Getting a business off the ground in times of economic stability is a challenging enough task; however, success stories of young entrepreneurs starting-up and running their own businesses despite the economic downturn are still hitting the headlines.
10 of the UK’s brightest young entrepreneurs talk to inspiresme, offering their advice to other budding entrepreneurs and discussing their plans for the future.
Emma Sinclair – Target Parking and ineedtopark.co.uk
Anyone who thinks he or she can map out their future obviously knows something I don't
Following a successful career in investment banking gained at NM Rothschild, Emma Sinclair, 35 moved into real estate and specifically parking, founding Target Parking and ineedtopark.co.uk in 2008.
Chief Executive Officer, Sinclair and her team deliver car park and facility management services for clients across the UK. Since inception, the company has seen revenues growing year on year, exceeding £1M at the end of its second year of trading.
Sinclair’s achievements have been recognised with nominations for various industry awards, exemplified by her invitation to Downing Street earlier this year, having been awarded ‘Start Up of the Year 2011’.
“Follow your gut instincts, treat others how you would like to be treated yourself and take care of your health. These are all critical at all stages of your career and business life – but often overlooked.”
“Anyone who thinks he or she can map out their future obviously knows something I don’t and has a crystal ball! Currently, I am consolidating the UK position of my business; whilst, keeping an eye and ear to the ground about other opportunities which may form an important part of my business future in the way that Target Parking and ineedtopark.co.uk do now. Non-executive directorships, mentoring and public speaking are key contributors to evolving the future.”
Raspinder Singh – Gradpreneur
After graduating from Royal Holloway, University of London, Raspinder Singh, 22 realised a passion for business and helping others to achieve their potential, founding Gradpreneur in 2011.
Gradpreneur is a networking platform for entrepreneurial students and graduates offering free and easily accessible tools as well as resources.
“My advice to young entrepreneurs would be to encourage them to start building a strategic network. Access to people and relationships is a fundamental element to any successful business. So start thinking about the type of people that would be useful to your start-up experience and start finding them. With the right relationships, you will become far more resourceful and able to concentrate on aspects of the business that favour your skill-set.”
“We are going to help young entrepreneurs start building those much needed relationships through the Gradpreneur Club. We hope to facilitate many connections through the club, and give young entrepreneurs access to the right people and services. I am also working towards a creative recruitment solution for Start-Ups and SME's. Something which is much needed in current climate, as finding talented individuals to grow a business is essential.”
Emma-Jayne Parkes and Viviane Jaeger – Squid London
Emma-Jayne Parkes and Viviane Jaeger, 26 and 27, co-founded Squid London in 2008. The company creates colour changing umbrellas, shower curtains and rainwear. Including their Squidarellas (innovative umbrellas that change colour as soon as the panels come into contact with rain) which are stocked in 13 countries worldwide by retailers including the MoMA, TATE and the British Museum.
Parkes says: “One piece of advice we stick to is, be true to what you believe in. If you have done the market research, tested the market and know your idea has potential don't let other people stop you. Words of warning can be sometimes necessary but at the end of the day you will have a gut instinct which you should go with.”
“We have many future plans! The main ones; growing brand awareness nationally and internationally, expanding our product range to include Rain capes and Children items, meeting interesting people and, of course, to have some fun along the way.”
Mark Pearson – Markco Media
Don't be afraid to ask for help; in business, decisions made alone are often ones that accompany a fall
Markco Media is a global web based marketing and advertising company founded by Mark Pearson, 31 in 2006. Since this time, it has witnessed staggering growth, reporting sales of more than £200M just a year later in 2007 and £500M in 2008.
It currently operates the UK’s number one voucher and deals network – MyVouchersCodes.co.uk as well as CouponCodes4U.com in the US and groupola.com.
“The best advice I could give any young entrepreneur trying to succeed is seek advice from others. Get your business on social networking platforms and engage with others in the industry - I learned a lot from peers, and there are plenty of programmes available to offer young entrepreneurs business mentors, who can give guidance and advice on all aspects of running a business within a specific sector. It’s important to remember that expertise only comes with experience. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; in business, decisions made alone are often ones that accompany a fall, so seek advice to give yours the best chance of succeeding.”
“We have some really exciting plans in the pipeline at Markco Media, and hope to expand even further around the world with discount sites. We now have similar sites to MyVoucherCodes.co.uk in over 12 countries worldwide; and we plan to expand this even further, ensuring that no matter what country you’re in, you can be sure that you’re bagging the best discounts.”
Robert Walker – Xcite Digital
Founded by Robert Walker, 30 in 2008, Xcite Digital is an award winning, digital marketing agency that designs, builds, and markets websites for blue chip clients such as Pizza Express, BP, and Skoda as well as running digital marketing campaigns on their behalf.
The business employs 12 full-time staff and has an annual turnover of approximately £1.2M.
