Guest blog : Young Entrepreneur gets "I'm in" from David Cameron




Growth Start-up

Andrew Cooper, who pitched his 'Spotify of books' business to David Cameron at the recent Business Finance Solutions Start Up Loan event, tells us just how exhilarating – and terrifying – the experience was:

Andrew Cooper, who pitched his 'Spotify of books' business to David Cameron at the recent Business Finance Solutions Start Up Loan event, tells us just how exhilarating – and terrifying – the experience was:

In December I was sent an email from Business Finance Solutions inviting me to an exclusive Start-Up Loans event to be held in Preston on Thursday 3rd January that would include a live Dragons' Den style pitch chaired by James Caan, the Start-Up Loans Chairman. I gleefully accepted the event invite and expressed my interest to take part in the Dragons' Den style pitch thinking it would be me, James Caan, and two others in a room.

Little did I know it would be the Prime Minister, James Caan, 120 plus other people and a wall of cameras and TV crews!

Up in Preston, after our initial meeting with James Caan, David Cameron was escorted in. I saw him and my heart started pounding. There, in front of me was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. And in a few minutes I would be shaking his hand. As he was making his way around there was a young entrepreneur who had already received her Start-Up Loan from Business Finance Solutions for her catering business. The Prime Minister was about to move on to the next person, but he asked her if everything was made in Britain and when she said yes he decided to stay and speak to her some more about how this is what he wants to see more of - Made in Britain. Whilst his communications officer was attempting to usher him on to the next entrepreneur he stayed a little while longer to speak to her about how everything, including the branding and packaging, is made in Britain.

James Caan and David Cameron continued their way around the group of entrepreneurs and came to me last. He held out his hand, I shook it (obviously), and introduced myself. As soon as he asked the first question I quickly became comfortable and it was almost as easy talking to him as it was to any other stranger. Maybe it was his body language that put me at ease or that at the end of the day he's just another human being (albeit a very powerful and influential one). I told him what the concept was and I was really surprised when he said Oh yes, I've already heard about this. As I went on to tell him about a competitor in America he said that there's no reason why something like this can't be the next Amazon or Google. Which was fantastic to hear from the Prime Minister. James Caan finished it off by saying ‘If you can get the unique selling point across to the panel and the audience then I can say I'm in. Make sure you do this in your pitch later on.”

After a short Q & A between the Prime Minister and the audience, the live Dragons' Den panel was to commence and I was first. After around 4 minutes of my pitch James Caan stopped me to ask a few questions to clarify what I was saying and to find out the projections for revenue, expenses, and net profit in the first year. I told him and he said “Andrew, I totally understand what you're saying here and what it is you want to do. I'm in and I'm recommending you for a Start-Up Loan. Well done.” And that was that. There were a lot of people congratulating me and I was interviewed for a short video too. It was a great day, an amazing experience, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Who am I thankful to? Start-Up Loans of course for making this all happen and Business Finance Solutions for inviting me to the event, as well as helping and supporting me with everything along the way. The price I had to pay? Being placed out of my comfort zone for a few hours (and my heart working overtime a few times to ensure I didn't faint). If you want to reap the benefits and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities from your hard work then you need to be placed outside of your comfort zone. You need to be so uncomfortable that it makes you sweat, your stomach upset, and your heart pound in your chest.

Being outside of your comfort zone is a great place to be. Embrace it.

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