I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset, from a very young age. It seems to run in the family. My Grandfathers, my Gran and my Uncle have all owned and ran successful businesses. So I guess you could say business is in our blood.
My stepfather Julian, one of the Directors of DJS (UK) Limited, is a very successful entrepreneur in the world of cars, property and finance, and has always been a great sounding board for my career decisions and business ideas that I had.
I’d also been lucky enough to work with, in my opinion, two of the best and most inspiring young entrepreneurs in the UK right now, James Benamor and Patrick Knight.
I’d worked with James at The Richmond Group, a sub prime finance company based in Bournemouth. James had founded RG in 1999 and the business was now worth over £250 million. With countless young entrepreneurial awards under his belt, it was safe to say that James really knew his stuff. James was very single minded, focused and full of self-belief, which are good characteristics for an entrepreneur I think.
The concept of ‘ownership’ that was really pushed at RG really suited my working style, and working closely with James on a project to create free traffic for the Debt Management product taught me a lot about the characteristics and psychology of running a successful business. This was also my first experience of the financial world. Although RG’s products were very successful, I would never have used one, I was not the right audience. My mantra from my PR days is ‘live your brand’. If you can’t live your brand and you would not use the product yourself, how can you effectively market it?
I’d worked with Patrick at Pouncer Media, focusing on the TablePouncer and Real Time Deals consumer products. Patrick had an incredible track record of success through technical innovation. From ringtones to inventing a new online advertising format, the incredible Inskin product, to an automated system to fulfill online holiday rentals, Patrick had done it all. And done it all well. Patrick’s mentality was very different to James. Patrick was an eccentric creative genius. Give Patrick a problem and he would solve it with a nifty piece of technical wizardry. Sometimes Patrick’s creativity would spill over into strange little pranks, but this was how he realized the pressure of being the ‘boss’.
The culmination of lessons, advice and observations I’d taken from Julian, James and Patrick made me know that I had to follow my dream and set up my own business.
So when I went to Julian with the idea for PiggyBank and he not only said that he loved the idea but wanted to be involved with the product, I knew it was time to follow my dream and begin my start up journey. I’d gone to him with 100s of my ideas for businesses in the past, and although he’d always been positive and supportive, this was the first time he’d ever sat up and said ‘yes’.
We then met with Simon, another successful, like-minded entrepreneur, and everything seemed to fall into place from there. Simon loved the PiggyBank idea and he, Julian and myself bounced off one another almost instantly.
We had our amazing idea and we had our Board.
We now needed to find our Operational team.