Three entrepreneurs, who are appearing at the show in Canary Wharf later this month, describe the secrets of their success in the world of business.
Anthony Rose, Gonçalo de Vasconcelos and Guy Tolhurst are giants in the world of entrepreneurs.
This successful trio will be part of the Entrepreneurs
Unfiltered panel, who you can hear at this year’s fifth staging of the Business Funding Show.
If you are interested in listening to their expertise, then why not attend the Show and hear their words of wisdom from 12.30 to 13.30, at East Windergarden in Canary Wharf on February 20th.
Regarding their successes, Anthony was a major player in the development and launch of the BBC iPlayer 13 years ago; Gonçalo is a key member of the highly regarded SyndicateRoom, which assists and advises potential investors regarding UK start-ups; Guy, meanwhile, runs three successful businesses, writes books, and works as a mental health campaigner. These are their stories.
Anthony turned the BBC iPlayer into a user-friendly technology which, back in the early days of 2008, attracted 41 million requests. Anthony explained that he was brought in to “sort out its launch,” which was happening three months later in July 2007.
There was a multi-million pound advertising campaign, and he described how it was clear to him that the product required a lot of work to bring it up to scratch.
When he spoke to developers about issues, they would simply blame the problem on a number of things, such as “you’re running Windows or it’s just your computer.” But Anthony realised these comments were nothing more than excuses.
In order to convince software developers, Anthony knew he needed to do ‘real’ user testing.
So he went to the BBC’s testing team and they told him it will cost £20k and take six weeks. To which Anthony replied: “That’s not going to work. I don’t have six weeks and I’m certainly not paying £20k.”
Instead, he went to his local Tesco and bought boxes of chocolates with which to attract “non-technical people” who he would use to test the robustness of this new technology.
Anthony gathered them together in a room where there was a big TV. He also invited the developers to watch his experiment.
He told the Tesco shoppers to “find your favourite show”. And the first time they attempted this, it was a complete disaster. The developers quickly understood what the key issues were, and were forced to find a solution.
So the moral of the story, says Anthony, is that “it’s all about customer-driven development. Find a user of your service and just keep working with them until it actually works.” In other words, be user-friendly.
Gonçalo de Vasconcelos
Moving on to Gonçalo and the SyndicateRoom, which became successful extremely quickly, this is his advice.
He says: “The team. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to build and grow SyndicateRoom.”
He explained how a pre-launch ‘start-up’ can secure external funding, but admits “it’s really tough, especially for first-time entrepreneurs.”
Gonçalo goes on: “I was in the luxurious position where I could raise the pre-seed round for Rnwl (a start-up insurance company) in under two weeks.
“It was purely based on my track record and the investors’ trust in me. I had the first investor by the end of my first call.
“In comparison, it took me over 18 months to raise the first round for SyndicateRoom, so I don’t take anything for granted.”
And finally to Guy: How does he manage to run multiple businesses, write books, and work as a mental health campaigner?
How does he dedicate enough attention to each of his passions, without sacrificing one of the others?
He explains: “I learned the hard way. I was flattened a few years ago by a life event that I hadn’t seen coming, which combined with a stressful time in my business.
“This resulted in a period of extremely poor mental health and I didn’t know how to ask for help.”
He says he is now on a learning journey and has developed ways of coping with stress.
One trick is to build a culture of support, which he describes by saying: “It could be something small, such as one of my team plonking a glass of water on my desk and reminding me to drink it.”
He says most entrepreneurs start a business because they have a passion, but sometimes this passion can take over your life.
He stresses the importance of remaining connected to your loved ones and your support network.
This can often only be done by re-arranging your schedule, working flexibly, and reminding yourself to take a break from time to time.
Meet and learn from
these inspiring personalities at the Business Funding Show ’20, which also
features leaders such as Juliet Rogan of Barclays, Umerah Akram of London Stock
Exchange, Jenny Tooth of UKBA and Matt Adey of British Business Bank. Gain access
to equity, grants and loans, while learning from over 100 of the UK’s top
funders and finance professionals, who are all appearing under one roof at the
only event of its kind on February 20th.