541355_10152119697490037_622171298_nIris Anson, founder of Solely Original first joined TableCrowd in January this year, signing up to one of our popular women’s only dinners. Since then, Iris has been a major TC advocate and heavily involved in the networking experience joining 12 dinners so far this year (with two more lined up for September too!). Catch up with Iris either at the dinner with Seedcamp, or DN Capital, and find out more about what she’s doing for the retail industry below.

What’s the elevator pitch for your business?
Solely Original challenges the fashion norm ‘beauty is pain’, so we have brought the personalised design choice and fit of made-to-measure female shoes online. We have developed an online platform so that women can experience the service from the comfort of their own home. Using the 3D designer, an image of one’s shoe design is only a click away: by selecting the style, heels, materials and colours. By using the Fitting Sock at home or 3D Foot Scanner at pop up stores, Solely Original can capture the measurements of one’s foot and make shoes that fit perfectly.

Studies reveal that on average British women own 17 pairs of shoes, yet only wear 2-4 pairs on a regular basis because of comfort issues. This reflects the problem of today’s high street shops which are full of standardised footwear made for average foot shapes. Everyone is unique, people’s left foot could be different from the right foot, so with Solely Original there is no reason why people should compromise with standardised shoes when they can be made to fit at a reasonable price.

What were you doing before you launched your company?
Prior to Solely Original, I was a fashion conscious city professional, I decided to leave behind my career as a tax consultant to pursue a solution for women like me, who had trouble finding fashionable shoes that are comfortable to walk in. Having studied and researched into the production process and footwear design, I came to realise how unhealthy and flawed the current mass market footwear industry is. I challenge the fashion norm ‘beauty is pain’, therefore I created Solely Original to afford every woman the luxury of comfortable and stylish heels fitted to their own measurements. In the rapidly developing technological and consumer-driven world, mass customisation is achievable, healthy beauty and sustainable beauty is also possible.

What’s your biggest ‘lightbulb’ moment?
It was more of an emotional build up from daily experience wearing uncomfortable fashion shoes. I was very frustrated and eventually led me on the route to build something myself for a solution.

SO04 2What will the rest of 2016 bring?
More design options on our website.

One piece of advice for someone starting a business in your sector?
Don’t rush into launching your brand, make sure the entire operation runs smoothly first!

Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.
You don’t need to choose between fashionable or comfortable shoes anymore! With Solely Original, you can have it all -designing a pair of shoes that matches your outfit, then you can get them fitted to your exact measurements.

What’s your favourite startup in your sector (not including your own)?
Grabble (mobile shopping app)

What’s your favourite London restaurant?
The Tiroler HutAuthentic Austrian Cuisine with Original Live Music

What’s your favourite meal?
English Roast Dinner


Find more of our #BusinessSpotlights here. If you’d like your business featured on our blog, email hello@tablecrowd.com with the subject title: I want to be a #BusinessSpotlight!

DSC_1684CAlex Price is a seasoned TableCrowd member, who first joined us back in May last year when Tony Wollenberg, founder of City Index spoke after dinner. As a regular diner at TableCrowd, we’re pleased to have caught up with him earlier this year to put the spotlight on his business 93Digital. If you want to meet up with Alex, you can join him for dinner tomorrow, where Simon Schnieders will be talking all things SEO. In the mean time, here’s what Alex had to say about his business.

What’s the elevator pitch for your business?
We’re a niche digital agency that works exclusively with one technology – WordPress. WordPress now powers over 25% of the entire internet (including the TableCrowd blog!) and we specialise in delivering complex WordPress design and build projects for large clients.

What were you doing before you launched your company?
I was still studying. I had my first clients as a freelance web designer, developer and digital marketer when I was 15, so I had a bit of a head start! When I was 20 everything was going so well that I decided to drop out of university at King’s College London and founded the ‘agency’. It was still just me for a year or so after that, but after a few big client wins I took the plunge, opened our first office and started to grow the team. In just over 1 year we went from just myself to a team of 8 people, having to move into a bigger office along the way.

If you have co-founders, where did you meet them?
I’m the sole founder. Sadly! I say this jokingly – I count myself very lucky to still own 100% of my business, but every now and then wish I had someone to share in the lows of running a business with me!

