5 MINUTES WITH...RICHARD SINCLAIR, FOUNDER OF SNO

Richard Sinclair is more than ambitious, he's a daredevil. A former Executive Producer of the BBC, he's constantly pushing boundaries and his latest expedition is turning over millions. He is the founder of SNO, the ski holidays provider with the goal of making travel more accessible to more people. That's no mean feat. This guy is inspiring in bucketloads.
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1. What's the biggest lesson you've learnt from starting up SNO?
Always be recruiting. Truly great people are hard to find, but they change your business, and your life. Constantly seek them out, to come and join the mission. In my former life as Executive Producer at the BBC, incredibly ambitious and motivated talent was literally on tap because everyone wants to work there. If I had a new cunning plan, I could speak to HR and find a small cadre of experienced film makers and Oxbridge grads to grab it by the scruff and go make it happen. The real world is not populated with over-achievers, so the trick is to be constantly searching for SNO men and women. We’re always looking for people “like us”.

2. What's the one piece of business advice you wish you'd been given when you started?
Hire A-players, then enable them to get on with it themselves. I see why the likes of Jobs and Musk constantly looked for amazing people to join the mission. If you lead well, these great people don’t need to be managed, so you can focus instead on removing barriers and being an enabler for them… these A-players can achieve goals creatively and autonomously, and they’ll feel much more fulfilled having created their own solutions.

These people also constantly have a growth mindset and, like me, take great pleasure in constantly learning. They love figuring out how to do new things, or do the same things better… working hard on the business but working hardest on themselves. There’s nothing more powerful than striving for mastery, to make you stand out in a crowded world, filled mostly with the ordinary.

At SNO we’re always looking for people who are fun to work with, but also very ambitious and switched-on. Culture is so important so I’m always quietly trying to figure out if this person is a SNO man or woman.

3. Was there ever a point when you wanted to give up?
No. Never. I should qualify that. There have been times when I thought I should carefully consider if it was the right thing to do, when the extremes of work-volume and financial-stress were too much for loved ones around me, or risked being damaging to my most important relationships… but I never wanted to quit, I just took time to consider on a few occasions whether I ought to.

4. What's been the biggest milestone for the business so far?
Probably passing the £5m revenue mark. It’s an abstract goal, but signifies much more to us, as we’ve reached the ability to do many more exciting things.

We were in profit by year 1, but only just, and with little more than cash for very meagre growth-funding and self-sustenance. Fortunately, I was happy to live in penury for the first 3 years, to liberate those extra few per cent for growth projects. My better-half was less enthusiastic about watching our car and clothes and house slowly age and wear, but utterly supportive, first taking on the role of FD and later COO. While I’m pimping the engine, she keeps the wheels on!

Business coaching tries to help you delineate working on the business versus working in the business and it’s dead right. My first job at SNO (after initial setup) was to quickly engineer myself out of the day to day operations, which has allowed me to work almost entirely on growth. This approach is essential if you want to scale, and goes back to your first questions, because the answer is to hire A-players and then also create processes, so that the day to day functioning doesn’t rely on the founder in any way.

5. Who is your inspiration?
I think, like most people I have many, but I learned a lot about what a human is really capable of, on a month-long expedition to the Magnetic North Pole with the remarkable Dr Mike Stroud. He was partner to Sir Ranulph Fiennes on their famous unsupported expeditions to the South Pole and many other epic endeavours. I found great strength after being tested beyond a level which I’d have considered breaking point.

I was 4 weeks away from land, out on the frozen ocean, having lost over a stone in weight and struggling to lead a film crew who were also far out of their comfort zone. Taking the battery we wore in our underwear (to keep at body temperature and ready to work in an emergency) I turned on the satellite phone for a rare call home. I vividly recall in mid-conversation, beginning to weep, for no good reason other than mental and physical exhaustion. My partner later said she was quite afraid for me, having recently seen pictures come back of the polar bear who came to eat us, and the team members with frostbite. I think that was awakening for me, from which I draw strength even now. To feel so utterly spent, and then find will, we can still go on. It’s powerful. Afterwards I put those lessons to the test by completing Ironman on six months of training and a few swimming lessons. I take huge strength from those learnings, that our limits are actually much greater than we know, if only we can steel the mind to go on.

In my day to day life I have to say it’s probably my boys Jimmy (9) and Charles (7). Their amazing combination of naïve joyfulness and a constant thirst to learn and know more, is a kind of nirvana to me, and a lofty goal for adults with more complex lives. My ideal is to combine that growth mindset with the imperative to recognise and grasp those moments of joy whenever they present themselves (often with those boys).

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6. What keeps you motivated?

