Archives for the month of: December, 2014

Every day we bring to you captivating stories and exclusive features that celebrate the bold and the brave and today is no exception, meet the talented brains behind the fine furniture and home decor site, Treniq. We first met Sheetal when she attended our Women in Business networking dinner.

From her ten-year reign in the marketing industry to her current position as the ‘brains’ behind her love-child ‘Treniq’, Sheetal Sachdev is an authority on bespoke furniture. For Sheetal, London has always been a hub for creativity. It is a place to experiment and push the boundaries of design. When asked about her entrepreneurial venture, Treniq, she said, “We exist to inspire creations for posterity. Trendy, unique and always beautiful – this is the type of furniture and home accents that we find, love and share with our audiences.”

Awaiting the limelight, ’Couturier of Fine Furniture’, Sheetal Sachdev brings to you Treniq – an amalgamation of trendy and unique – just like her. Exploring new territories in both design and practice, we admire her entrepreneurial spirit. Showcased within the luxuriously eye-catching, user-friendly walls of her online shop is a collection of handcrafted unique furniture and home accessories, created by designer-makers from around the world.

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What’s the elevator pitch for your startup?

Well-made, handcrafted, unique furniture has become something of an endangered species of late – eclipsed no doubt by the mass produced, found by the dozen. While this might advertise convenience and easy availability, in the language of furniture, it is relatively monosyllabic and positively tongue-tied compared to an exclusive, fascinating piece commissioned for a loving home. Redefined through the years, there is nothing that adds royalty, glamour and fire to a home like trendy and unique furniture and accessories. This is what we at Treniq plan to bring for our customers – a dream haven where luxury meets lifestyle in the most convenient way.

What were you doing before you launched your startup?

I have worked in the field of marketing for ten years across different sectors such as retail and e-commerce before applying that expertise on Treniq.

If you have co-founders, where did you meet them?

Treniq is the manifestation of the love for unique products, shared by two people – Me and my long-time friend, Nitesh Thadani. He is the original multi-hyphenate – a technology evangelist who worked as a Vice President in a leading UK bank. He has also co-founded a profitable venture in the past. Where did I meet him? It’s more about how our ideas met. Insatiably curious and forever searching for designs that fascinate and intrigue, we combined our individual expertise in marketing and technology. Treniq is fuelled by my passion for marketing unique home decor and his passion for using innovative technology to make business simpler, better and more efficient for our customers.

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What’s your biggest ‘hindsight’ moment?

Getting a strong team that shares our passion for handcrafted, luxurious furniture and home accessories. We wanted a strong group of talented people to work ‘with’ us, as opposed to work ’for’ us; people with whom we could continually share unique insights and opinions. Today, we have a core group of talented individuals in our Treniq family who create, collect and capture the essence of this startup.

What will 2015 bring?

We are just getting started. We may be young but we have big plans and our customers are at the heart of them. We are a community – united by a love of original fine furniture. We romanticize the handmade because we yearn for quality not quantity and this is the trend we want to set in 2015 – a trend where bespoke is reimagined. In fact we are extremely excited and looking forward to Will Hobhouse, Chairman of Heals Furniture, giving a talk on the rise of designer-makers and how handmade is fast becoming a powerful trend. This kind-of stamps our vision for the future in the furniture industry.

1 piece of advice for someone starting a business in your sector?

Be prepared for steep learning curves. There have been many things that I have done which I have had no previous experience of. For me, this is the fun part as I am forever learning how to do things better. Take risks and don’t forget to have fun. If you love what you do, it’s guaranteed to bring you success and satisfaction.

Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.

‘Home is where the heart is’, so, let your aura pervade every inch of your space by adding an exclusive touch to your interiors. Shop with Treniq as we bring you the best in handcrafted luxury from around the world, without compromising on quality.

What’s your favourite startup in your sector (not including your own)?

Llustre – Our love for the best in design for the home is the common thread between us that makes Llustre my favourite startup from my sector.

What’s your favourite London restaurant?

Asia de Cuba- great food and a great atmosphere for catching up with friends- especially over an intriguing selection of specialty cocktails.

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Thanks Sheetal, it’s been great catching up with you and learning all about Treniq.

You can read more Business Spotlights here.

LinkedIn COverblogWe’ve had a busy 2014 and we’d like to thank you for being part of it.

Around this time last year, we took a decision to base the platform around business networking rather than networking for friendship. Since then, we have hosted 100′s of dinners for a diverse range of industries including finance, health and beauty, education, entertainment, travel, food, property and fashion, with topics ranging from “bitcoin” to “digital beauty” and from “demystifying hedge funds” to “building your online presence”. You can look back over all the meeting and eating here and see all our wonderful speakers here.

