THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Innovation and enterprise blog

46 posts categorized "Growth"

05 July 2017

How Intellectual Property helped Julie Deane start a £10 million business from her kitchen table

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Wednesday 5 July 2017 is British IP Day – a welcome opportunity to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of Intellectual Property.

So many small businesses lack IP awareness and understanding, but IP is something of an unsung hero and can prove critical in making or breaking a business.

The Business & IP Centre team are dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and SMEs understand what IP is and why it’s important, what IP they might have created and how they might increase their business success and profitability by protecting and exploiting that IP in the future. Over the years the team have supported thousands of small businesses unlock the value of their IP, and much of the support we provide in the Centre uses case studies and real-life stories to demonstrate how having a handle on your IP gives you a huge commercial advantage.

One such example is Julie Deane OBE, founder of The Cambridge Satchel Company, who has taken her business from the kitchen table and a £600 start-up budget to a global success story with a turnover of £10 million. Along the way Julie has overcome numerous business challenges including managing designers, manufacturers and overseas distributors, establishing web and physical retail sites around the globe and dealing with thousands of imitator brands. Here, in a free 30 minute podcast with the Intellectual Property Office, Julie lays the truth bare on how she’s developed strategies to tackle copycat websites, build the brand, keep putting the quality of the product at the heart of the business and “hang on to the passion that made you start the business in the first place.”

 

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Whether it’s British IP Day’ or just a normal day, here are our 3 ‘top tips’ for what you need to know when it comes to your Intellectual Property:

  1. Think about trade marks - Is your business name protectable in the countries that you wish to trade? Is it already being used or does the word have another meaning in a different country. Future investors will want to know that you have the rights to trade in the countries that they wish to trade in, and you need to consider this right from the start to give your business the best chance of success.
  2. If you’re creating a ‘thing’ - Do your research before filing for a patent; is there a market for your product? It is expensive and takes a long time to protect your idea so make sure you do your market research and can be confident that somebody will buy it at the end of the day. If you have paid for your product to be patented and want somebody to manufacture it for you, you also need to ensure you have agreements in place limiting their rights to your initial idea or design.
  3. Founder’s agreement - It is easy to set out a document with your business partner right at the start when setting up your business agreeing things like % of ownership and what should happen in the case of a dispute, or if one of you wish to sell then business and the other one doesn’t. Once a dispute has started it is much harder and messier so you need to make sure all parties are clear on this from day one.

You can find further help, support and information on IP in any of the eleven Business & IP Centres up and down the country, including the British Library in King’s Cross. Speak to any one of our specialist staff face-to-face, over the phone or by email. You can also log on to our free of charge online workshops to grow your knowledge about IP, and increase your chances of business success.

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Julie Deane in the Business & IP Centre

 Julie Deane is Entrepreneur in Residence at the British Library and a huge champion for ambitious business owners. She is set to give even more advice and practical tips on 11 July at the Library’s Scale-up Summit alongside Will Butler-Adams, CEO of Brompton Bicycles. Cambridge Satchel and Brompton recently launched a range of colour-matching bags and bikes where the satchel fitted perfectly to the handlebars. This ‘made-in-heaven’ brand match caught the attention of the press and delivered extremely high sales. Will and Julie will be giving the opening keynote presentation on ‘Getting your business in the media’ which is not to be missed.

Book your ticket here.

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The Cambridge Satchel Company / Brompton Bikes collaboration

 

 

15 August 2016

Waste not, want not. The business of turning discarded food into delicious chutney

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We caught up with Jenny Dawson Costa, founder and CEO, of relish range Rubies in the Rubble. But Rubies is much more than just a range of yummy relishes – the business is built on sustainable values turning surplus fruit and veg into something tasty rather than wasting it. Their range of relishes is inspired by home-cooked recipes they started making in their kitchen. Now they’re stocked in major retailers throughout the UK and the business continues to grow day-by-day.

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When was Rubies in the Rubble set up and what was it that inspired the business?

The idea for Rubies in the Rubble came after a very early morning visit to a wholesale fruit and veg market on my bike one frosty day in November 2010.

I fell in love with the market - such a diverse range of people living by night and sleeping by day; a world of farmers, wholesalers, restaurant owners and market sellers trading anything from durians to brussel sprouts.