What’s your biggest ‘lightbulb’ moment?
I realised after I dropped out of university that there are a hell of a lot of opportunities out there without needing a degree. I don’t regret going for the one year that I did, but it’s hammered into us from a young age that without a degree we have no future. This couldn’t be more untrue, particularly in digital. No client has ever asked me about my education, ever. I would never encourage someone not to go to university, but I would definitely urge them to consider all of their options before committing to years more education as well as the large costs involved these days.

What will the rest of 2016 bring?
The list of clients we’re working with is becoming ever more exciting and we’ve recently added a few new team members to 93digital. We have plans for a SaaS product related to WordPress as well, so 2016 looks set to bring more growth on all fronts.

One piece of advice for someone starting a business in your sector?
Put the customer first. We operate in a very competitive service industry – we know we’re great at what we do when it comes to web design and WordPress development, but unless we have happy clients none of that matters. Client satisfaction is key!

Screenshot 2016-08-02 14.06.38Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.
If you’re looking for a WordPress site, we will deliver it to a higher standard than anyone else. Speed, security, SEO – we consider everything and produce our websites focused on results – our goal is to understand our clients ambitions and help them achieve them.

What’s your favourite startup in your sector (not including your own)?
WP Engine – they are the best when it comes to WordPress hosting and have grown explosively, having raised nearly $40m in funding over the last few years.

What’s your favourite London restaurant?
Boopshi’s in Fitzrovia is my favourite hidden gem – the best schnitzel in London!

What’s your favourite meal?
A good Carbonara is always a winner for me.

Find more of our #BusinessSpotlights here. If you’d like your business featured on our blog, email hello@tablecrowd.com with the subject title: I want to be a #BusinessSpotlight!

pavegenJoin award winning entrepreneur Laurence Kemball-Cook for dinner next week, and hear the story of Pavegen, a flooring technology that generates electricity from the kinetic energy of footsteps. That’s a pretty neat piece of tech!

Laurence will be sharing tales of fundraising and rapid growth (their CrowdCube raise exceeded their target by 253%), trade missions globally, rubbing shoulders with governments and the UN and playing a key part in inspiring environmental change around the world. This dinner will give a great insight into the clean-tech space as well as the entrepreneurial journey of taking an idea and turning it into a valuable business. So, grab a seat to meet with Laurence in a private dining setting and talk to him about what you’re working on, as well as to hear about his achievements and success with Pavegen.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Wednesday 10 August at Aubaine, Regent Street

New to TableCrowd? Take a look at our video to see what it’s like joining us for dinner:

Check out the full run-down of our upcoming dinners too.

SEOAs many of us are aware, search engine optimisation (SEO) is a form of marketing that means your business will appear more highly in the organic search rankings on Google. It is important for credibility, awareness, traffic and ultimately, new customers. Done right, it can bring the highest ROI of all forms of marketing. So “doing it right” is the topic at next week’s dinner. with Simon Schnieder, founder of SEO agency Blue Array, and all-round SEO expert.

Previously Simon headed up SEO for some of the UK’s leading brands and start-ups including; Zoopla, Mail Online and Yell.com. Simon will be taking you through the Zoopla case study and giving plenty of SEO tips and tricks that can be applied to your business to make a measurable impact. Join us for this great opportunity to meet Simon, get the inside scoop, as well as to enjoy dinner and drinks with others who have SEO on their minds.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Wednesday 3 August at The Happenstance, The City

announcement-icon copyUpcoming TableCrowd Dinners

10 Aug – Dine with 5x TED speaker & CleanTech founder, Laurence Kemball-Cook
24 Aug – What’s the next step for you & your business?
06 Sep – Dine with Seedcamp
07 Sep – Dine with Forward Partners

Sign up for free and start joining our dinners

Screenshot 2016-08-01 16.19.42This week’s dinners covered the topics of marketing and fundraising, with speakers from the investment and media worlds. Tom Maddocks, ex-BBC2 reporter and now one of the UK’s leading authorities on media training and presentation coaching.

