Great British Entrepreneurs Magazine (Spring 2018)

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who we are

The Great British Entrepreneurs Magazine is published by the organisers of the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards, which celebrates the hard work and inspiring stories of British entrepreneurs and businesses in Great Britain. This magazine brings those incredible stories together in one place, helping to shine a spotlight on some of the biggest issues facing entrepreneurs in the UK today. This issue aims to help break down the barriers entrepreneurs face on a daily basis. We look at the people working to close the gender funding gap, the entrepreneurs overcoming physical and mental disorders to achieve success, a lack of racial diversity, and those launching businesses at both the early and latter stages of life. We also bring you the key findings of our Mental Health in Entrepreneurship report, which holds some startling results.

francesca james Founder

adam stacey Awards & Project Manager

jonathan davies Co-Editor

chloe johnson Community & Events Exec

Hannah Richards Graphic Designer


Mac Smith Video & Content Exec

stephen white Co-Editor



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It’s been incredible. We’re just so thankful that we get to do this together. We’re so proud to be representing Wales, and now to win the overall

‘Great British Entrepreneur of the Year’ award is a complete shock and a high-five to ourselves. SPECTRUM COLLECTIONS LTD

Hannah and Sophie Pycroft have been dazzling the beauty industry and social media with their mermaid and unicorn-inspired make-up brushes for nearly four years.


Oli Barrett MBE Serial entrepreneur and NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards Ambassador

Perspective As the train departs from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly, two things strike me. Firstly, I realise just how infrequently I look out of the window. As we leave the tunnels and head into the countryside, my fellow passengers are transfixed, by their laptops and phones, looking up only occasionally at a passing ticket inspector, or a clanking drinks trolley. My second observation is about a very particular word; “myself”. Because in the outside world, we say “come and speak to me” or “don’t hesitate to ask me”. Whereas when you work for a train company, it seems, you have to say “come and speak to myself” or “don’t hesitate to ask myself”. Entrepreneurs, I’ve found, tend to describe themselves in multiple ways. From Founders to Directors, and from CEOs to Chief Trouble Makers. Yet very rarely as “entrepreneurs”. Just as we all have heroes and role models, we rarely meet someone who describes themselves as a hero, or as role model. And if they did, I suspect I know what you would do with their LinkedIn request. No, it strikes me as we pass through Milton Keynes, that an entrepreneur tends to be something for someone else. A word for others. Just as we need to identify heroes and role models, it’s important that we, the others, identify entrepreneurs. Because their stories and adventures are too often hidden. The NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards has set off on its sixth year. From construction companies to cocktail

makers, travel agents to kids clubs, we have met and celebrated literally hundreds of business owners, and we’re about to meet a whole lot more. With the support of NatWest, the spotlight shines on the podium, however, it’s the bigger picture which I find so inspiring. With every hashtag, Tweet and Instagram post, a new community has been formed. Through every Awards night conversation, every follow up email, every reunion, I’ve seen a different kind of network emerge. In a group of people with their glass half full, the positivity can often be overflowing. Recently, it’s the second, more grounded conversations which have made me stop and think. Those extra few minutes with a finalist. Discovering that an organisation which campaigns to support people addicted to gambling only began because its founder had been sent to prison. The story of Angus Drummond, who founded a travel company, Limitless Travel, for people with disabilities after he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy (and you can read about Angus’ story from Pg.40). Or Paula Wilkinson, the creator of Mums Bake Cakes, who realised that she could create the Interflora of baking after a six hour drive to see a seriously ill friend. Again and again, the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards helps us see beneath the slogans, underneath the one liners, to meet the people who start things. It helps us understand what they do, and it helps us to reflect on why.

Whether you are someone who runs a business, or someone who supports the people who do, you are massively welcome here. On the stage we see the founders. The wider room matters just as much. The partners, the advisors, the mentors and investors. Across five cities, from London to Cardiff, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh, we see a technicolour range of businesses of all shapes and sizes. That variety is both humbling and inspiring. As is the contrast. Because we know that the black-tie moment is the exception. That by day, business is about something altogether less glamourous, with sleeves rolled up, and a fair amount of sweat and tears. As our train departs, I look forward to another year celebrating great British entrepreneurs. Wherever you are from, whatever your motivation, I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy the view.



(B)lack of Colour Change only happens when individuals in the position of influence and power take a stand A self-proclaimed ‘poor boy done good’ entrepreneur, Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones is The Black Farmer. Having grown up in Birmingham, Wilfred left school without any qualifications. But his professional life has been dedicated to food. He worked in catering before moving to the BBC to produce and direct food and drink TV programmes, bringing the likes of Gordon Ramsey, Brian Turner and James Martin to the small screen for the first time. In 1994, he launched his own marketing agency focused on working with food and drink brands. Then, in 2005 at the age of 46, Wilfred embarked on his journey as The Black Farmer. Whether it’s sausages, burgers, poultry or cheese, The Black Farmer products promise ‘Flavour without Frontiers’, which also perfectly summarises his personality. Wilfred is someone who will not be confined by race, convention or tradition. He loves British eccentricity and all that it is to be British, and the traditions that come with it. Perhaps unfitting of the British stereotype, however, Wilfred is quite outspoken. Never afraid to have his say, he is someone who holds strong opinions on rural affairs, justice for small food producers and giving young people more opportunities. More than anything, though, The Black Farmer refuses to be pigeon-holed as an ethnic brand. The term ‘ethnic minority’ creates more problems than it solves, he believes. In his article, Wilfred discusses the lack of racial diversity in the food and retail industry – something he says is holding back more black entrepreneurs from starting businesses.


Recently, a black colleague and I got caught up in a security alert at the head office of one of Britain’s largest retailers. Alarm over, all staff headed back into the building. As they filed back to their desks, it gave me and my colleague an opportunity to observe what type of people work for the company. Two things stood out. They were young, but more importantly, we didn’t see a black person enter the building. Only one black face revealed itself and that was the security guard letting everyone back into the building. Stepping outside into the real world and seeing the diversity of the people walking the streets, it was in very sharp contrast to what I had just seen. Sadly, this retailer’s lack of diversity is not rare, but typical. Corporate Britain has an appalling record when it comes to a diverse workforce, especially at senior levels. Unfortunately, most of the people who work in these whiteonly enclaves either don’t recognise this oddity, choose to do nothing about it, or, if there are discussions about diversity, the subject is usually hijacked by the gender debate. Watching the staff file back into the building didn’t point to there being any issue with gender representation, if anything there were more women 07

working in that establishment than men. I meet lots of people of colour who find the doors closed to them for a career in many companies, so they have no choice but to go it alone and set up their own business. I always caution them. I say that ‘if you think it is tough getting an executive role in an established company, setting up your own food business is equally difficult,’ because new business start-ups are also a bit of a white enclave. “I have to confess when I found out about The Black Farmer brand I automatically thought it was owned by a white guy and it had something to do with The Black Country in the West Midlands,” I was once told by a very senior executive trying to pay me a compliment. He didn’t realise it at the time, but what he was illustrating is why a lot of people of colour find it difficult to get support from banks, investors, business angels etc. for their businesses. He, like many decision makers, have a stereotypical view of what sort of career a black person should follow and the sort of business they should start. NHS worker, athlete, rapper and security guard are just a few that spring to mind. When I set up The Black Farmer brand I was determined not to be pigeonholed as an ethnic brand, which is where the retailers felt the brand belonged. For them black doesn’t equal mainstream. For me, that is where the problem lies.

Colour is still not seen as being part of the mainstream. The term ‘ethnic minority’ causes us more harm than good because it emphasises separateness rather being part of the whole. For those few black people who have managed to get a foothold in these white enclaves, the lack of diversity sticks out like a sore thumb but they keep their heads down for fear of being branded chippy. Any discussion on diversity, especially colour, is cause for nervousness in many white people because they don’t want to be labelled racist or as having a bias towards white people. Those companies who know that there is an issue with lack of diversity within their organisations, but choose not to do anything about it, are perpetuating the problem. If you are in a senior position and you scan the sea of faces in your organisation and see that it is not reflective of the society we are living in, you are personally responsible for choosing not to do anything about it. You can no longer hide behind a diversity policy or brush the issue off to the Human Resources department. Ask yourself are you setting a good example? Change only happens when individuals in the position of influence and power take a stand.


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Stephen Fear: Seeing Through Barriers to Business An entrepreneur once told Stephen Fear that they wanted to buy a BMW to impress clients and customers. Stephen told them to forget about the car; go to BMW instead and pay a few hundred pounds for a branded blank key. “Put that down on the table at a business meeting and they’ll think you have a BMW. Buy a banger and if that breaks down, get it repaired,” he said. Maybe not the answer the would-be highflyer was hoping for, but it reveals an element of Fear’s character that has been crucial to his success: the ability to see through what’s not important.

by stephen white


Stephen had no flashy motor when he started out in business; he couldn’t even drive. Money, knowledge and basic home furnishings were in similarly short supply. “I was brought up in a one-bedroom flat in Bristol with my dad. He never had a bank account; I didn’t know anyone with a bank account until I was 17. There was never any chance of borrowing money and there were no credit cards. We had no car, phone, carpet or fridge.” What Stephen did have were tenacity and acumen beyond his years, and while other 14-year-olds were following lessons at school, he was forging educational paths of his own. “I used to buy colouring books. There were two girls on my estate who were really artistic, so I’d get them to colour in the pictures and sign them. I’d cut the pages out, put them in frames and I’d have 49 pictures to sell. I made a terrific amount of money out of it.” Through his teenage years, Stephen saw opportunities all around him. “I felt that if you have something of value that the market wants, and you can deliver the product, then you can find a way,” he says. The ‘way’ appeared in the pages of Exchange & Mart that Stephen would avidly scan, and an advert for oven-cleaning fluid which could be used on ovens without switching them off or waiting for them to cool – a great product to sell door-to-door, he thought. Stephen – 15 at the time – headed to the phone box at the end of his dad’s street to make his first business call. “That’s when I discovered that you dial 100 to speak to the operator first. She said the number I wanted was in America,” he recalls. The operator, Joyce Thompson, told Stephen how much he needed to put in the slot before connecting him to a firm in New Jersey, where bosses assumed the operator was Stephen’s secretary. With an ‘out-oforder’ sign on the door, Stephen would sit outside his commandeered office waiting for incoming calls. Having set up his business as Easy Clean, Stephen took three months to persuade the cleaning agent manufacturers to let him create their product in his factory – “a series of derelict tool sheds” – on the council estate where he lived. Soon he was trading with a number of industrial companies, and he sold Easy Clean four years later for £100,000. “They had done one ad’ from the States and put their phone number on it. They never expected a scruffy kid from a council estate in Bristol to end up being their agent here,” Stephen reflects. But all along he’d kept the important things in focus. 11

There was never any chance of borrowing money and there were no credit cards. We had no car, phone, carpet or fridge.

