Last night Monocle threw open the doors of Midori House for ‘The Entrepreneurs Live’: a live broadcast of Monocle 24’s weekly business show. In a change to the show’s usual format, Monocle’s Daniel Giacopelli and Andrew Tuck moderated a panel discussion.
I always enjoy listening to ‘The Entrepreneurs’. In the early days of the show I was a regular contributor interviewing everyone from big names like Guy Kawasaki to business founders under the radar. Last night I took my seat in the audience, sipping chilled white wine and enjoying the breeze blowing in from the the terrace.
On stage with Daniel and Andrew were four entrepreneurs: Julie Deane (CEO and founder, The Cambridge Satchel Company), David Abrahamovitch (CEO and co-founder, Grind & Co), Pip Jamieson (Founder, The Dots) and Geoff Mulgan (CEO, Nesta).
What stood out for me? It was good to hear founders being honest about the importance of luck in their business journey. David told the story of how there was a Starbucks next door to Grind’s Old Street roundabout shop. One day the Starbucks closed for a month’s refurbishment. Grind doubled its customers. Even when Starbucks reopened, Grind retained those ex Starbucks customers. David admits he couldn’t have put that on a business plan.
Another discussion was around values. As more and more business become purpose-led, it’s useful to have a set of values that employees can buy into. Pip explained their values at The Dots help with hiring. “We stick to our values like glue,” she said. Andrew Tuck told us that when he was hiring the Monocle team ten years ago they would take on candidates based on whether they could sit next to them on a long haul flight. That sounds a good test.
Below are some quotes I scribbled down in my notepad.
“The first idea isn’t always the best idea.”
“Make your idea really clear. Express the essence of what it’s all about.”
“It’s not always about originality and creative genius. It’s having the hunger to pull together ideas from other people.”
“Most business plans don’t survive their first contact with reality.”
“An initial investment of £600 took me to a £13m turnover.”
“I opened a factory, brought machines in from other countries and started apprenticeships. You see products that are ‘designed in Britain’, but made elsewhere - that’s really dishonest.”
“There is no cookie-cutter approach to being an entrepreneur. Everyone is different. I disagree with two thirds of what this panel said. Forget the ‘entrepreneur’ tag, just start your own business.”
“Sometimes you don’t want to go home with an app, you want to go home with an amazing bag.”
“You can’t stop and look over your shoulder. You’ve just got to get on with it. People will always want bags.”