What was your first job?
My first job began during my 5th year of High School where I worked part time after school and at weekends as a customer service assistant for Homebase Ltd. I continued to work there throughout my 6th year of high school and then throughout University. The skills I learned during this time, and the understanding I developed of the retail world, have been invaluable in what I now do.
When did you start your business & what prompted you to do it?
I began Recoil in September 2013 following wins at the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards and The Young Innovators Challenge Competition, run by the Scottish Institute for Enterprise. I received a lot of encouragement from various different organisations and was very fortunate to be offered office space and support from The University of Strathclyde to help get the business off the ground. The support and encouragement I received were key in giving me the confidence to take the step towards business start up.
What did you find most challenging at the beginning?
The most challenging part was sales and marketing. I had studied Product Design Engineering and sales and marketing was a whole new ball game for me.
Who did you ask for advice & why did you choose them?
In the early days I received support from The Strathclyde Entrepreneurial Network, The Scottish Institute for Enterprise, The Princes Trust, Business Gateway and Entrepreneurial Spark. At the start I spent a lot of time seeking advice from numerous different people; the whole entrepreneurship world was completely new to me and I wanted to build a network and develop my understanding of the ecosystem before making any key decisions. The range of advice I received from all of these organisations was invaluable and helped me to shape my own opinions and direction for the business.
How did you fund your business?
Recoil has been funded through competition winnings, grant funding, loan funding and also through bootstrapping to two other part time jobs. In 2017 I took on board investment which has helped to scale and grow our business over the last 2 years.
What would you do differently now looking back?
Looking back I probably would try to be more confident in my decisions and believe a bit more in myself. At the start I was nervous about making the wrong decision, but I realise now that that can sometimes hold back the business. Mistakes are also inevitable, and also the best way for us to learn.
What or who has helped you to grow your business the most?
I have had support from numerous individuals and organisations – each has been phenomenal in their own way, and I couldn’t have done any of this without their combined effort. On a personal level, I would say I have a very supportive family, who have always been the rock whenever I’ve needed help with any aspect of the business. My mum in particular is never shy of rolling up the sleeves and helping out whenever we need additional support.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
The biggest challenge for me has been sales and marketing. However, I would also say that balancing cashflow with stock, IP, marketing and product development is the biggest challenge. In a startup there are so many things you can do, we always have new ideas for marketing campaigns or product development, but it has to be carefully managed with the businesses available cash and working capital. It requires careful management to ensure progress across the board, but without risking the cash flow.
What are the future plans for your business?
Our future plans are to grow our product range and to become a worldwide known brand for personal protective equipment.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to set up their own business?
For anyone wanting to set up on their own, my advice would be: go for it. It can be a scary decision, and you can feel like you wouldn’t even know where to start. But, the first step is get out there and speak to as many people as you can in the entrepreneurship world. There are so many people and organisations that can help; go out and speak to them and things become much less daunting!
Tell us something about you that isn’t commonly known.
Something about me that isn’t commonly known is the story behind the logo for our registered company name (VH Innovation Ltd). The logo is simply VH Innovation, however there is a parachute attached to the letter ‘V’. The parachute symbolises one of my biggest fears that I have conquered – the fear of heights. In 2010 I decided to get over this fear I would do a skydive. The parachute in our logo symbolises overcoming our fears, and realising that making the leap can be scary, but actually once you do it, it can be one of the most fun and best experiences.
And finally, why did you join WeDO?
I have joined WeDo following my win at the WeDo Scotland Awards, where we won Scottish Product of the Year. I have been able to access support from their other members, and have also benefited from attending one of the Entrepreneur Clinics where I’ve received suggestions and advice that have benefited our business.
The Recoil™ Kneepad utilises their unique Recoil360™ Technology, which is scientifically proven, by The University of Strathclyde, to reduce peak pressures on the knee by up to a staggering 76% (Riches, 2014).
Their 6-spring suspension system makes their kneepad design unique and is what differentiates them from other knee pad brands. Their Recoil360™ Technology absorbs initial kneeling impact when your knee hits the ground. With 6 points of contact between your knee and the ground our spring system will then ensure the pressure on your knee is more evenly spread across the whole knee joint rather than being focused on one central point as you would experience if wearing no knee pads.
In addition, the 6-spring system will support your full joint as you move across the floor through the pivoting abilities offered by using a 6-spring circular arrangement. Their technology is based upon the idea of a car suspension system; with the aim of reducing kneeling pressure, easing movement and increasing user comfort.
To find out more about membership of WeDO Scotland, click HERE.