“My overheads were very low,” he says. “While I had Easy Clean, I was able to build up capital rapidly. I was wholesaling the cleaning fluid besides retailing it, and using it within my business. It was very cheap to produce, so the profit was huge. I anchored most of it in property. As I was too young to drive, I hired a friend of 18 who transported people and goods for me. I paid him one-and-a-half times the going rate,” Stephen says in an article with the Financial Times online. It’s this tried-and-tested success that informs his advice for budding entrepreneurs. “I always tell people not to worry about where you’re working from, whether that’s from home, meeting people in a café or a hotel; it’s cheaper and it’s flexible. You’re better off spending your money on marketing, maybe limited PR. Work out

how you can get more exposure for your business and get to your customers. It boils down to the fact that with no sales, you don’t have a business.” “Believe in yourself, don’t listen to the moaners and groaners. Mix with positive people who give you an uplifting feeling; don’t mix with people who drag you down because they’re a pain. “In my day someone told me that to want to get rich was ridiculous. You had to win the football pools to get rich quick. I always believed that if you had a good idea and you could sell enough of it, it was inevitable that you were going to become rich. I still believe that profoundly. My overriding advice is ‘just go for it’.” There is something of Stephen’s past in this. “My mum used to say that you’re as good as anyone, but remember you’re not

Believe in yourself, don’t listen to the moaners and groaners. Mix with positive people who give you an uplifting feeling; don’t mix with people who drag you down because they’re a pain.


better than everyone. I’ve lived by that throughout my life,” he recalls. By contrast, his father wasn’t so supportive, and always asked when his son was going to get a proper job. “Even the Bentley I was driving years later was ‘a bit big’ to my dad,” he says. Keen to keep up momentum after the sale of Easy Clean, Stephen bought a fivestorey Georgian property and rented out ten of its rooms while running his business from the basement flat. By the age of 27, the boy who began with nothing was worth several million pounds thanks to a number of firms and an ever-expanding portfolio of properties. Today, the Fear Group has an annual turnover of over £100m through interests in hotels, key worker accommodation and affordable housing. If tireless hard work and talent have created great wealth for Stephen, then this success has also been used to help break down barriers for others in society. “Entrepreneurs should never be ashamed of making money and wanting good things for themselves, but we owe it to society to give something back to allow others to come through, so that wealth benefits more people,” Stephen says. He is Patron of Lucy Air Ambulance for Children, a charity dedicated to delivering air transfers for seriously ill babies and children in Britain, and is a former patron of Heropreneurs, a support service for Armed Services personnel and their partners aiming to set up themselves up in business after leaving the armed forces. In 2014, Stephen became Patron of Emmaus, a charity that has established 24 homes nationwide where the homeless can find sanctuary, community and employment. “I also think we live in a more thoughtful business era, and I hope this will continue. I believe that we need to create wealth as a society,” he says. This year, Stephen will be helping to nurture a new generation of entrepreneurs when he joins the judging panel of the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards. So, what does a self-made multimillionaire and philanthropist look for in a business, its products, and the personalities behind it? “When I’m judging, I’ll ask if the product or service is of real benefit to society, as well as to the person. Is the entrepreneur thinking uniquely of making money, or are they thinking that their efforts are great for everyone as well as themselves? “Resilience is crucial, because things don’t go right all the time. You have to do a lot of cold calling to bring customers around to your business. Also, someone 13

who doesn’t want to go out and just spend money they don’t have before it’s earned. “I’m looking for someone who doesn’t want to be too flash too quickly, someone who’s thought through the financial and marketing models of their business – looking at how they’re going to achieve their plans.” For all their relevance today, glamorous awards ceremonies are a far cry from the council estate in Bristol where Easy Clean was founded, and Stephen is well positioned to reflect on how barriers to business have fallen in the years since, while support has flourished. “Communication now is far simpler – you can go into a café with your smart phone and ring or email someone. We couldn’t do any of that; it’s much easier today in many ways. People say the banks aren’t lending, but banks are lending; there are lots of ways to finance your business, such as crowdfunding.” Stephen is often introduced these days as the Phone Box Millionaire, in tribute to the way he accessed customers in those spartan early days. The moniker stands out against today’s complex business landscape in bright testament to just how much you don’t need in order to succeed, so long as you are willing to roll up your sleeves. Or could it simply tell the story of an entrepreneurial superhero? Stephen Fear, who went into a phone box as a boy, and came out a businessman.

Entrepreneurs should never be ashamed of owe it to society to give something back to

making money and wanting good things for themselves, but we allow others to come through, so that wealth benefits more people.


ENTREPRENEUR ACCELERATOR What is the Entrepreneur Accelerator?

Why should I apply?

From the first-go fintechs to the import and exporters, from the app makers to the risk-takers we believe in entrepreneurs. So we give them the power to start, scale and succeed. Our free accelerator is the UK’s largest with 12 hubs right across the country. Our power-packed programmes have been tailored to empower entrepreneurs at any stage. It’s a sixmonth journey that is free (yep, free and we don’t even take equity in your business). We’re here for any entrepreneur who wants to grow and scale.

Do you want to validate your business or take it to the next level? Are you keen to work shoulder to shoulder with like-minded entrepreneurs?

We provide: • • • • • • •

Desk space, super fast Wi-Fi, printing and copying Online learning and coaching Regular action-focused events Unique access to NatWest networks and teams Basic legal and tech advice All the coffee or tea you can drink You don’t need to be a NatWest customer to apply, so what are you waiting for?

Do you want access to bank expertise? Do you want advice from our best in class partners Dell EMC and Pinsent Masons?


A word From Gordon Merrylees, Head of Entrepreneurship at NatWest. We sponsor the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards because our Entrepreneur Accelerator programme is the biggest of its kind in the UK. Our entrepreneurs are part of something very special – a true community of like-minded business leaders at all stages of growth. We’re here to power up their businesses. The clue is in the name, but this is an accelerator like no other. We give access to specially tailored coaching and an extraordinary network of industry partners and mentors, all designed to create a money-can’t-buy experience for growing and scaling entrepreneurs. Focusing on the key driver of success the entrepreneur themselves - we surround them with insight, but also an environment of constant challenge and support. We have the right people to make their businesses start, scale and succeed. Our Entrepreneur Acceleration Managers (EAMs) are highly experienced and have empowered thousands of entrepreneurs while our super-connected Entrepreneur Development Managers (EDMs) plug into entrepreneurs everything NatWest and their local ecosystems have to offer. Our Fintech offer, currently available in Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham and London is also unique in the marketplace with its combination of mindset coaching and connectivity to our networks. NatWest and the Great British Entrepreneur Awards are both at the heart of entrepreneurship and I know the awards this year will once again showcase the enormous entrepreneurial talent among growing businesses in the UK.

eyes on the enterprise

by francesca james

Why Awards are a Great Boost for Business Building a business is no mean feat, and entrepreneurs are known for working their fingers to the bone as they strive for success. Amid all the hard work, an awards competition might not seem a key concern, but look again; the application process can bring many unexpected benefits to an organisation, its team and the leaders themselves, and that’s before shortlisting even begins. So read on to discover five very good reasons why the search for silverware can make a business truly shine.

Credibility Entrepreneurs often reflect on how far they’ve come on their business journey. Putting yourself forward for an award will help to plot this progress against the competition. Being named a finalist takes it one step further, officially recognising the positive work your business is doing. It enhances the brand’s credibility for customers, and demonstrates to prospects that they’re dealing with a winner. Suppliers will be happy to know that they’re partnering with a company that’s going places, which may open the door to better contracts and further custom.

Marketing magic Awards ceremonies put your name in the spotlight, giving you a pedestal to shout about who you are and the exciting things you do. Getting shortlisted will instantly give more punch to your PR, and you can share this new status through blogging on your website, social media channels and other marketing materials.


ARTICLE The awards organisation should help you drive this positive momentum, creating valuable content that can be amplified through their own media outlets, local or even national press. This free and unique form of brand awareness can turn heads, attract new business and show the world that you’re moving in the right direction.

Consolidate & improve Application forms can be daunting, but they’re a chance to write out the mechanics of your business according to strict competition criteria. This exercise will give you a fresh perspective, revealing problem areas and providing a springboard to new ideas. Consider what makes your brand unique; what are your visions and values, and are there growth opportunities? Telling the story of your entrepreneurial journey in a structured way can help you to examine current practice and perhaps even

identify new opportunities as you take a bird’s eye view of your business and where it’s headed.

The NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards

Celebrate & motivate

At the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards, we truly believe that entrepreneurs are as much about their story as they are the balance sheet. Therefore, don’t be put off entering for fear that success only equates to financial accomplishment. The NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards is different because it looks beyond the figures to celebrate the hard work and inspiring stories of British entrepreneurs and businesses in Great Britain. Now in its sixth year, the Awards champion business leaders and the teams they have built on their respective journeys. We’ve celebrated some outstanding entrepreneurs over the years, many of whom have gone on to become household names. From Start-Up to Scale-Up, Service Industries to Creative, our broad range of categories throws open opportunity for British businesses to showcase themselves to panels of globally recognised judges, and be in with a chance of winning a prestigious accolade, to say nothing of a very smart trophy. So what are you waiting for? Check out the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards categories today. Think about your story, what you have to offer, and how much more you have to gain.

Should you reach the glitzy evening of an awards ceremony, the feel good factor will filter through your whole team. The eyes of industry leaders and influencers will be upon you, so use the limelight constructively by networking and spreading the word about your company among respected business authorities. Landing the main prize will send your firm’s wow-factor into orbit. In the short term it’s an occasion to let your hair down and celebrate all your hard work and achievements; take full advantage of a huge morale boost that will power your team’s smile for many months to come.

Attract positive attention If you’re in the mix for an award, your firm’s reputation in the eyes of stakeholders will only grow. It’s a stamp of approval and a statement of intent that let’s your staff know they’re part of something special, and which makes your organisation more attractive to the talent during recruitment drives. It’s about getting that X-factor that differentiates you from competitors.



