Can you introduce your start-up? What is it, and how did it come about?
Aerate creates and develops concepts that connect and support people through online platforms and applications, each of which is designed for purpose and built around a strongly intuitive user experience to enhance engagement with the product.
Our concepts are all interlinked and complementary, providing solutions to support people across the HR landscape including social recruitment, employee retention/corporate benefits, and healthcare. Aerate is an innovator of ways to engage all generations through scalable and secure technology.
Where are you in your start-up journey?
We’re in the exciting phase of scaling our concepts, which are all designed with Connect Mentors live as a fully operating platform.
Across our aerate family of concepts, we’re now in full sales and marketing mode, whilst raising money to scale them. As well as growing our team, we’re growing our network of contacts internationally and seeking to partner with investors that share our values and see the growth potential of our concepts.
To date, what has been your businesses biggest triumph?
Qualifying as a member company of the Department of International Trade’s Global (DIT) Entrepreneurship Programme. The programme means so much to me and the team because we are proud to have our HQ in London and be open to all the opportunities that the vibrant economy holds. As an extension of this, we have been growing our relationship with DIT across Southeast Asia – a market that demonstrates so much opportunity for the future growth of our business.
How have you found being a sole founder? And do you have any advice for other sole founders?
I am a sole founder and part of assuming this role is to acknowledge that you can’t do everything yourself! It’s important to remember that it’s not a failure to introduce others into the business. Finding a partner and employees that provide additional skills and experience whilst sharing the goals and values of the business is a major advantage and asset to the company’s future.
How do you manage to balance growing a start-up with having a personal life?
By doing my thing. Also by having a core team built on mutual respect and support, both professionally and personally, and by staying positive about where we are today with belief in where we aim to get together as “aerators”.
How do you cope with the pressures that come with building a business?
Positivity is at the centre of our attitude and outlook as a business culture. If something doesn’t go to plan, we look at the opportunities that arise from the situation or lessons learnt that we wouldn’t have encountered otherwise. An important part of this for me is to remember that it’s ok to ask for support when I need it. As a leader, it can be easy to think that you must always have the answer, but a big part of successfully building a business is being able to be honest about what you don’t know and building a team of people that you can confidently put your trust in. Mentoring, reverse-mentoring and always building skills is key to the way we work together.
Did you pursue investment? If so what advice would you give on pitching? What was your secret weapon?
I raised preSEED investment and I’m now in the process of raising further investment. I’d say, don’t pitch too obviously! Ultimately investment needs to match investors to the business that all share the same values and these partnerships need to be built around relationships and a shared passion for what we are building.
If you could name one thing that you wish you knew when you started, what would it be?
To trust my intuition always. I noticed the inefficient agency structures long before I made the leap to create my own business and looking back now – wish I had done it sooner.
As a business owner, I back myself with every decision I make. You get a lot of advice and hear many opinions when running a business and ultimately you can’t respond to them all and need to trust your instincts.
To date, what has been your most important lesson?
It’s OK to ask for support – especially around specialist skills and experience I don’t have myself.
Never look back with regret – As aerators, our philosophy is to keep doing our thing and not overthink each step along the way.
Be curious – ask questions. You don’t find answers hiding behind your desk. I remind people to be curious, make less assumptions, ask the user/ target market/ customers about their experience.
Do you have any tips or advice for anyone thinking about starting up their own business, or who have just started their journey?
Focus on the opportunities out there that can propel you forward, for example the opportunities for overseas entrepreneurs to use the UK as a strategic HQ for expansion are incredible especially with the resource available in London and vice versa – the opportunities for UK companies to expand to Southeast Asia are huge.
What has been the most challenging part of your start-up journey so far?
Personnel and partner sourcing to ensure you have the team and funding partners that match your vision for the business so that you get there together and support each other along the way.
What’s next for your business?
We’re heading into our next Investment round to expand the team to grow the business – in conjunction with developing links to collaborate with partners. We’re focused on building a diverse customer base that shares our core values – together with our team (aerators), collaborations and partnerships as well as our global expansion out of the UK and into Southeast Asia.
It’s time to get bigger, better and then look overseas.