Dinner with Tracy Doree, founding partner at Spring Partners
As part of our ‘Meet the investor’ series, Tracy Doree spoke extensively about the fundraising process and how to do it successfully. Having experienced fundraising from both sides of the table, Tracy was perfectly positioned to assist with her fellow diners questions about being at the helm of a business that was seeking funding.

Screenshot 2016-08-01 16.19.58

Dinner with Ex-BBC2 reporter and Media Expert, Tom Maddocks
With some 20+ years experience as a journalist and broadcaster, working in TV, radio and the national press, Tom Maddocks was a fantastic speaker for our TableCrowd members joining him for dinner at Aubaine in Mayfair this week.

As a former reporter on BBC’s The Money Programme, Tom turned his experience in the media industry into making him one of the UK’s leading media training experts, having been quoted on the subject in The Sunday Times, Independent, FT and other publications too. Tom shared his knowledge with his fellow diners to help them get coverage for their businesses. With top tips and tactics for reaching journalists shared over dinner, each diner left with the tools to help drive awareness for their business to boost growth and reach new markets and customers.

Screenshot 2016-08-01 16.20.19Our fab speakers, Tom and Tracy, were joined by Friends Recommend It, Attest, Sivgen, Hatch, Reed Travel Exhibitions, Pixelgroup, Decca Capital, Jamae Immigration Law Group, Veyring, thebrunettecupcake.com, REVL, USPAAH, Faber Novella, Unocodrinks, CityMunch, Inn Style, Silver Curve, AtlaSense, tosay, INK amongst others.


The next EdTech dinner is firmly in our calendar so please add it to yours too; Bethany Koby, founder of Technology Will Save Us is joining as our after-dinner speaker next week. Technology Will Save Us creates the most accessible ecosystem of DIY gadget kits and resources that help families, educators and young people make, play, code and invent using technology. They recently won Best Hardware Startup at the Europas.

After Raising £1.2m from London-based VCs, doubling in size last year, and getting being stocked in John Lewis too, who better to chat with about succeeding in EdTech than Bethany? Book your place at the table to join the conversation, meet Bethany and to hear the Technology Will Save Us story – as well as to meet your peers over dinner and a glass or two of wine.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Tuesday 26 July at The Happenstance, The City

New to TableCrowd? Take a look at our video to see what it’s like joining us for dinner:

Check out the full run-down of our upcoming dinners too.

subscribeOur speaker, Felix Rossknecht, spoke at a recent dinner about building a successful subscription business, here’s what he had to say about how to make a subscription model work for your business.

There’s a few areas to consider when thinking about how to make subscriptions work for you and your business, these are product, flexibility and experience.

Customers care about your product, not the subscription. It’s the product they buy into and the subscription can be a ‘hassle’ from a customer’s perspective. You need to make sure you put the consumer at the heart of the user journey.

The first interactions between you and your potential consumers is crucial so it’s important to make them aware of the benefits of the subscription model.

We’re doing this for you, to make your life easier.

By being flexible and transparent with the subscription process, you’re enabling consumers to get into a habit of receiving your product and thus avoiding a high churn rate. When it comes to flexibility, subscription models do have a bad rep from legacy (think gym or phone memberships that are notoriously difficult to get out of!), so make sure the model fits around your consumers’ existing habits and behaviours. Make sure you can answer the questions, how much do they consume? How often? Are there any gaps? And so on.

Don’t make a business out of ‘tying people in’ instead you need to get people to trust you! Be open as a business.

Finally, make sure once the customers are set up that you show them the benefit and make it carefree.

Build a space for emotional engagement, you want your consumers to look forward to their shipment. Make the product exciting and develop a cracking tone of voice. To get the experience right, you must know your customer and their lives (inside and out!). Think about the user journey, every renewal phase, every experience has to be customer friendly and have a good interaction. From the packaging to the ease of receiving the shipment – it has to excel and be hassle-free.

For more great tips from our speakers, check out our Top Tips posts, although nothing beats hearing from them in person. So, why not join a dinner?



