Sarah Lu’s YooDooDolls are frequently held up as one of the biggest successes of the Dragon’s Den and now, with Rage and the rest of the StartBrandAgency, she’s trying to help potential Brighton entrepreneurs turn their ideas into a proper business.
What’s the idea behind StartBrandAgency?
Sarah Lu: I had the idea when I came back from New York where I’d been working for a year at an ad agency, concentrating on guerrilla marketing. I found my role over there too one-dimensional and I wanted to do something that encompasses all the skills I’d picked up over the last 11 years. I like the business area, design and marketing so I contacted people who had worked with me before and have formulated a team of seven.
Rage: Everyone has other jobs, but we’re a prime example of a group of people getting together to make something happen. The main point of the company is to work with new business start-ups, and half of the team have already done that themselves. And that’s what the agency is about – giving a direct approach to setting up your own business.
Isn’t it an absolutely terrible time to be starting a new business, to become an entrepreneur?
SL: But hasn’t everyone been saying that for the last god knows how long? I set up YooDooDoll with no money at all. I worked in pubs and saved money up for it. Because of the lack of growth at the moment the government are putting money in to help people start businesses and we’d like to be the agency that can get that for people. And isn’t it a good time to get out and do something rather than wallow in the misery? I know what it’s like to start up with nothing. Before Dragon’s Den I was fulfilling my orders for Topshop from my bedroom.
What are your top three tips to get started?
SL: The first one would be to find out what your market is. Research is really, really important – to see if there an existing market or not, or who might be into your product or service.
R: The second is that you’ve got to believe in what you’re doing because, particularly now, it’s not going to be an easy road. You have to have the drive and the ambition. You’ve got to be prepared to work for it.
SL: Thirdly, you have to know how you’re going to fit it into your life at the moment. People are either in jobs and they don’t have time to do the things they want to do, or they aren’t in jobs and they’ve lost that will to do what they want to do. But that’s why we’re holding the competition. We want to prove that we can all do this.
What sort of thing are you looking for?
SL: It could be anything, even if it’s an idea they’ve kept in the bottom draw for ages. Someone suggested a hip hop sandwich shop, which I really like.
R: We’re professional in what we’re doing but at the same time we really want to tap into the idea scope that’s in Brighton. We all must walk past people every day that have a great idea.
SL: If we could get hold of those people and make it happen that would be so inspiring for other people to see. That’s the whole point of the competition.
WIN A YEAR OF BACKING
SOURCE and StartBrandAgency are coming together to offer three readers the chance to get a year of full backing from SBA to get your idea of the ground. From business planning to mentoring and branding, it’s a package worth up to £10,000 to each winner – basically guidance and execution from idea-on-napkin stage through to market. This could be the turning point of your whole life.
• Upload a 20 second video to startbrandagency.co.uk
• Include your name, your current situation and what you want to achieve in 2012
• You must be a resident of Brighton & Hove
• Deadline is 31st March
Now we hand over to StartBrandAgency for the full details
Your Brand New Start with StartBrandAgency in Association with SOURCE Magazine
We want to know YOUR ideas. What are your aspirations? What’s the idea/product/service you’ve got locked in the back of your mind in limbo land? What do you want to achieve in 2012? What are your fears and worries for your future prospects? Have you got the drive and ambition but don’t know what to do with it? Whether you have an idea in the back of your mind or you’re already on your way as an entrepreneur…
• Sum it all up in a 20 second (maximum) video and upload to our website
• Include in video: Name > Your current situation > What do you want to achieve in 2012?
• Go to our website startbrandagency.co.uk for more details and to see other “Live” submissions
• Deadline for entries is 31st March 2012
• Open to those residing in Brighton & Hove ONLY, from any background, any situation, employed or unemployed
Full access to StartBrandAgency’s services from idea stages through to business planning, mentoring, getting your idea/product/service to market, marketing strategies, branding, website design, and so forth. Basically guidance and execution from idea on napkin stage through to market. This package itself is worth between £5-10k, that saying, if you break up the parts and pay individually for all these relevant business-start-up services.
Outline of Competition:
Stage 1: Submit Video
Deadline 31st March 2012
Stage 2: Ten entrants will be picked to go through to stage 2 where we will want to explore their idea in more depth
Announced through SOURCE in May’s issue
Stage 3: Three winners will be selected to win the prize and work with StartBrandAgency from May 2012 for one year, with the aim to turn them into successful entrepreneurs to promote economic growth in Brighton &Hove
Showcased at our Brighton Entrepreneur Event later on this year
SOURCE will follow their individual progress throughout the trials and tribulations of doing it for yourself.