Six things we can learn from a winner

Founder of Enterprise Nation and co-founder of StartUp Britain, Emma Jones writes about Safetray winning the Marketing 4 StartUp Britain award:

6 things we can learn from a winner

At last week’s Marketing 4 StartUp Britain Week, there was a competition for one small business to win a marketing agency for 12 months. Alison Grieve of Safetray was the worthy winner and there are six things I believe we can learn from her approach and excellent presentation.

Pitch perfect

Six companies were shortlisted by the Marketing Agencies Association (MAA) and asked to present their pitch at the finale event of Marketing 4 Start Up Britain week. The six finalists were:
Syndicate Room
Follow the flag
Armadillo Merino

They all presented very well and have great stories to tell but in the words of the MAA Chair, Ian Millner, ‘there can only be one winner’ and that winner was Alison Grieve of Safetray. The prize was well deserved and Alison’s story gives important pointers for all start ups:Gap in the market – Alison was working as an event manager when she witnessed a tray of champagne being spilled over delegates and costing venue management. Having been a waitress herself, she thought there must be a better way to hold and carry trays to avoid spillage. The idea was sparked and Alison started her journey to invent Safetray; a clever and simple invention that, as the company tagline says means you can have a tipple without topple! It’s worth watching the video here to see the tray in action.

Research, research, research – having spotted a gap in the market, Alison went on a research escapade. She researched other products, the hospitality industry and several versions of her own prototype. She continues to research her market today and is considering an expansion of the business by licensing her invention, as well as producing the end result.

Secure expertise – Alison knew she needed help to design the product and source a manufacturer so early on she elected to offer equity in the business to a company specialising in product design and development – this partnership continues to prosper.

Protect your idea – working with product specialists, Alison has secured worldwide protection for her invention in the form of patents and trademarks.

Be true to your vision – in hearing Alison present, you soon realise she is passionate about manufacturing in the UK. ‘As someone who has worked in the services industry’, Alison said, ‘I’m concerned we don’t manufacture much in the UK any more. I want to be able to manufacture the safetray here and offer jobs to people in the UK.’ As she said it, I couldn’t help believing that one day she will achieve this.

Be ambitious – This young business owner may wish for manufacturing in the UK but she also has sights set on expanding her company rapidly overseas. Indeed, this is why Alison entered the competition as she is particularly looking for help from a marketing agency to help her expand the brand and enter international markets. In a video interview, when asked where she would like to be in 12 months time, Alison responded “everywhere!”

Stay gracious – you could not fail to be impressed with what Alison has achieved and her plans for the future. Yet in her award acceptance comments she gave credit to all other competition entrants and said how much she is looking forward to working with them as these businesses grow.

It made me think you can have great aspirations for your business whilst remaining truly gracious. What a worthy competition winner.

Best wishes to Alison and to all the competition entrants. We will be closely following your stories!

Posted on July 27, 2011 .