But just along from the bustle of the traders were the piles of unwanted fruit and veg - mange tout from Kenya, mangos from the Philippines, tomatoes from Turkey, cranberries for California which bypassed the bustle of traders and headed straight for the bin! And what really saddened me was that much of these, though potentially with a short shelf life, were perfectly edible!

It got me thinking about the impossibility of matching supply and demand when you have unpredictable weather, unpredictable humans and supermarkets that provide everything in plentiful piles throughout the year.

I then buried myself in researching food waste and realising its scale and implications – both environmentally and financially. However, it was a simple fact that compelled me to act: we are wasting 1/3 of all the food we produce, whilst 1bn people go to bed hungry. I’m not saying I know the solution but there are improvements that we can make to the current system.

And then it came to me: a premium food brand making delicious products from fruit and vegetables that would otherwise be discarded.

What challenges have you faced along the way?

There seems to be a never-ending array of new challenges each day which keeps life interesting!

Initially the challenges were mainly around educating people about why waste or surplus existed and the need to value our supply chain. However, our greatest challenges now are around scaling up our production and winning new customers.

What has been the business’s biggest achievement so far?

The most exciting was being on the BBC News. They sent a car just 5 mins after calling me about the interview. I was in a hoody, looking pretty much the worse for wear, with no knowledge of the news story but off I went and had an amazing live interview on food waste in the UK.

But my proudest moment was a letter from the Queen. I’m a big fan of hers so I wrote to her asking what her favourite chutney was as I wanted to make her one for the Jubilee. She probably thought I was 10 years old, but wrote back with a lovely letter saying she couldn’t tell me her favourites but would love to try my chutney - so I sent her the range and she loved them!

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What one piece of advice would you give to any business owners struggling to take their business to the next level?

I would advise them to really test their business out on a small scale first. Talk to lots of people, know how you are going to make your product and get it into the hands of the consumer to see where the challenges might lie.  

Then, when you know there is a market for your product and how you are going to make it, just go for it whole-heartedly – give it your best shot and hope for the best.

How has the Innovating for Growth programme helped you?

It was great to have some time out from the day-to-day business and focus on the big picture and plan for growth. Reminding us that you can’t do everything at once and you need to concentrate on getting what you’re currently doing right before moving on to the next thing.

Finally, what’s next on the horizon for Rubies in the Rubble?

We’re really excited for the future and our next steps. We have been focused on making sure we nail it before we scale it for the last 3 years at Rubies and we are now confident that we have a valued brand and robust plan to really go for it. We are now developing new products with the hope of becoming an umbrella brand of great tasting foods made with the same ethos.

Watch this space!

 

Apply now for over £10,000 worth of business advice

Are you a start-up looking to scale up, like Rubies? Innovating for Growth is a fully funded three-month programme to help you turn your growth idea into a reality.

Covering everything from intellectual property to reaching new markets and branding, we'll guide you through every step of the way to help your business achieve its growth ambitions.

Find out more and apply now 

 

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11 August 2016

How we amped-up our business strategy and our trading firm took off

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Amplify are a trading firm that provide training and expertise for those interested in moving into the financial markets to become a trader. They have pioneered a new training programme, raising the industry standard for trading talent. We asked them about their unique approach to trading and how they have established their high-regarded reputation in the industry.

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When was Amplify set up and what was it that inspired you to start the business?

We started Amplify in 2009 as a small trading firm in Canary Wharf. As we grew our team we wanted to create a new and better way to develop our new traders. Rather than relying on out-of-date models and theory, we wanted to revolutionise the way economics and finance were taught, using technology and experiential learning to make their training relevant to the markets today.

What challenges has the business faced along the way?

The industry is incredibly competitive and at first it was hard to make our mark. Reputation is everything, so we always tried to treat every person that has ever come into contact with Amplify with the upmost care and consideration.  This has meant growth has perhaps been slower than it could have been, but as we enter into our eighth year the hard work in building a reputation of quality and integrity is starting to pay off.

What has been the business’s biggest achievement so far?

Many of the world’s largest financial institutions, and some of the world’s most prestigious academic institutions, use our technology to perform better and this is great justification of the value of what we do.  It’s also excellent to see candidates that we have worked with landing some of the best roles in the industry, from central banks to hedge funds and investment banks. Receiving their feedback and seeing how well they have done is incredibly rewarding.

