2010-current QRky Ltd. & Recipe business
In the course of one advertising campaign we ran on our coffee cups, we added a QR code to it following advice from a marketing agency friend. We had never come across this technology before, but started to play around with it. Having designed websites as a teenager for local companies, I was able to create mini web pages to link with the QR codes. By this time we had joined the Birmingham E4F business incubator in order to get some office space and business support. After putting QR codes on our own business cards, we soon started doing the same for other companies. We started building our technology platform and employed some great technical software engineers. Two years down the road, we’ve come a long way.
In 2009, I started attending Launch48 conferences; at each conference a group of techies, designers and business minds work together for 48 hours on a business concept – just for fun and experience. I met my business partner for the recipe app that I proposed to Lord Sugar at one of these events; he asked me to join him on a recipe planning idea — the rest is history. The idea has the potential to change the way people conceive of recipes and purchase the ingredients. I love the big data and semantic analysis elements – we’re truly creating cutting-edge technology.
2009-2011 Co-Go Coffee to Go Ltd.
In my final year of University I realised that if I was to start a business, it would make sense to do it straight after my studies. I hadn’t got used to high earnings (yet), and my outgoings were low.
I turned down two job offers (one from an investment bank, one from one of a large pharmaceutical company) in order to devote myself to launching my own business. Together with a university friend, I set up Co-Go Coffee to Go Ltd. Our concept was to sell high quality, ethical coffee in to-go cups. Our USP was that we would print advertising around the side of the cup – giving us a second income stream for the coffee outlet. We wanted our outlet to look unique, so we decided to order a custom manufactured, 4m tall, coffee cup shaped unit. The construction of the unit was delayed by more than 6 months, but it finally arrived and Co-Go was born. The economic climate was such that our advertisements didn’t sell as well as we had hoped. Also, in our naivety straight out of university, we underestimated our costs and overestimated our sales. Without the advertising angle, Co-Go turned into a less “innovative”, more standard coffee outlet (albeit one with very good coffee!). We ran it together until 2011, finally paying off our HSBC bank loan. We have now sold the business so we can focus on other ventures.
2005-2009 (Aston University)
I chose to study at the Business School of Aston University because of its high-achieving reputation, its post-graduation employability record and its friendly feel. I studied International Business and Modern Languages (German), a course that covered international economics, finance, marketing, plus the usual business topics, and of course German.
At University I co-founded the SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) society where students were enabled to work on projects to aid economic development within the Midlands region. We became the biggest student society at Aston University (not counting religious groups), and ran projects with various partners including the Birmingham Childrens’ Hospital, where we taught kids business skills through a project which involved researching, designing, manufacturing and selling t-shirts. In the placement year of my university studies I worked at Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, in their Global Investment Banking division, handling client corporate-actions in their back office. During the quiet periods in the share market, I started work on a business plan that become “Co-Go Coffee To Go Ltd.”. While I was still in Germany, my coffee selling concept won the American-German Business Club’s business plan competition, something that gave me encouragement to pursue this project.
1986 – 2004 (pre university)
Three months after my birth in London on 23rd April 1986, my family moved to Zurich, where we spent the next 7 years. When we moved back to the UK, Swiss German was my main language and I didn’t speak much English. We lived in a village called Forest Row in Sussex and I attended local schools. In 2001, I took my GCSEs at Chailey Secondary School before going on to Haywards Heath College for my A Levels.
In my gap year I first worked for a data management company to fund my trip around the world. I travelled through 21 countries including India, South East Asia, Australasia and South America.