I’m not sure how to pin it down to one thing. It’s all incredibly exciting. I think what really floats-my-boat is the knowledge that, when we have 10 times our current spare-profit (to use as growth funding), I can immerse myself almost entirely in growth projects. We still have more than 90 per cent of our ideas still in the tank, waiting to go. That will move things forward enormously. It’s exciting because it’s a compounding effect. I can feel the curve steepening, as our profits increase and we get our hands on more growth money, to fund more and more ambitious projects.

7. What business or brand do you look up to?

I like the approach of the Virgin group, in focussing on a great brand (customer experience and brand marketing), and not being industry-specific. I’m not from “travel” which means that, while we want to be successful in this industry first, I think a memorable brand like SNO can do almost anything, if it’s careful to be about a promise of a particular kind of experience. Beyond that, we’ll make SNO itself a brand to look up to, as we work on our mission to democratise travel. After universal access to healthcare and education, I think travel is the third great boon of our age. If we can make travel easy and ubiquitous for the world (not just the wealthy part) I believe that is our best chance of fixing the horrible disconnect and misunderstanding that plagues mankind. Technology, well-combined with people, is the way to genuinely disintermediate the travel industry, and we’re working on something that I think will change the world. How we’re going to do that, I’ll have to let you wait and see.

8. If you weren't doing this, you would be....

I might return to my university passions, where reading Cognitive Science gave the thrill of learning fundamentals in AI, neuroscience and psychology. This influence will feed directly into SNO in our upcoming machine-learning projects. Or possibly still making TV. The BBC was central to my formative years, where I gained my consumer-centric instincts at Watchdog, slaked my thirst for science and tech at Tomorrow’s World, and then found my passion for travel while running Holiday. These great influences and more from Auntie and its incredible people, can be found now at the heart of SNO.

http://sno.co.uk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=s3LAuwPNO4g
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5 MINUTES WITH....SARAH & FARAH, FOUNDERS OF HANX

We met school friends Farah Kabir and Sarah Welsh, the creators of HANX, a new stylish range of male condoms 'by women, for women'. These women have massive ambitions to shake off the taboos that run riot around sexual health and we're loving it. 
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1. What's the biggest lesson you've learnt from starting up? 
Definitely patience. We've been eager since the beginning to get the job done but we've learnt that everything takes time. We've also realised how important our network is. We've called on everyone we know and they've all helped to make Hanx a reality. 

2. What's the one piece of business advice you wish you'd been given? 
Everything takes a bit longer than you expect. When we first launched we thought we’d have it up and running within six months. People around us told us not to put pressure on ourselves to expect so much so soon. We could have listened to them! 

3. Was there ever a point when you wanted to give up? 
Never. It took us eighteen months from determining the concept to launch and it has been far from a smooth journey but we've never wanted to give up. We're passionate about breaking taboos around sexual health and we believe in our vision, which keeps us going. It tests us and challenges us but we're determined to make it work. We're really pleased with the end result. 

4. What's been the biggest milestone for the business so far? 
Launching HANX and seeing it gain traction organically. 

5. Has it lived up to your expectations? 
Sarah:  I can't say I had any. I wanted to be my own boss, make a change and work with my best friend. Those things have been fulfilling and I am enjoying learning so much every day. 

6. Who is your inspiration? 
Anyone who is changing behaviours and breaking taboos. We're passionate about promoting positive sexual health and want to empower women to take control. Anyone who is challenging perceptions inspires us. 

7. What keeps you motivated? 
Knowing we're making a positive impact. The fact that we're creating a product that is compelling to many and building a movement is extremely rewarding. 

8. What business or brand do you look up to? 
We look up to so many businesses in the startup space. Huckletree is one that's creating a unique community. It's the sustainable businesses that are breaking barriers that we admire.  

9. If you weren't doing this, you would be.... 
Sarah: I guess I would be continuing full-time work as a doctor! 

 

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5 MINUTES WITH....DR MILAD SHADROOH, AKA THE SINGING DENTIST

Going to the dentist has never been something we look forward to. Even as an adult, many of us put off a visit to that reclining leather chair and nightmare drilling sound that still haunts us. But there's one charismatic dentist making waves on YouTube and sucking the fear out of dentistry for kids and adults in equal measures. His name is Dr Milad Shadrooh but many of you will be familiar with him as the Singing Dentist. We had the pleasure of catching up with him recently about all things business and show business, and just how much his parodies of famous tunes are having an impact on attitudes to dental hygiene.
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1. How did the Singing Dentist first enter our world?
It was November 2015 and I was working in my dental surgery when Drake's 'Hotline Bling' came on the radio and I started changing the lyrics to be about root canals. I recorded one take of me free styling and sent it to my mate. He thought it was hilarious and told me I should put it online; I thought he was crackers. But then he posted it on Facebook without me knowing and before I knew it, the video was circulating the dental community. From there, it started to get picked up by the public. The root canal lyrics were a bit technical for the public to understand but what was clear was that they were enjoying seeing a dentist do something different so I created 'Gappy', a parody of 'Happy' by Pharrell Williams. This one went crazy. Honestly, this just became a thing out of nowhere. My logo just evolved from the fact that people liked my eyebrows.