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What one piece of advice would you give to any business owners struggling to take their business to the next level?

As soon as you can, hire an employee to manage the operation that you have built so you can get on with helping it grow.

You were successful applicants on our Innovating for Growth programme – how has it helped you?

The sessions during the three-month programme gave us an invaluable reminder to refocus on the bigger picture, along with giving us the necessary tools to create value from that focus.  For us the most useful elements were redefining our business strategy and implementation; making sure the whole team is aware of the business objectives and core values of the firm, and that all involved are on board in helping to achieve those objectives.

Finally, what’s next on the horizon for Amplify?

Since the Innovating for Growth programme we have made our first hire abroad with our office in New York officially opening in September.  The co-founders have moved away from the London trading floor to be based in a separate location so we can be physically removed from the day-to-day running and focus on the growth objectives of the firm.  After New York opens in September, we start a road show in Hong Kong and Singapore this November.

 

Apply now for over £10,000 worth of business advice

Are you a start-up looking to scale up, like Amplify? Innovating for Growth is a fully funded three-month programme to help you turn your growth idea into a reality.

Covering everything from intellectual property to reaching new markets and branding, we'll guide you through every step of the way to help your business achieve its growth ambitions.

Find out more and apply now 

 

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The programme is fully-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the British Library.

10 August 2016

How I took my business from a small start-up to a super success

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Arit Eminue started her business because she was passionate about giving young people opportunities to achieve their dreams no matter what their background, social class, gender or ethnicity.

Her business, DiVA, matches young talent with outstanding employers through government backed apprenticeships, giving people the opportunity to ‘earn while they learn’ and help businesses gain the skills they need to remain competitive.

Since the launch of the business in January 2011, DiVA have provided apprenticeships to over 200 creative youngsters with employers like 20th Century Fox, UK Music, Universal, Southbank Centre, Sadlers Wells, Crossrail and many more.

We caught up with founder and Director, Arit, to find out how she’s done it.

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Hi Arit! Where did the idea for your business come from?

We started delivering apprenticeships in 2011.  Before this, I had secured grant funding to provide a wage subsidy to film businesses hiring graduate talent.   At the time the entry route to the industry was through unpaid work placements, which the sector was trying to combat.  Our graduate programme addressed this issue, and was incredibly successful with a high number of graduates gaining full-time employment post-internship.

Low-cost recruitment worked, but the grant funding dried up.  Apprenticeships in the creative sector launched, essentially allowing businesses to recruit and train employees at a budget they could afford.  I enjoyed playing the “Fairy Job Mother”, matching the right candidates to the best role for them, so I switched focus to apprenticeship recruitment and training. We started with six apprentices and now have 150 young people currently engaged in apprenticeships, carrying out many jobs businesses depend on such as; general administrators, social media assistants, marketing assistants, HR administrators, receptionists and finance assistants.

What challenges did you face in the early stages?

Changing perceptions.  Apprenticeships were viewed as a poor alternative to a degree.  Employers had such low expectations of non-graduate talent, and thought hiring an apprentice was too complicated and it would take too long for an apprentice to get up to speed.  Having recruited graduate and non-graduate talent I can say with surety having a degree does not guarantee you’re work ready.

In addition to changing perceptions about apprenticeships, running a small business gives me an understanding of the pressures employers are under, so my team and I work hard to make their lives easier.  We take the headache out of recruitment by providing a full service. We submit grant funding applications and have all paperwork and training schedules issued up front so there are no surprises.    We’re also at the other end of a phone throughout the process and beyond. 

What has been DiVA’s biggest achievement so far?

Still being in business five years down the line - with not a grey hair in sight!  Also we have a very high conversion rate from an apprenticeship into full-time employment and each time this happens I’m reminded that apprenticeships do work.  

Resource award winners 2014

You grew the business with the help of our Innovating for Growth programme. What specifically did the programme help you achieve?

The Innovating for Growth programme helped me to develop my team in line with my plans for growth.  The programme also helped increase our client base.  I had previously focussed on creative companies as opposed to creative occupations (e.g. marketing and communications), which are in any sector.  Being encouraged to shift my thinking in this regard helped broaden our reach and attract non-creative businesses such as the CBI, Hackney Council, Greenwich Council and JJ Roofing. 

