Founders: James Little and Chloe Hoole
It seems like a long time ago since we sat pondering the Startup Direct loan application form, trying to convey our hopes and dreams for Darlo our ethical babywear concept. 18 months later we are so glad we followed our dream!
Obviously the initial funding we received was key to the beginning of our start up journey but as important was being welcomed into the Startup Direct family and being able to take advantage of various workshops, events, and of course being given a business mentor. Looking back at our early months, being able to tap into the knowledge and experience of our mentor was invaluable. It gave us a solid base and a level of confidence from which we were able to build from. The business mentor will absolutely not do the work for you, rather they help create positive conditions for the passion and enthusiasm you have for your project to manifest in the best ways. For instance, before our trip to India to select our factory we had a long discussion with our startup business mentor about what to look out for and questions to ask the factory owner.
Prior to Darlo, neither of us had any background in babywear or in running a business! We’ve had to learn about busniness plans, textile manufacturing, importing into the UK, marketing the product, stock management, and about cashflows and financial projections along the way. We’ve had great help from business mentors at StartUp Direct on some of these matters, which again reinforces our general feeling that we have not had to go through these often daunting experiences alone! For anyone starting out you have to take as much free advice as possible. You soon learn what to take in and act on and what to disregard. For instance, a great workshop session at the Startup Direct office with several fellow entrepreneurs where you take it in turns to discuss your projects, can save you time, effort, and money on your project. It’s also incredibly informative considering the issues facing other entrepreneurs and often can shine light on areas of your startup business. These workshops also allow you to start building a network of fellow entrepreneurs and you simply never know what that could lead to in the future!