Meet the co-founder of Ingenuity
Hi Chris, thank you for sharing your journey with me. To get straight into things, tell me more about the co-founder of Ingenuity.
I co-founded the business when I was 25 years old. I had been working in a business development organisation and saw an opportunity to help agencies with their new business function in a slightly different way. Today, Ingenuity has grown to almost 50 staff and we pride ourselves on “making business for business” by matching brands with agencies.
Inspiration is always a great indication of why people launch businesses. Who or what inspired you to get started?
At the start of my career, I wasn’t proactively looking to get into business development, I fell into it, but when launching Ingenuity, I was inspired by wanting to create a business and drive it forward. It was the idea of building something and growing it that enthused me.
How do you set yourself apart from other businesses in your industry?
Ingenuity is very fortunate in the fact that we have a unique offering in the market. We compete with different businesses across a variety of sectors, but none of our competitors can be classified as direct. We have six key business units that all complement each other (lead generation, content, events, insight, PR and social, brand partnerships). Our competitors tend to work in one or two of these areas.
What’s the single most important decision that you made, that contributed to your business?
Launching our events business nine years ago not only took us into a new field, but it also allowed us to build direct relationships with brands. This completely set us apart from our competitors and has impacted our bottom line and helped us grow.
How did you fund the launch of your business and what creative strategies did you use to execute a minimal cash flow?
Ingenuity was founded with the help of some investment from a partner we later bought out. However, we are very fortunate as a service-based business, because the main cost was down to time, so we just worked incredibly hard.
How did you conquer those moments of doubt that so often affect entrepreneurs or stop many with great ideas – what pushes you through?
The fear of failure has always pushed me through. There’s been some hard times on the way, but the thought of not achieving the goals we’d set ourselves helped keep focus on what we were trying to achieve. This becomes particularly relevant to people as they get older and have responsibilities outside of work, to their families.
Who is your target audience?
We have two main target audiences – predominantly marketing services and tech businesses, but we are also increasingly doing a lot of work with brands and consultancies.
What would be your number one tip for young entrepreneurs who are ready to launch their own business?
My top tip is: pick the people you partner with early on. It is of vital importance that you start a business with and work with great people. Also, don’t rush into investment for the sake of it, as that has its own risks. Don’t be scared to push yourself financially but be careful about whom you invest in partnership wise.
If you could have one person record your voicemail, who would it be and why?
Stephen Fry – he is incredibly charismatic, funny and intelligent.
What first in the mornings, phone, book, laptop or me time?
The first thing I do in the morning is get my daughter up, the phone comes second.
What plans do you have for Ingenuity over the coming 12 months?
We want to build a best in class content offering that complements what we do as a new business consultancy. We’re also keen to expand our offering outside London. We already work with clients across the country, but the UK is a big place and we want to take our business further.
What’s the most important question entrepreneurs should be asking themselves?
Are you constantly spending time making the boat go faster? People sometimes get distracted. I’m naturally sales orientated, but this depends on what the essence of the business is. You must be obsessed by the numbers, what you are achieving and ultimately whether you are continuing to hit your revenue targets. And if the answer is negative, then you must change something.
How do you believe the evolution of tech will affect your industry over the next 10 years?
Any service business will be affected by the constant evolution of tech and AI. It’s incredibly important that people understand the role of tech and utilise it in the best possible manner. But we need to be mindful, because tech will change the creative and marketing services industry.
Recharging every so often, especially as a parent and entrepreneur is important. How do you recharge when you’re feeling burnt out?
I love spending time in Cornwall, getting away from the busy London life helps me recharge. This goes hand in hand with spending time with my family and friends.
What habits do you think helped you to become successful?
Impatience has always helped me get things done. Also, this isn’t necessarily a habit, but having a strong work ethic is essential in driving success.
What are your thoughts on networking to build your business?
Given what we, at Ingenuity, do, networking is hugely important. I love meeting people. There’s only so much time you can spend networking, but it is important to meet interesting people. I’m a huge fan of trying to connect people with other people, so you’re not only increasing your individual network, but also helping people you work with through your own network.
What would be your top marketing tip, to grow a business that is niche, yet timeless?
You need to have a clear, focussed proposition, and real clarity in your offering.
What are your thoughts on failure as an entrepreneur?
Failure is important. Most successful entrepreneurs aren’t driven as much by failure as they are by success, but it shouldn’t be underestimated.