David's Startup Story
This is David, Escape School Alum and Founder of B.P.M Pickles, a kickass kimchi brand which started as a side hustle to a different startup. Here he share’s his startup story…
What business have you started and why?
I’ve started B.P.M Pickles, which initially began as a side hustle that I’ve decided to ramp up. My first product is Kicking Kimchi, a super tasty traditional Korean style cabbage kimchi, with a nice spicy kick!
Describe your life before you founded your business. What were you doing professionally?
I’ve pretty much always been in food and drink, apart from a brief spell in an online advertising agency just after university. I spent nearly 8 years working at a luxury tea brand, working on brand strategy, new product development and creative direction among other things. I put my hand to a lot of things there over the years.
How were you feeling at this point in time?
I had great colleagues, and an excellent product to work with and good opportunities to travel, but over the last year or so, I really started to wonder about whether I could start something up myself. I felt I’d developed a lot of the skills needed to start a business, but wasn’t sure how to go about it.
What main blockers were stopping you from starting your own business before joining The Startup Accelerator?
Where to start really, and actually making the decision to do it. That took a long time, as my very patient wife will confirm! I was always talking about business ideas but they just stayed as ideas until I decided to take the leap.
Why did you decide to join The Accelerator?
A friend and I had been discussing an idea over the summer, but I still really didn’t know where to start. I saw the course promoted and thought, that looks ideal. I took a loan from family to pay for it and applied the same day.
What did The Accelerator mean to you?
Four things really stand out that made the Accelerator such a good experience for me – community, confidence, tools and de-risking. The community aspect was excellent, it was so helpful to do the course with such a supportive group, to share problems, bounce ideas around, get feedback, contacts. Two months after the course finished we are still close-knit and supporting each other on our businesses pretty much day-in-day-out.
The course gave me a lot of confidence in my skills, knowledge and ability to start a business myself, which was probably lacking before, along with an amazing range of easy tools to kick things off cheaply and simply. Finally, the customer development and assumption testing approach were great to give me confidence that the problem I was aiming to solve was real, and that the solution was in line with customer needs.
How did you start to overcome your startup blockers?
There is so much to learn. You have to be willing to go back to basics and be a newbie on so many areas that you may not even have considered. What I’ve learnt is that it’s best to reach out to others who have done what you want to do and ask for advice.
What has been the best advice you’ve received/most helpful thing you did?
Ask for help and build your network. In my experience, most startup founders remember all too well the struggles of getting started and are willing to offer advice or a helping hand.
What have you been up to since finishing Escape’s course?
My plan when I finished the Accelerator was to work on Hesper Drinks, a non-alcoholic adult soft drink. I’d still like to work on this project again in future, but at the moment it is on hold. While on the course, I set up B.P.M Pickles as a side hustle, along with Eclect.co, a curated Amazon Affiliate store. Over Christmas, I realised that B.P.M was the side hustle that had potential to be a business I could really enjoy, so I’m dedicating a lot more time to that these days. All of my ideas are based on products or services that I really believe in myself. I have to have a passion for the product to be able to sell it in an authentic way.
What are you doing now? What does your day-to-day look like right now?
Right now, I’m pretty much full-time working on B.P.M Pickles, with markets on weekends and some freelance brand consultancy work here and there too.
What has been your biggest challenge since joining Escape?
Money. Knowing what I know now, I would make sure I had more freelance clients lined up earlier or a side hustle next to a full time job. I quit my job with a large, untested assumption that finding freelance work would be simple. 6 months of care-free world travelling after leaving my job also left a dent!
How are you dealing with this challenge?
Taking any opportunities that come my way. You never know where they might lead. Working on an event in October I met someone who I’m now talking to about mentoring for my business.
What’s felt like key milestones so far?
Completing the course. My first sales who weren’t either Escape friends, other friends or family. My first market stall being a sell-out. My first retail stockist. When you start small, celebrating every tiny success builds the momentum. Hopefully, there will be many more to come!
How are you feeling about yourself now?
It’s always a rollercoaster. There are ‘what the hell am I doing?!’ days, but they are outnumbered by far by days where I love what I am doing and am so happy to be making decisions about the direction of the business myself.
How can our community help?
I’m hoping there are lots of kimchi fans in the Escape community who are yet to try mine and would love them to give it a go. Also, I’m always on the lookout for brands I can help as a freelancer.
Order your own pot of killer kimchi and learn more about B.P.M Pickles here, and if you’re looking for help building your brand – drop David a message on email@example.com.