2. Do you remember the feeling of it all kicking off?
It was all just really funny. I was getting loads of messages back from people saying that their kids had started brushing their teeth, having struggled to get them to do it themselves. I’ve had messages from adults who had been really nervous to go to the dentist and I’d helped them to have the confidence. It has all been so positive. It’s a great feeling knowing that I am helping to do some good. It was around March time last year when I received a message from a mum on Facebook to say she had a disabled daughter and after 7 years she now wanted to go to the dentist. I’m quite amazed at what my silly face has done. The common positive response has encouraged me to carry on.


3. How do you balance doing your job as a professional dentist as well as being your alter ego?
I’ve worked at the same dental practice for 13 years now owned it for 7 years so I have an established patient base and we're embedded in the local community. My patients are really chuffed for me and they understand that sometimes I might need to reschedule some appointments. But being the Singing Dentist day to day doesn’t take up much time as the parodies take just minutes to write and I’ll only record them in 2-3 takes. I have a very balanced schedule as I work 3 days a week, while the other days I am lecturing in dentistry and juggling fatherhood and Singing Dentist commitments. The dental industry talks are really taking off due to the growth of the brand.


4. Do you feel that you have to choose whether to be the Singing Dentist or yourself in public situations?
No. Luckily what you see of the Singing Dentist is my own personality. I don’t turn it on and off. Weirdly, though, I am more shy in real life. I can sing to the camera in a room no problem, but put me on a stage performing and I do get nervous!

5. What's the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in life? If you have a passion then the talent always comes through, no matter what you do. If you do something because you love it and are sincere, people will understand it. Follow your heart. 6. What's been the biggest milestone for you so far? I can’t pinpoint a specific milestone because I’ve enjoyed every step in the Singing Dentist’s journey so far. If everything ended tomorrow, I’ll be glad I’ve done it. It still shocks me how many people I’ve spoken to or met through social media. I reply to every comment, it’s a promise I made to myself, and it takes a long time. A lot of the questions require dental expertise so I can’t rely on anyone to help with the replies. The ability to help people remotely is a rather big milestone alone.

 

6. What has been your proudest moment as the Singing Dentist?
I think it’s been all the TV stuff. It snowballed after my nurse contacted the local press without me knowing (there’s a pattern of people sharing my stuff without my permission). It then got picked up in the Metro and ITV London News. Before I knew it I was on Lorraine with Dr Hillary doing a dentistry special. A pretty amazing moment was meeting Ed Sheeran and he asked me for a selfie! I met him backstage at The Royal Albert Hall during his concert for The Teenage Cancer Trust and I was gob smacked when he recognized me! Meeting and performing with Diversity on their New Years Day show was also awesome! And professionally, it was an honour to be named as the number 1 most influential person in dentistry ahead of Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt! This was voted for by readers of Dentistry magazine and my parents were particularly proud of this!


7. Who is your inspiration?
My dad has been an inspiration by introducing me to music from an early age. And it’s both my parents. They made huge sacrifices for me to have a better life and for that, I am eternally grateful. As a father myself, I now appreciate it so much more.

Another inspiration has to be Michael Jackson. As a child in Iran, I watched Thriller every day and I would copy his moves and sing his songs around the house. My final inspiration was Will Smith. Growing up, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was my favourite show and I learnt a lot of my personality traits from cheeky Will! Truthfully, though, I get inspiration from all over - there are so many good people in my life. 

 

8. What keeps you motivated?
I think knowing what I have achieved in a short space in time keeps me motivated and I want to use this voice to do some good. I would love to leave behind some kind of mark, something my kids can look back at and feel proud that their dad did something great. We have record numbers of children being admitted to hospital every year for dental extractions under general anaesthetic. This costs the NHS around £36million each year and in essence, it is a preventable disease.  I want to use the Singing Dentist brand to bring this stat down. Also knowing I can help make what seems a boring and scary place – the dentists - somewhere people want to go is driving me forward. I would like to show what really goes on behind closed doors of dentistry as it’s neither boring nor scary. There’s an awesome generation who’ve come in to keep it interesting. I work with a bunch of personalities who are dental professionals during day and have crazy interests at night, like body builders, boxers, actors. It’s a cool place, really.


9. If you weren't doing this, you would be....
I’d probably be doing something in music, maybe production or being a superstar DJ (!). 

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5 MINUTES WITH...EVELINE BEER, CEO OF FLYING BEAUTIFUL

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We caught up with Eveline, the founder of Flying Beautiful, a new ecommerce and content hub for the modern working woman in search of the essential beauty products for travelling with. She's got big ambitions for the business...
1. What's the biggest lesson you've learnt from starting up Flying Beautiful?