What one piece of advice would you give to any business owners struggling to take their business to the next level?

Scheduling one day per week to work on the business (rather than just in it) was the best piece of advice I was given, so it seems only fair to share it.  Admittedly, it wasn’t an easy habit to adopt. However, forcing myself to do it has paid dividends. Also, apply for Innovating for Growth and let experts give you the help you need to succeed – it doesn’t cost you or your business anything other than your time.

 

Apply now for over £10,000 worth of business advice

Are you a start-up looking to scale up, like DiVA? Innovating for Growth is a free three-month programme to help you turn your growth idea into a reality.

Covering everything from intellectual property to reaching new markets and branding, we'll guide you through every step of the process.

Find out more and apply now 

 

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The programme is fully-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the British Library.

 

04 April 2016

Spotlight on … Tangle Teezer

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Inventor Shaun Pulfrey‘s life changed when he launched a revolutionary hair product, Tangle Teezer, in 2007. Nine years later innovation is still at the heart of everything Tangle Teezer do. We asked Shaun about his entrepreneurial journey and he told us how working with the British Library’s Innovating for Growth programme helped him along the way.

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Where did the idea for the Tangle Teezer come from and how did it get off the ground?

I was working as a colourist at Vidal Sassoon when I realised tangled hair was a huge problem in salons. I had mastered my own technique to detangle hair using a brush and a comb together, tapping at the tangles to loosen them. My idea was to put this technique into a tool so that anyone could detangle as well as I could. I spent hours in the British Library researching plastics and injection moulding to find a material that would work best, it needed to be flexible but still return to its original position. I worked with a designer to finally come up with The Original detangling brush, when I got my first sample back even I was shocked at how well it worked. Once I had my finished product, I lined up a stand at The Clothes Show Live and also took my product on Dragons’ Den. These both came within a couple of weeks of each other. After Dragons’ Den, even though I didn’t get backing, my website crashed instantly with sales. I knew I had a product that worked and I knew the viewers understood it. The next week at The Clothes Show Live a buyer for Boots tried The Original and that’s when the ball really started rolling.

The brand has gone from strength to strength – how do you tell the story of the brand/business?

I have learnt so much from building Tangle Teezer; the first being that I always try and take a negative and turn it into a positive. I worked with my rejection on Dragons’ Den and turned it around to work in my favour. After the show, I started to build worldwide awareness for my brand by listing on global websites and it was from this I gained enquiries from distributors all around the globe wanting to distribute my product. This was really encouraging as many brands have to source their own distributors. My first enquiries came from Belgium and the Netherlands. It was from then, my brand started to snowball. I’m now working with a strong team of 45 and I couldn’t do any of it without them. Although I had created the product, I knew I wasn’t an expert in all aspects of the business so I hired people who were. We’re now selling in over 65+ countries worldwide, have sold 27m brushes since launch and sell 20 brushes a minute. Even I still find those stats hard to believe.

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What has been your biggest achievement so far?

For the brand, I think it would have to be winning two Queen’s awards, one for innovation and one for international trade. This was a really proud moment for me and I even got to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

What challenges have you faced along the way?

I experienced many challenges while building Tangle Teezer and that’s the way I saw them, as challenges not setbacks. With Tangle Teezer, we began shipping overseas really quickly with word spreading like wildfire about the product and although this was incredible the first major problem we faced was meeting the demand. In the first stages it was really difficult to keep up, although now we’re able to reach demand for all of our overseas markets.

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You grew the business with the help of our Innovating for Growth programme. What specifically did the programme help you achieve?

More than anything the programme gave me the rare opportunity to take a temporary step back from the business and to review what we had done well, and why – and also where there was scope for improvement. Having experts give us advice on the programme enabled us to reflect upon our current processes and knowledge gaps. This has given us a real sense of renewed momentum and perhaps even greater confidence that we are prepared for the challenges ahead.

What one piece of advice would you give to any business owners struggling to take their business to the next level?

Speaking on behalf of Tangle Teezer I have to say think about your investments. These may not be things that give instant return but down the line become invaluable. I invested a huge amount of money in intellectual property to protect my product at the very beginning and a lot of the brand’s success is owed to this.

 

If you too would like to be as big as Tangle Teezer but need some support along the way, sign up for our free three-month Innovating for Growth programme.

