ENTERPRISE PODCAST of Nick Jenkins, Founder of Moonpig.com
This was a wonderful evening, begun by a man with the gift-of-the-gab and an amazing ability to make things jovial (expectations were more than met by the founder of Moonpig.com) and ended by Tim Roupell, who rather more soberly, gave some candid advice. He had worked day and night to take his sandwich company from scratch (with no money) to a wholesale outfit with a revenue of £14m. Meanwhile, Nick Jenkins, founder of Moonpig, had the cash to invest (Their initial website cost £70,000). The money gave Nick the freedom to delegate (the importance of which he stressed - "there's only so many decisions one person can make"). Then he could be concerned with the strategic work, putting into action his spritely mind. But still, you couldn't throw money at the marketing: "I wouldn't have known where to invest a million pounds to get people acquainted with the concept" he said [I paraphrase] "We worked on word of mouth for five years - although that's the great thing about anything giving-based - every time anyone buys one they tell others about it.'
Nick was very honest in his talk, even down to the origins of the company name. "I needed something phonetic. "Boom boom dot com". Something which could be passed on easily. And Moonpig was my nickname at school but we'll gloss over that....!"
In different ways, both men stressed the importance of honesty. Jenkins said: 'I told the angel investors: don't invest if you'd have a problem with me running off to Vegas with the money tomorrow morning'. He wouldn't compromise on autonomy. Tim Roupell would not compromise on price.'These big organisations were pretty brutal. They threatened to drop you if you didn't give them cheaper prices, and this was two million pounds of business we're talking about. But I just looked them in the eye and said no, we can't. If we could do it cheaper, we already would be! What's more, I knew it would be a yearly conversation.'
My favourite moment in Tim's speech was about when the going gets tough. 'I was in a pretty dark place during a certain period. One thought helped me. Bad things do happen. You can't choose what happens to you, in life, as in business. But you can choose how to react.'
Steely, useful stuff. So here is the podcast from Nick Jenkins (cut short). Unfortunately the sound from Tim is compromised, so you'll just have to buy his truly excellent book Bread and Butter. I recommend it enormously if you are setting out on your own to build something.