A solicitor turned tech entrepreneur, Kate Jackson is the brains behind the dinner networking event organiser TableCrowd and has just begun a new project EIS-SEIS which helps people to get the most out of the government's Enterprise Investment Scheme - the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme.
We caught up with her for a chat about her businesses, her startup story and plenty of other entrepreneurial stuff besides.
Hi there Kate, firstly can you tell us a little bit about the benefits that can come from getting involved with TableCrowd?
At TableCrowd, we believe that networks are vital for success and that there is no better way to build them than over food!
We organise intimate sector-specific networking dinners, tailored to relevant business themes, where individuals can connect and engage with high-calibre, like-minded professionals and entrepreneurs in a deep and meaningful manner.
From across the dinner table, partnerships have been formed, new clients have been engaged, teams have been grown and new business opportunities have been discovered.
(I also love dining out, so it works very well for me!)
Can you give us a sense of your startup story? What's your background and what events led you to pursue entrepreneurialism?
I’m a commercial solicitor, turned tech entrepreneur, co-founding multiple tech startups including social dining platform, TableCrowd and fashion tech startup, SilkFred.
I have always wanted to work for myself on my own projects. It was just a matter of when. It was definitely the right decision to leave law when I did, despite enjoying the work and having a great boss.
We know that you are only operating within the London area at the moment, but do you have any plans to extend this to other parts of the country?
Well actually, we already have infrastructure in place of 3,000+ restaurants across the UK with real-time bookings. This means our members can find a restaurant they know or that’s nearby to book when they want to arrange and host their own dinner. We’re working on this self-serve part of the product, which is currently under-used by our community.
We are focusing on getting the formula right with our networking dinners in London before we turn our attention to other cities. Agreeing ‘where first’ between the team is currently a lively debate!
How do you think that London measures up against cities like Berlin and Paris as a startup capital?
I know about Berlin and Paris from what I read in the tech news but having never been based there, it is hard to draw a comparison. Word on the street is that Berlin is a cheap place for a startup to be based, which is conducive with the financial predicament of most early stage companies!
You certainly seem to be enjoying your new life in the world of startups - what do you enjoy most about the work that you do?
I’m never bored! There are good days and days filled with drama, but there’s never a dull moment. I never find myself clock watching, waiting for the home time bell to ring. I’m doing the opposite – wishing I had more hours to do more.
My work is varied and there is always something new to learn.
So we know what EIS-SEIS does, but we must admit we wouldn't have thought that a business could exist solely on helping businesses with the The Enterprise Investment Scheme, the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme. How did you come to realise that this was necessary?
I’ve been helping companies (mainly friends) navigate the schemes for years, so the demand has been evident to me for a while.
Companies can of course fundraise under the schemes without any assistance and many do. It requires an initial time commitment from them to get up to speed with the process. If they do go it alone, there’s a risk that they could fall outside compliance by not knowing every detail of every rule.
Some companies would rather get help to save the time and to eliminate this risk. I speak to companies all the time who have done something, or who have planned to do something, that jeopardises their investors’ tax relief under the schemes. Clearly, being asked by HMRC to repay the tax relief they previously received, is not a good way to keep your investors happy!
Find out more about TableCrowd and follow Kate on Twitter @KateJacksonK