 

 

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Innovating for Growth is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund 

24 March 2016

Innovating for Growth - a success story for the Business & IP Centre London

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I4G logo The second Innovating for Growth project (match funded by the European Regional Development Fund ERDF and the British Library) will be starting in a few weeks. So this seems a good time to step back and take a look at the first one.

Initially a three year project, but extended by an additional year, Innovating for Growth was a new venture for the Business & IP Centre in several aspects. For the first time we specifically targeted growing companies, rather than our traditional market of inventors and start-ups.

This was perfect timing for us, as we had managed to help generate quite a few successful small business during our first five years. They were looking for help to get themselves to the next level, by developing new products or services, or moving into new markets.

LogoERDF_Col_PortraitWe took a different approach by developing a three month programme of tailored support, instead of our previous generic support model of advice and workshops. This suited our customers, who were under much tighter time pressures from the day-to-day running of their businesses, compared to those in start-up phase. For the same reason we recruited two Relationship Managers in the shape of Julie Simpkin and Jeremy O’Hare. They came from the existing team working in the Business & IP Centre, so had a good understanding of how new business managers think.

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Victoria Eggs used the Innovating for Growth to help grow her business

In addition we recruited a team of partner organisations to deliver the support these growth businesses required. These covered the following elements:
• Strategy – Red Ochre
• Marketing – Amanda Prout
• Intellectual Property – asb law
• Branding - ABA
• Product and service development - Makersco
• Business sustainability – Red Ochre

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So how did we actually do? The answers to that question can be found in our Economic Impact Analysis infographic. 

In summary the project helped 241 companies create 249 jobs (25% above target), and increased their turnover by £77million (378% above the £18m target).

For every £1 of public sector money spent the project generated a payback of £7.60.

In addition we achieved above target results for the socially inclusive and environmental elements of the project. We helped; 43% female-led businesses (%53 above), 39% Black, Asian and minority ethnic-led business (34% above), 4% disabled-led businesses (25% above), and 7% environment businesses (56% above).

Overall 97% of the businesses completing the programme were very satisfied or satisfied, and 98% said they would recommend the programme to others.

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My two favourite quotes from customers were:

“The British Library helped us transform our business. They were fantastic and have put us in a really great position.”

“The Relationship Manager is ‘the glue’ that holds the programme together.”

For me our customers results and opinions are the best indicator of success we could have, but it was also nice to be recognized by the ERDF when the project was shortlisted for the RegioStars Europe wide award. And being asked to host a visit from EU Commission Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva last October was a great honour.

EU Vice-President Georgieva (left) with Christina Murphy - I4G team(right)

Project Manager Christina Murphy welcoming EU Commission Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva

I would like to thank everyone involved in making this such an amazing success for the British Library. The Business Marketing team headed by Isabel Oswell, and the Reference and Research team headed by Nigel Spencer provided important support to the Innovating for Growth team. Thanks also to our partners who played a vital role in delivering the project, and adapting to the programme as it developed over the four years.

But main credit must go to Irini Efthimiadou Growth Programme Service Liaison Manager, Francesca Cesare-Pintorno Programme Coordinator, Jeremy and Julie Relationship Managers, and finally Christina Murphy Project Manager, who nurtured the programme from its first hesitant first-steps to become such a confident British Library success story.

You can find out about the second Innovating for Growth project on our website.

Neil Infield on behalf of Innovation and Enterprise Team

26 February 2016

Spotlight on ... Kalory Photo and Video Studio

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London based visual content marketing studio, Kalory, grew their business with the help of the Business & IP Centre’s Innovating for Growth programme. Now, on their fifth anniversary, we asked Director and Co-founder Franck Jehanne to reflect on his experience of starting and running a successful business. 

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Hi Franck - Kalory is turning five this year, congratulations! Thinking back to when you started, what prompted you to start a business?

I always wanted to have my own business and from my early teenage years I was drafting business plans. However, I started my career in the corporate world and eventually left my job as a luxury brand manager to pursue my own business. However, I wasn’t sure what my business would be at that point.

I started to explore different industries with my partner, Brijesh, who was working as a freelance photographer.  We were initially thinking of starting a clothing company but I received a call from a client from my previous job who was looking for a photographer.  And, just like that, our business started to come together. My partner and I worked together, combining my retail and luxury industry experience with Brijesh’s sense of aesthetics and technical photography skills.

