Startup Entrepreneur Interview on Starting without Technology Experience
"The biggest challenge was and continues to be not having in-house developers".
How did you come up with the idea of your company?
A generation ago women would have inherited their grandmother’s housewifery notes, or at least their mother’s recipes. We are now given gift vouchers for celebrity cook books. A wiki of women’s accumulated wisdom, TopTips.com is a backlash against all those up tight, patronising, celebrity lifestyle gurus, who can’t remember the last time they did their own laundry. This is real advice from real women for real life.
How was the development process of the website?
It was very simple, I briefed an outside design and development agency and within 3 months I was up and running. With no tech/internet/business experience at all, I made it up as I went along.
How did you form your team? Any mentors?
For the first two and a half years "the team" was just me, although Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-a-Porter.com, who is a great friend gave me great advice. Now we are a team of two: me and CTO David Lindsay, who used to be Natalie’s head of new technology at Net-a-Porter.
How did you fund it, with how much money, and what is the business model?
I have never had to raise any money, rather funding the business with advertising (a little income), sponsorship (a bit more), and book revenues (more substantial). The business model continues to exploit these three revenue streams.
Why did you launch a book? For marketing purposes or as income stream?
Oddly for an online business, the most old-fashioned products of all (books) are the most lucrative for me. The books also serve to promote the site, and make heroes of our users.
Do you have a mission?
No, it just seemed like a good idea at the time.
What makes you different from other players in your sector?
This is highly moderated, quality UGC; TopTips.com has spawned Amazon best selling books, columns in The Daily Mail and a weekly slot on GMTV.
What was your biggest challenge during the development process and how can other companies learn from that?
The biggest challenge was and continues to be not having in-house developers, there is a pretty-much a constant disconnect between expectation and delivery. I suspect this would be the case with any outside developers as Tangent are very good.
Are you profitable?
Where is the company in 3 year?
With a fair wind behind us TopTips.com will be the Good Housekeeping of this generation!
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