Interviews

In these uncertain times it is more important than ever to learn best practise from other entrepreneurial businesses and market experts. We’ve interviewed some fascinating people who share their thoughts and experiences here.

John Beard, The Whisky Shop

John Beard, The Whisky Shop

The pandemic has opened our eyes to the huge untapped potential of selling online, says John Beard, Co-owner of The Whisky Shop, an independent national chain of upscale whisky shops with a £15 million turnover.

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Charlie Bigham, Charlie Bigham’s

Charlie Bigham, Charlie Bigham’s

Finding something he still enjoys doing after nearly 25 years has been key to the success of Bigham’s, the high-quality prepared food business which now has a turnover of £80 million and employs 500 people, says founder Charlie Bigham.

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Will King, King of Shaves

Will King, King of Shaves

It’s been a roller coaster ride for Will King, the founder of shaving products business King of Shaves, which experienced considerable highs and lows since it was started nearly 30 years ago. It now has a turnover of £4 million and employs 10 people.

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Dominic List, Carbon Labs

Dominic List, Carbon Labs

The demand for healthcare mobile apps has exceeded even our ambitious targets due to the pandemic, says Dominic List, serial entrepreneur and founder of Carbon Labs, which creates mobile client management apps for health and wellness providers. It now has 10,000 users on the platform.

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Marcus Mollinga, YourZooki

Marcus Mollinga, YourZooki

Increased awareness of the importance of boosting immunity has powered the growth of liquid supplements business YourZooki during the pandemic, which is doubling its workforce to 35 to deal with the increased demand, says co-founder Marcus Mollinga.

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Dr Elliot Street, Inovus Medical

Dr Elliot Street, Inovus Medical

Attitude, excellence and ethic are the three values driving Inovus Medical, a business started up by Dr Elliot Street and Jordan van Flute which designs and manufactures healthcare training simulators for surgeons. It supplies 70% of UK hospital trusts and employs 24 people.

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Cris Reeves, Haughton Honey

Cris Reeves, Haughton Honey

Using mail order rather than social media to drive sales, being stubborn and having the determination to make honey an exciting product again has been key to the success of Haughton Honey, a fast-growing English honey business in Cheshire, says its founder Cris Reeves.

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Amy Moring and Jeff Webster, Hunter & Gather

Amy Moring and Jeff Webster, Hunter & Gather

A surge of interest in health and wellness by consumers during the Covid-19 pandemic has super-charged growth at Hunter & Gather, a health food and supplements business with a £2 million turnover run by co-Founders Amy Moring and Jeff Webster.

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James Wilson, Private Label Nutrition

James Wilson, Private Label Nutrition

Expanding into manufacturing was an inspired move for Private Label Nutrition, a Blackpool-based business which makes supplements for the health food and sports nutrition industry and has a turnover of £3 million. Co-Founder James Wilson explains why.

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Limvirak Chea, Fixter

Limvirak Chea, Fixter

Switching the focus of the business from growth to profitability over the past year has been the key to success for Fixter, an end to end online car maintenance platform, says its Founder Limvirak Chea.

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Denise Gosney, Razzamataz Theatre Schools

Denise Gosney, Razzamataz Theatre Schools

Appearing on Dragons' Den and not being afraid of hard work have delivered big wins for Denise Gosney, founder of Razzamataz Theatre Schools, a franchise business providing classes for children.

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Ian Herbert, Vistair

Ian Herbert, Vistair

Helping airlines manage documents in order to be able to comply with industry regulations has been a brilliant move for Ian Herbert, Founder and CEO of Bristol-based technology SaaS business Vistair. The business has grown strongly and now has a turnover of £9 million.

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Mark McCormack, Talking Tables

Mark McCormack, Talking Tables

Preparing for when parties are allowed again is just one of the challenges of running a paper tableware business right now, says Mark McCormack, co-founder and joint Managing Director of Talking Tables, which has a turnover of £17 million.

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Owen Gleadall, Merlinsoft

Owen Gleadall, Merlinsoft

Helping British farmers to pick their fruit and spotting other new revenue streams has transformed Owen Gleadall’s ticketing software business Merlinsoft, tripling its revenues from £2 million to £6 million over the past year.

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James Hickman, Plumbworld

James Hickman, Plumbworld

One of the first online-only retailers, James Hickman has always invested in technology to keep costs down at his bathroom products business Plumbworld. The business grew by 26% in 2020 to a turnover of £61.5 million.

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Andrew Jervis, ClickMechanic

Andrew Jervis, ClickMechanic

Technology is transforming the way that businesses can provide services to customers, says Andrew Jervis, the founder of ClickMechanic, an online marketplace for car mechanics which has gross revenues of £9 million and 200,000 customers.

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Jacqueline O’Donovan, O’Donovan Waste Disposal

Jacqueline O’Donovan, O’Donovan Waste Disposal

Dealing with robots and unnerving men is all in a day’s work for Jacqueline O’Donovan, who became Managing Director of her late father’s waste management company at the age of 19. The company now has a turnover of £20 million.

