Bulldog’s Simon Duffy: “There’s nothing like the early stages of a new business”

In his first meeting with Organic Monkey, Bulldog's Simon Duffy gets to grips with the business and offers some initial thoughts

Earlier this year, Growing Business asked me to take part in a competition offering mentoring to an up-and-coming business. Mentoring is not something I’ve done before and I’m looking forward to the challenge.

I met with Heidi and Claudine, the winners of the competition and founders of Organic Monkey, for the first time at Bulldog’s office in London. We shared coffee and talked through their progress to date. I was impressed with what I heard. Heidi and Claudine are fun, enthusiastic and determined. They are both mothers with young families and they’re successfully juggling these responsibilities with the demands of starting a business. I’ve recently become a dad for the first time myself so I know something of the demands placed on their time by their kids. We got on really well, and considering how much time we might be spending together over the next six months, I’m very pleased. Organic Monkey is a range of natural skincare products for babies. I’m not yet up to speed with the market for baby skincare, as from my own experience we’re still using up the organic baby skincare products friends gave to us when our daughter was born and we’ve never had to buy anything new. I’m not that familiar with the brands that were referenced during our conversation but strategically it sounded like Heidi and Claudine might be onto something. They explained to me that they saw a gap in the market based on their own experiences of buying and using skincare products for their own babies. They formulated Organic Monkey because they couldn’t find the perfect product for their own needs. It was also abundantly clear that they are following their passion, which is a great place for any aspiring entrepreneur to begin. I was lucky to receive some samples from their range that I agreed to take home for a test drive. Organic Monkey has achieved a good amount in its first year. I like the brand name and they have a range of five products which are safety assessed and certified by the Soil Association and Fairtrade Foundation. They have taken a professional approach to trademarking and have a website up and running. By getting their products listed in some local independent health food stores in Brighton and setting up an online store, they have taken the first steps towards building distribution. Like many entrepreneurs they are highly ambitious and see a big future for their brand. I’m looking forward to spending time with this enthusiastic team as there is nothing quite like the early stages of setting up a new business. It’s a period that is full of possibilities and requires creative energy and strategic discipline. What’s more it’s a huge amount of fun and I still fondly remember the several coffee-fuelled all-nighters when my business partner and I were starting out. Over the coming weeks I will be giving more thought to how best to help this team. We all agreed to set some goals at our next meeting so that we’re all clear on what we’re hoping to achieve together in the months ahead. Our next meeting will be at their place in Brighton. I’m looking forward to heading down to the coast and will report back on how we go. In the meantime, do check out www.organicmonkey.co.uk and let me know what you think of the company so far.

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