Owen Bannister Limited: Emily and Owen Bannister
The father-daughter team share how they launched their bootstrapped start-up which brings tailor-made software to small businesses
Name: Emily Bannister
Company name: Owen Bannister Limited
Location: South West
Date launched: 07/01/14
Number of Employees: 2
Tell us what your business does:
Owen Bannister Limited designs and builds software for small businesses to improve their business systems; we recent launched software called BulldogClip to help small businesses keep on top of their spending – saving them time and money on accounting and bookkeeping.
BulldogClip is user-friendly, cloud-based software offering quick bill entry, exportable data, graphs and formatted invoices.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
A chance visit to a friend sparked the idea after seeing him record all his business expenses on a word processor, add them up with a calculator, package the receipts into an envelope to give to his bookkeeper.
It took hours and time is money. Computers were not our friend’s forte but we had to find him a better, simpler way to do things – and hence our business idea was born.
How did you know there was a market for it?
When we pulled together the package for our friend and witnessed the result. He found it so useful, his accountant loved receiving organised bills, his customers were getting smart invoices and his friends were asking where they could get it.
What were you doing before starting up?
Before starting up I was looking for a new challenge after five years in the Royal Air Force. My father Owen had been considering retirement, having worked for nearly 30 years in IT consultancy and management around the globe. I had studied brand promotion at university, which I knew would be useful in launching a company. We decided to join forces to create Owen Bannister Limited.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and I am quite happy to take on responsibility – but quite honestly I fell into this when the opportunity arose. It was all about timing.
How did you raise the money?
We’re self funded; we work on a tight budget using free training programmes to refresh skills in certain areas, such as social media and marketing but spending on essential courses – such as a specific course to up-skill in the main programming language used on our website.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
The business was never meant to be a big money spinner, it was more about helping start-ups and small business, and – offering tailor-made software packages to small businesses – it’s a way of showcasing our skills and services. The subscription fees are designed to cover the running costs of the website.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Being a very small team of two and having to wear many hats. We also work more than 170 miles apart. We have overcome both challenges by developing excellent organisational skills and using online project management tools such as Basecamp, to keep track of progress, and Screenhero screen sharing software, to collaborate on work.
What was your first big breakthrough?
The initial breakthrough came when our friend, the one we produced BulldogClip for, said “this has revolutionised my life” and proceeded to tell everyone about it. This was the point where we knew we were on to a winner.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Don’t feel you are alone; there are some great people online who will offer really helpful and free advice if you reach out to them.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
We would like our company to be recognised as a positive contributor to the success of many small businesses and sole traders.