founder

5 MINUTES WITH... RIKKE ROSENLUND, FOUNDER OF BORROWMYDOGGY

Ever wanted to have a dog but know you can't because you don't have enough space or you have a busy job that means it's kept home alone a lot. Meet Rikke, the young passionate Dane connecting people in the UK and Ireland to 4 legged friends through BorrowMyDoggy. She talks about her drive to create positive impact through the platform and build a friendly community that's keeping people and canines happy and healthy along the way. Read on, this woman has got packs of passion....

1. What drove you to create BorrowMyDoggy?

It all started five years ago when I borrowed Aston, my neighbour’s beautiful Labrador, for the day. As a young girl I had always wanted a dog, but my parents never acquiesced since my mother is allergic. Now as an adult, I’m not in a position to own a dog either. I absolutely adored my day with Aston, who instead of spending the day stuck indoors, enjoyed a wonderful afternoon at the park, attended a garden party, and met some new friends. I soon realised that lots of dog owners could use a helping paw looking after their dog, and that there are thousands of people, like me, who would love to take care of a dog for free, simply because they love them.

When I began talking with potential members, what I found was incredible. Story after story of dog lovers and dog owners who felt that they'd benefit emotionally and physically by connecting with like-minded people in their area. There was the the man who had an operation and needed help walking his dog, the family whose dog would always welcome more games of fetch and countless people who felt lonely. The stories kept coming in and it was clear there was a need. When a little girl told me her story of how much she wanted a dog, I cried. It was like hearing me as a young girl desperate for the loving companionship of a fluffy creature.

What started with me manually matching people and dogs has now turned into an online platform with more than 600,000 members across the UK and Ireland and an ever-growing social media community.

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

For anyone considering starting a business, make sure there’s a demand and that the business idea is solving a problem. With over 60% of startups destined to fail in the first 3-4 years, make sure you do something you love. There will be many failures and when the going gets tough, the tough needs to get going.

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

Knowing that setting up a business takes a lot longer that you would expect, especially when it comes to funding. This would have been useful for my peace of mind!

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

No. Just knowing people’s first-hand stories of how much BorrowMyDoggy is creating positive impact on local communities has kept me going. From neighbours forming new friendships to dogs being ring bearers at borrowers’ weddings, it is not an option to give up. I want to create more and more of these amazing stories. It’s my mission to make as much of a positive impact we can via our lovely community.

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

I would say the journey has been full of small ones so far. With every small milestone you realise how much further you’ve got to go. For me, the milestones need to do one thing: leave ‘Pawprints of Happiness’ on the lives of dogs and people. This is our goal as a company. Through the platform people are being more active, overcoming loneliness and making friends, whilst dogs are gaining more exercise, love and attention.

6. Who is your inspiration?

My parents. They set me up with the values of trying to make a difference. They’ve always been very active and engaged in supporting the local community and making time to help people. I hope I can bring some of my values into what I’m doing, both inside and outside of work.

7. What keeps you motivated?

The knowledge that the more we do, the more we can help and see the positive impact we want to see.

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

Being Danish, I am going to be impartial and say that I love everything that Joe the Juice is doing. From the hiring of talent, to matching the brand to the interior design and delicious juices and sandwiches, they’re getting it right. And of course Lego. They may have gone through some tough times, but they’ve stayed ahead of the curve and their product lines have always fed my imagination ever since I was a young girl.

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

My answer is different today than it would have been 5 years ago. I think right now I’d be helping more people become entrepreneurs, including encouraging more women take the jump. Otherwise, I would definitely be doing something in the charity sector. Anything I do now or in the future needs to make me feel like it has a positive impact.

http://borrowmydoggy.com

Bertie, the chocolate labrador

Bertie, the chocolate labrador

5 MINUTES WITH...CASEY BIRD, FOUNDER OF THE FREELANCE CIRCLE

Meet Casey Bird, who is trailblazing the advertising, marketing and design world to give freelancers the chance to anonymously share their experiences and get a heads up on agencies others love, or loath. The Freelance Circle is helping to change the way businesses think about and work with freelancers. We take our hat off to this lady....

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

I’d say one of the biggest lessons from launching my review site, The Freelance Circle, would be to ‘trust your decisions’. As a founder you need to really trust your own opinion and thinking – you know the answer, so why ask others? Don’t get me wrong, opinions matter, but only from the right people. Otherwise, you end up with an overload of different opinions and confuse yourself, when the only one that matters at the end of the day, is yours.

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

Be patient. Don’t expect miracles overnight. When I first launched The Freelance Circle, I wanted to wake up the next day with millions of freelance reviews from all over the world and Beyoncé tweeting how badass my idea was. You have to work hard and dedicate thinking time to build a credible brand. These things don’t happen overnight.

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

It’s been one year since ideation and 6 months since the official launch – so I’d hope I don’t want to give up yet! Over the last few years I’ve had many business ideas, however with this idea, I knew there was a real insight into it and a real need, and thankfully that ‘spark’ hasn’t died and instead fueled me to keep going.

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

In just 6 months we have now reached 200 organic reviews – no paid advertising, no paid search – just freelancers genuinely wanting to share reviews on their experiences and agencies ready to listen. That has to be one amazing milestone so far. The second would be 2 London based advertising agencies contacting us already to ask for more information on the reviews and asking to collaborate to use our insights to make their workplace better, not just for freelancers but permanent staff too.

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5. Who is your inspiration?

Generally speaking, anyone who is pursuing their dream and saying no to the status quo inspires me – people who put themselves out there and maybe fail or succeed, are inspiring. I am also constantly inspired by people who stand up for what they believe in, and stand up on behalf of those who can’t – or whose voices aren’t heard. But if I was answering the question in terms of just business I would say a mainstream inspiration is Richard Branson and an industry inspiration is Cindy Gallop.

6. What keeps you motivated?

There are 2 things, firstly the goal to make a difference to freelance and work culture and experiences both for the freelancers and agencies. And there’s the fact I love being my own boss.

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

Facebook and Virgin, both as businesses and brands. As brands they treat their employees fair and equal, offer brilliant maternity /paternity pay, work-life balance, unlimited holiday, flexible working. This is the future of work and how you retain great staff.

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

A travel writer.

 

https://thefreelancecircle.com

 

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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