I think it's that nothing has to be perfect. It's about letting go and doing it rather than overthinking and stalling. It's easy to get hung up on the details but I've learnt that I need to get on with things and execute.

2. What's the one piece of business advice you wish you'd been given?

I wish someone had told me how difficult marketing is. Reaching out to a target audience is not simple if done well. With my background in finance, I completely underestimated the scale of this task. I am having to learn as I go and seeking advice from great people in the beauty industry.

3. Was there ever a point when you wanted to give up?

I've often had my doubts but never thought that I should give up. I knew the venture would be challenging but I've always been convinced that we're heading in the right direction.
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4. What's been the biggest milestone for the business so far?

It's definitely signing our first big name brand to the platform. It felt like a turning point for the business. We've had a great reception from brands. I expected the sign-up to our site to be harder but I'm finding that people love the idea and want to be a part of it, which is awesome.

5. Who is your inspiration?

There are two female founders that I think kick ass in business and have been very key inspirations for me. The first is Natalie Massenet, the founder of Net-a-Porter. I love her story of how she built up the business with such a strong vision. Sophia Amoruso, founder of Nasty Gal, is my other hero. She created a multimillion dollar business that after initial success and multiple financing rounds went bankrupt. I'm impressed by how she handled the aftermath; she stood up and admitted she'd failed and talked about lessons learned. It takes courage and a good attitude to do that. Many founders fail but she was brave enough to be open about it. This attitude has served her well and she's bounced back.

6. What keeps you motivated?

The idea of coming up with an idea that makes the lives of women easier is motivation for me. Women have so many jobs on their hands and if I can help take away just one of those I am happy. The concept of Flying Beautiful came to me when I was doing a lot of travelling with work, with no time to search 10 different shops for all the right products I needed for my trips. I hope to take away this unnecessary burden for busy women.

7. What business or brand do you look up to?

I would say Net-a-Porter. The company has continued to adapt to trends and having started as a pure commerce business, has transformed into a lifestyle platform. I see parallels with Flying Beautiful and have aspirations for it to become not just a shopping platform but a place where people go to consume really interesting lifestyle content. 

8. If you weren't doing this, you would be....

I think I'd be building a brand or startup of some sort. I have different kind of business ideas that I think might have legs. I went with Flying Beautiful because it connected with me the most.

https://www.flyingbeautiful.com/

 

5 MINUTES WITH....ANDREW WALKER, FOUNDER OF TEA REX

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You may not have heard of Tea Rex until now but this fresh fruit and root tea company is making waves in the hot drinks category. We caught up with its enigmatic founder Andrew Walker to tell us more about his ambitions to innovate the way we enjoy tea.


1. What's the biggest lesson you've learnt from starting up Tea Rex?

If you don’t know the answer find someone who does… fast. It’s amazing how a 15 minute phone call can save 15 days of running around the houses.


2. What's the one piece of business advice you wish you'd been given?

I’m in the thick of it so only time will tell, but from past experiences which have failed, think big from day one… don’t just think within your limits.
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3. Was there ever a point when you wanted to give up?

Not yet – I had a stable income and a ‘good’ career in creative agencies but was not satisfied as I never had any ownership. So when I started my own venture, as cliched as it sounds, I have tried to make the most of the tough days because at least I own the outcome.


4. What's been the biggest milestone for the business so far?

We’re a young business boldly creating a new category, so our key achievement has been the speed of progress, gaining the backing of 2 world-class manufacturers to take the concept to listing in 9 months. We won a place at the BBC Good Food Show where over 4.5k people told us TEA REX rocked. Since launching our concept in August 2016 we have been shortlisted for Best New Brand at the World Food Innovations Awards in March 2017 and won a Great Taste award too.


5. Who is your inspiration?

It sounds cliched but it’s the people around the product who have backed it without question. There is also a ‘penny-drop-moment’ when people taste the product and love it. That is a driving force.


6. What keeps you motivated?

Creating a new category of hot drinks.


7. What business or brand do you look up to?

Timpson – it’s an amazing business which really delivers on a philosophy of "If you treat people well, it is blindingly obvious that you will do a good job.” A proponent of what the founder calls 'upside down management' - his employees - all of whom are called 'colleagues', enjoy an unusual degree of autonomy in the running of the individual shops and 10% of the company's employees have spent time in prison. Each store is trusted to resolve any customer complaint up to £500 without approval. Kirsty Young's desert island discs with the owner John Timpson is worth listen: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b074vw94 


8. If you weren't doing this, you would be....

Builder, decorator, carpenter or bricklayer – I love building stuff and would be totally content…

Join Tea Rex in supporting their crowdfunding campaign, which will bring out the RAWR in you! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1098486353/unleashing-fresh-infusions-which-rawr-with-flavour

 

5 MINUTES WITH....JASON GIBB, CO-FOUNDER OF BREAD & JAM FESTIVAL

We caught up with Jason, a food entrepreneur and Co-Founder of Bread & Jam, a festival to shake up the way the food and drink industry works and celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit. Every year, 16,000 food and drink brands emerge into the UK market but only 10 per cent make it past their first year of trading. Jason takes us on a journey of how his hunger brought him to where he is today.