ALISON SHADRACK Founder of Adia PR PR for your Personal Profile By now, you probably understand the importance of public relations for your business. PR provides social proof whilst increasing visibility and credibility. If you want your business “on the map,” you’ll need to compete with targeted PR that reaches your audience, generates leads and enhances the image of your business. We can all agree on that, right? But how about your own professional image? Your personal brand? Shouldn’t your name receive the same attention and do the same amount of work as your business? It’s not about ego or the seeking of personal recognition. It’s about building brand awareness and securing your own future. Even if you haven’t marketed your business alongside your name, or built your brand with your name at its core, there are plenty of reasons to seek press for your personal profile. Here are a few of them: Increase Visibility: You already understand the value of raising brand awareness for your business. After all, if your target audience doesn’t know about it, they can’t engage with it or buy from it. More than that, you cannot expect those people to know who you are unless you’re introduced to them. Today’s consumer doesn’t wish to make purchases from faceless multinationals, but rather, from socially responsible SMEs run by people they know and like. A targeted public relations strategy is absolutely necessary for gaining that personal visibility. Enhance Perceptions of Your Expertise: Consumers want to work with experts (and with companies owned by experts). But how will they know if you’re an expert? They will look for quotes and contributions from you, along with news 19

stories written about how your work has affected others. The best way to give them exactly what they need is to connect with media outlets interested in covering your story, experiences and opinions. Establish Yourself as a Thought Leader: In many industries, the first one to do anything is the one who is most likely to succeed. Furthermore, business owners who are known for their innovation and courage to publish their opinions and methods get the most positive attention. You don’t have to be the smartest or the most creative thinker to gain the title of ‘Thought Leader.’ You do, however, need to be noticed. Raise Your Profile: Your professional profile is a major consideration when your ideal clients are making buying decisions. Whether or not you’re involved with customer relations, you are the founder of your company, and people care about who you are because your influence colours the experience they will have with your business. Make connections with journalists who will introduce you to your target audience. Manage Your Reputation: PR isn’t just for raising public awareness. It can also be unrivalled as a reputation manager. A few negative reviews can easily require years of reparative action—if you don’t already have an unshakeable reputation, built with expert public relations. When the public’s opinion of you is robust, that bad review will struggle to stick, or even make the slightest impression. Create a Disruptor Image: Lots of benefits come along with being known as a disruptor, or a game-changer who challenges the status quo for the benefit of everyone involved with

their business. If you have the passion and the confidence to be a disruptor, you’re going to need targeted press in order for your efforts to be noticed. Surely, your business getting press is important; however, a disruptive business rarely makes the impact that a living, breathing disruptor does. Generate Networking Opportunities: When your professional profile is made public, it’s more likely that others will contact you with opportunities for expansion, acquisition, joint ventures and more. You know whom you know, and from there you will identify the people you’d like to partner and work with. Increase other professionals’ awareness of you, and you’ll multiply those opportunities. Secure your Future: Are you looking forward to other business ventures? Or would you like to partner with other professionals in the future? Maybe you’d like to sell your business someday, or acquire additional companies. Even if you plan to close your career as the owner of your present business, you cannot predict what future years (and decades) will bring. For this reason, it’s important to create a public name for yourself so that if and when you decide to expand (or move) your horizons, your reputation will precede you. The best way to accomplish this is with targeted, regular PR that builds your profile and raises your visibility in all the right circles. It’s time to step out from behind your business and introduce yourself to those who wish to connect with you, recommend you and learn from you. Get started by identifying appropriate publications, building relationships with journalists, and pursuing PR for your personal profile—because it’s just good business.

“Change makers deserve to be celebrated and championed” Francesca James, NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards




BY JONATHAN DAVIES Ed Hollands is a young entrepreneur staking his claim in the advertising industry. Having just graduated from the University of Derby, Ed’s business idea was born out of a long, crawling drive along a busy A38 in the Midlands. This is how he noticed the volume of heavy goods vehicles with blank sides. He launched DrivenMedia soon after, a company which utilises these sides for advertising. In a bid to take his business to the next level, Ed turned to BBC’s Dragons’ Den. His pitch impressed Jenny Campbell and he accepted her offer of a £30,000 investment for a 20% stake in the business. We sat down with Ed and Jenny to find out what it’s like once the lights in the Den turn off and the work begins. 21

Q & a : Ed Hollands

Ed, congratulations on your success on Dragons’ Den. Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur? Yes, from a very young age, I’ve wanted to have my own business for as long as I can remember. I remember wanting to run a pub in primary school! I’ve just never had the right idea until now.

be right for every business, but it was right for mine. The business really struggles with awareness of the medium, it just seemed like the perfect platform to create brand awareness and to genuinely seek serious and committed support from someone who takes you seriously.

What drives you? (Pun intended!)

Being on Dragon’s Den was a dream come true,

I think doing something different that is having a real impact and proving wrong those who doubted the idea. I swell with pride every time a haulier tells me what they’ve been able to achieve since we started working together.

walking out with an investment was a whole

You’re obviously still in the early stages of your entrepreneurial career, but what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far? I’ll be honest, it is my age! Being asked “Is your boss coming?” is never really the best start to a business relationship. It still happens now – Peter Jones thought I was 14! It can take a lot of work to push past that first impression. There are several options for entrepreneurs to raise investment. What made you choose Dragon’s Den? I’ve dreamt of being on Dragons’ Den since I first watched the show. It may not

other level. How does it feel stepping into the lift to the Den? The lift is surreal, that’s when it finally hit me. I realised when those doors opened I really was coming face to face with the Dragons – who are heroes to me. You can’t do any more practice; you have to rely on your memory and personality. It brought a mix of emotions - fear, disbelief and excitement. What was the response like after the episode aired? Was there a spike in sales or enquiries? The response was fantastic! We expected the phones to ring off the hook, but it was mainly through email or website.


I spent most of the day after the episode replying to emails. When I finished with one, another five came in. We’ve now started to convert those enquiries into sales. We’re so pleased with the reaction.

q & A : jenny

You accepted Jenny’s offer pretty quickly. Did you enter the Den hoping to work with a certain Dragon, or was investment the main goal?

Jenny, congratulations on your latest investment. What made you invest in Ed? Ed is a young entrepreneur but came into the Den with a genuine passion for his business and determination to see it succeed. Mentoring enthusiastic individuals as they embark on starting their business is something I have always been interested in and having sat through Ed’s pitch, I knew there was potential to help grow and develop his business.

Honestly, being on the Den was a dream come true, walking out with an investment was like a whole other level. I didn’t have any preference, I would’ve been happy if just one of the Dragons believed in me. I hope they saw potential in me and the business, and I’m delighted Jenny did. Besides the financial investment, what do you hope to gain as an entrepreneur by working with Jenny?

What has impressed you most about Ed since you started working with him? Ed’s commitment to his business is very inspiring. He is so determined to succeed and takes advice seriously, adapting best practices very quickly. He’s a pleasure to work with!

Jenny knows how to scale a business, and that’s exactly what I need. Through her journey with YourCash, she has really valuable experience working with bigger and bigger brands and exporting the business.

How important is it that young entrepreneurs like Ed are given the support and financial backing they need to help take their businesses to the next level?

Can you give us a bit of an insight into how the relationship works? Most day to day contact is though Jenny’s investment director. However, she is on the other end of the phone or email if I need anything. I’m mindful of how busy she is and respect the fact that it’s her and her team that are backing me. Jenny’s team have been fantastic, supporting me with specific queries and bouncing off ideas for development. It’s difficult to put into words how useful that is. What has been the biggest benefit of working with her so far? The biggest impact has been streamlining our supply chain and lowering our costs of the wraps, which Touker Suleyman mentioned in the Den. Jenny is also introducing me to potential advertisers, which I’d never have direct access to otherwise. WHAT IS YOUR TOP tip for entrepreneurs pitching for investment? It’s not always about having all the skills or experience needed for the sector, it’s more about exuding a genuine love for what you do and a drive to see it through. This comes across again and again in the Den, it’s often the person who captures the imagination and interest of the Dragons. 23

It’s not always about having all the skills or experience needed for the sector, it’s more about exuding a genuine love for what you do.

I think it is very important for young entrepreneurs to have the encouragement and advice they need to help propel their business forward. Starting a business is a challenge in itself, let alone if you have had very little experience in the workplace before, or chance to build up your contacts. By having support and financial backing these individuals have someone who can offer them all sorts of invaluable advice from how to scale their business to how to handle their finances and provide them with an invaluable ‘black book’ of contacts to help jump start their venture. What is the most common mistake you see when entrepreneurs are pitching for investment? A crucial mistake I have seen entrepreneurs make time and time again is being over ambitious with their valuations. You need to be realistic! If you start a pitch with a valuation that is too high, then a large proportion of the negotiations will centre around trying to justify the figures as opposed to exploring the true potential of your business. In conjunction with this I think part of the problem is that people can often pitch

campbell their business too soon. When you are trying to convince people to invest in your business you don’t want to have to base everything on predictions. The investors will want to see evidence of the success your company can be, even if this is just six months’ worth of financials – it gives them concrete numbers to work with. You also need to be able to stand in front of them with complete confidence in your business to encourage the same from them. What is the single most important element of a pitch? When pitching, no matter how successful you think your business could be, you have to have the facts and figures to back it up. My advice would be to keep the pitch succinct and make sure you tailor your selling points to the potential investors in front of you. You want to really engage the investor whilst being able to clearly outline what you are selling, where the market is and where the demand lies. Make sure the potential investors clearly understand your business, are inspired by your pitch and are provided with the appropriate figures that convince them that your business has potential. What advice would you give to young people who are thinking about starting a business? There is a really encouraging movement surrounding entrepreneurship and startups in the UK at the moment, fuelled by a great deal of support by the government and individual funding bodies. The rise of innovation hubs and more diverse funding options have created a positive environment for people to take the leap into self-employment. As an investor, one of the first things I think about when I meet a young entrepreneur is whether they have a confident and resilient nature. If you are thinking about starting up your own business you must appreciate the time and effort that goes into trying to make it a success, and you need to have the self-belief that you can achieve something great, otherwise your idea won’t stand a fighting chance. There are always hurdles to overcome and as an entrepreneur you must be very resilient to survive and thrive in the face

A crucial mistake I have seen entrepreneurs make time and time again is being over ambitious with their valuations. You need to be realistic! of these. Being determined and driven to see your business succeed will help tackle these, but most importantly surround yourself with an effective support network that is just as eager to see your venture become a success as you are.



BRIDGING THE GENDER FUNDING GAP BY JONATHAN DAVIES A century on from women being given the right to vote in the UK, in 2018, the ‘Year of the Woman’, women are still fighting for equality in so many areas of life. They are still earning less than men, just a third of MPs are women, there are fewer women leading FTSE 100 boards than men named John, and even in Hollywood - home to some of the strongest and highest-paid women in the world - the fight for equality has only really hit the mainstream headlines in the past 12 months. Like Hollywood, entrepreneurship is home to some of the strongest and highest-paid women in the world, and it’s no different in the UK. And yet, they too are suffering inequality, particularly when it comes to raising finance. There is a very real gender funding gap. Businesses led by women raise far less investment than their male counterparts. Men are 86% more likely to receive venture capital (VC) funding and 56% more 25

likely to gain funding through angel investment. A fifth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Great Britain are run by women, and yet they are not receiving a fifth of investment. In fact, a report by The Entrepreneurs Network found that just 9% of the £4 billion invested in the UK in 2016 went to businesses with at least one female founder. These figures come in stark contrast to those that look at the performance and successes of female founders. Thirty-four per cent of men have seen their business collapse, compared with just 23% of women. And female entrepreneurs generate 20% more revenue with 50% less investment. Women are the safer and more lucrative bet for investors, it seems. So why isn’t that translating into reality?