Screenshot 2016-08-01 16.18.41With the idea of subscriptions gaining traction over the last 5 years, it’s not surprising that it’s now a household name in terms of business models. So, we thought a dinner with the topic of building a successful subscription business would be perfect for our TableCrowd members. Felix Rossknecht, a freelance growth consultant, provided ample advice and knowledge on subscription businesses. Working with both HelloFresh and Pact Coffee, Felix has seen the subscription model take off and help turn startups into global companies.

Screenshot 2016-08-01 16.19.18Felix spoke about the key areas to concentrate when building a subscription business, highlighting the importance of the consumers’ experience, as well as the product itself. Read all about it in our blog post, How to make a subscription model work for your business.

Special thanks to Felix, our speaker, who was joined by Senselab, 34.4, EarlyBird, The Curiosity Box, WATS.ON, Just Opened London, toucanBox, thinking bob, Friction Free Shaving, Hop Hosiery, Socialstartup.co, Lean Advantage and Purple Stone Rooms amongst others.

500startupsSpeaking with Matt Lerner, London Partner of 500 startups at dinner last week, he covered the topic of how startups can get a big, fat yes for their application to join their accelerator programme. Here’s what you need to know:

How 500 Startups invests
To date, 500 Startups has Invested in 1500 startups, in 52 countries, with offices in 29 countries. That’s a total of $250M invested, with the biggest investment being $100K. They cover pre-seed up to series A, and companies have to have traction with at least $10K revenue per month.

Distro Dojo
The programme they’re running in London is called Distro Dojo and it’s for post-seed companies.

It’s an investment and training program for post-seed companies ready to level up with intensive focus on growth marketing and fundraising.

What’s it for?
Getting your product to market.

They believe the best way to learn is by doing. So they bring people into the organisation for 1 month. They spend 3 months with a company and it is all hands-on learning. They map out goals and growth strategies to test your assumptions.

They believe they’ve figured out a way to grow companies quicker.

The results so far.
20 companies have completed the programme to date, as it’s new and only been going a year, they need a bit of time to see the true results they can achieve. But so far so good!

Getting on the programme
First and foremost, the main question the Distro Dojo team need an answer to is whether they would invest in a company. (Pretty important, right?) They know that 60% will go out of business, and that they’ll make their money back on only 10%. That’s some tough odds to work against!

The nuts and bolts of it all
Each company gets $200K, along with 3 months with 500 startups, one of those being in residence. They have 3 intakes per year, with the next one happening in Berlin.

Find out more at 500distro.co



015If you’re looking to do a spot of networking, why not get some insider knowledge while you’re at it? Up next week we have media expert Tom Maddocks talking on how to get journalists interested in your company, as well as Tracy Doree, founding partner of Spring Partners chatting about getting investment for your business.

Getting journalists interested in your company. Dine with expert, Tom Maddocks
Getting press coverage for your business can be vital to boost growth, drive awareness and reach new markets and customers. Join Tom Maddocks for dinner, for top tips and tactics for reaching journalists and getting them to snap up your story.

You’ll probably know Tom from his former role as a reporter on BBC2’s ‘The Money Programme’. He is acknowledged as one of the UK’s leading authorities on media training and presentation coaching, having been quoted in publications including the Sunday Times, Independent and Financial Times. He has over twenty years’ experience as a journalist and broadcaster, working in TV, radio and the national press.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Tuesday 19 July at Aubaine, Mayfair

Meet the investors: Tracy Doree, founding partner of Spring Partners
Tracy Doree understands things from your side of the table. She’s an entrepreneur at heart, with one the fastest exits we’ve heard of under her belt. She founded Llustre, an eCommerce business that designed and sold designer products and collections for homes – it was acquired by FAB after just 10 weeks of opening the doors for business!

Tracy is now founding partner at Spring Partners, an active London based venture capital fund.

Secure your spot at the table and get the lowdown on how to fundraise successfully from Tracy, who’ll be drawing on her experiences as both an investor and a business seeking funding.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Wednesday 20 July at Piccolino, City

brekkiwWe also have a fab, intimate breakfast happening just for founders. Our CEO, Kate Jackson, hosts a relaxed and informal breakfast for you founders to expand your network whilst sharing problems and solutions with other founders.
Breakfast is at 8:45am on Tuesday 19 July at Aubaine, Broadgate Circle