Welcome to the Tough Cookies series where we interview and celebrate the strong and determined individuals who are making waves in the tech industry.
Can you tell me a bit about Simple Shop and how this came about?
Several years ago I was doing some freelance eCommerce work and realised that there were quite a few people who were looking to dip their toes into eCommerce… as they didn’t really know there were other options, they were being quoted thousands and thousands of Pounds for a basic online store. As well as that, the ‘basic’ stores were often overly complicated and had loads of unnecessary features. That got me thinking about how it’d be great to have a super easy to use eCommerce system… and so SimpleShop was born!
You recently sold this project – how did this come about?
I started by sounding out people in my network, asking them whether they’d be interested or whether they knew of anyone who would be… I also listed it on a couple of website sales forums, where I got the lead that eventually resulted in a sale.
What’s your best advice for making money online?
Try things! While having one idea and pursuing it for a decade is definitely a viable model, I’ve found that trying multiple small things and then pushing the ones that show the most promise is a better way to go. I guess that also gives an insight into my personality type, YMMV!
I’ve always augmented my income with a bit of freelance work
How long were you running the business before you started paying yourself?
It never actually made enough money to pay me a full salary… I’ve always augmented my income with a bit of freelance work. I find working for a variety of clients and on a variety of projects keeps me in the loop better than if I was just holed up in my study all day.
What’s your next step? Anything exciting projects?
Yes! Currently working on AgencyBranch.com… it’s an online classroom that has a synchronised whiteboard and video conferencing and works entirely in the browser. It’s had a fantastic reception from UK tutoring businesses and foreign language schools, enabling them to massively increase their potential student catchment (i.e. any student with a computer and internet access!).
Find a way to bootstrap the idea
What’s the first step entrepreneurs should take when they have an idea for a new business?
Find a way to bootstrap the idea… nothing kills fledgling businesses like taking on a tonne of debt right at the start. Even if it’ll take a little longer (and may require you to learn some new skills!), slower and debt-free is better.
What’s your favourite flavour cookie?
Definitely salted caramel flavour!