In 2010, Robert received the Inspire Young Entrepreneur of the year Award and currently shares his specialist digital knowledge as a blog writer for the Guardian online.
‘‘If you have the entrepreneurial spirit, you will never be happier than going it alone and starting your own business. When you are young and just starting out, you have much less to lose. By adopting a positive attitude you soon come to realise that not succeeding doesn’t exist, you can’t fail unless you stop trying all together!’’
“I’d like to continue creating the most influential and best websites for our clients, while providing one of the best places to work.’’
Simon Richardson – ITogether
I plan on helping and advising potential entrepreneurs to get started
Simon Richardson, 37 years old is the co-founder and managing partner of ITogether. Since the company’s inception in 2005, he has built and cemented key relationships with global technology leaders such as Cisco and Palo Alto. This has helped to grow a 30-strong team and increase turnover form £240,000 in 2005 to over £2M in 2011.
“If you’re at university consider starting up your own lifestyle company with friends to get a feel for what an entrepreneurial business is all about. This will give you an edge at interviews over competing graduates as future employers will recognise your thirst for business and be impressed by your drive and initiative. A business like this also enables you to ‘practice’ in a safe environment alongside like minded peers. My first job came as a direct result of a company I established at university.”
“As my business experience matures I plan on helping and advising potential entrepreneurs to get started. I’m not interested in gaining financially from them, but I believe our society needs to adopt a ‘good Samaritan’ outlook and pass on the knowledge we have gained on our journey to becoming successful entrepreneurs.”
Suleman Sacranie – 99pshopper.com
99p Shopper is the third company to be founded by Suleman Sacranie, 22. He set up 99p Shopper, an online variety store selling items for 99 pence or less to consumers, in 2009. More recently in 2011, Suleman founded 99p Wholesaler, offering bulk purchases at discounted prices for retailers.
“If you have an idea don’t let anyone tell it is not going to work; if you believe, follow your dreams and never give up!”
“Like any entrepreneur my first aim is to make as much money as possible, once I know I am on the road to achieving that then I hope to make a difference to people like me who have taken the risk of starting up their own business. I can see myself doing this by offering help and assistance in the challenges that face any start-up business. I had the benefit of having mentors to help me through these challenges and would like to do the same for other, early entrepreneurs.”
Arnold du Toit – Drive Daddy
Arnold du Toit, 23 founded Drive Daddy, a company that manufactures a product called the ‘RolleyGolf’, the first powered golf trolley you can ride and store in a small car boot, when he was just 21 years old.
In November, 2011 he was named the winner of the PC World Business’s competition to find Britain’s best young entrepreneur, winning the Generation Y Not? competition for setting up Drive Daddy.
“All success is down to the support that you build around you as an entrepreneur and your reputation to deliver on your dreams. My dad had an amazing business principle. He always told me; do what you like but do it honestly, to yourself and others around you.”
“With the potential success of the RolleyGolf, I’d love to set up a service arm (RolleyServices) which supports all the different variants of RolleyMechanism and TWINDRIVE tech across the world. Ensuring that we can continuously support and enhance our EV products to change the industry and lives.”
Emma Walker – Enterprise Days Limited
The name Emma Walker may be familiar as she appeared on the BBC's Junior Apprentice, reaching the shows semi-final. Fast-forward a couple of years and Emma,18 has embarked on her own business venture, Enterprise Days.
Enterprise Days offers one day business challenges in schools and colleges run by successful entrepreneurs with the intention of inspiring and equipping entrepreneurs of the future with the skills that they will need to survive in the real world.
“Learn to pat yourself on the back. Business is a lonely place where no one gives you gold stickers for your achievements. Believe in yourself, believe in your ideas and believe in your dreams.”
“I don’t have any set plan for the future. If I knew where I'd be in five or 10 years time, life would be boring.”
Jessica Rose – London Jewellery School
Make sure there is substantial demand for what you are offering
Jessica Rose, 25 is a London based jewellery designer who turned her passion into a business, setting up three successful jewellery companies including London Jewellery School in 2009.
Jessica has sold her jewellery in number of boutiques both the UK and the US, and her achievements have resulted in a 'Spirit of London Award' nomination.
‘‘Make sure there is a substantial demand for what you are offering, do your research and learn your field, put the work in in the right areas and you are bound to succeed."
"Also with any business, watch the costs and make sure you don’t overspend. Obviously investment in your business is important but if you are anything like me and get tempted to spend on your business, try and be economical and only payout if you are sure it will yield a return."
“Finally choose something that you love and are passionate about, very few people who go into business solely for money are successful or happy."
‘‘I hope to see London Jewellery School continue to develop and grow. We have a number of projects we are working on including a membership scheme to encourage more people to interact with LJS and attend our popular classes, a Diploma in Creative Jewellery, and a programme to support teachers and centers in other areas to set up and run classes using the successful LJS model. We also work closely with budding jewellers to support people in setting up their own jewellery business."