Youve worked with big brands like Montblanc and Habitat - how do you stand out in the market and get the attention of brands like these?

Some of our customers come by word of mouth and others from Google search.  They look at our photography portfolios online. They like what they see and contact us.  We also do a lot of work on our SEO.  

A large part of our success with big brands is our attention to detail and our clients often mention our reliability as a key factor for working with us.  We work as a team and almost 100% of our images go through several processes to ensure best quality: technical and creative lighting and photographic skills, retouching skills and editing and composition skills before and after the shoot, so that the final image meets the client’s brief and objective.

You were a participant our Innovating for Growth programme, what obstacles did it help you overcome?

The Innovating for Growth team helped us a lot by giving us the confidence to hire our first employee.  The programme is also really good at forcing you to step back and analyse your business.  You are often so busy that you neglect your strategy or marketing. By raising questions and discussing the business, we changed some crucial elements in our branding and commercial strategies. The group sessions were also extremely useful. We met entrepreneurs with similar issues but in other industries and that’s a great way to make you think outside the box.

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What advice would you give to other small businesses on the importance of using visual content on their websites?

Great visuals are vital to creating your brand and they also help distinguish you from your competitors.  Using stock photography can be convenient but, as they are not exclusive to your business, they can be damaging for SEO (Google doesn’t like content that’s not unique and targeted). Budgets are usually tight, but it’s crucial to spend whatever budget you have wisely. 

If clients come to us with a budget for photography or video, we help them define their needs and what is possible in that financial frame. For example, there are many different ways to shoot and various levels of lighting and retouching, so we can always manage to deliver a project within a budget.

It is about the quality of images, not the quantity.  Fewer images that are well planned and executed say a lot more about the product or the company than many images with no real meaning. They are also more versatile and can be cropped in different ways - a good image, in general, can be used in different formats: banners, square, portrait, landscape, etc.  The best way to maximise your photographers’ time is to brief them before the shoot with as much information as possible about what you want your photos to ‘say’ about your business or product.

What do you feel have been your biggest achievements during the past five years?

We were finalists in the London FSB Business Awards 2013 in the "Best New Business" Category, which was great recognition for our business.  

But our biggest achievement is the very loyal and recurrent client base we have grown. Some trust us with very large projects that we shoot every year. We have also expanded to take on clients outside the ‘luxury’ market including fellow SMEs. This has enabled us to create a broader client base and we now work with all sizes of business, from small start-ups to large global brands.

Our clients trust us and are happy with the results and I think that’s definitely the best reward you can have when you have your own business.

We are now taking applications for the next Innovating for Growth programme find out how you can apply today.

 

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Innovating for Growth is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund

 

Spotlight on ... Packshot and Stills
Social Media for Small Businesses: Finding Your Feet

05 November 2015

Question time with Oliver Bonas founder Oliver Tress

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At the age of 25 Oliver Tress, inspired by his love of design and worldwide travels, opened his first Oliver Bonas store on Fulham Road selling beautiful homeware and jewellery.  

Now with 45 stores in London, Bristol, Brighton, Cambridge, Oxford, Reading, Tunbridge Wells & Scotland, (as well as an online store) the brand is bigger than ever. Oliver continues to work with his team and live by the company motto: work hard, play hard & be kind.

We asked him some questions ahead of his upcoming appearance at the British Library on the 18 November

Oliver Tress
Photo credit: Oliver Bonas

Where did the idea for your business come from?

The idea for my business came to me whilst at university. I was going on holidays to Hong Kong where my parents were living  and I would bring presents back for friends - and so it grew from there. 

What steps did you take to get started?

It was all very ad hoc.  Initially I just brought more products with me, and sold them on to friends.  Next I started selling at charity events and then opened the first shop in Fulham. I bought a second hand till for £60, painted the shop white and opened the door.

How do you decide what products and designs are sold by Oliver Bonas?

We are relaxed about the type of product we sell – whatever feels right at the time.  We want to make sure we love the product. It must be special in some way that differentiates it from products available elsewhere. We passionately believe in the power of good design, so every product must really earn its shelf space.

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Photo credit: Oliver Bonas

What has been the greatest reward of owning your own business?