We’ve had some great highlights this year, including being featured in GQ, the TableCrowd branded pie courtesy of The Green, welcoming Facebook as after-dinner speakers, finding a home for our HQ in an office we LOVE in the heart of Shoreditch – and most importantly, dining out way too much!

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We are joined regularly by entrepreneurs and professionals from different fields and at different stages, both startups and established companies. We also welcome investors and journalists to our dinners. Pretty much all the broadsheets and key tech press have dined at our tables this year, together with top venture capitalists and prominent London investors.

If you’ve not been along to our dinners before and are wondering what it’s like, check out this short video, which we had a lot of fun making. If you have dined with us before, we’d love your suggestions of business themes, speakers and industries you’re interested in for 2015. Let us know here: hello@tablecrowd.com.

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A massive thanks to our 2014 partners that have supported us and made it possible for us to host such a wide range of networking dinners for our community. We are excited about plans for 2015 and hope that you’ll be dining with us.

Oh, and Merry Christmas!

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We’re happy to partner with Alma CG on many of our business networking dinners, most recently the popular PropertyTech dinner we hosted in October and the sell out investment dinner with Frontline Ventures last month. We caught up with Richard Goldhill, the Business Development Manager there, who gave us the lowdown on Alma CG’s current activities and plans going forward.

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What is Alma Consulting Group?

Alma Consulting Group are specialists in R&D Tax Relief and innovation, we have technical and financial in-house experts to assist businesses in making successful claims that otherwise may not be possible.

What’s your role?

I am a Business Development Manager. My role is to help identify potential R&D expenditure and to assist clients throughout the claims process.

What were you doing before you joined Alma Consulting Group?

I have always worked in Finance and Investments. Before I joined Alma I worked for a property investment company.

What are the biggest developments in 2014?

The government has increased the generosity of R&D Tax Relief for loss making SME’s. This is having a hugely positive effect on helping early stage companies survive and thrive. At Alma CG we have moved to larger premises, this expansion includes new colleagues such as Emma Craig-West who joined us from HMRC where she was the software specialist for R&D Tax Relief. We also work with Gavin Bate who acted as senior technical advisor for the HMRC and was a key figure in shaping the R&D Tax Relief scheme back in 2000, when he worked closely with the DTI.

What will 2015 bring?

We expect further commitment to the R&D scheme from the government in 2015 and continued expansion within Alma CG UK. Perhaps more importantly for our clients we will continue to focus on being the leader in R&D Tax Relief and ensuring that our clients have optimised R&D Tax Relief claims whilst keeping the burden on their technical and financial teams to a minimum.

Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.

At Alma Consulting Group we have the technical expertise to ensure that you receive the R&D Tax Relief that you are entitled to, thus ensuring that your business can use the financial benefits to fulfil your objectives. This combined with a 100% success record places Alma at the forefront.

What’s your favourite London restaurant?

The Wolseley (Especially breakfast)

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We’re looking forward to working with Alma CG in the New Year.

You can read more Business Spotlights here.

Last night, a wonderful bunch of professional ladies gathered around a traditional Christmas dinner to chat business, life and collaboration. We were delighted to join forces for the second time with the ladies at Eyedea. Eyedea is a London-based society for women that hosts speaker and charity events aiming to inspire and connect young female professionals.

We welcomed the brilliant Vivienne Sung and Tracy Doree, founders of Llustre, as after dinner speakers. They shared their tales of success (Llustre was acquired by Fab.com after just 10 weeks) and where they’re at currently.

Tracy and Vivienne talked through initial customer acquisition through a smart referral scheme and forming relationships with key influencers. They talked about the importance of brand and how having a beautiful platform and user experience was as important as selling beautiful products. The dynamic between them as co-founders was great and it was easy to see that their personalities would have shone through at each stage as they developed the business - they hosted their launch party at Tracy’s flat, which gave a real chance for guests to get to know them as people. They highlighted the importance of a women’s perspective when the target audience is predominantly female and the opportunities for businesses with that focus. They also touched on fundraising, decision making and how the exit came about. The wine flowed (considering it was a Monday) and the evening ended with some great questions from the other diners.

We were joined by professionals and entrepreneurs from Net a PorterMyCarGossip, Blu Dot, byflock, Travelex, Microsoft, Wayfair, Bloomberg, Running in Heels, a black and white story, TreniqCooking With Mama and others.

A few snippets from the evening:

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A gorgeous 2 course dinner of traditional Christmas turkey and Christmas pudding were enjoyed at the Green Restaurant in Clerkenwell.

Wishing all you ladies (and men) a Merry Christmas and best of luck with your ventures!

Have a look at our upcoming tables in the new year here.