THE UNCONSCIOUS BIAS AND CONFIDENCE One of the biggest issues, according to Julia Elliott Brown, is a crippling lack of self-confidence among

the massive issue is that we’re not getting enough women coming forward and stepping up to fund their businesses, female founders, brought on by an unconscious gender bias in the investment industry, on both the entrepreneur and investor side of the fence. Julia is the founder of Enter the Arena, an equity fundraising consultancy which works exclusively with women to help them on their own journeys to successful equity fundraising and crowdfunding. She admits she had no idea how to navigate the fundraising ecosystem when she sought investment for her business Upper Street in 2009. But it was the domination of men in the industry that she found more frustrating. “At least 95% of the people I spoke to were men, and I found that most of them didn’t really get what my business did,” Julia recalls. “Upper Street was a female-focused business. It was a really tough pitch to go to those guys, feeling really patronised everywhere I turned. You feel very dismissed by these people. You get asked things like ‘What does your husband do for a living?’ and ‘How are you going to manage your business around your children?’ A man would never get asked those questions.” Investors like to find their next business through their networks, Julia explained, which can make it extremely difficult for many women. “If you’re not part of their network, or a female entrepreneur running a family as well as the business and you just can’t go to these evening networking events, you get shut out.” “The unconscious gender bias is definitely an issue,” she claims. “Anybody would be foolish to think that they don’t make decisions with an unconscious bias women and men. “Anybody in the financial industry will say ‘we just don’t get women applying’. A massive issue is that we’re not getting enough women coming forward and stepping up to fund their businesses, scale them or invest in them.” Why aren’t more women coming forward? Julia says women are put off for two reasons. Firstly, they are conditioned to be more risk-averse and modest with their ambitions. Secondly, they see the world of investment as being run by men, and from the outside, Julia says, that can look really intimidating for women, whether they’re looking to raise finance or invest. Julia explains: “Where women feel their values are going to be compromised by taking on old, pale, stale, male investors in suits, it stops them going there and doing it. I think women build their businesses like having children, they don’t want to let them go and find it very difficult to think of this idea of bringing in 27

the unconscious gender bias is would be foolish to think that an unconscious bias - women other people who are going to take this business out of their hands - that’s how it is perceived.” Many of the thoughts put forward by Julia are shared by Bill Morrow, founder and chairman of Europe’s largest angel investment network, Angel’s Den. The investment network raises £2-3 million a year for female entrepreneurs – around 10% of its total amount, roughly in line with The Entrepreneurs Network figure for 2016. That is despite women being twice as likely to get funding than men through Angel’s Den, according to Bill. “I do know that (the figure is not higher) because not enough female entrepreneurs come forward,” he explains. “The female entrepreneur is lacking in selfconfidence, and that’s pretty self-evident. There’s something else holding them back,” Bill starts. “Guys will take risks, guys are more comfortable in that environment. If you look at the stats on gambling, most of them a male. You go to a casino and most of them are male. Why is that? Because men are more comfortable with risk.” Raising investment is a risky game for entrepreneurs, that’s certain. Does this

definitely an issue, anybody they don’t make decisions with and men. inherent aversion to risk highlighted by Julia and Bill translate to the investment side?

WHERE ARE THE (FEMALE) INVESTORS? While Bill claims female entrepreneurs are twice as likely to get funding than men through Angel’s Den, there is a very real problem. Just 2% of Angel’s Den’s investors are female. And that falls below the industry figure 14-15%. It’s a statistic that sparks the question, ‘why’? Bill explains that every single deal brokered by Angel’s Den in its first four years was done between white men. No gender diversity, no racial diversity, just white men. But when the number of female millionaires overtook the number of male millionaires, they turned their focus to trying to encourage women to invest through Angel’s Den. “We set up what became Europe’s largest femaleonly angel database, we tried six different types of pitching – that didn’t work. We tried only introducing female entrepreneurs to female investors – that didn’t

work. We tried focusing on particular sectors – that didn’t work. We tried allowing them to take the lead, we tried patronising them – that didn’t work. We got to a point where we asked ‘what do we have to do to actually get you to invest?’” Bill explains with noticeable frustration. Angel’s Den launched a training programme for people with high capital but no investment experience or skills. The majority of those who turned up and completed the courses were female. And they started to invest. “From that, I surmised that it was something to do with being in full possession of the facts,” Bill says. While stressing generalisation, he claims that ‘do you drink lager or beer?’ and ‘do you watch football or rugby?’ are about as pertinent as the questions will get from male angels. Female investors, what few of them there are, will be thorough, leaving the pitches with lever-arch files full of information to go through three weeks of due diligence. That results in a natural, understandable, response from the entrepreneur, Bill says. “When a male entrepreneur is pitching to male and female investors, if the female investor wants three weeks of due diligence compared with a man who is willing to part with his cash easier or quicker, he’s going to choose the male investor.” Julia again stresses that it is an area dominated by men, one that is not welcoming for female investors. “Sorry to be blunt about it, but it’s intimidating,” she says. “Pitching events are really intimidating for female entrepreneurs and investors. It’s difficult for female angel investors to be in an audience during a pitch competition where there are mostly men, with everyone trying to grill the entrepreneur to see who can ask the most difficult questions - there’s a bit of an ego battle to combat.”

FUNDING THE FEMALE CROWD Among the disappointment and frustration, however, there is cause for optimism. Crowdfunding is bucking the trend in a big way. According to Beauhurst, 15% of all deals and 8% of cash raised through crowdfunding go to businesses led by female entrepreneurs. Compare that with the overall venture funding market, where it is just 2.7% of all finance raised. And private equity and VC deals, where only 10% of deals and 1.75% of cash invested goes to women entrepreneurs. Three quarters (75%) of the female founders who crowdfund on Crowdcube are successful, considerably higher than the 55% success rate of male founders. But crowdfunding isn’t just bridging the gap in terms of getting more women to raise finance. It is making strides in the number of women investing, as well. Twenty-five per cent of crowdfunding investors are female. The overall angel market is closer to 10% than it is to 20%, and let’s not forget that 2% figure from Bill. A research study focused on Kickstarter found that women are more likely to invest in women and men are more likely to invest in men. More female investors is linked to more female entrepreneurs raising investment. 28

Is it as simple as that? There is clearly something about crowdfunding that makes it more appealing and accessible to female entrepreneurs and investors. “First of all, it’s far less intimidating than pitching to a room full of male investors where you’re put on the spot, being grilled, being judged on what you look like,” Julia explains. “You are in the driving seat, you set out the terms of what comes out of your deal, you determine what your valuation is going to be and the terms of your deal. You’re not thinking ‘oh my god, they’re going to start negotiating down and it’s going to be this hideous process’ which you might get with angels or VCs. “The other thing women like is the type of investors you get in crowdfunding. Crowdfunding investors bring you patient capital, which is fantastically well suited to many women-led businesses because VCs are set up to support businesses which are going to scale rapidly so they can exit within three years and make loads of money.”

people like to shout about the amount of money they’ve raised, like it’s a business goal. but fundraising is a business tool to help you achieve a wider goal. - BILL MORROW It may not be his area of business, but Bill is under no illusions as to why female investors prefer crowdfunding. Less networking, less due diligence and less risk are chief among the benefits. “The average angel would be investing £50,000, but for crowdfunding it’s £600. Women feel more comfortable with that smaller figure. If you lose £50,000, it’s going to hurt. But if you lose £600, it’s still going to hurt but hell of a lot less.” Julia believes that the ability to invest lower amounts helps women to gain that all important confidence. “A lot of angel networks have a minimum level of investment, which can feel a bit risky. You can dip your toe in a little bit and get used to it with crowdfunding. As a woman, that helps you gain confidence in investing, how it works, and then step up your game.”

WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN? With crowdfunding a positive and growing area in which women can both raise finance and invest, what steps does the industry need to take to bridge the gap completely? And whose responsibility is it? With the experience of trying, and failing, to encourage more female 29

investors into the platform, Bill isn’t clear about what needs to happen to increase the number of women investing. “We’d love to because Angel’s Den is run by amazing women. But I genuinely don’t know what to do to get more female investor engagement.”

if i had the option of taking a male investor or a female investor, I’d go for the woman every time. women bring so much more to the table. - BILL MORROW His message for female entrepreneurs is clear - “just go for it” and self-confidence will come. Lauding the potential of female entrepreneurs and investors, he says: “If I had the option of taking a male investor or a female investor, I’d go for the woman every time. At the same time, as an investor, I’d back the female entrepreneur over the male entrepreneur every time. “Women bring so much more to the table. They are collaborative, they are much more emotionally intelligent, they are often much more intelligent than their male counterparts, often trying to solve problems men can’t even see.” Julia has a warning for all entrepreneurs – men and women – about their investment aspirations. She believes that there is too much glamourisation of fundraising, and entrepreneurs are targeting investment unnecessarily. “People like to shout about the amount of money they’ve raised, like it’s a business goal. But fundraising is a business tool to help you achieve a wider goal. If you don’t need it, you shouldn’t take it.” When it comes to responsibility to close the gender funding gap, however, it falls on everyone’s shoulders, Julia believes. “Every single player in the industry needs to examine their approach to gender diversity, and look at how they are reaching out to the entrepreneurial world, how they are encouraging entrepreneurs to come forward and how they make decisions around who to invest in. They really need to look at, and understand, how unconscious bias may be coming into play. Every single player in the industry should be measuring what’s going on.” Her message to women is to ‘do it. Just do it’. This is where her business name comes from. She says that some of the barriers out there are just “perceived barriers, and are quite easy to smash down if you know how to do it. If you don’t ‘Enter the Arena’, you’re never going to win.” 30

l l a c o t e c a p As . n w o my

Stuart builds amazing furniture using reclaimed airplane parts. He has recently gained international recognition for his work and has been featured on the BBC and Channel 4. We let you get on with what you do best and play the silent partner. There when you need us and a safe distance when you dont. ---------------------------------



