Before I start, please make sure you get to the last part of this blog (Difficult Questions). It’s what this blog is all about. Straight talking, difficult conversations all laid out in the open for readers to enjoy or, in some cases, cringe.
So I begin…
In our household the App is all encompassing. My son asks on a weekly basis how many candidates have registered. He has a version of the App on his phone and regularly checks-in to see if he can find any faults. My partner listens, listens and then listens some more to the ideas, problems and solutions on this rollercoaster ride we are on. My immediate family have to also listen to all the new ideas that my team and I come up with regularly and the constant updates on the fundraising efforts, latest press releases and anything else related to the App. I am sure they all want to switch off sometimes and I wouldn’t blame them for doing so.
Building a start-up is a full time job, it’s relentless. For me it starts before 5am and finishes when I cannot keep my eyes open any longer in front of my laptop. Steph and Nargis will often send me messages late at night or on the weekend about an update or an idea about something. They really are so committed and once again I have to say a huge thank you to them here for all of their efforts. Why bother telling you this? Well remember this was meant to be an honest blog, something happening in real time with no frills to give you an idea of what is involved. With limited resources as a start-up you have to spend lots of time figuring things out. What I will say is as a team we really do love it and we will figure this *#*# out.
This week we had one of those little wins
Creating something from nothing is a real buzz for all of us. Yes there are times when things are tough but this is normal with anything in life, nothing is easy right? But every now and again there is a little win and that is enough for you to keep pushing on. This week we had one of those little wins. A well-known Hotel chain had seen a press article which encouraged them to try the App. They were really impressed and have told us once we have enough candidates they would be interested in rolling this out to all of their hotels in the UK. Game on!!
Recently I met with Tom Kelleher from AWD Group. Tom is an accomplished Chef who decided to change direction a couple of years ago. With his team they provide consultancy and recruitment services. Tom’s speciality is the hospitality sector but their company also deal with other sectors so we had lots to talk about. Our meeting was about how the App is evolving and also about the industry as a whole. It was great to see that Tom is of a similar mindset that disruption is definitely coming to the recruitment sector and agencies who are out there now may not be around in the future if they do not make a major change. We are due to catchup again in the not-too-distant future, which I look forward to.
I also met with another great contact last week whom I have not seen for a while. Tim Rees who works with Air Charter Service used to be my go-to contact at 10pm on a Sunday night when a client wanted to charter a private jet the following day. This was back in my ConciergeX days. He is a great guy who is committed to his craft. What he doesn’t know about planes really isn’t worth knowing. He has since progressed at ACS and is now working on a Jet Card for the Uber rich who want access to a plane quickly and more cost effectively. For us mere mortals our cars and legs will have to do. Tim and I recounted some of the great trips we arranged and the fact we have known each other for more than a decade. How time flies (no pun intended). As you would expect I told him all about the App - I love getting feedback from anyone and everyone so that we can improve things. I am pleased to say Tim really liked the App and could also see a need for it, he also made some great suggestions. Thanks for your support Tim. Let’s not leave it so long till we meet next time. If anyone reading this does charter private jets regularly, then you need to speak to Tim.
So last week I had an interesting exchange with Grant Goss from Clarus Fortior. As you know from Chapter 4, Grant and Kevin met with me in London last month to talk about the courses they offer to Founders like myself. During our Skype call recently we got onto the subject of our current fundraising progress and he quizzed me a bit about our numbers. I didn’t have an answer on a couple of them and that was like red to a bull! If you have seen ‘Dragons Den’ then you can picture the scene: an entrepreneur being scolded in front of millions of viewers because they don’t know the profit and loss for year 3. In a similar way Grant continued on a barrage of criticism about how we will fail if we do not know these numbers and that we need a credible plan to speak to any investors. I got a full-on slating of our plan.
In my defence Chris is still working on the numbers as we have recently changed our pricing plan and subscription model which will drastically affect these numbers and our forecasts. I think Grant may have seen this as an excuse, but I actually welcome the harsh words from him. It means I have to be prepared at all times for these kinds of questions. If you had heard the conversation, you would have turned off the computer, thrown it out of the window, sacked all your team, destroyed the App and closed the company. It really was depressing!
The thing is, he has only met me once and spoken to me a few times. For those of you that know me well, know this…. Those kinds of conversations are a catalyst for me. Difficult conversations and situations drive me to another level. Grant, thank you for your criticism and straight talking. It has highlighted the areas that we need to be prepared for and that genuinely is really, really appreciated. I hope that in the future when we do scale the way we plan to, you can remember your words of criticism because they would have been one of the reasons we will succeed. Who knows, maybe in the future we may even have the opportunity to work together.
As always thank you for taking the time to read this blog. If you have any suggestions or are struggling with the same challenges as us I would love to hear from you. Feel free to get in touch. You can now find me on my new Twitter account, yes I have finally made it onto Twitter (25 followers and counting). Until next week…