The sense of achieving something entirely on your own terms. I measure success in terms of freedom and opportunity.  The more successful the business is, the greater the exciting the opportunities and the freedom to express yourself.

What advice would you give to designers trying to get their products sold by retail stores? 

They must understand their market in terms of retailer and end user.  Is the product exciting enough and good enough quality to move a customer to buy it and tell their friends about it?  And they need to be commercial – is the price right, and can the retailer make enough margin to make it worth their while?

 

Oliver Tress will be at the British Library during Global Entrepreneurship Week 2015 to share his expert business knowledge with you. Joining Oliver on the event panel are Deborah Meaden (Dragons' Den), Emma Bridgewater (Emma Bridgewater Pottery) and Lord Karan Bilimoria (founder of Cobra Beer). Get your tickets here

 

28 October 2015

Dare to dream: How to be a startup success

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Last night Kanya King MBE, CEO and Founder of the MOBO Organisation, took the stage in the British Library before heading to another in a series of events leading up to one of the biggest British awards shows of the year – the MOBOs. The Business & IP Centre at the British Library and the MOBO Organisation joined forces to bring together a panel of leading lights in the creative industries, including June Sarpong MBE, Yinka Ilori and Levi Roots, who shared their groundbreaking stories of what can be achieved with the right attitude and determination.

 

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Credit: Luca Sage

 

The event was part of MOBO’s ‘Rise With Us’ Season, taking place this month, designed to recognise the achievements of diverse artists, designers and entrepreneurs and inspire the next generation of up and coming talent.

The panel shared their individual stories of starting up and gave some invaluable tips for people wanting to follow in their footsteps.

 

Kanya King MBE

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Credit: Luca Sage

 

Kanya started the MOBO Awards from her bedroom in 1996 to give a platform to emerging talent who would go on to achieve global success. Now MOBO, one of the most recognisable brands in British music, helps create more opportunities for exceptional talent across all of the creative industries; in her own words ‘Inspiring a generation who dare to dream’. Success wasn’t without its barriers for Kanya. While she had passion and determination she also had no contacts in the music industry, no money and most people told her it wasn’t possible. Finally she got her break when a meeting with an LWT Executive resulted in a broadcast slot with Carlton Television. With only six weeks to pull together the first MOBO Awards, and with many people still doubting that an audience would be interested in celebrating diverse talent, the odds were against her. However, that first show was a hit and, now in its twentieth year, the MOBO brand is bigger than ever.

Kanya gave some tips to the entrepreneurs in the audience including: be passionate about what you do and make sure to prioritise - focus, focus, focus. Her advice is that you don’t always have to get it right, you just have to get going and persistence is key – ‘never give up on your dreams’. She didn’t get where she is today because of talent but because she refused to give up.  She emphasised that much more can be achieved when you have a team around you that is united in your belief.

 

Yinka Ilori

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Credit: Luca Sage

 

Yinka Ilori is a London-based designer specialising in up-cycling vintage furniture, inspired by the traditional Nigerian parables and African fabrics that surrounded him as a child. When he started off as a designer he felt that there weren’t a lot of black designers and there weren't many people for him to relate to. He wanted to give up many times but his family were consistent in their support for him and told him to keep going.

Since starting up, he has exhibited internationally in solo shows, runs regular workshops and is involved in many projects. One of his most recent projects is partnering with the British Library shop as part of the current West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song exhibition. Yinka came to the British Library when he was starting up to do research in order to find his unique selling point to build his brand. His main piece of advice for entrepreneurs? Remember to tell your story how you want to tell it.

 

June Sarpong MBE

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Credit: Luca Sage

 

June, one of the most recognisable faces of British television, is also the Co-founder of the WIE Network (Women: Inspiration & Enterprise). WIE is dedicated to women in leadership and it’s not surprising June is involved when she said that fight for empowerment and equality get her out of bed in the morning. She is driven to empower everyone in society to be the best we can be and believes it leads to a stronger economy, safer planet and overall a fairer and better world. Speaking at the event, her mandate was clear: we have to ensure women and those from diverse communities are empowered.

June's number one piece of advice was 'before you start to worry about what other people think about you, worry what YOU think about you!’ Like Kanya she also emphasised the need to learn to control your thinking, have a goal and focus on it.