BUILDING A CULT FOLLOWING 3.196 billion active social media users DIGITAL AROUND THE WORLD IN 2018









internet users

1,300 800


unique mobile users















36% 35%





active mobile social media users


Source: SmartInsights Global social media research summary 2018

For some, social media is an essential marketing tool. For others, it’s the main focus of their business; working with brands to harness their large following. Entrepreneurs are building a cult following on social media – a group of dedicated, highly-engaged customers who could just as easily call themselves “fans”. With so many individuals and companies on social media, how do you rise above the noise to be heard and seen? Three NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards winners; Spectrum Collections, Cambridge Satchel Co. and Tangle Teezer tell us how they built their cult following. 32

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SPECTRUM COLLECTIONS - HANNAH & SOPHIE PYCROFT We’ve always described Spectrum as an ‘Instabrand’ and Instagram was our go-to social media when we first started out. Being so heavily image focused, it was the perfect place for Spectrum to gain momentum with our vibrant product range offering ultimate #gridgoals. We started by posting the most ‘instagrammable’ pictures possible, mixing our brushes with interesting textures and colours and hashtagging all the relevant keywords to reach as many users and potential customers as we could. It didn’t take long for people to start noticing the brand. We didn’t sell anything for the first six months…BUT when we finally started selling, we included a hand-written note in each parcel, thanking the customer for trying the brand and asking them to share the brush love on their own social media. Result! Our customers felt really appreciated and posted beautiful photos of their brushes, which we would repost, meaning we had a stream of pre-created content to share whilst reaching new audiences. We started from zero and we’re at 256K followers with not one bot or fake follower – “fake it till you make it” definitely doesn’t apply to social media, users are savvy and can spot spam in an instant. It’s taken four years to get to this point so now the challenge is to maintain and continue to build the following. How? By engaging with our followers, commenting on tagged posts and replying to their comments on our posts. Instagram is a social media after all, so have conversations with customers and build relationships, which leads nicely onto our next top tip; adding personality to your content and brand. We’d already built the illusion that Spectrum was an international brand even when we were packing orders in the garage, so we wanted to maximise that, whilst adding some personality to the brand to make it even more relatable. The handwritten notes were a great way of adding personality and improved the overall experience. We always caption posts as though we’re speaking directly to customers, adding a bit of sass and humour whenever possible. We hate feeling like we’re being ‘sold’ to, so we never pass that onto customers. But ironically, when we did reveal our backstory, that’s what people loved most about the brand. So now we add even more of ourselves, writing personal blogs on our journey so far. Finally, the most important element to building a cult following is perseverance. It doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll need to work tirelessly, spend too much time glued to your phone or computer and you’ll develop an unhealthy obsession with analytics, figures and followers. But, if you love what you do, it’s SO worth it and with each new follower you’ll do a little happy dance and grow your business. Quick boosts, giveaways and competitions are a great, but to build a truly loyal following you do need to stick with it, comment, like, engage and grow your community to reach that cult status. 33

JULIE DEANE OBE CAMBRIDGE SATCHEL COMPANY From the very outset, we always liked to do things a little differently. Back in those early days, when it was just my mother and I packing and shipping all our orders, we’d do little things like include a dog biscuit for customers we knew were fellow dog owners, or a chocolate bar and a handwritten note where we knew the package would arrive late. I think it was those personal touches and that attention to detail which set us apart. When it came to marketing, our approach was similarly different. We were one of the very first brands to embrace bloggers, and they us. Before long, our bags were being spotted on front rows at international fashion weeks, as well as on runways and A-list stars such as Taylor Swift, Alexa Chung and Lady Gaga. Collaborations with esteemed international designers including Comme des Garçons and Vivienne Westwood, along with interest from serious retailers such Urban Outfitters, helped the business to grow at a phenomenal speed from the early days.

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People often ask what the key to our success is. In my mind, a creative business is a successful business. When the world is your competition you can’t afford to be ordinary. It’s creativity that matters, creativity that makes you stand out, creativity that makes you extraordinary. But designing products is only part of that picture; creativity also means generating new ideas all the time; doing more for less, doing more with less, doing old things better, doing new things first. This is what inspires your customers, develops loyalty, and sustains values.

SHAUN PULFREY TANGLE TEEZER I didn’t set out to create a brand that would have a cult following when I launched Tangle Teezer in 2007. There’s never been a specific strategy focused on building a cult brand. It’s all come from inventing products that are amazing and deliver results. You can’t build a brand, let alone one with a dedicated customer base, without a quality product. We’ve benefitted from celebrities using Tangle Teezer, but again, that’s testament to how good the product is. For brand awareness it’s been amazing, helping us to cement our reputation as a global brand. We’ve had Nicole Scherzinger, Victoria Beckham, Cara Delevigne and loads more using it. Salma Hayek has said the brush ‘changed her life’. Don’t imitate other brands, replicating their formula won’t necessarily bring the same success for you. Tangle Teezer looks different from any other hairbrush on the market, but you can still tell it’s a hairbrush. It’s instantly recognisable in a line-up of hairbrushes. Create something that is unique in the market. Don’t exaggerate, it will only come back to bite you. People relate to honesty.

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FIVE CARS, ONE SPIRIT. WHO’S IN? The MINI range has been specially designed with a model for every aspect of modern life. Whatever your company’s needs, you’re sure to find a model that meets them with The MINI Business Partnership Programme. For navigating the hustle and bustle of busy city life, look no further than the iconic MINI 3-Door Hatch, or if you require a little more space, try the versatile MINI 5-Door Hatch. The MINI Convertible switches seamlessly between business and pleasure, ready to embrace some weekend sunshine at will, while the MINI Clubman embodies style and everyday practicality. Finally, the MINI Countryman with optional ALL4 all-wheel drive is poised to unleash your inner adventure. THE MINI COUNTRYMAN PLUG-IN HYBRID. The MINI Countryman Plug-in Hybrid lowers CO2 emissions to 55 g/km*, meaning businesses can enjoy a BIK of just 16%. Find out more at APPLICATIONS NOW OPEN.

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Official Fuel Economy Figures for the new MINI range: Urban 29.1 – 67.3 mpg (9.7– 4.2 l/100km). Extra Urban 45.6 – 80.7 mpg (6.2 – 3.5 l/100km). Combined 38.2 – 117.7 mpg (7.4 – 2.4 l/100km). CO2 Emissions 55-169 g/km. Figures are obtained in a standardised test cycle using a combination of battery power and petrol fuel after the battery had been fully charged. They are intended for comparisons between vehicles and may not be representative of what a user achieves under usual driving conditions. The MINI Countryman Plug-in Hybrid is an electric vehicle that requires mains electricity for charging.




AMPLYFI: THE FIRST UNICORN IN THE LAND OF DRAGONS? BY STEPHEN WHITE Against the setting sun of heavy industry, a surge in tech start-ups in recent years is sparking a digital dawn for the South Wales economy. Now, Welsh government agency, Innovation Point, estimates the region’s data economy jobs to be hitting the 40,000 mark, and this is thanks to tech firms such as AMPLYFI, which made Cardiff its home in 2015. In a land scarred by the excavation of coal and iron ore, today’s mineral of choice is information. As you read, it’s being mined by the terabyte from the internet’s deepest data seams through AMPLYFI’s trademark platform, DataVoyant. By exploring fathoms of the web undisturbed by the standard indexing of household search engines, the software is helping companies to unearth potential future fallout from global issues and current affairs that could present challenges to business. Back above ground, Cardiff was the standout city for AMPLYFI’s base for American CEO, Chris Ganje, chosen

ahead of famous software metropolises such as San Francisco, London, Boston and Beijing. Lower costs and steady streams of academic talent coming through nearby universities were among key reasons, while the Welsh government’s support for the nation’s blossoming business ecosystem, local airport links and London’s relative proximity were further incentives. Chris’s judgement as a businessman is every bit as sharp as the Cambridge University fellow’s talent in the computer science space, which was recognised at the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards, Cardiff 2017, where Chris won the Innovation Award. AMPLYFI’s expert team is set to go from 24 to 40 members by next year, while turnover is predicted to hit £50m in five years’ time. The growth has fuelled speculation among industry leaders that the start-up will soon reach a value of more than $1bn, to give Wales its first unicorn. We spoke with Chris to discover more about AMPLYFI and the man behind the magic. 36

DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR? Being an entrepreneur was always the end goal. Creating my first start-up in Bangalore, India, developing exploratory wind power projects was confirmation for me that I would not be a ‘me-too’ player. I then elected to enter a blue-chip in a major sector to figure out how and where my next start-up could really change the dial by doing something truly disruptive at scale. A successful spell at BP plc revealed gaps and, therefore an opportunity, to really bring my entrepreneurial passion to bear in a game-changing venture. The result was AMPLYFI that I co-founded with a group of brilliant people in 2015.

WHAT INSPIRED AMPLYFI? Before departing BP, I led the Group’s disruptive technology assessment (along with former BP colleague and AMPLYFI co-founder, Ian Jones). The assessment highlighted to me the limitations of what were supposedly ‘best practice’ business intelligence and primary research methodologies; namely that they are outdated and unnecessarily expensive, with outcomes influenced by expert-based opinions. These can ultimately lead to ill-informed strategic decisions. AMPLYFI was created to overcome these limitations, and our flagship AI-powered product, DataVoyantTM, sits at the forefront of the emerging Business Intelligence 4.0 phenomenon.

COULD YOU TELL US WHAT AMPLYFI DOES AND WHY IT’S UNIQUE? AMPLYFI’s purpose is to fundamentally transform organisations’ decision making, business intelligence and research capabilities by enabling them to unlock the internet for themselves. Our core product, DataVoyantTM, represents the future source of business ‘knowledge’ and is at the vanguard of next generation business intelligence and research tools. DataVoyantTM 37

THE PLATFORM DRAMATICALLY IMPROVES THE QUALITY OF INSIGHTS AVAILABLE TO BUSINESSES AND DELIVERS THEM AT A SCALE, SPEED, AND COST PREVIOUSLY UNIMAGINABLE. combines surface and deep web harvesting, deep-, unsupervised- and reinforcement-learning techniques and intuitive results visualisations, all within a single, integrated platform. Our mission is to deploy artificial intelligence to transform internal research and business intelligence capabilities and enable organisations to make smarter, faster decisions while reducing their reliance on third-party consulting support.

