Image courtesy of Well To Do.
This post includes some solid advice about startup founding, growing a business and leadership.
The location just pumped up my eagerness to attend. Law Firm Bird & Bird had offered their rooftop event space for the community’s use.
Bird & Bird has noticed wellness rising from nieche to mainstream. They’ve reacted by establishing it as one of their competences. The company is willing to offer a 30-minute free consultation over coffee for anyone considering to use their services. Managing risks by registrering your trademark(s) etc is for sure not the most interesting part of founding a business, but avoiding that might be the part ruining it. Or, if your business models includes instructors, how can you avoid one instructor taking your ideas and jumping to a competitor to execute them?
This time the speakers were Robert Rowland from Boomcycle and Paul Lindley from Ella’s Kitchen. Before the event I was not especially interested in either of the businesses, but, as always, when you get into it… These start-up founders had solid advise and experience to share. Luckily, loads of it was applicable for anyone working in a leadership position or working on something new. Instant motivation boost!
Find your nieche
Neither Robert Rowland or Paul Lindley had a really previous experience in Wellness. Boomcycle was more Robert’s wife’s idea, Ella’s Kitchen raise from Paul’s family’s need. Robert jumped into start up world after studying a Bachelor’s degree in genetics, and working in liquor industry, Paul after career in media. Neither of these sounds like a wellness start up school.
Paul wanted to create something fun for the child, healthy for the parent. He stated believing in himself, family and how they operated as essential for founding and growing the business.
Boomcycle was founded by the idea, that fitness should be fun. By the time it was founded the industry was based on six packs (quite unattainable goal for most people having a life in addition to aiming to stay fit). They believed, that fitness is not all-or-nothing – and clearly found the sweet spot. They wanted to present a sustainable way to become or stay fit, a class one would be looking forward to.
Beginning of Boomcycle was a lot about educating the customers – pay as you go was new, £13 per hour was perceived as ridiculous. Oh the times…
It’s not (just) about the money, it is about resourcefulness
Ex-media professional Paul shared some applicable advise: Be creative. Find a different way to market. Be resourceful – getting loads of funding is not always the best way to go. Ella’s kitchen used the media connections and bought TV advertising for a cheap price. Find new solutions, adapt, grow.
The best advise was about growing, nourishing and leading your team
Hire people that buy into your company’s mission. Start with why (Simon Sinek’s legendary leadershipbook) was of course mentioned. The take away is, that the ‘why’ has to be clear for the founders. Otherwise you can not really market it or know if people are buying into it.
What is the legacy you are trying to leave? What are you creating, for what? What are you employees contributing, and how they can contribute?
- Hire people (much) smarter than you, let them do their thing
- Let people fail, don’t punish for failing. But fail fast.
- Employ mindset, not skillset
- Hire for culture, train everything else
- When team works, it takes you to places
- Don’t lose people! Hiring is expensive
- If you see during probation someone not fitting in the right way, get rid of them fast
- Network, use LinkedIn
- Think, how much would you work to keep your employee.
- Understand everyone’s motivation and goals
Wellness is the field where you can do good and make money at the same time.
It is not a walk in the park
Sometimes there is struggle on the way. Then the best thing to do might be to look everything from further. What is the customer journey, what is the bid or piece you have to build or develop? If you do not have solid plan for new customer acquisition, there is no point to build only loyalty scheme.
Ella’s Kitchen launched succesfully abroad, and is now generating about half of its revenue outside UK. Logical step. Paul managed to describe well, how you need to think about the customer’s need in that market, not only how to push your products there. Modify the business model outside your key market if needed.
Paul gave a reminder about how simple doing research about new markets is: Just go to internet! Google! Talk to people from that market.
The qualities of a succesful startup founder
The list is clear:
- Risk tolerant
Based on men’s previous comments, I would absolutely add a visionary leader.
Love to create prosperity, but have a plan for it
Jumping into money is not always the best way to do it – again, be resourcefull. When asking for money, remember, that investors are not investing only into your business but into you and your ability to deliver that business plan.
It was clear, that both of these founders did something different than what existed on the market. Boomcycle made fitness less serius and actually fun, something to look forward to instead of crazy sweatting. Ella’s kitchen made food fun and healthy. The flavours were different than what existed, the packaging was completely different than what existed.
Do something new. Do something you believe in.
Both of the founders talked passionately about their people and growing the team. Giving responsibility and relaying on theri expertise came up several times.
Be a leader, not a manager.
Nothing new is easy. You might have a vision, but not the means to get there. You might not have money. You might not have plan B. Your customer’s might not understand what you are offering.
Have some grit. Have a vision.
The next Founder’s Series takes place on October. Book your tickets here.