Lessons Learnt From Employment – Part 2

3 months had gone by and I had managed to sign up 12 shops to Droplet in Bournemouth.

This included:

Espresso Kitchen

Mad Cucumber

South Coast Roast

Omelettos

Burger shack (Owned by Chicken & Blues)

& others that I no longer remember.

These results were’t incredible, but still better than majority of the sales team. To be fair those working in London were having a much harder time than those working in smaller towns.

A lot of the opportunities came from walking around town into random shops and talking to the owners. I really loved this part of the job and it has blessed me with some great mentors/lifelong friends.

A vivid memory was finding out Shakeaways head office was based in Bournemouth and they there first shop started in the town, I knew they were expanding massively so thought I’d manouver my way in. As I walked towards the entrance I asked a lady leaving the office where the HQ was, she pointed towards a doorway and said down the stairs. I managed to walk straight into the office with no hassle, the room had about 7 members of staff suited and booted and where all having a early morning standup meeting.

They all looked at me confused. I naively started pitching the product until I was interrupted.

‘Woah woah woah, have you booked a meeting with us? No? Then get on your horse’

— Shakeaway HQ Staff

It’s fair to say not everyone likes a tryer…

Selling is the ability to get slapped round the face and smile, you just have to dust yourself off and keep going. Actively learning from mistakes such as approaches and following up too aggressively. Sales cycles vary by industry and product.

Something unprecedented happened which really opened my eyes to the world of startups.

The company suddenly pivoted. Instead of focusing on businesses coming on board to grow the business they were now going to focus on cashless P2P (Peer to Peer) money. This however meant the dismissal of most of the sales teams including the director, I expected the same to happen to me.

However I was offered the chance to change my role in the business, the job title was called Growth Hacker. Explaining this to my mum was really hard.

Let’s be straight here, this role/job title had organically come from Silicon Valley, San Francisco where businesses like Dropbox, Hotmail and Airbnb have their “aha” moment where growth is explosive. Normally via a viral referral system. Naturally stories are told on these fantastic successes and founders around the world want to replicate the same techniques.

Books that I read during this period included Hooked, Viral Loop and Growth Hacker Marketing.

Droplet wanted to have a team dedicated to coming up with Growth projects at minimal budget. They were asking 4 of us to relocate to offices in Birmingham.

This was a big decision to make, but I was going through “heartbreak” and therefore concluded that moving to the Midlands would be a good opportunity to start fresh.

1 week after moving to Birmingham I was heading off to Croatia with my best mate for the second time. To a festival called Unknown. Croatia is one of the best countries in the world when it comes down to partying. The year before we had met some great people from Holland and this time round we met some great people from Ireland.

Nile Rogers live is one of the best live music experiences I’ve had to date, I had no idea who and how influential he has been to music. The guy has a fat back catalog of hits after hits, both his own and written/produced for others.

When I returned it was time to face the real world, the office was on Aston universitys campus at the European funded centre. I had never been to Birmingham before moving there so it’s fair to say I took a risk. This building was full of all sorts of startups and it made me realise how buzzing the UK startup scene was becoming. Even in the Midlands!

I consider myself an observant person, now I’m not a sneaker head or hype beast but I was a member of the two earliest and biggest Facebook groups. This is before groups were even a thing.

WAVY GARM$ & CREPECITY

Both these groups had well over 10,000 at the time and there were 100’s of sales of clothing and sneakers in-between strangers that just had one thing in common. They were part of the same groups. A pattern popped up, PayPal take fees when a payment is commercial and they don’t charge friends and family payments. However when you make a commercial purchase you are protected by PayPal’s dispute service and either you or the seller pays a fee.

Naturally lots of people where getting scammed on this group, and this came from trying to avoid fees. Droplet didn’t charge fees, but also didn’t do buyer protection. Effectively it was cash on mobile, you only needed a phone number to add a friend I pitched it to Ronan from, Crepecity to take Droplet on as official payment provider at the next event at old Truman brewery. An event that got covered by the BBC. Sadly the founders where not convinced & opted to do a 10 uni stop freshers tour instead…

Freshers fairs are shit.

If you are brand new company, are trying to sell something or your product needs explaining, don’t bother. Students are hungover, only want freebies and just give zero fucks about your startup.

Plus they are so overpriced it’s a joke.

Although my “attitude” improved, another 2 months passed and we were all made redundant. This was a shocking moment in my careers an a real reality check in regards to the glamorous world of working at startups.

We were given a month redundancy pay, and I quickly started to figure out what I was going to do next. Crawling through my contacts I decided to get in touch with Tom Howgate who had co-founded a sports licensing startup called iconzone.

Although the pay was the absolute bare minimum I was lucky that the cost of rent in the Midlands was tiny. I moved into the smaller room of the house and only paid £180 a month.

The experience I gained at iconzone will be told in the next journal entry.

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