WHAT KINDS OF BUSINESSES BENEFIT FROM AMPLYFI’S SERVICES, AND HOW DO YOU HELP THEM? As a B2B SaaS (software as a service) offering, DataVoyantTM is pitched at bluechip and multi-national organisations. Cloud-hosted, accessible via any modern web browser, and capable of working across all modern languages means that there are literally no limitations on who can use it. From the outset DataVoyantTM was designed to be sector agnostic, making it an indispensable tool for the broadest possible range of companies, spanning all sectors and industries. For any topic or subject, DataVoyantTM harvests millions

of data points from across the web – most of them previously untapped and largely unstructured – then analyses them using our proprietary deep learning algorithms before auto-generating results via intuitive and interactive visuals. The platform dramatically improves the quality of insights available to businesses and delivers them at a scale, speed, and cost previously unimaginable. For instance, ‘time-to-insight’ for a large project is reduced from months to weeks or even days. This is all in the service of strengthening mission-critical activities such as competitor intelligence, investment optimisation, M&A (merger and acquisition) targeting, portfolio optimisation, country risk assessments, technology horizon scanning and monitoring for sources of future disruptions etc.

HOW HAS CARDIFF HELPED BREAK DOWN BARRIERS TO BUSINESS FOR AMPLYFI? Cardiff’s burgeoning reputation as a European city of excellence offers a thriving digital scene for innovators like AMPLYFI who can receive deserved recognition for genuinely stand-out

innovative products. Compared with the likes of Silicon Valley, London, Berlin, Beijing, Singapore etc., which are already inundated with AI start-ups, Cardiff’s on-going commitment to invest in R&D and innovation complements the ability to recruit some of the brightest minds coming out of its world-class universities. For AMPLYFI, the primary driver behind the decision to headquarter in Cardiff was always having access to top talent and the ability to build a rock-star team. In the early days we benefited significantly from being part of the first cohort to enter an entrepreneur accelerator in Cardiff, and have since received invaluable ongoing support from NatWest, the Development Bank of Wales, the Welsh Government, and local investors, as well as achieving notable coverage in local and national press.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FONDEST MEMORY TO DATE ON YOUR ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY? The day on which we landed the company name was pretty special – sitting outside in San Francisco with my co-founders and a few beers. Then, assembling a team of immensely talented individuals in a vibrant city that has supported AMPLYFI’s rapid transition from start-up to scale-up continues to be fantastically exciting. While we are still relatively small at 24 phenomenal people, we are making a massive impact and have already worked

with some of the largest companies and institutions from across the globe.

FOR AMPLYFI, THE PRIMARY WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT DRIVER BEHIND THE DECISION CHARACTERISTIC OF SUCCESSFUL TO HEADQUARTER IN CARDIFF ENTREPRENEURS? WAS ALWAYS HAVING ACCESS TO It’s estimated that around 90% of start-ups TOP TALENT AND THE ABILITY fail to execute and disappear before their TO BUILD A ROCK-STAR TEAM. first funding round. To be successful, an entrepreneur must be resilient, i.e. treat any comment that runs along the lines of “that’s not possible” or “that can’t be done” as a challenge to prove wrong. They must then be prepared to ‘persevere and execute’ with their original proposal. Successful entrepreneurs only pivot if they really have to, or if it’s utterly commercially compelling to do so. Others use pivots to justify themselves being distracted from their missions and inevitably fail.

AMPLYFI HAS BEEN TIPPED TO BECOME WALES’ FIRST UNICORN. DO YOU THINK THIS IS POSSIBLE, AND WHAT IMPACT HAS THE ASSESSMENT HAD ON YOUR BUSINESS? We WILL be Wales’ first unicorn. With the team, technology, and commercial traction that we have, all being worldclass, achieving that initial stage of our journey has never been in doubt.






While you might think that suffering mental or physical health issues would make owning a business unfeasible, the number of self-employed people with a disability in Britain has risen by 13% over the last four years. So what’s going right? Could it be the unique and unpredictable nature of disability, which, when mixed with business acumen, sheds light on groups, problems and solutions that otherwise go unnoticed by society at large? Or is it the inherent flexibility of being your own boss that’s key – having the freedom to organise the logistics of work around specific wants and needs? Or is the trend a testament to growing inclusivity in Britain today, as evidenced by the increasing number of platforms and initiatives that provide crucial financial support and business mentoring to those who need it most? Over the next few pages we discover how entrepreneurs Angus Drummond and Ben Clifford, are dealing with their personal difficulties to build unique businesses which allow others to live a life without limits.


In the first of our two-part exploration into individuals who have overcome personal challenges to succeed in business, we look at Angus Drummond, whose passion for travel is breaking down barriers for himself and others facing similar difficulties. The Birmingham-born entrepreneur was set for a life in finance as he joined Royal Bank of Scotland in their London investment bank in his early 20s, but a medical diagnosis turned his career and immediate outlook upside down. “I was diagnosed with limb girdle muscular dystrophy. The prognosis at the time was that within the following ten to fifteen years I would lose my mobility, eventuality need a wheelchair and have to depend on other people for help and support and to get about.” Having played rugby and cricket as part of a very active youth, the news was understandably incredibly hard to take, and presented Angus with a unique set of new challenges. His response was to seek clarity in his love for travel; he quit his job and set off to see the world with partner, Lucy. A new journey Besides sweeping vistas and stunning cityscapes, Angus’s eyes were opened to the realities of declining health, and subsequent mobility issues, both for himself and others with disabilities.


I came back a very different person in the sense that I was able to come to terms with what I had and being able to discuss it with other people, whereas beforehand, I hadn’t really spoken to anyone about it.

“While away I began to feel anxious about future destinations and their accessibility. I would research for hours to find any information available. One particular incident was at the Galapagos Islands. I had always wanted to visit but nerves overtook excitement and meant that I spent most of the trip looking forward to being back on the mainland. “That became quite a problem because visiting new places made me feel anxious. I just always felt that travel should never be like that; travel should be an enlightening experience. “While I faced these challenges, I still had an incredible time away; meeting new people and seeing new places really gave me a lot of perspective. It helped me come to terms with my condition and it was a real healing experience in terms of appreciating what was important to me and the things that I did have. “I came back a very different person in the sense that I was able to come to terms with what I had and being able to discuss it with other people, whereas beforehand, I hadn’t really spoken to anyone about it.” Reinvigorated by his experiences, Angus was determined to create a company that would remove the pain points from travelling for individuals with disabilities, so that more people could take back control and enjoy travel to its life-affirming fullest. Pathways into business His next aim was to source financial support and guidance through business accelerators, and start acting on his grand ideas. In these environments, Angus would be around other

entrepreneurs, sharing ideas and connecting with mentors who could coach the mindset he needed. What began as a blog where people could exchange travel experiences and advice, soon became an accommodation booking platform based on individual access requirements. By 2016, this offering had expanded to premium accessible coach trips and escorted tours.

their lives since they had become disabled, and who’d not been able to engage with society. They then said that booking a holiday with Limitless Travel and travelling with us gave them their confidence back and made them feel normal for the first time since they’d been disabled. “I set up the business to use travel to give people their life back and to enable them to overcome their problems. That’s really why you do it, and it makes you forget about the smaller problems and you realise that there’s a much bigger picture out there,” he reflects. Last year, the company ran five trips, a tally that Angus hopes will rise to 25 in 2018, which should see 500 people travel with Limitless Travel over the next 12 months. The company and its overwhelmingly positive story were thrust into the limelight recently, as Angus claimed the Entrepreneur for Good award at the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards, Birmingham 2017. Life as an entrepreneur The achievements of Limitless Travel are all the more impressive for Angus, post-diagnosis, whose assessment of business challenges

For me, the real reason we enable people is through our branding and through our company, our ideals and our aspirations. Today, Limitless Travel is disrupting the tourism industry by offering a handrail to disabled individuals who want to step out and explore the world, confident that their requirements will be understood and that support will be there when it’s needed. “We take care to support people as much as possible while they’re away. We do this logistically in terms of finding and researching destinations, organising the transport, the hotel, and organising support care if required. “For me, the real reason we enable people is through our branding and through our company, our ideals and our aspirations. We try to inspire people as much as possible; our mission is to revolutionise travel for people with disabilities and we engender that in the way we talk to our customers.” Enabling individuals to reconnect with a life they may have felt isolated from, is central to spirit of Limitless Travel and what really matters to the 29-year-old entrepreneur and his team. “On some of our first trips, we had customers on board who felt that they’d lost 42

Believe. Support. Donate.

comes from an outlook that has not only come to terms with, but is transcendental of concerns with any physical impairment. “I think the biggest challenge was developing the right mindset, to be able to make the right decisions and in the right way. There’s this idea that to be an entrepreneur you have to work every hour of every day and sacrifice everything in your life, but I think that’s completely the wrong way to go about it. “The most effective entrepreneurs are those that look after all aspects of their life so that they can work productively and focus on the business, but in a way that enables them to have a decent life outside of the business. Having that dynamic allows you to work harder and more effectively.” This view enlightens a broader mindset which shows the character required to run a successful business. “I also think the challenge arises out of dealing with that constant worry and pressure every day – there’s something new to worry about every day or causes you to lose sleep. If you can’t deal with those issues and you can’t find a way to

The most effective entrepreneurs are those that look after all aspects of their life so that they can work productively and focus on the business, but in a way that enables them to have a decent life outside of the business. Having that dynamic allows you to work harder and more effectively.

process those concerns, then you’re never going to be able to function effectively, because it always plays on your mind. For me it’s a case of being able to process things when something bad is happening in a way that doesn’t inhibit me.” The ingredients for business success Given Angus’ vision and clear ability to effect change for the better in society, it is unsurprising to learn that his acumen stretches back to his school days; he’d sell his lunch in the playground and use the earnings to buy an upgraded snack.

