Successfully launching a startup requires two things: having the right idea and acquiring the funding to make it a reality. In 2005, Holly Tucker, co-founder of web retail platform Notinthehighstreet.com, had an idea but the money was quickly running out. “We had already asked our friends and families for every loan we could,” she said at Elite Business Live.
A chance meeting lead to the founders meeting Tom Teichman, chairman of venture capitalist firm Spark, who handed the company a cheque for £300,000, saving the budding business. Remembering the experience, Tucker exclusively told Elite Business that today’s entrepreneurs are spoiled for choice when it comes to funding-options. “I love crowdfunding,” she said. “Today you’ve got the ability to ask far and wide for your biggest fans to support you.”
However, while crowdfunding is enabling many startups to get their idea off the ground, there are still plenty of challenges. “Things are moving faster than they’ve ever moved,” said Tucker. “New technology is coming out every day and you cannot not be a part of the technological arms race. So along with being spoiled, they also have to be smarter.”
She also touched on the importance of nurturing talent and revealed the job interview faux pas candidates looking for a job at Notinthehighstreet.com could make: failing to look at the company’s website before their interview. “It is the biggest mistake they could ever make,” said Tucker. “I’m astounded by how many people that we’ve interviewed actually never looked at the site. They didn’t get the job, oddly enough.”
Having spent the last decade building Notonthehighstreet.com into a retail powerhouse, it’s hardly surprising that Tucker was invited by David Cameron, the former prime minister, to become UK ambassador to creative small businesses in 2015. She also plans to build on the appointment by launching a venture in January 2017 aimed at helping budding entrepreneurs. “It’s called Holly&Co,” said Tucker. “It is all about helping people on their journey and inspiring them with my own experience and demystify business a bit and allow them to benefit from the mistakes I’ve made.”
Given her journey from surviving on tins baked beans as her business took its first steps to receiving an MBE for her services to SMEs, the startup community is in for a treat in January.