Meet one of our StartMeUp Pitch judges, Nick Cohen, founder of PCR and IT Customer Director at Arrow Business Communications. We asked him a few questions about his experience starting a business and what he’s looking for in our #StartMeUpGlasgow competition.
Nick started his own business at age 13, repairing computers from the comfort of his bedroom. By age 19 he had formed a limited company and became the youngest Board Director at East Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce. Since then Nick has become a Regional Ambassador for The Prince’s Trust Scotland, the Ambassador for WeDO Scotland and a Non-Executive Director for YES Works Ltd. In 2011, he won the PSYBT Regional Award and was a finalist at the National Business Awards. When he entered the Scottish Business Awards the following year, he became one of the finalists of the Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 Awards. All we can say is… impressive!
WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE LIKE STARTING YOUR FIRST COMPANY AT AGE 13?
Tough, unclear; I felt anxious, but it was very exciting. You get the feeling that the world is your oyster, and anything is possible, but you do have to remember that everything comes at a cost. I did enjoy it, it’s an exciting time, at some points I did doubt myself and felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, but as your business grows, you grow. I founded the business while I was in school, it was my hobby at the time, and I was working on my own. For me, the company really started in 2009. At first, money was going out, and not much was coming back in, but I found a way to make it work and grow it to what it is today.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ENTREPRENEURS THINKING ABOUT STARTING THEIR FIRST BUSINESS?
My best advice is to surround yourself with people that are there to support and help you. I would highly recommend a coach or mentor who can guide you along the way. You still have to be confident to make your own calls.
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN YES & WEDO SCOTLAND?
I wanted to get involved in something that is growing and making an impact in the community, so I put myself out there, met lots of people and became part of an aspiring business community. They provide incredible support for communities and entrepreneurs, giving them the potential to grow their businesses.
WHAT WILL YOU BE LOOKING FOR IN A SUCCESSFUL APPLICANT IN OREGA'S #STARTMEUP PITCH COMPETITION?
I’m looking for an idea that can make money, if it's a sustainable business model and if the person is determined. When I first started, I applied to similar competitions and received a lot of feedback on my original business idea. Instead of giving up or ignoring the advice given to me, I changed the plan, and what we do now is nothing like the original business model. So, I’m not necessarily looking for the person to have the final business plan, when you’re starting up, things change. I’m looking for someone with sheer certainty of what their business purpose is and why their business exists.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP TIPS FOR PITCHING YOUR BUSINESS TO POTENTIAL INVESTORS OR CLIENTS?
Be human. People work with and invest in people; they don’t do that for plans and numbers. You’re going to engage with somebody that you can have a conversation with and connect with, which definitely helps when pitching. So, be personable. It’s not easy to pitch your business in front of a panel, believe me, I’ve been there plenty of times! Even if the idea seems a little off, but the person is determined, they know what they’re doing, then that determination stands out far more. Anyone who relies on a presentation and doesn’t engage with the judges won't be remembered. We’re going to see quite a few pitches, so we’ve got to narrow it down in some form.
Thanks for answering all our questions, Nick!
With only six weeks left to enter the competition, visit www.orega.com/startmeup-glasgow to find out more.
Don’t forget to follow us on social media @oregaoffices for more updates on the #StartMeUp Pitch competition.