1. In your own words – what do you do?
I'm the CEO and founder of VanHeroes. An on-demand delivery platform that connects consumers and business with professional Man and Van/ Removals services in their local area. We have built a mobile app that allows you to easily book a job with our network of drivers, and we are currently working on building the website to offer other booking methods. My role is run the operations of the business, and my other job is to look for potential retail businesses to partner with to help them with their bulky item delivery needs.
2. What’s the most exciting thing about what you’re doing?
For me its doing something different, and pushing boundaries. We are currently working on a new service and its something that we believe could change the market place for the better. Believing in your product or service is vital, and having the buzz around what you are creating is a massive motivator. We want to be at the forefront of innovation, and I truly get excited every day for VanHeroes.
3. What are you most proud of so far?
It's hard to pin point one thing as we have achieved so much. I'm proud of the team behind VanHeroes. Im proud of staying lean, and building the company on less than £5000. I'm proud that everything has been built whilst everybody has held down full time jobs. But mostly I would say I'm proud about pursuing the initial idea, and bringing something to market after overcoming so many hurdles. What started off as a dream, was a long, hard road to market, with no coding skills, no money, and a changing team. The path to launch has been a valuable learning curve.
4. What have you found most difficult about being a startup?
The most difficult thing for me would be the ups and downs. Nobody can prepare you for the rollercoaster of emotions that you experience when starting a company. On the face of it, you see people do it everyday, but there is so much work behind the scenes that people don't see. It can get really lonely, and the stress levels can be high. Having a new community like TechSwindon will be fantastic to help share the stories and support one another on our journeys.
5. What would you do differently if you started now?
If I was to start this all again, I'd think long and hard about timing. I started this company only months after having my daughter. Building a company and product with a young family and full time job is hard. However it does make it all the sweeter when things go well. There is no perfect time to start a company, but I picked a time when I already had so much going on!
6. Where do you think you’ll be in 12 months?
I think in a years time we will have taken a seed round investment, and have branched out to some major cities across the UK, with Bristol currently being prepped for launch. I also see us being a very different offering to what we have now. We have learnt so much in our soft launch in Swindon, and those learnings have helped us shape and pivot the company to what we will see in 12 months time. If we do it right, we should be a major player in the company years and I'm excited to see where we end up.
7. What tools/people/services/organisations helped you most?
I'm a big fan of AppSumo! We have had some greta deals from there that have helped us stay lean! Although its early days still,Lucy from TechSwindon has been really helpfully and given some great advice. But my biggest thank you by far has to be to the innovation team at Nationwide Building Society. They paid for our office for a year in The Workshed, which allowed us to have a place to call home, and really focus. They connected us with some fantastic companies in Swindon who very kindly provided us with their time, knowledge and services for free. We wouldn't be the company we are today without their support.
8. What’s the best thing about being based in Swindon?
I'm born and raised in Swindon, and think its a vastly under rated town. It is fantastic situated to allow easy access to so many towns and cities. It's only an hour away from the hustle of central London, and only 15 minutes away from the peace and tranquillity of the cotswolds. When building a business from Swindon, you have easy access to so many places in a short travel time, so it allows you to use Swindon as a base, and branch out easily.
9. What support does the tech scene need in Swindon?
Swindon currently has little in the way of support for a tech startup. If you want a tech scene most would look towards Bristol at the moment. With the right support, Swindon could be an excellent tech hub, and with the excellent transport links it would be a great place to attract talent too from around the south west and even London. For that to take off though, we need to build a solid core of companies working in Tech. We have lots of support systems starting to emerge, but I cant help but feel that that council needs to step up their support and offer more to help build these organisations.
10. Where can we find out more about you?