Damian came to our recent Corporate Innovation dinner with Jon Bradford from TechStars and we’re looking forward to seeing him again at the Sharing Economy dinner coming up soon. We caught up with him about his Event startup Showslice, what’s in store for 2015 and some key learnings he’s picked up along the way. Let’s hear it from him…

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What’s the elevator pitch for your business?

Showslice is the sharing economy for the meetings and events industry. A platform where event organisers can make value connections to save money and help hold better events. Showslice confidentially connects events between organisers with similar supplier requirements, in a similar area, around the same time so that they can share common infrastructure costs back-to-back at 1 venue. From large exhibitions to corporate parties, Showslice collaboration frees up extra budget and time as well as improves event supplier efficiency while having a positive impact on the environment.

If you have co-founders, where did you meet them?

Jon Gunn and I clicked first while we were both working for LOCOG (London 2012). He was the venue manager for the Basketball Arena and I was the Health & Safety advisor for that cluster of venues on the Olympic Park. We got on so well that our late night antics resulted in the team nicknaming us Midnight Cowboy and Night Hawk. I’ll let you guess who’s who…

What’s your biggest ‘hindsight’ moment?

I had these cool ideas that they today call Google, Facebook and Amazon but some guys got there just before me…pity.

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What will 2015 bring?

It’ll be the year that we break down the communication barrier between international event organisers. You will see bigger and better events at less marginal cost with a significant reduction in waste. The way big events are executed in terms of supplier utilization and underused temporary structures will change drastically in 2015 not just because of Showslice but because the time has come.

1 piece of advice for someone starting a business in the sector :

A sharing economy business is bridging the old with the new and is driven by technology, the economy and cultural change. Understand your market and create real solutions which need to constantly be adapted as you learn. We are part of change so always expect to keep changing.

Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words:

A unique venue, a marquee, catering, staging, sound, lights, video and even the production crew and event staff are things you need to make your event unforgettable. Exhibitions, meetings, corporate parties, weddings…get want you want and more by simply connecting with people just like you. Showslice, where events come together.

How would you describe TableCrowd to someone who’s never heard of it before?

TableCrowd is a networking innovation of our time. It takes little pockets of like-minded people with focused interests and puts them around a table to ‘break the ice’ and learn from each other. Loosely based on a model taken from legends such as King Arthur and a chap they call Jesus is by far an awesome idea.

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Have a look at our upcoming tables here.

We met Jimmy for the first time at our dinner on the topic of scaling fast & fundraising with the founders of the tech startup Mopp. He liked the concept so much he approached us to host his very own dinner, which of course we gladly accepted! We’ve just co-hosted our first dinner with Jimmy and the Institute of Directors on the hot subject of the Sharing Economy on the 25th. Read more about Jimmy, the IoD and his interest in this growing sector…

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What is the Institute of Directors?

We’re one of the oldest business groups in Europe, with a Royal Charter that requires us “to promote the conditions favourable to entrepreneurial activity and wealth creation.” We have 34,000 members from all over the UK, covering every conceivable sector and background. Our main focus is on supporting individuals, start-ups and SMEs with everything from tax advice to work spaces. We also have a large policy team who produce original research on everything from energy and infrastructure to innovation and disruptive technologies.

What were you doing before you joined the IoD?

I previously worked in political communications, starting out on Boris Johnson’s first Mayoral Campaign in 2008 and since then for a range of financial and tech clients.

What were the biggest developments in 2014?

The extent to which we continue to cram our entire lives into a smartphone. I haven’t had one for the last few weeks and it’s complicated pretty much every area of my life from travel to finance.

What will 2015 bring?

Further disruption of the traditional industries, combined with a real devolution of power and autonomy to regions, cities and individuals.

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How are you involved in the Sharing Economy?

The IoD has a real interest in this area and in what it represents for the future of our economy. We hosted the founder of Uber, Travis Kalanick, at our recent Annual Convention and our members really engaged with the case he put forward about the potential benefits of his business philosophy. We have just launched a report on the subject calling for the Government to extend the ‘rent a room’ scheme to the whole of the sharing economy, and increase the tax free allowance of earnings in this sector to £10,000.

Why did you want to start a TableCrowd table on the subject?

I attended my first one with the Pete Dowds and Tom Brooks, the founders of Mopp, and thought it was a fantastic evening with lots of likeminded people sharing ideas and talking about the future of our economy. I knew immediately that I wanted the IoD to be part of that debate, and that we are in a good position to contribute.

What’s your favourite London restaurant?

Tremendously difficult question, but probably the Big Easy or Hawksmoor …

Thanks Jimmy, it’s been wonderful catching a glimpse into what you do and your plans for the future.

For our upcoming tables, click here.