1. What's the biggest lesson you've learnt in business?

I’ve learnt that the pain points in our food and drink community are common. Even though each of us is on their own unique journey we all face many of the same issues. When you’re setting up a business it feels like you’re on a lonely road, making mistake after mistake. But we are all going through the same thing and we can learn so much from one another, and help avoid these common mistakes.

Some food founders say that all you need to do is work hard and be passionate and you will succeed, but I find this advice misleading because lots of other things need to be in place to succeed. There’s too much rose-tinting. For our Bread & Jam events we encourage speakers to give their warts and all stories. We need to bust the myths and show that the odd failure isn’t bad. 


2. What's the one piece of business advice you wish you'd been given?

When I was in the throes of building my first food startup, Nudo Olive Oil (which has since been sold), I wish I’d been told to keep myself more detached from the business. It was part of me; its bank account was my money and I was inextricably tied to every detail of its being and motion. I wasn’t able to make objective decisions. I could have benefited from taking more of a step back to get a broader view of the business than getting bogged down on the detail.


3. Was there ever a point when you wanted to give up?

*Laughs*. God yeah. With Nudo, during the 10 years I spent building it up and there were numerous occasions when I’d had enough. It wore me down because it was so much a part of me. The idea of closing it down was blown out of proportion. I have since learnt to take a step back. So with Bread & Jam I haven’t felt like that. I am currently doing a course in sustainability and looking at entrepreneurial opportunities in this area. I am about to take over a fish and chip shop with a local chef in Hammersmith to turn it into a sustainable one. It’s a risk, but I have learnt to take risks and this is part of my journey of never giving up.

 

4. What's been the biggest milestone for Bread & Jam so far?

It’s seeing people’s businesses change. When we launched last year we didn’t know if people would even turn up. But they did, and our event changes people’s lives. So there were very obvious milestones like getting businesses stocked in Whole Foods, to the less obvious ones where people have been on the edge of quitting but their visit to Bread & Jam brought them renewed enthusiasm or gave them confidence to take the leap in setting up their business. 


5. Who is your inspiration?

I am addicted to the How I Built It podcast, for talks with people who founded influential businesses. I listened to an interview with Ethan Brown of Beyond Meat, which replaces meat burgers with vegetable protein. He’s an insanely inspiring person and he’ll go down in history as someone who changed the way we eat. I’ve been a veggie for nearly 40 years but I always like a bit of protein so I got one of his burgers couriered from New York via DHL. It blew my mind. It was like eating a meat patty and it had red (beetroot juice) oozing out of it when cut. Incredible.


6. What keeps you motivated?

The feeling of being not quite good enough! I have an innate sense of having to achieve. I guess it boils down to having highly demanding parents. It’s both a curse and a beautiful thing. I’m never happy to rest on my laurels. My interest in sustainability stems from wanting to do something positive. I am an entrepreneur by nature and I want to do something that has good at the heart of its mission. I guess Bread & Jam is an articulation of this. It has evolved from what began as The Food Hub - a foodie community - into an annual industry event. It all stemmed from being lonely on my business journey and wishing there had been more opportunities to meet people in the same boat and network.


7. If you weren't doing this, you would be....

Maybe a diving instructor. I did that a lot as a young person as I studied marine biology at school and often thought about doing it as a career. Either that or a dolphin researcher. 
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5 MINUTES WITH....SIMEON BLANCK, FOUNDER OF ACE TEA LONDON

This week we chat to Simeon Blanck, the founder of Ace Tea London, whose vision is to bring full flavour teas to the consumer palate. The tea collections have British quintessence running through them - from the flavour to the beautiful packaging. In fact, Ace Tea's packaging is as much to die for as the tea itself. A collaboration with Morris & Co. (William Morris) set the brand apart from a relatively early age. We find out what Simeon had to say during our 5 minute #chowdown.
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1. What's the biggest lesson you've learnt from starting up Ace Tea?
There are no shortcuts to getting customers. You have to do it the hard way.
2. What's the one piece of business advice you wish you'd been given? 
Don’t rely on Social Media to gain customers.