This instinct matured at university, where he ran a clubbing business and organised trips around the UK to see various DJs and other artists. New Year’s Eve events in London were also put together before his business spirit finally blossomed through Limitless Travel. Quite apart from the barriers, real or perceived, Angus is characteristically clearsighted on the real difference between success and failure in business. “I hear from so many people who say they’ve been wanting to set up their business for so many years, and they’ve been reading all these books about it; how to go about doing it. The fact is that no-one knows what to do, no entrepreneur – no matter how successful they are now, knew precisely what they were doing at the start. It’s just a case of just going and doing. “Throughout setting up the business, you have to make that decision to do things. Every day, you have to make that active decision to do something. Often

it won’t work, or things will fail or go wrong, but you learn from those mistakes and then you improve and try something different or new. “Be prepared to go and do, and secondly be prepared to let things fail. People talk about this fear of failure, but to me, failure’s not about letting your big ideas fail, it’s about all your little ideas and having a go, and it’s about failing and then trying something new until you find something that works, enabling you to achieve your overall goal and what you want to do.”



fun by surfing waves that they’d otherwise only be able to watch from the SurfSide café overlooking the bay. “Through surfing we can really highlight just how amazing people are. It’s an opportunity for these guys to show what they can do. It’s not about what they can’t do.” Ben says. Few could have predicted Surfability’s success, but by championing inclusivity, the organisation’s progress has been remarkable. Lack of encouragement

Continuing the holiday theme, we head to the beach to meet another entrepreneur who has overcome difficulties in his own life to build a business that enables others to live life to the full. For Ben Clifford, the office is the golden stretch of sand at picturesque Caswell bay on the Gower peninsula. But you won’t see him lounging around, conforming to the lazy surfer stereotype. Ben is founder, co-director and head coach at Surfability UK, which gives surfing lessons to people who have additional needs, whether through illness, disability or injury. Now in its fifth year, the community interest company (CIC) is helping countless individuals to socialise, exercise and have 45

This could not have happened without the vision and hard work of one individual, not that he ever dreamt he’d be a business owner. Being an entrepreneur wasn’t encouraged at Ben’s failing Bristol secondary school, where the presence of a resident police officer presented a bleak benchmark for success in life. “There was never any thought instilled in us in terms of being our own bosses, it was a case of ‘Who are you going to work for?” Ben recalls. “My family were really supportive, though.” With rowdier students taking the attention, introverted Ben was put in set four for English. And while classmates struggled with core texts, Ben breezed through The Lord of the Rings. Still, staff were not moved to question his situation. Exasperated, Ben rebelled with a peaceful subversion seldom seen in an environment

where breaking the rules meant shouting, screaming and throwing chairs. “I put myself in set one and refused to leave. I wasn’t rude, I just kept turning up at set one instead of set four, and they had to accept it. I don’t think they were used to people protesting in a way that was designed to better themselves. I was just so bored and I wanted to learn.” It was a silent scream in the face of life lived with undiagnosed dyspraxia. Causing problems with balance and coordination, the condition made it hard for Ben to visualise organisation, or perform written work to any degree of neatness. Term after praise-free term, Ben processed the emotional fallout alone, learning only that he couldn’t do work correctly. “It was a big challenge – really demoralising – going through years of having your work given back to you, work that you’ve tried really hard to do, and being told it’s wrong, when it was just messy. It’s really frustrating, not being able to do something neatly, no matter how hard you try. “I had someone else write my exams for me, from my GCSEs onwards, but I had to sit in a room and dictate my own exams, which took a really long time as well. It took loads of energy; it’s so painful having to write for long periods of time or to keep up with notes in class. “I really enjoyed education, I love learning things, but at the same time the environment I was in was really bad,” he remembers. Breaking free Studying at Swansea University, Ben discovered a pastime that would change his life for the better. “I got really addicted to surfing, then when I finished my degree I did a course in water sports management and qualified as a surf coach and lifeguard. Shortly after, I volunteered at an event for autistic children in Bantham, north Devon. “It was a weekend event run by an American company. They brought tandem surfboards and you could see the massive impact the experience was having on these younger people who had autism. “It was amazing, but it was just one weekend. I knew it needed to be something regular, so I asked the boss at the surf school I was working for to see if we could do the same thing.” Soon, the school was hosting a group of autistic children each week, and Ben continued to witness the healing power of surfing. He secured a job working with children with autism at a local school, where his learning about the condition grew.

Through surfing we can highlight just how amazing people are. It’s an opportunity for these guys to show what they can do, not what they can’t do. Over the next few years, Ben acquired best practice in working with individuals with all kinds of disabilities, and thought how the skills could be combined with surf coaching to create an adapted surf school. But turning the dream into reality would be a huge challenge. Ignoring the doubters “It was really hard at times to convince people that surfing could be a safe thing for disabled people to do. Close friends were very supportive, but others were saying that I’d never get enough disabled people who wanted to surf to make it a viable business. “My condition really made me doubt whether I had the organisational skills to run a company. A lot of my friends are entrepreneurs and they were saying that I should start my own surfing school. But I didn’t really have the confidence,” Ben says.

“When Ben came to the Prince’s Trust he was struggling to find employment. We helped him to refine his ideas and put them into a viable business plan, and provided a grant for equipment,” explains Rhian Mathias, Head of Employment and Enterprise at the Prince’s Trust. “Finally I could get my ideas and plans written down. I could show that I’d been running lessons for children with autism and that it had been successful,” Ben says. “We had 25 children in the group surfing every week, and a waiting list. Some of the achievements were amazing; I heard youngsters saying their first ever sentences while surfing with them, and make massive gains in terms of social interaction, things like learning how to be part of a group and how to take turns. I could relay this progress to people who wanted support me.” The Community Interest structure also played a pivotal role, enabling Ben to

A helping hand Salvation came in the Prince’s Trust enterprise programme, which gave Ben a crucial kick-start. Over a four-day course, he was given insight into all facets of starting a business, from personal skills, money management and marketing, to tax and HMRC.

It was really hard at times to convince people that surfing could be a safe thing for disabled people to do.


surfing team, Ben aims to develop the sport from grass roots to elite competitive level, and has coached a Welsh adaptive surfer who placed 5th and 8th in the world respectively at the last two World Adaptive Surfing Championships in California. Life without limits

This is going to be the best and most challenging year in terms of numbers. It’ll be tough to get enough volunteers, coaches, equipment and funds, and to get everyone down to the beaches. cover costs and find space for all the new kit, not that storage was readily available in those early days. “At the time, I was living in a flat with two of my mates, and my job at the school had just come to an end as the funding for it had finished, so I had no cash, certainly not enough to go and buy a surf school. “We suddenly had a surf school in our tiny flat. Squeezing past surfboards to get to the front door became a way of life. I had to share my bed with two surfboards for a couple of months, so it wasn’t easy,” he recalls. Positive growth Almost five years on, Surfability is firmly installed at Caswell, where Ben’s team can barely keep up with demand. “This is going to be the best and most challenging year in terms of numbers. It’ll be tough to get enough volunteers, coaches and equipment and funds, and to get everyone down to the beaches.” Much of the puzzle lies in correctly pricing Surfability’s services, such are the skill and energy levels required to optimise accessibility, while guaranteeing the care, expertise and personalised guidance that form the core of firm’s offering. “For a coach and disabled surfer to use the tandem surfboard, it might take four people to take one person surfing. Full training and payment for those coaches would make the lessons prohibitively expensive.


“So, it’s finding that balance, raising the funds and getting enough support for it to be accessible for everyone really,” Ben says. Ben has also written a training course for the Welsh Surfing Federation and Disability Sport Wales, so that accreditation for adaptive coaching can be given. The organisation’s adapted surfboard has also been given an upgrade. As manager for the Welsh adaptive

But it’s back on the sands of Swansea that Surfability is experiencing its biggest blessings, and they’re arising as steadily and miraculously as the lines of a wellgroomed westerly swell. “I’ve got a student who is visually impaired and able to paddle the board, get to his feet and ride waves unassisted. People see that on the beach and they’re blown away,” Ben says. “This winter I’ve coached a guy who’s 50 who has one leg, and a 13-year-old boy with cerebral palsy. They want to surf every Saturday come rain or shine. It’s an honour to be able to help them. “We have quadriplegics and people with cognitive disabilities; they can’t swim but they want to surf every week. They don’t see barriers, so why should there be any?”

This winter I’ve coached a guy who’s 50 who has one leg, and a 13-year-old boy with cerebral palsy. They want to surf every Saturday come rain or shine. It’s an honour to be able to help them.








Mental Health in Entrepreneurship Increasing debate on mental health in recent years has yielded some worrying insight into the wellbeing of the UK’s staff, with research stating that one in three employees now struggles with issues such as depression and stress in their working lives. But how do the entrepreneurs themselves feel? Constant messages demanding that we never give up, and the relentlessly competitive nature of running a business, mean business leaders are more likely to work longer hours, take fewer breaks and keep pushing for opportunities to grow. Amid this rather tenacious culture, concern for executives’ mental wellbeing hardly gets a look in, and this can have fatal implications for how the business teams operate and perform. Our Mental Health in Entrepreneurship survey gauges the experiences of over 100 business leaders around mental health. While we’re not specialists, our aim is to raise a flag on profoundly important issues that often go unnoticed. By doing this, we hope to spark debate on how to create more caring and healthconscious working cultures that will bring sustained benefits for our entrepreneurs, the teams they lead and the businesses they build.


the survey: WE ASKED 100 ENTREPRENEURS the following questions to see how important personal wellbeing is personally, and for their employees:

How important is the mental wellbeing of your employees to the business?

What steps do you take to improve your own mental wellbeing in the workplace?

What steps does your business take to improve the mental wellbeing of your employees?

Do you think running a business has negatively or positively impacted your mental health?

How many hours do you work on the business per day outside of standard office hours?

How would you describe your current mental wellbeing IN GENERAL?

How many hours do you work on an average day INSIDE THE OFFICE AND OUT?

How high are your stress levels on an average working day?

Does your organisation have a dedicated mental health policy?

Do you currently suffer with any of the following mental health problems?

How often should an organisation review its mental health policy?

stress anxiety depression other

Do you consider your own mental wellbeing to be as important as your employees?











Take steps to improve their team’s mental health 75



Take steps to improve their OWN mental health 57



describe their mental health as ‘negative’ or ‘very negative’ 35



more likely to have mental health issues 70






26% of entrepreneurs describe their mental health as ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’

46% describe it as ‘negative’ or ‘very negative’

35% are ‘netural’




say running a business has negatively impacted their mental health

71% experience above-average levels of stress in the workplace on a daily basis

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY HOW ENTREPRENEURS CAN HELP THEIR EMPLOYEES Stress and challenge are always important if one is to grow oneself physically, emotionally or intellectually and so it is important that workplaces offer challenge, and opportunity without this being excessively stressful. If this delicate balance can be achieved, individuals have their mental health promoted through their ability to fulfil life tasks and enjoy their work. Organisations need to think about how to develop a culture that promotes mental health, rather than simply identifying those who are vulnerable, and avoiding the risks associated with highpressure environments Dr David Cliff, managing director of Gedanken and former psychiatric social worker We should be focusing on designing policies that focus on workplace factors that may negatively affect mental wellbeing, policies of prevention rather than treatment. This could be anything from: • • •

Giving employees information to increase their awareness of mental wellbeing, Offering them flexible working arrangements that promote their wellbeing. Establishing a good two-way relationship so that they feel comfortable coming to you for any issues.

Shaun Bradley, people director at Perkbox

WHAT THE ENTREPRENEURS SAY Being an entrepreneur is incredibly difficult and stressful, but no-one talks about the impact on your mental health.


Anonymous survey respondent



If I’m not mentally fit enough to run the business, we will have no business. Anonymous survey respondent The moment we neglect ourselves and our own health in general, our employees suffer. Anonymous survey respondent thank you to all the entrepreneurs who took time out of their busy schedules to answer the questions in our survey. If you found the above statistics interesting, please visit our website for the report in full. 52



Scottish entrepreneur, Kieran Aitken, is among the next generation of Britain’s entrepreneurial talent, We caught up with him to hear more about his story, and to learn why youth is no barrier to business.