 

Levi Roots

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Credit: Luca Sage

 

A MOBO nominated reggae artist, a pioneer in Caribbean food and culture, Dragons’ Den star and with a new ‘rastarant’ opening soon, Levi shared his story about starting his Reggae Reggae sauce in his small Brixton kitchen and giving back to the community by visiting hundreds of schools, universities and prisons each year as part of his School of Life tour. His journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur was shaped by his experiences. His advice for entrepreneurs is to work with someone who knows more than you – a mentor. But his biggest piece of advice? Be true to yourself.

 

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Credit: Luca Sage

 

As June said at the event, ‘It’s a very exciting time to be creative in Britain’ and we couldn’t agree more. If you are starting, running or growing a business and need some help, check out our week-long series of events coming up in November for Global Entrepreneurship Week

 

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Join the MOBO Season #RiseWithUs

 

26 October 2015

How to take your business from a start-up to growth stage

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Growing a business isn’t easy. Moving into new markets, developing your brand, and protecting your intellectual property require determination, hard work and support. Which is where our Innovating for Growth programme comes in: a free three month small business support programme, funded by the European Regional Development Fund and run at the Business & IP Centre at the British Library, it provides expert advice and support for businesses looking to grow in areas including strategy and sustainability, branding, intellectual property, marketing and product development.

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Pictured above: Victoria Eggs used the Business & IP Centre to grow her business

Recently Innovating for Growth businesses came together to celebrate their completion of the programme and the progress they had made on their business growth. The programme has, to date, assisted just under 240 businesses and helped them collectively to generate more than £14m in Gross Value Added for London. Innovating for Growth participants have also won an impressive roster of awards, from Overall Best Business in London to Great British Entrepreneur Award, and the project itself was a finalist in last year’s RegioStars Awards ‘Smart Growth – SME Innovation’, the only London project to be nominated by the Greater London Authority.

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Pictured above: Rose Hill grew her business with the help of our Innovating for Growth programme

At the Innovating for Growth showcase event Amelia Rope of Amelia Rope Chocloate, Jo Ayoubi of Track Surveys and David Showell of Cycle Confident Ltd gave some advice for those looking to start and grow a successful business:

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From Amelia:

  • Test your market with any new concept before you put a lot of money into it
  • Get out there, meet people, chat about your product
  • Get out of bed with a mantra of Go. For. It.
  • Mistakes happen, accept them and just work at avoiding the same mistake when it presents itself to you again

From Jo:

  • Stay in touch and in front of your customers and contacts; send them short, regular emails (not sales emails). There are lots of competitors and it's easy for people to forget about you.
  • Never burn your bridges: even if you're hurt or upset, don't fall out with people. You'll probably bump into them at some point in the future.
  • Be curious about things that are happening outside your business, as you may find new ideas and ways of staying ahead of your competition that way.

From David:

  • Take time to recruit (hard as it may be).
  • Accelerate your selling when you are growing. You are doing something right so don’t slow down, even if operationally you may be stretching yourself.
  • Accept growth is a relentless task at all times creating challenges and opportunities. Rise to the challenges and take the opportunities. That is what entrepreneurs do. 

Experiences of growing a business

During the event some of the businesses told us about their experience of growing a business. A common theme among participants was the need for clear, constructive guidance and support, and the opportunity to network with other small businesses trying to develop and expand.

 

JoOverall, we've had a really positive experience of the programme. We were delighted to have been chosen to take part and we've taken away some great ideas. We're feeling excited and inspired about the future - a bit like we've fallen in love with our company all over again. We've also met lots of like-minded business owners that we're going to stay in touch with, so that we can keep sharing our experiences and supporting each other.” Cristina Harvey, The First Word

 

OvioInnovating for Growth has given us a wealth of knowledge across key areas of business. We've been given the tools to help our business grow from market experts and were busy implementing what we've learned. I've also had my eyes opened to the incredible information resources that the library offers. It's an outstanding programme and resource and we feel lucky to be part of it."Dominic White, Ovio.

The Business & IP Centre was launched with the aim to support businesses, entrepreneurs and inventors grow their organisations by using our valuable resources and expertise and working with a network of trusted partners. Innovating for Growth has been delivered with thanks to the GLA, ERDF and our deliver partners: ABA, asb law, Gearing Up, Makersco and Red Ochre. 

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Innovating for Growth is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund