- Which entrepreneur do you most respect? There are many great entrepreneurs, some with great stories, others with great visions. I try to learn as much as I can from as many of them as I can. Couldn’t pick 1 I ‘most’ respected.
- Which company do you most respect? Apple, but more for the customer culture they’ve developed over the years, than their product lines.
- What technology do you think will disrupt the world in the next 5 years? A hybrid of Augmented and Virtual reality with regards to sports/events with large audiences. (if you’re working on something in this sector, get in touch!)
- What was the last book you read? I’m half way through Re:work if that counts.
- What piece of technology could you not live without? A phone with a decent email client (oh and the internet, obviously)
- Your favourite way to relax? Blogging, people watching and depending on the country I find myself in, swimming or walking
- The best way to describe yourself? Driven
Q: Can you tell us about your start up?
We’re building an entrepreneur-friendly marketplace that lets our members focus on what really matters… their business, whilst ensuring that they can constantly afford the products and services they really need to keep growing.
We start by helping solo-entrepreneurs and startup teams find the right workspace for their budget and goals across 6 countries with the help and support of our 28 desk-hosting partners. We then help them promote their services or products across the Desk&Co network and find them affordable packages from our Marketplace partners.
We’re on a mission to give entrepreneurs a fighting chance at success, whilst allowing them to keep focussed on growth.
Q: Where did your idea come from, and how did you get started?
When I was 16 and started my first online business I was continuously frustrated with how much time and resources I’d have to burn through just to be able to get the services and support I needed in order to keep growing my business. I promised myself then that I’d one day be wealthy enough to support young entrepreneurs who needed a helping hand.
A few years later I was running, and growing the European reach of, my second business that built Facebook apps and marketing platforms for advertising agencies. With the banking-haircut of 2013, a vast number of our largest clients folded overnight and I was given the opportunity to take a step back to re-assess my own personal goals.
I took a moment to look at where I was, where I was going, and where I wanted to be. It was then that I realised I could start building what I’d always needed as a young entrepreneur, a marketplace of entrepreneur-friendly companies that actually ‘got it’. And how better to start it than by being able to give the hundreds of extremely talented but recently unemployed people of Cyprus a way to get back to work, for themselves, from affordable desk spaces?
9 months later we are running/planning campaigns in 6 countries across Europe and more people understand and join my vision for a truly entrepreneur-friendly marketplace each week.
Q: What are your ambitions for your start up?
The economic climate of Europe cannot be ignored, there’s a lot of work to be done in giving new entrepreneurs a fighting chance at success, regardless of whether they were pushed onto this path or they actively chose it. Whilst I will look to expand the company’s influence and reach in the current 6 countries we have hosts in, I aim to grow that out to include the remaining European states.
We’re currently focussed on building strong partnerships with large service providers, and bridges between our various host locations, whilst constantly testing and refining our marketpace dynamics. Being a startup that works from within out host-partners’ spaces ourselves, we can be sure that if we can keep growing from strength to strength, so can our guests.
As for 5 years from now… I’d love to be able to connect the ecosystems of Europe with Africa, South America and the Far East. And if you’re wondering about the US and Australia, keep an eye on our blog at www.deskand.co/blog
Q: What are your most important tips for a start up?
That’s always a hard question, especially because I don’t have all the answers, heck I don’t even know if I understand most the questions sometimes. I’m continuously learning as I build out my own business and network and I blog about these life-lessons over at www.inztinkt.com
I think two of the most important lessons I’ve learned are:
Spending no money is not smart, instead try and spend money cleverly.
Doing so should create more value down the line than the money is actually worth today.
Try and always surround yourself with amazing, and positive, people.
You’ll be amazed at how much you can learn and do from and with the people around you. Do your utmost to make sure that they are pushing your forward, even indirectly.
Q: What has been your entrepreneurial journey, and what does entrepreneurship mean to you?
People laugh when I tell them that I got into trouble for my ‘first business’ and that it made me think that making money was ‘wrong’. Thankfully I got over it and found my way back to entrepreneurship.
Having realised in the first grade that I could actually write ‘Happy Mothers Day’ and that the children in my younger brothers’ classes couldn’t, I ‘designed bespoke greeting cards’ and used the tiny profit to buy sweets, which I then sold for a larger profit to the same kids. It didn’t last long, and being scolded for it left a true memory that not everyone will recognise the traits of entrepreneurship in others. But that’s a whole different blog post for another day.
Since then I moved from South Africa to Cyprus, started several projects, taught myself to build web apps, mixed business ideas with internet experiments and launched my first online company before starting my military conscription in Cyprus. I then attended Manchester University for a degree in Computer Science with Business and Management, took over an event management company and occasionally studied and passed exams.
Q: Why Manchester?
Manchester is not just where I studied; it’s an active melting pot of creativity, cultures and business sectors. Whilst you’re continuously a stone throw away from amazing people, you can still afford to build out your business and it’s revenue streams without being choked by ludicrous rentals and travel expenses.
Manchester was also the first UK city to be included in the Desk&Co network as the people behind the city’s coworking spaces actually took the time to sit and listen to my idea before I even knew how to explain it properly