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James Brueton, Envirobuild

James Brueton, Envirobuild

Keep it lean, manage your cash, and make sure you invest in IT systems early, advises James Brueton, the co-founder of EnviroBuild, an online builders merchant selling sustainable building materials which has a turnover of £13 million.

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Chris Forbes, Cheeky Panda

Chris Forbes, Cheeky Panda

Panic buying during lockdown has turbo-charged the demand for Cheeky Panda's bamboo toilet paper and enabled it to triple the size of its workforce. Co-Founder Chris Forbes explains how his eco-friendly business is reaching new heights.

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Guy Schanschieff, Bambino Mio

Guy Schanschieff, Bambino Mio

Great business ideas can come from anywhere, as Guy Schanschieff and his wife Jo discovered on a round-the-world trip before setting up Bambino Mio, which makes reusable nappies and has a turnover of £13 million.

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Anthony Karibian, bOnline

Anthony Karibian, bOnline

A full scale pivot into VoIP phone systems has paid off for Anthony Karibian, CEO and Founder of bOnline, which now provides VoIP telephony services to more than 7,000 small firms in the UK and won a Smaller Company of the Year category in the 2020 Growing Business Awards.

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Pierre Coombes, Big Wolf Marketing

Pierre Coombes, Big Wolf Marketing

In hindsight getting 200 T-shirts printed with the company logo was perhaps not the best use of his start up funds but Pierre Coombes quickly ditched his vanity project for serving clients better at his marketing agency Big Wolf Marketing.

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Christine Kelly, Little Kickers

Christine Kelly, Little Kickers

Being an eternal optimist and having a love of solving problems has clearly stood Christine Kelly in good stead. Her business Little Kickers, which runs football classes for children, has grown from a single session to having 330 franchises in 33 countries.

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Sarah Hanley and Kate Ward, Silver Apples Bakery

Sarah Hanley and Kate Ward, Silver Apples Bakery

The pandemic has been a fantastic opportunity to take the business to a whole new level, says sisters Sarah Hanley and Kate Ward, who together run Silver Apples wholesale bakery in Stockport.

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Kelly Waters, 101 Ways

Kelly Waters, 101 Ways

Managing the cashflow and putting in a lot of hard work has been the key to business success, says Kelly Waters, the founder of 101 Ways, a technology consultancy based in London which now has a turnover of £20 million and employs around 100 people.

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Richard Tang, Zen Internet

Richard Tang, Zen Internet

Becoming one of the first internet service providers in the country has turned out to be an inspired move for Richard Tang and Zen Internet, the business he founded in Rochdale, which now has a turnover of £82 million and employs 540 people.

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Barry Smith, Symprove

Barry Smith, Symprove

For many years Barry Smith found it hard to get anyone to believe in what he was doing. However he has had the last laugh and his business Symprove, which makes food supplements to provide relief for digestive problems, is now growing at 50% a year.

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Lucy Frankel, Vegware

Lucy Frankel, Vegware

Edinburgh-based firm Vegware is making a positive difference one spoon at a time by making disposable food containers and cutlery out of plant-based compostable packaging rather than plastic. Environmental and Communications Director Lucy Frankel explains why.

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Jamie Keeble, Heck

Jamie Keeble, Heck

Keeping supermarket chilled cabinets stocked with sausages is no mean feat in a pandemic lockdown but Heck co-founder and sales director Jamie Keeble explains how the Yorkshire-based firm rose to the challenge with the help and determination of its 150-strong workforce.

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Kathryn Parsons, Decoded

Kathryn Parsons, Decoded

Teaching training courses during a pandemic has been a challenge but also a great opportunity to widen the business offering, as Kathryn Parsons the co-founder and co-CEO of Decoded, a technology education business based in London, explains.

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Euan Blair, WhiteHat

Euan Blair, WhiteHat

Euan Blair is Co-Founder and CEO of WhiteHat, a fast-growing business which provides and trains apprentices for businesses. It is backed by $20 million venture capital funding and has 170 employees. WhiteHat has so far found placements for 2000 apprentices.

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Joanna Jensen, Childs Farm

Joanna Jensen, Childs Farm

Joanna Jensen is Founder and CEO of Childs Farm, which makes sensitive skincare products for babies and children and is the UK’s number 1 baby and child toiletry brand. She explains how she grew the business and what she has learnt along the way.

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Robert Ginsberg, HiB

Robert Ginsberg, HiB

Bathroom products firm HiB used the lockdown period to invest in new processes and technologies. Managing Director Robert Ginsberg explains how the Staffordshire firm, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, is quietly powering ahead.

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Jonathan Seaton, Twinkl

Jonathan Seaton, Twinkl

Jonathan Seaton is the co-founder of Twinkl, an online learning business that has been particularly busy during the pandemic supporting parents and children doing home learning. The business was started in 2010 and now offers over 525,000 educational resources.

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