3. Was there ever a point when you wanted to give up? 
No. Never. I am totally committed. 
4. What's been the biggest milestone for the business so far? 
Securing a very nice export order to South Africa after only a four months.
5. Who is your inspiration? 
My father. He retired at 52. Not bad.
6. What keeps you motivated? 
The desire to build the brand up and distribute my exceptional teas globally.
7. What business or brand do you look up to?
Tesla & Elon Musk its founder. 
8. If you weren't doing this, you would be…
Bored.

www.acetealondon.com
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5 MINUTES WITH....JOSHUA UWADIAE, CEO OF WEGYM

Claudia caught up with Joshua Uwadiae, founder and CEO of WeGym, the personal training on demand platform that's giving people affordable and convenient access to become fit and healthy. Only just into his twenties, Joshua has not let his bad boy roots affect his chances of fulfilling his ambitions to make a difference through his tech startup. Watch out for this guy, he's going places.

1. What's the biggest lesson you've learnt from starting up?

It’s that despite your optimism, treat your business idea like a hypothesis. When I started WeGym I was very emotionally attached to it but I learnt that businesses need to be proven. And to prove they work, it’s important to take a neutral stance and apply the thinking in de-risking, identifying the risks and demonstrate that they can be overcome.

2. What's the one piece of business advice you wish you'd been given?

It’s the above! When I first started I didn’t understand the external context of the business and I was too emotionally invested to see that there had to be proof points for it to work. It’s not enough for your mum to think your business is a good idea. I came across a podcast about de-risking. I started to apply this philosophy to each possible scenario that the business could go through. You need to identify whether what you are offering is something people want and need - test it and test it again. And test it again.

3. Was there ever a point when you wanted to give up?

There was a time when I didn’t necessarily want to quit but I thought I could. It was a month after the accelerator programme had finished when we realised that we still hadn’t proven the model worked yet and we were at the end of available cash. Added to that, my co-founder left. That was a dark time - I was in bed for a couple of days, I didn’t want to exercise. My friends in the startup world helped me through it with sound advice.
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4. What's been the biggest milestone for the business so far? 

I think navigating out of the chaos I’ve described was pretty significant. It led me to crack on, bootstrap and refocus.

5. Who is your inspiration? 

I'm inspired by my opportunity to change the lives and direction of my family so the next generation doesn't struggle like we did. I grew up in the ghetto and was tied up in gangs and crime. Good people have helped me out of that way of life. I'm very much connected to that past and where I've come from and how hard I've worked to better myself. Now, it's about doing something meaningful that inspires me. Democratising personal training is the meaningful treadmill that keeps me going. 

There are some important people who inspire me too; one of which being my mentor Gabbi. An investor and branding wizz by trade, he's a man who cuts through the bullsh*t and noise. He was a little naughty like me growing up so he's become a bit of a kindred sprit to me. 

6. What keeps you motivated? 

I think my own hard work ethic keeps me motivated. I am committed to what I set out to achieve (in WeGym) and have a very personal attachment to solving a problem - namely getting people fit and healthy. Fitness made a difference to my health and I want to do the same for others. I think also seeing progress keeps me motivated to carry on and do it. 

7. What business or brand do you look up to?  

Nike - they have this fantastic way of separating their product from their messaging. Nike will bring the story of the athlete, from their performance to their energy, opposed to the trainer. And I would put Apple up there for their ability to build curiosity in consumers. When I quit my job to start WeGym, it felt like a momentous thing to buy a Mac, like it was the start of something great. Then there’s Snapchat; they really get the user. 

8. If you weren't doing this, you would be.... 

Building another startup. Or in the media; I’ve always wanted to be a presenter.

wegym.co.uk
WeGym session.

WeGym session.

5 MINUTES WITH...ALESSIO DANTINO, CO-FOUNDER OF CROWDFOODING

Alessio saw a gap in the market for a crowdfunding platform that would put food and drink innovators on the map. Join us as we talk to him about how he's helping to reshape the food industry through Crowdfooding...

1. What's the biggest lesson you've learnt from starting up Crowdfooding?
I've learnt that it's important to start running a business lean and to not overthink things, just do. It's about speaking to customers as much as possible to understand their biggest needs. What I realised in building Crowdfooding is that there were companies not in the position for either VC or crowdfunding but needed to generate sales and boost their following. We created our Sales Booster product to do just this and we're seeing massive returns in this new approach.

2. What's the one piece of business advice you wish you'd been given?
I wish I'd learnt how to hire well. I was very familiar with the interviewing process but if I’d had someone guiding me to figure that out earlier, I would've built my A team sooner. Without the advice it meant spending a lot of time trying people out and slowly putting the right processes in place to get the best people on board.

3. Was there ever a point when you wanted to give up? 
Building a business is hard but I've also been trying to do it with a smile and I believe that the hard times of building a business are part of the journey.

4. What's been the biggest milestone for the business so far?
I guess it was signing our first crowdfunding campaign - Chocothon - with a collaboration with high profile businesses as partners. I would also definitely say the moment we started pivoting to create our Sales Booster capability was key for us to acknowledge the importance of sales generations for startups and creating real value for them.

