6 Successful Entrepreneurs Share Their Startup Stories - Company Address

6 Successful Entrepreneurs Share Their Startup Stories

As part of our #SummerKick series of inspirational startup stories, we’ve asked 6 successful startup founders to share their journeys.

From apps to agencies, these entrepreneurs certainly know their stuff; prepare to be inspired into action!

Do you have an inspiration startup story you’d like to share? Tweet us @Comp_Address using #SummerKick for your chance to feature next time.

Edward Relf, Laundrapp

This successful entrepreneur is no stranger to business success, having launched British based company Mind Candy which built the very popular Moshi Monsters brand.

Tell us how you came to start Laundrapp.

Being a digital disruptor and entrepreneur, I’ve spent the last 18 years setting up disruptive businesses across the digital landscape. I love nothing more than taking an established market and turning it on its head through leveraging the power of digital.

Laundrapp is my latest venture and, while I’ve spent lots of time building tech companies, it’s fair to say I’ve had no prior experience in laundry. As an entrepreneur looking to make that leap from employee to business owner, you must first learn that it’s not about the idea, it’s entirely about the execution. Fortunately, in the case of Laundrapp, we had both a great idea and great team to execute.

What has been the biggest challenge to your business success?

As a business, our biggest challenge is changing consumer habit and behaviour around laundry. We’re digitising something that hasn’t changed in decades; we are taking the washing machine to war!

Changing consumer habit requires, firstly, a fantastic service and a lot of trust. Building trust is key, however trust is earned, not bought; therefore, it’s imperative to put customers front and centre in everything you do.

Ultimately it’s about developing a value proposition which for us has convenience at its core, with great technology, great people bound by a big vision anything is possible.

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs just starting out?

Every successful entrepreneur learns from mistakes, and it takes failure to find success. You must fail to prevail!

As an entrepreneur, you live in a constant state of flux and it’s this ability to deal with disruption and failure that separates those that want to be entrepreneurs, and those that are ‘doing the job’! You must learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable – it’s not for everyone but you won’t know unless you take the leap!

James Brueton, Envirobuild

James Brueton was in a successful financial job when he decided to take the plunge and start his own business with the aim of helping the environment.

Tell us how you came to start EnviroBuild.

At the end of 2014, I left a successful financial career with a big aim: to give back more than I had consumed in my life.

Two years later my business EnviroBuild – a supplier of sustainable landscaping and construction products – actively increases the demand for recycled plastic and wood, and in doing so, reduces demand for deforestation and lowers embedded carbon within buildings.

My route to sustainopreneurship – the act of using the organisation of business to solve problems related to social and environmental sustainability – started in early 2015, when I was working to renovate properties using sustainable building and landscaping materials. I was struggling to find companies in this sector that provided good customer service – and that sparked an idea!

The construction industry was in need of a commercially astute company that would make being sustainable easy and offer competitively priced, eco-friendly products. I saw an opportunity to make being sustainable an easier choice.

What has been the biggest challenge to your business success?

My biggest challenge at EnviroBuild has been to continue to find and develop products that can profitably sell, while ensuring they are excellent quality and saleable over existing technologies.

Together with my fellow director Dr. Aidan Bell, we overcome this by working closely with manufacturers to constantly push the boundaries of technology use and to develop processes; and by working with specialists in life cycle analysis to ensure that we’re consistently making sustainable decisions.

What are you most proud of in your business?

I am proud to have sold EnviroBuild’s products to some of the largest house builders and builders merchants during our first year of trading; we’ve kitted out The Groucho Club and the Malmaison hotel in Brighton, to name just a couple!

Every industry needs at least one business that shouts loudly to champion sustainability – either by selling a sustainable product or conducting business in a sustainable manner.

We also donate 10% of profits to preserve biodiversity and reduce the impact of climate change through by giving to organisations such as The Rainforest Trust. I’d say that I’m taking big steps to achieve my aim…

Aaron Dicks, Impression

Having founded his digital marketing business at the age of just 22, Aaron Dicks is now the leader of an award-winning team, working with clients across the globe.

Tell us how you came to start Impression.

I founded my digital marketing agency Impression in 2012, alongside my business partner Tom. We’d known each other for a few years, through university and then when he headed up the marketing function for a large energy business, where I was part of the digital team.

The decision to found the business was born of our own dissatisfaction with the digital marketing industry and our passion to do better. Having worked with various agencies ourselves, we’d seen the positives, but also the negatives, and we wanted to create an agency that would drive exceptional results for its clients every time.

What has been the biggest challenge to your business success?

