Today we interview our very own contributor and young entrepreneur, Luke Martin. 28-year-old Luke shares some of the challenges of starting a business, along with useful startup advice and a little more about his recently launched startup, Pedallo. Can you tell us a little about your background and education? I grew up in the suburbs about 30 miles from London, in a large family as one of 6 kids. At the age of 8 I was awarded a Blue Peter badge for a business I set up selling sweets and toys to classmates, and ever since I’ve had the business bug! At University in Bristol I studied Geography and Statistics, which opened my eyes to the huge changes in global population, specifically the changing health demographics in established and emerging economies. The business opportunity was obvious, and I started putting together a plan. What inspired you to create Pedallo and what issues do you aim to address? I wanted to start a scalable business that addresses global health concerns and changing world demographics with simple, innovative consumer products. Our tagline is ‘Health & Happiness’ which broadly outlines what we are all about. We believe in using the business to bring affordable and positive changes to quality of life for people all over the world. To being with, we are tackling sore swollen legs in pregnancy with our Venosure range and advanced Diabetic foot care with our Diabetix range. These are global issues being faced by an ever increasing number of people, by really innovating we can have a tremendous impact in this space. Can you describe your business model? We design our products in house, based on three basic principles of innovation, worldwide application and high quality materials. Our manufacturing all happens in the UK, which is home to world class expertise and strong heritage in textiles and health care. It’s been so good to see as we’ve started to export, that being made in Britain is still highly sought after by the emerging markets. We then use fulfilment centres to warehouse and dispatch orders to retailers all over the world. Customers can also order directly via our website www.venosure.com and through Amazon. There are so many helpful services available out there and it’s allowed us to reach a global audience from the start. How many people make up the Pedallo team? The team is currently made up of 5, with a range of full timers and part time advisors. Since the beginning we have always utilised free advice and support organisations, and it’s made a huge difference to our productivity. Our next step is to develop an international network of partners to grow our export business. Did you receive much help and support in the early stages of your idea? The support is out there if you go and look for it, but ultimately you need to be the driving force behind your idea. Since the recession in 2008 the amount of free support for Startup businesses has increased hugely as has the public awareness of the importance of small business, so get in touch with everyone you can find and start collecting information. The government have some fantastic resources available with everything you need to know to get your idea off the ground. We launched with backing from Virgin Startup which came with mentorship and advice which was invaluable. How did you go about getting funding for your project? We started with a £5,000 loan from Virgin Startup, which came with a year of mentoring and lots of support. Business West in Bristol have always been so helpful to us from the start too. We used the loan as seed capital to develop our idea and design the first prototype, which helped when we then raised an equity investment from a venture capital firm to fund our first production run. Having limited start-up funds is a blessing, it forces you to be disciplined and really focus on the sales. The biggest challenge of being a physical product company is that we are inventory based, which ties up cash and you have to be very careful with cash-flow as you grow. What has been the most difficult part of starting your own business and what advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs? The most difficult part at the beginning is gaining traction on a limited budget, it’s a bit like trying to push start a steam engine. The driving force in place of capital is enthusiasm, passion and hustle, which you’ve got to have in bundles! Young entrepreneurs have so much opportunity today, I’d tell them to think globally with their plans and look at the issues that are facing a lot of people particularly in the emerging markets – Asia, South America and Africa are all experiencing fantastic GDP growth and a huge development of the middle classes that simply didn’t exist 25 years ago. Where do you see Pedallo in five years’ time? We will grow the Pedallo group to encompass more brands in the ‘health and happiness’ category with a view to tackling emerging markets. Part of this will be to ‘internationalise’ the product range and packaging, starting by translating the website and packaging to a range of other languages. I’d like to see us strengthen our relationship with our international distributors, building a robust supply chain from UK manufacturing to our distribution network. Ultimately if we stay true to the brand values we will build a valuable and positive global business improving the lives of thousands of people. Thank you Luke, we wish you and the Pedallo team all the best of luck for the future! If you would like to find out more, why not follow Venosure or Luke on Twitter? If you think you have a good business idea, why not add your project on Wizbii and test it out?