBC was too generalist and not sector specific enough for recruitment. The mismatch was evident in three areas; cash flow, risk and service.

“HSBC didn’t really understand our business and wouldn’t look at the bigger picture, which cost us deals. Cashflow is king, especially in year one. Because of concentration, we could only drawdown 60%, using quite a lot of our own money to fund placements.”

Moving to Sonovate gave his business the platform they needed for growth.

The usability of the product is exceptional. Access to finance is quick and we benefit from Sonovate’s operational efficiencies. With Sonovate, we don’t need to hire 4-5 fixed salaries in back-office

Since using Sonovate, Ashley has launched Broadgate Search – specialist risk and finance and more recently Biotalent to focus on life science talent management.

“We’re well ahead of where we would be with Sonovate’s support. We’ve grown to 68 staff with sharp growth in billers and our contract numbers are currently (Feb19) at 170 out.”

As each business continues to grow rapidly, Ashley’s time is split between finding the perfect location to launch their US operations and continuing to scale the UK business and develop training academy.

To have the fluidity of cash flow as we move into the US and support for the operational efficiencies as we enter more territories is huge

Sonovate’s support element helps Ashley focus his time away from being involved in the day-to-day and more on actions that will drive his business forward.

“When you reach a point of critical mass you need to have operational efficiency. We doubled our sales headcount and the support function is super important. A key thing about Sonovate is the product has a personality. Sonovate’s people are polite, engaging, focused – customer service team is exceptional.”

It’s not all about taking strain off back-office though, recognising the mindset of a biller is key.

Salespeople just want to sell – they don’t want to do the operational element – Sonovate has definitely helped with retention

Completing an MBA whilst growing a business at breakneck speed requires true dedication and precision. Interacting and engaging with people from different sectors gave Ashley a lot of insight into strategies to scale a business.

“The recruitment landscape is continually shifting. MSPs, Brexit, ‘true’ consultancy and IR35 all require businesses to review their models to stay competitive. When you reach a point of critical mass you need to have operational efficiency. Our business is contingent based. The market is moving to a true consultancy level with statement of work.”

With record numbers of recruitment businesses entering the market, Ashley is assertive that his businesses will use the ‘best-in-breed’ tech and suppliers, as well as up-skill his employees.

“Interacting with people is key. Embracing tech is great but it shouldn’t come at the expense of core communication skills. We’re particularly mindful of feedback to shape our value proposition. Client needs are ever-changing. Lots of benefit has come from listening to challenges from clients and then working with them to address and fill that gap. For example, our Women in DevOps initiative was born off the back off a client’s frustration to find talent.”

How would Ashley describe Sonovate?

I would be quite honest, it’s a robust platform – gives you fluid cashflow, certainty, and the client and candidate experience is exceptional