The rise of the Entrepreneur is becoming steadily more apparent, as I referenced in my last piece (The Slasher Phenomenon). The rate of increase is 70% since 2008, from postable flowers, to apps, to the creation of art stock markets. These are all new ideas or products. However, there seems to be new companies popping up offering age-old services but standing out, as they are executing their businesses well. I spoke to Jessica founder of Conker Events to get the ins and outs of setting up a service industry start up in a climate where there is perfect market competition.
“What does it look like to take the bull by the horns and go into the world of an Entrepreneur?” I asked. Jessica laughed and said it felt like it was the only natural way to go. Thinking that she would enter the world of marketing after doing a psychology degree at Newcastle, she randomly (she says) ended up working at a charity and happened upon organising a fundraising event for them. This led on to another and then another and before she knew it, the world of marketing seemed like a faint dream and instead she was immersed in a world where you could spend a day talking about what shade of taupe the table cloths should be, or how many flowers are too many. After a couple of years of working out that she had the knack for throwing together a good bash, she set up Conker Events. I asked her if she was scared at all to leave the world of a 9-5 and a comfy pay check. She confidently replied “No, I was just excited, it made sense to me and it happened pretty quickly. If I had taken the time to really think about it, I don’t think I would have been so brave.”
“Were you not worried about the competition you were faced with?” She smiled and said that she didn’t really think about it! “I just aim to provide the best possible service and work with any budget as much as possible.”
Conker Events’ identity is focused on each project, working with the client to make a unique occasion for the individual. Jessica does not look to remanufacture the same event in different guises. “People always want to celebrate and thankfully there is still enough money around to employ people like me to provide that service.”
Jessica said that a good event is a seamless experience where the participant is led to believe that, whilst a lot of work and preparation has gone into it, no work or effort is happening around them, the event is almost as though they stepped into a world that has always been there and everything is working like clockwork.
Conker Events’ office is based in the delightful district of Chelsea surrounded by well-manicured stores and prim houses whose pictures should be adorned on overly priced chocolate boxes. I asked her what inspires her and she replies that by being in the heart of Chelsea she is surrounded by excellent things. But what really gets her inspired is going abroad often (a key benefit of working for herself). Last year she was cruising down the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar and a month later skiing the mountains in Val Thorens. Although, this may sound like a rather ritzy way of life, the travelling does have its benefits in inspiring different themed parties and also opening her eyes to authentic details that you would not find on Pintrest or Instagram.
Since setting up shop she has had some exciting projects, such as an app launch for Heelo (a successful instant messaging service in Asia), which was featured in the press, and fundraisers that casually had Miranda Hart as a host. She also booked Dynamo the famous magician for an event (and confided she was relieved that he had not included her in one of his acts!)
Knowing that Conker Events has organised many parties since starting up and rather extraordinarily ended in profit at the end of year one, I was intrigued to see what the marketing strategy was. Jessica assured me that thus far it’s just been word of mouth, social media and an online platform called Bark. She knows that word of mouth is a priceless avenue but has been recently looking at various marketing strategies for the future growth of the company. This for Jessica is her only fear; as to scale up she needs to get the word of Conker Events out there. This is a fear that any start up has, thankfully the overheads of a service industry are minimal, and so money can be pumped into the wonderfully overpriced marketing and PR machine.
I really think the future looks exciting for Conker Events, as I can see that the event requests are coming in thick and fast from here and also across the pond. So my conclusion is that although people may dissuade you from going into a service industry that already has a lot of competition, if you market yourself well (by word of mouth to start with, then pump money into more of a strategy) and you are tenacious about your own brand identity then what is to stop you from getting regular business and becoming successful?