20 NAME : Kieran Aitken AGE : 20. He was just 17 when he launched Orbit Enterprise Education, a Glasgow-based social enterprise that brings business incubators into schools to nurture the professional talent of tomorrow. COMPANY : Now in its third year, the company delivers comprehensive support to 16-to-18-year-olds, opening pathways into enterprise or towards that dream job. How are things progressing with Orbit Enterprise Education? Really well; we started working with three schools, this year we’re hoping to work with around 40. We have operations in Glasgow, while bases in Edinburgh and Manchester will be up and running in the near future. We are looking at opening in Birmingham as well. We have three directors and we’re taking on more staff, so the business is expanding. When did you first discover your passion for business? In school I used to sell anything I could in the playground, like sweets and chocolate. 53

I also created a map of the school to help new students find their way around. I sold advertising space to local businesses, and made a few hundred pounds from that early venture. I had a few problems going on in my early teenage years, and it was around the age of 14 that I knew I had to make some changes. I remember travelling through the Highlands to England, and I just had an epiphany and I knew entrepreneurship was for me. I’ve never had a moment as powerful as that; the desire to run my own business started, and it hasn’t stopped since. What practical steps did you take to get started? I bought Starting A Business For Dummies, and about 50 more books, from Duncan Bannatyne’s book to Michael Porter, and publications like Harvard Business Review and the Financial Times. I had a good grounding in business theory by the time I was 16. Then I began a car valeting business with £150. We’d charge customers £25 per month, and for that we’d clean, wash and valet the customer’s car once a week for the month. That £150 turned into a fivefigure sum within around a year. That was the first real business I had, when I had to take real responsibility. Did you receive any help in the early days? I didn’t receive much support when I got started. The car valeting was pretty much done off my own back. These days I get a lot of support, I mean, you have to be aged over 18 to get a lot of support, but when I was 17 there wasn’t a lot of help. Do you consider age to be a barrier to doing business? Age is definitely a barrier, but I prefer to see it as an advantage. I was a young guy coming in; I felt that some of the investors who ran the business ecosystem in Scotland were more receptive to me

because of my age and my ambition. I used my age as a brand to a large extent, but sometimes it worked against me. I’ve met some people who are quite stuck in their ways and a bit arrogant, who won’t deal with you based on your age. I’ve come across ageism, but you have to look at your age in a positive way. I think I’ve gotten further because I’m younger than I would have done were I ten years older. Do you have any role models in business? Absolutely; there are a lot of Scottish entrepreneurs who I look up to, such as Sir Tom Hunter, and Michelle Mone. Duncan Bannatyne is a big inspiration too. Also, rappers like 50Cent – he had circumstances that I could relate to in many ways. When I heard his story and how he got into business, I found that really inspiring. YOU WON Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the NATWEST Great British Entrepreneur Awards Edinburgh, WHAT DID IT MEAN TO YOU? It was amazing; I was so happy and grateful for all the support that I’d had. The award was massive for us, and a huge credibility boost. It makes you look a lot more serious when doing business if you’ve won something like that. The exposure has been fantastic; a few journalists have been in touch and I’ve been invited to speak at events, so that’s been great. What advice would you give to young aspiring entrepreneurs? Use youth to your advantage. If you’re smart enough, you’ll find a way of handling yourself. Youth can be a USP in many regards, and it will help you to stand out. You can get in touch with a lot of big names because you’re young. It certainly worked for me. Flip age on its head and you can really have success with it.


After selling the Academy for Chief Executives at the age of 75, few would have blamed Brian Chernett for taking life a little slower.

81 NAME : Brian Chernett AGE : 81. Delivering measurable change in the C-Suite for over 50 years led to Brian’s inclusion in the 2015 Maserati 100 list of Entrepreneurs who have most helped the next generation of British business talent. COMPANY : In 2013, he and business partner, Mike Burnage launched Ella Forums, a community interest company (CIC) that uses peer learning to turn charity CEOs into even better leaders. How did you start in business? I became a Department Manager at the John Lewis Partnership at 30, and that’s where I developed my people and business management skills. Then I more or less changed businesses every five years or so, I became a serial entrepreneur, developing many different businesses. I got involved in an organisation called Vistage, the largest company in the world that allows CEOs to improve their businesses. I was invited to become a chair of one of the Vistage groups, and I loved it. It inspired me to go on and set up the Academy for Chief Executives (ACE) which, similarly, helps chief executives to develop their leadership. I ran ACE for

twenty years, and sold it at the age of 75, by which time I was listed in the Maserati 100 list.

join him to help build a chain of stores and small retail shops, and help them develop their department stores overseas.

How did you create Ella Forums?

Do you have any role models in business?

I remembered how effective it was when we had invited charities to join us at the Academy. I thought there might be a market there, and spent four years developing the Ella Foundation, which then turned into Ella Forums (Experiential Leadership Learning Academy), a Community Interest Company. I was mainly copying what I had done with ACE. The challenge was getting charity leaders to spend the money to improve their efficiency. I raised tax-free cash under the SEIS scheme, and sourced £140,000 investment from ex-members from my academy days. I had money from selling ACE and put in £150,000 of my own money, and it’s only now showing surpluses. I’ve not been earning any money from it all as yet. Employing the same techniques as we did with ACE, we tapped into profound learning. It was valuable because not-forprofits have much more working against them than for-profit organisations. The stress on CEOs of charities is enormous; we teach them how to deal with that pressure and how to work with trustees. Four years later and we’re working with just under 200 charity leaders and 17 groups around the country.

There were a few people in the early days in the first companies that I worked for whom I admired. In the early days, I’d read most of the business books – my favourite one is Good to Great (Collins, 2016). I went to America to hear Jim Collins speak, and he was fantastic.

When did you discover your passion for business? It was when I joined the Royal Air Force for three years at 17. After little education, I found myself passing small exams and getting small promotions and I ended up working in Gibraltar, helping to get people over from Spain to build officers’ barracks. I discovered I wasn’t bad at managing people. My growth period was in John Lewis; I started on the junior circuit then started to run departments and after five years, the MD left. I was 30 and he suggested I

Do you consider age to be a barrier to doing business? Absolutely not, I think more and more people see that you don’t lose your marbles at 65. I couldn’t think of retirement. I’m 81 now and I’m told by many of those with whom I work with that I’m more effective than ever, particularly as a coach. What are you looking for in the candidates that you’ll be judging at the GBEA? I think I’d like to see how they are measuring the value that they deliver to civil society; social ROI is really important. I’ll look at how they build their teams; how they work together. If they’re charities it will be interesting to see how they’ve worked with their trustees. It’s essential that a good CEO charity works in partnership with their chairs. What advice would you give to young aspiring entrepreneurs? We have a charter on all our business cards that says to make sure that you understand the purpose of what you’re doing. Make sure you stay on purpose and follow through with it in all you do.


















THE MOST EXCITING FEMALE ENTREPRENEURS TO WATCH Since launching the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards six years ago, we’ve had the huge pleasure of working with, and celebrating, some of the UK’s most inspiring female entrepreneurs. There are so many incredible women launching and running businesses in the UK, and we’re looking at 15 of the most exciting ones to watch in 2018.








Having started selling vegetarian hot dogs, aptly named ‘Not Dogs’ from their purple van at festivals across the country, Katie and Jane opened their first sit-down restaurant in 2016 and now have their sights set on more locations.

The company provides digital skills training for mums to help them achieve a perfect worklife balance. Nikki and Kathryn have trained 1,200 mums so far and they continue towards their goal of supporting every mum to achieve the ‘#WorkThatWorks’ work-life balance.

Carley is the founder of a clean-eating fast food company. Gym-themed Kettlebell Kitchen turned over an impressive £1.7 million in its first year of trading and is on track to treble that figure to £5.3 million by May 2018.







Starting in a small country kitchen in West Wales, Alana’s cake business shot to fame by winning BBC’s The Apprentice in 2016. Having rolled out the Ridiculously Rich by Alana ambassador programme throughout 2017, Alana is taking the business right across the country in 2018.

Karina is another one of our 2017 Award winners, winning the ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’ category with her partner, Maciek. After giving birth to twins late in 2017 Karina is continuing her mission with Maciek to reduce unnecessary wastage to create delicious fruit juices.

Created out of a frustration with the lack of nut-free snacks that were healthy and tasted good. Since launching the bars, and a unique range of baking mixes, Julianne has launched her products into major supermarkets like Asda, Co-op and Ocado and high street retailers such as TK Maxx.







Since creating her own natural nut butter to support her marathon training in 2015, Pippa Murray has transformed it into a £9 million business. Pip and Nut is now the fastest growing nut butter brand in the UK.

Krisi is Co-founder of Bluebird Tea Co., which, in three years, has gone from two people packing tea in a bedroom, to a team of 30 spread across three stores. It’s building a cult following among loose-leaf tea enthusiasts.

Michelle is the co-founder of Wealthify, a service dedicated to making investing simple and affordable. After receiving heavy investment from Aviva in late 2017, Michelle is driving Wealthify to new heights.







Following a hugely impressive 2017, in which Hannah and Sophie won Family Business and Great British Entrepreneur of the Year awards at the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards, the Welsh sisters are looking to build on that success this year.

Having spent her whole career campaigning for good, honest, natural food, Cat launched her organic, Mediterranean-inspired baby food business, Piccolo in 2016. It rapidly became the UK’s fastest growing baby food product and continues to go from strengthto-strength.

Celebrating natural and honest food created from simple ingredients, her place in the clean-eating market is firmly cemented, Ella Woodward is set to continue leading the way in 2018 with more exciting product launches, menus and a book coming by the end of the year.







Anna is another female entrepreneur who achieved big success at the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards in 2017, winning the #GoDo Entrepreneur of the Year award. Tisski is one of the UK’s only Microsoft Partners and Cloud Solutions Provider.

Jessica and Alexia launched online beauty store Cult Beauty 10 years ago and continue to drive impressive growth. The company reported a turnover of £37.6 million in 2017, with an impressive growth in Middle Eastern markets.

Fond childhood memories of making popcorn with her father, led Cassandra to create PROPERCORN with her best friend Ryan. Based in London, but going global, PROPERCORN is now available in 11 countries. 56


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Thank you to all those involved with the production of Issue #2. It was inspiring to hear from those living life without limitations, entrepreneurs for which age held no barrier, and for delving a little deeper into the gender funding gap. Keep an eye out for the next issue of the Great British Entrepreneurs Magazine, coming in July.






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