5. Who is your inspiration?
Richard Branson. He was the first person in business that I fully related to in terms of his entrepreneurial style and bravery. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and I would say I am somewhat similar in that regard. After watching his documentary, 'Never look down', I felt that he was not only an entrepreneur but someone really willing to live on the edge.

6. What keeps you motivated?
The end goal and the change I want to see in the world is what keeps me motivated. Seeing the changes in what consumers have access to in terms of food - whether that be in quality or more equitable systems - or in other words 'raising the bar' of food products for the masses.

7. What business or brand do you look up to?
The brands we work with at Crowdfooding are trying to change the status quo - these are brands I admire. They are going in the opposite direction to take a new or interesting approach to customers. I would also count Coconut Collaborative, One Water and Seedlip as brands that are emulating this way of doing things.

8. If you weren't doing this, you would be....
Surfing by a beautiful beach! I would definitely be developing my passions for food and tech but maybe in place where I could be more in touch with nature.

www.crowdfooding.co.uk

5 MINUTES WITH...INGO BRAEUNLICH, FOUNDER OF ADONIS SMART FOODS

Meet Ingo, who left his finance career and long hours in the City, to set up Adonis Smart Foods out of frustration for the lack of healthy snacks on offer. We talk to him about how his quest for a low sugar revolution began.

1. What's the biggest lesson you've learnt from starting up Adonis Smart Foods?
The key to success is a strong team, which I am thankful for, and not to lose nerves when sailing close to the cliffs. If you lose your nerves, your team will also be negatively impacted.

2. What's the one piece of business advice you wish you'd been given?
Don’t start a business alone. But also make sure your partner is reliable, reasonable, balanced and that you understand his or her goals, why they want to do it and that your goals are aligned with theirs. There will be many bumps in the road along the way and it’s a shame if you derail after a few because of misunderstandings.

3. Was there ever a point when you wanted to give up?
Yes. When my parents lost everything after a lawsuit, I had suddenly more serious responsibilities and had to work on helping to bail them out, whilst also in the throws of setting up the business without the finances I initially planned to have. It was a really hard time. But many people have similar experiences and I think it isthe key to always strive to do the right thing, regardless of outcome, and keep doingit.

4. What's been the biggest milestone for the business so far?
There isn't one milestone to speak of as building a business means we achieve many tiny milestones constantly. The key thing I look forward to is when we break even so we're in a better position with more confidence, then we can just act much more out of passion with everything rather than need.

5. Who is your inspiration?
I don't have one person in mind. My inspirations are rather the dreams that I want to realise. However, I respect anyone who proves that they can achieve something ”impossible” through sheer effort and thought.

6. What keeps you motivated?
As a company, we're motivated by contributing to society with the provision of something healthy and helpful to the lifestyle of many people. For me, it is personal freedom. For me this means to live in whichever country I want and to build any business or pursue goals like studying something new, sailing around the world or supporting politics and NGOs.

7. If you weren't doing this, you would be....
Creating another startup – or still sitting in an office tower working on transactions in an investment bank or a fund and maybe planning my escape.

https://www.adonis-foods.com

 

5 MINUTES WITH...WILL BREAKEY, CO-FOUNDER OF DR WILL'S

Meet plastic surgeon Will, from Dr Will's, as he explains what drives him to create natural sauces with his restauranteur co-founder Josh. Dr Will's was born out of the desire to serve everyday sauces with less refined sugar and packed with more flavour. We find out more about what makes Will tick... 
DRWILLS_557.jpg
1. What's the biggest lesson you've learnt from starting up Dr Will’s? 

Don’t be afraid to ask people for help.

2. What's the one piece of business advice you wish you'd been given?

Everything will take 6-12 months longer than you think.

3. Was there ever a point when you wanted to give up? 

At least monthly! The best thing about having a co-founder is having someone who won’t let you!

4. What's been the biggest milestone for the business so far? 

I suppose it’s happened gradually but we now feel that we've built a great team, so coming in on a Monday morning and seeing everyone working towards our goals, feels like a big milestone.

5. Who is your inspiration? 

Sir Harold Gillies - Pioneering plastic surgeon who worked tirelessly during the world wars to reconstruct injured servicemen. He wasn’t afraid to push the boundaries of surgery and made great strides because of this.

 6. What keeps you motivated?

Knowing that what we’re doing will make a positive impact.

7. What business or brand do you look up to? 

 Patagonia - They have an incredible ethos that spans their brand, team members and products. Yvon Chouinard is pretty inspirational too!

8. If you weren't doing this, you would be....

Plodding on with my plastic surgery training.
http://www.dr-wills.com

CROWDFOODING PR WORKSHOP

Claudia launched the first in a series of PR + Social workshops with Crowdfooding and it was a full house! Thanks to Alessio and Max for the invitation! Crowdfooding are the crowdfunding platform for food startups.


