Sean Obedih is an award-winning entrepreneur and founder of Ynotplast (now Urban Armour) a multi-ethnic brand of skin plasters designed to match skin tone. More recently, Obedih founded The Founders’ Hive, an organisation that brings directors, entrepreneurs and investors together with the aim of accelerating the growth of start-up businesses. Obedih talks to inspiresme about helping budding entrepreneurs to locate co-founding partners and transforming their ideas into viable businesses.
Q: What inspired you to set up The Founders’ Hive?
A: I was frustrated when looking for people to work with on the ideas that I wanted to take to market. It became apparent that that there was no reputable organisation or platform in place that I could join to fulfill this purpose. The more research I undertook and people I spoke to, it became obvious that finding a co-founding team is one of the most difficult parts of building a credible business. As a result, I decided to approach two friends of mine who run a creative, branding and communications agency to look at formulating a solution to address this problem and give founders a voice and the response has been incredible.
We have already helped five teams to find their co-founding partners and we look forward to helping more entrepreneurs build their teams because you need more than a co-founder to establish a solid business.
Q: Had you always wanted to become an entrepreneur?
A: I would say that circumstances led me into entrepreneurship. I found myself having to make a living through sales at an exceptionally young age. However I did realise that in order to become entrepreneur, I would need to gain a specialist skill-set in the field of business and I was able to pursue this after winning a scholarship to study business enterprise at the University of Buckingham.
Q: Turning an idea into a business ultimately requires some level of funding – how did you manage to achieve this especially given that you had only recently graduated from university?
A: I have managed to develop strategic partnerships that have allowed me to require less funding than would otherwise have been needed if I had been looking to fund the business entirely by myself. I have also tried to leverage as many freely available tools and materials as possible. At the core of any entrepreneurial endeavor there is always a degree of resourcefulness that allows one to turn nothing into something.
Q: How did you set about marketing the business?
A: Most of our marketing has taken place through word of mouth and social media. Twitter and other social channels including LinkedIn and Facebook have been crucial in terms of helping us to spread the word about the business.
We have also been helped by bloggers who were excited about our work and have helped us tremendously.
Q: Overall, what are the biggest challenges that you have faced so far?
A: To begin with, we needed to address the skeptics and those who thought that this was a problem too big to solve or that they might be at risk of their ideas being stolen by others.
Our main challenge now is to find a sponsor, even though we believe that the platform we have created is of great value to the investment community, we are yet to secure any strategic partnership in that arena.
Q: What are the advantages of running your own business?
A: The advantages are that I am able to make an impact on how the world works. Life is too short and I always wanted to use mine to be an agent of change.
It also means that I get to work with various people who are also fulfilling their ambitions and the energy they bring to the mix can be very contagious.
Q: What are the disadvantages? For example, is it sometimes difficult to create a work/social life balance?
A: It is extremely difficult to switch off because there is always something to do and I always end up working very long hours but it is all worth it in the end.
Q: What are your plans for the business going forward?
A: The plan is to start holding events in the main UK cities over the next two months including Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Newcastle and then mainland Europe starting with Paris and Berlin by the end of this year. We are also currently looking for strategic partners to be part of this entrepreneurial revolution.
Q: What advice would you offer to other recent graduates looking start their own venture?
A: My advice is simply to learn to embrace the present and overcome fear of failure; it is only by learning through failure that one grows. Also it is well worth utilising the services of a mentor who is an expert in your chosen field.