Working on a startup is hard. Particularly in the early stages when on top of the endless hours you’re putting in, you can’t yet see the value of quitting that secure 9 to 5 job to embark on your ‘crazy dream’. We’ve worked with numerous startups over the years with our work through Spook Studio and the Happy Startup School and one thing we’ve realised is ‘you’ll get further with others than you ever will on your own’
Talking with people in the same position as you (or those a little bit ahead where you want to be) is a great way to learn from other people’s failures to increase your chance of success as well as motivate you to keep going when times hit a standstill.
What’s in store?
Over the next few weeks we’ll be showcasing some of the many startups we’ve had the pleasure of meeting and/or worked with over the past year so they can share their failures and successes so far, and tell us all what we can all learn from their journey. Think of it as a motivational Monday post where we’ll introduce you to inspiring folks who have perhaps fled the corporate nest to build their own purpose driven company… and hopefully found a little happiness along with all their hard work.
To launch the series we’re delighted to introduce to you Olivia Knight, founder of Patchwork Present. Many of you got the chance to meet Olivia and hear her startup story at one of our recent monthly sessions in central London. Her successes, clear vision for the business and hearing about the things she’s had to learn the hard way rang home with us and attendees at the event. We knew we had to open up her story to our wider community here on the blog, and there’s more stories from our friends in the industry to come. Here’s a snippet of Olivia’s startup journey so far:
So tell us a little about you and Patchwork Present
Patchwork Present was an accidental idea. When I got married a couple of years back me and my husband-to-be knew we didn’t want a department store gift list. We’d lived together for ten years and had two kids already so we didn’t need stuff. So I built a very simple site that let us show our friends and family our dream honeymoon and then allow them to choose which part of the trip they’d like to treat us to. And that’s where it all started. I tried to ignore the potential of the idea for quite a while but I just found it harder and harder to sleep each night with this idea buzzing around in my head so one day I just decided to save my sanity and give it a go.
What’s your big dream of what it will one day become?
We launched five months ago. Our purpose is simple: to enable friends to come together to fund one gift that’s really wanted. And at the same time stop people wasting money on unwanted gifts that end up in landfill. We’re a tiny team, but our little company is really resonating with people right now and we’ve been surprised and delighted by the numbers of people using the site. It’s early days but I really believe our business is part of a big movement for change. We are one of many recession startups built on collaboration rather than competition. We are one of many companies rejecting economies dependent on personal debt, over-consumption, unsustainable production and waste in favour of a ‘sharing economy’ that can be good for people and planet as well as company profit!
What or who inspired you to get where you are today?
Today I’m in our studio in Brockley, South East London. I grew up in Catford less than a mile away. So I haven’t come far. But that’s the way I like it. Community is really important to me. Most of my family and friends live less than five minutes away and I love that. A sense of togetherness, shared experience and mutual support is what Patchwork Present is all about and I suppose that’s come from my own experience growing up.
Any lessons learned or pivotal moments along the way?
I’ve learnt that you can’t control everything. Some things are out of your hands and that can be really frustrating. We were very much at the mercy of PayPal leading up to launch. It took a long time for them to approve our application to integrate their payment system into our site. Because we’re a funding platform they had to run relevant checks and legal stuff and it took a very long time. Everyone warned me. Everyone told me it would take three times as long as I had anticipated but I just thought it would be different for us. I just hoped. It did take exactly three times longer than I thought. So if anyone out there is starting a business, be warned. Stock up on soup.
What one piece of advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs and changemakers?
Listen to advice. Don’t just nod.
Our next in the series will hear the adventures of Maptia co-founder Jonny Miller. He’ll whet your appetite for starting a business whilst exploring the world. Download our free ebook and startup toolkit and you’ll be automagically be subscribed to this blog.