Here are 5 quick steps to kickstarting PR to hit the ground running.

1. Know who you are

Know who you are as a brand and stick to it. Nailing your brand identity is key to good PR. It creates consistency and ensures your angle is always compelling.

2. Get the knowledge

Swat up on media outlets. Keep abreast of what your consumers are reading/listening/watching all the time. Knowledge about your target media ensures you reach the right titles and the right journalists with the right content.

3. Love Twitter

It's the best spying tool for getting to know the media and journalists.

4. Be photo-focused

A photo can tell a thousand words. Formulate your PR angle on imagery. A photo alone can generate coverage.

5. Get personal

Personalise, personalise, personalise. Don't take a blanket approach to reaching out to the media. Hone in on the right journalists and know their beat inside and out so that when you do reach them, your story is exactly what they need, right now.

5 MINUTES WITH....ANSJE GERMANN, FOUNDER OF JAKE'S BOOST

We talk to Ansje of Jake's Boost, the health food startup, creating nut and seed butters with extra feel-good factor. Jake's Boost dedicates 5 per cent of profits to charities fighting childhood food poverty, including Make Lunch. Now what's better than that? We find out more....

 

1. What is the biggest lesson you have learnt from starting Jake’s Boost?

The food start-up scene is huge now, especially in the UK, and there are lots of people who see it as a business opportunity, who pretend wanting to help start-ups. They use the vulnerability and inexperience of entrepreneurs for their own financial gain. There is a plethora of businesses nowadays that offer “tailored services” for new ventures- some of them are fantastic and totally get the needs and restraints of an early stage business. Some others not so much. Very early on, you need to find a mentor or advisor who is as passionate about your product as you are and wants to see you succeed without expecting anything in return, someone who can also protect you from those predators. Having said that: you can’t protect yourself from all that can go wrong. There are mistakes that you have to make- don’t avoid making mistakes or delay serious decisions. Getting it wrong and fixing it again yourself is a fundamental part of the whole learning process.

2. What's the one piece of business advice you wish you'd been given?

Knowing how to end a business relationship well is as important as building one. When you go to business school or any entrepreneurship workshop they always tell you that you have to surround yourself with talent and how crucial team work is etc. but no one teaches you how to terminate a contract with both parties involved walking away without hard feelings. But again, that’s all part of the learning process.

3. Was there ever a point when you wanted to give up?

There are still moments when we feel really sorry for ourselves because everything and everyone seems to conspire against us and nothing is going right but we have to work through that and move on. Running your own business isn’t always plain sailing. Especially the first couple of years can be very tough and we had to deal with personal losses during that time as well which of course had an impact on the business. But we were never close to throwing in the towel.

4. What's been the biggest milestone for the business so far?

This might sound crazy but the biggest milestone was probably when we had orders coming in and we didn’t know the person ordering. For the first few months, 99% of orders came from friends and family members because they of course liked the product but also wanted to support us in every way they could. When the first online orders came through with delivery addresses and names we didn’t recognise that was a marvellous feeling.

5. Who is your inspiration?

We aspire to turn Jake’s Boost into an ethical company like Patagonia. Their company culture, value and environmental ethics correspond with ours and not only do we love their products but we are in awe of their achievements, both in businessas well as in regards to their social impact. Patagonia took an early position against globalization of trade where it means compromise of environmental and labour standards and started as a small company to commit a percentage of their profits to the protection of natural habitats. But they don’t rest on their laurels- they still search for more environmentally friendly cotton and continue their fight against global warming. On top of that, Yvon Chouinard sounds like an all-round really cool guy who you just want to hang out with, go surfing in your lunch break or rock climbing on the weekends.

On a smaller scale, the name sake of our company is of course Jake, our four-legged co-founder. He’s the happiest, most contempt little guy and never more excited than when we take him out and roam the great outdoors together. Sometimes, after a long day at your desk or in production, you just want to put your legs up and chill but Jake helps fight the occasional couch potato in us and won’t stop pestering until we have our hiking boots on.

6. What keeps you motivated?

It’s our drive to make a difference in this world, living a life with purpose helping those less fortunate than ourselves. Every business idea that pops in our head comes with the question:” what mission can this support?” or similarly, we read about a problem and immediately our brains start working on a business solution. We know that we won’t eradicate childhood food hunger in our lifetime but we can’t just stand by and do nothing. The founders of YES TO build businesses on three key pillars: 1. work with brilliant people, 2. make great products and 3. benefit and impactful cause. I think that’s a pretty good guide line to follow. Also, helping others and seeing the positive change in their lives makes us happy.

7. If you weren't doing this, you would be....

Life, would one way or another, throw an opportunity at us and it would certainly be a social enterprise of some variety.