Starting a new company without following the accepted rules of business, especially for first-time founders, can lead to bad decision-making and disastrous results. But for some entrepreneurs, there are times when breaking the rules has proved to be the right thing to do.
Sidestep sales pitch convention
Having got their business up and running, one of the biggest frustrations for entrepreneurs is getting their innovative products in front of key buyers in their target market. When Laurence Kemball-Cook, was looking to land his first sale of his new product Pavegen, a custom-built flooring system that captures energy and data from footfall, he broke with conventional business protocol.
Kemball-Cook founded the business in 2009, having just completed a degree in industrial design and technology. Inspired by his own research into renewables and city infrastructure, he’d come up with the idea for technology that could harness energy from city inhabitants, via their footsteps. From his tiny London apartment, he developed the first Pavegen prototype, a rectangular device that housed a single generator. The challenge then was how to sell it, and the method he chose involved a huge amount of risk.
He says: “I installed a Pavegen tile on a building site, without permission, took some photos, posted them online, and then used social media to persuade the developer to invest in a Pavegen system.”
It could have backfired – technically the installation was illegal – but instead Kemball-Cook impressed the developer and very quickly closed his first deal. The move also marked the start of a successful journey for Pavegen. In 2015, the company raised over £2 million through a Crowdcube campaign. To date it has completed over 150 installations worldwide, and brought three versions of Pavegen to market.
Based in London and Cambridge, Pavegen has a team of 20 design, electrical and software engineers, and other project delivery, sales and communications specialists. The company’s significant achievements have been recognised with numerous awards. Pavegen made it onto the UK Bloomberg Business Innovator 2016 list, while Kemball-Cook was named Eco Entrepreneur of the Year at the GB Entrepreneur Awards in 2015 and 2016.
Now working closely with Silicon Valley digital marketing company Tribal Planet, Pavegen has developed a data rich platform that rewards users for interacting with the floor, further extending its market reach and ultimately making the system affordable for more communities.
Ditch the business plan and forget market research
Rule number one when starting a business is to create a business plan. Rule number two is to carry out detailed market research. However, when optometry student Dhruvin Patel came up with the idea for Ocushield, a filter that eliminates the harmful blue light emitted by tablets and smartphones, he did neither.
He says: “I had an idea, a goal and I invested £7,000 of my own money into creating the product, brand and website without doing any of this. Crazy, yes I know, but I really believed in the idea and was so distracted by it that I wanted to get it to market sooner rather than later and focus my energy on it fully, even while studying for an undergraduate degree.”
The filter, designed to protect people’s eyes when using their digital devices and help them get a good night’s sleep, was launched and began selling to the public in 2015. To save on staffing costs, Patel engaged a team of freelancers from across the globe to help with strategic partnerships, graphics, videography, marketing, web development and product development. The firm also secured investment of £3,500 by winning the City Spark business competition, run by CASS business school.
Spend money like nobody’s counting
Patel then broke a third rule of business; don’t spend money unless you have a good idea of the ROI. He says: “When we were in the PR and marketing phase of the business, trying to gain press coverage, we had no idea of how much time and money our efforts in this area would be. But the risk paid off. Our ability to get good reviews and content online, for example in The Next Web and Digital Trends, increased our sales and our credibility as we grew. Publications online and in offline journals helped us put our name on the map.”
Just into its second year of trading Ocushield has made a total gross exceeding £85,000 and a net profit of 35% over the two years. Its products are being used by the likes of the Welsh international rugby team and West Ham United Football club, with over 10,000 units having been sold.
“Most of our revenue is pushed back into the business to grow,” says Patel. “We want to continue to succeed in this market – when you stop innovating or marketing, your business fails.”
The company recently launched a new product, anti-blue light glasses that computer users can wear while at their desks.
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Collected and Posted by Newze
Original Post Link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alisoncoleman/2017/03/19/how-breaking-the-business-rules-put-these-entrepreneurs-on-track-to-success/