Getting started was a challenge. Initially, Impression was run from our flat in Nottingham and we did our work in our spare time outside of our full time roles.

The whole business is entirely self-funded, so it took discipline to get to the point where we were able to leave our full time roles to focus 100% of our time on our agency.

Recruitment has also been a challenge for us. Especially for a business like ours, where our people are our biggest asset, we know how important it is to find the very best people. What we’ve found is that, as we’ve grown and become better recognised, we’re receiving far more requests from people wanting to join us, and it’s become less difficult over time.

What’s the best thing about running your own business?

The best thing about running my own business is knowing that I can lead on the strategy but also that I have been able to build a team around me who have taken it to places I never would have thought possible.

We set out intending to be better than any other agency out there, and I believe we’re achieving that.

Sarah Dowzell, Natural HR

A busy mum, Sarah Dowzell first set up her business to meet her own business needs. She later turned that personal project into a company.

Tell us how you came to start Natural HR.

After searching in 2009 for an HR system suitable for my small cleaning businesses, I ended up designing my own as nothing suitable was available.

Working with my husband to be Jason Dowzell, who has a long career in technology, we launched a free cloud-based HR system in 2010 and Natural HR was born.

What has been the biggest challenge to your business success?

It was a busy time juggling motherhood, a degree, a professional qualification and a global business – but I felt I needed to gain real-life HR experience to help Natural HR progress. In September 2012, I gained my first in-house HR role, which was a real catalyst for success.

Although a seasoned entrepreneur, with two businesses, working within a busy HR department provided more intel to develop the software further around HR professionals needs to stand out from other offerings.

How has your business grown?

In June 2014, Natural HR had more than 13,000 users in 191 countries, and it was time to start to maximise the opportunity and take the business to the next stage in its evolution. Ever the entrepreneur, I knew the solution was second to none and, whilst in labour with my second child, I landed Natural HR’s first paying client!

Today, Natural HR have hundreds of clients globally and we have been able to continue to grow the team and create further employment with aggressive plans to continue to hire and grow the business.

In addition to growing the business, I hope to inspire more women into technology, and indeed develop their own businesses!

Chris Abbass, Talentful

Starting a business with a co-founder has been invaluable, says Chris Abbass, who hopes to revolutionise the recruitment industry.

Tell us how you came to start Talentful.

Like all sectors, recruitment has many hard-working, decent professionals whose reputations are tarnished by the industry’s perception. However, we believe that, fundamentally, commission in recruitment is the main reason for the tarnished reputation of the industry as it causes some recruiters to act in a way that is not in the best interests of their clients or candidates.

Naturally, being paid only on success makes a recruiter also shift towards sourcing easier assignments because of the increased chance of quick commission. Difficult roles are then left vacant without the attention needed to find a suitable hire. This is the lack of commitment that gives the industry an unethical perception. That is why there is a need to disrupt the industry and revolutionise recruitment.

Implementing a retained fee model and a true partnership approach is essential to disrupting the industry for the better. Our mission is to disrupt the industry and we’re more confident than ever that a sea-change is on the near horizon.

How has starting a business with a co-founder aided your success?

Starting a business with a co-founder has been invaluable.

As a team of two, we are yin and yang when making decisions. We are both good at voicing the counterpoint to any ideas, making the other person explain their exact reasoning.

We believe this makes our decisions stronger as every outcome has been considered. Being able to see an opposite viewpoint without actually arguing is a hard skill to learn but is invaluable for us.

Jason Harris-Cohen, Open Property Group

Jason Harris-Cohen started his property business with the mission of streamlining the purchase process for buyers and sellers.

Tell us how you came to start Open Property Group.

Open Property Group are a professional house buying company and genuine cash buyers of property. We offer streamlined purchase of any type of property within England and Wales and the seller(s) can choose a moving date to suit.

I’ve always been inspired by the likes of Richard Branson, Lord Sugar and various other successful entrepreneurs. Ever since I became a business owner, particularly in the property industry, I have been constantly looking at ways to improve customer service and processes.

What’s been the biggest challenge to your business success?

The property market is volatile so that can be a challenge. We’ve also faced increased political and economic uncertainty over the last year.

Our biggest challenge has been raising sufficient capital to meet the requirements needed for our planned acquisitions, as our acquisition rate has doubled over the last 12 months.

Fortunately, my two co-shareholders are very successful entrepreneurs and they’ve been willing to support the business growth. Moreover we have developed several relationships with banks and we use bank funding to leverage some acquisitions.

What’s the best thing about running your own business?

The best thing about running my own business is that I can control my destiny to a certain extent. I’m a believer that hard work and determination can stand you in good stead.

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